Academic success starts at an early age, but for some families the opportunity to send their children to preschool seems out of reach due to finances. Pete Kadens hopes to solve that problem.
Back to his roots
Kadens, a philanthropist currently residing in Chicago, grew up in the Toledo area and attended public school from kindergarten through high school graduation. “Public school in Toledo made all the difference for me. I was well prepared for college and for life. I was also a lot more humble than folks who came from other bigger cities because I had to work very hard and no one gave me a hall pass,” Kadens said. The skills he learned from his educational background led him to college and ultimately to become CEO of Green Thumb Industries from which he retired at age 40.
Creating HOPE for all children
After a successful career, Kadens turned to philanthropy and is bringing his latest project back to his roots in Toledo. HOPE Toledo, short for Helping Our Population Educate, will provide educational funding to develop opportunities for children beginning from preschool and continuing to college graduation. The organization will give preschool-age students in Toledo a chance for pre-kindergarten education, regardless of their family’s economic status. “The data shows time and time again that children who get integrated into learning and social environments before the age of five far outperform children who do not,” stated Kadens.
Kadens has long been involved philanthropically in issues that involve poverty, focusing on the causes of poverty. He found that the locations where children are raised determines educational opportunities and educational limitations. “My goal from here on out is to ensure that a kid’s zip code doesn’t define them for life… I believe quality education is an inalienable right for all children.”
Along with a focus on preschool, HOPE Toledo will also provide finances to help high school students ensure that college is a real opportunity. The organization wants to help pay for TPS graduates’ college expenses, bring in support for high school students who struggle with academics, bring in speakers to talk to the students, and also offer an incentive for successful teachers to earn bonuses.
Early stages of planning
HOPE Toledo is in the fundraising stages right now. The organization will rely on donations from individuals as well as from large organizations. The goal is to earn enough to get HOPE Toledo through its first five years of operation. At this point, Kadens explains that the fundraising is going well and he is optimistic that, through hard work, the fundraising goals will be met. Although HOPE Toledo is in the early stages of its development, the ultimate goal is quite simple: “to dramatically improve the condition of our city by dramatically improving the condition of our youth.”
The success of this program will help lead to the success of future Toledo students and ultimately to the success of Toledo. Kadens is asking for the community’s support in this endeavor. “This is a seminal moment in the history of Toledo and we need to take advantage of this window of time to forever change the fate of our city and our youth.”
Q & A With Pete Kadens
What’s your go-to activity when you finally have a few minutes to yourself? Hit the treadmill for a quick workout while watching MSNBC or CNN. Additionally I’m constantly reading whatever I can get my hands on.
Describe your life in five words. Energizing. Chaotic. Adventurous. Engaging. FUN!
What’s your favorite Toledo hangout? Gino’s Pizza on Monroe and Central for sure!!
Describe Toledo in a sentence. Toledo is a city of good people, with high moral character and with a degree of humility that is uncommon in this day and age.