A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Children Inc. expands range, acquires NaviGo Prep to offer services from prenatal to career attainment

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

Two of Northern Kentucky’s education visionaries are joining forces — and the results will be nothing but amplified magic for the region’s kids.

Rick Hulefeld, founder and CEO of Children, Inc., and Tim Hanner, founder and CEO of Navigo, have decided to merge their organizations in a step that will allow the storied Children, Inc. to offer pre-natal to career launch services.

Both powerhouses agree that the merger “just makes sense.”

Rick Hulefeld

“I have always seen Children, Inc. as a resources for all children in our community. The addition of Navigo to our list of services provided will further solidify this vision,” said Hulefeld.

The acquisition of Navigo will strengthen Children, Inc.’s school age programming by allowing the organization the opportunity to serve even more middle and high school aged children.

“The merger makes sense for so many reasons,” said Hanner. “For us, it’s part of a long-term succession and sustainability plan. . .Our name stays the same, our partners are the same, our work will continue with the Northern Kentucky Education Council and our business will stay the same.”

The boards of both organizations have approved the arrangement which is effective July 1.

“The goal with this partnership is to strengthen our impact on older children. Navigo will allow our organization to grow and innovate many new ways to serve our families,” said Children, Inc. COO, Shannon Starkey-Taylor.

Hanner describes how the process began: “A few months ago Rick engaged me in a conversation about what it would look like if NaviGo merged our efforts and mission with the efforts and mission of Children Inc.  

“Over the weeks that followed, both organizations came together for numerous meetings and discussions that have resulted in both boards agreeing that Children Inc. would merge with and acquire NaviGo — resulting in an exciting continuum of service for families from prenatal care through career attainment. . .We are extremely excited to blend our efforts to meet community needs in a comprehensive approach.”

“Children, Inc. is a strong organization with a proven track record. This arrangement will allow the Navigo vision to grow much faster.”

Both Hulefeld and Hanner see the arrangement as a huge win for both organizations. While their paths have crossed in so many ways over 20 years, they have more recently collaborated in a special way — Navigo has been training Children, Inc. staff. And an idea emerged.

“Empowering kids is what our work is about,” said Hanner. “For me, being able to work with a visionary like Rick Hulefeld is a big bonus.”

Tim Hanner

Hulefeld has built Children, Inc. into an organization known widely for its expertise in early childhood education. He and his wife Mary founded it in 1979 and he has been executive director since the beginning.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in International Affairs from Georgetown University, a Master of Arts in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and a Masters in Education from Xavier University. He has studied at the University of Madrid and was an exchange student in Peru.

Children Inc. operates 13 Five Star child care centers, does education, advocacy research and collaboration — all aimed at creating a “world that understands children and their needs” — and has created resources for both parents and educators.

Tim Hanner is a life-long distinguished educator. He was superintendent of Kenton County Schools and was named the 2010 Kentucky Superintendent of the Year. He is known for creating innovative educational programs, starting the Born Learning Academy and creating a STEM campus, among them. He also launched the Success Academy, the Northern Kentucky Education Team and the Kentucky Education Action Team, partnerships that advocate and support critical issues in education.

He founded NaviGo after his retirement from the school system, seeing a need for coaching and mentoring of high school students struggling with career decisions. Navigo trains and matches one-to-one mentors to students and works with businesses to connect students to practical advice and experiences.

NaviGo recognizes the challenges students and parents face when trying to navigate the college and career planning process. By working with students through an individual coaching model, as well as those sponsored by businesses and in school-based programs, NaviGo makes that process more manageable.

Having now included Navigo under its umbrella, Children, Inc. has extended its continuum of service — and expanded the possibilities for both organizations to be more impactful.

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One Comment

  1. Gayle Holten says:

    How refreshing to read about positive change for our region’s children. This is a great example of collaboration and common sense creating a win/win for all. Thank you Rick Hulefeld and Tim Hanner. I hope this is a start of more good things to come that builds a brighter future for our children.

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