The Ohio State University Alumni Association

2022 Alumni Awards

Colin Page McGinnis ’15 — William Oxley Thompson Award

Awarded to young alumni who have demonstrated distinctive achievement in a career, civic involvement or both. Nominees must be 35 years or younger.

headshot of Colin Page McGinnis

When Colin Page McGinnis ’15 took the helm of South Side Early Learning, he was 24 years old and the youngest non-profit CEO in Columbus, an opportunity he has embraced to expand and transform early childhood education services for children, their families and their community.

Page McGinnis may have seemed an unlikely choice to lead the organization, now named SproutFive, when he was hired in 2018. He had never run a non-profit before and would replace a director who had served 30 years. But board members believed Page McGinnis’ commitment to innovation and passion for education was just what the 100-year-old organization needed.

Four years later, Page McGinnis has proven to be an excellent choice. He has expanded early education services from one to four locations in Columbus, serving 210 children up to age five. He’s strengthened programs to engage families. Realizing how underpaid preschool teachers are, he raised teacher pay and increased training. He also created the Center for Early Childhood Innovation, which uses research to develop, evaluate, and refine best practices in early childhood education to close equity and access gaps for young children and their families.

In every initiative, Page McGinnis wants people to know why this work matters.

“Many people don’t realize that 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs by age five, so one of the best investments a community can make is in early childhood education,” he says. For every dollar invested into early education, society sees a return of $8.60 in benefits.

“Colin Page McGinnis’ work will ultimately influence the availability of universal preschool, recruit and retain quality teachers in early learning, and ultimately reduce poverty through high-quality early learning.” Mary L Cusick, Past Chair SSEL Board of Directors, Community Volunteer

He’s been there for families and colleagues in tough times. When COVID hit, Page McGinnis and his staff sent more than 900 care kits to SproutFive families, and he teamed up with another agency to survey 1,500 industry peers to develop the Reopening Childcare Playbook to help centers reopen safely.

Policy makers and educational leaders are taking note of his innovative ideas and often consult with him. But when Page McGinnis needs advice, he likes to turn to the “littles” — the children he serves.

“Some of my best ideas have come from the littles,” he says. One day, when he was seeking ideas for fundraisers, he went to a classroom and sat on the floor with them. “Sell cookies,” one child advised. The suggestion evolved into selling a cookbook that raised $70,000 for the organization.

See all 2022 Alumni Award honorees