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Akron Community Foundation’s History

From the heart and mind of Edwin Coupland Shaw emerged a revolutionary charitable force for greater Akron.

 signal tree
Located in Cascade Valley Metro Park, the Signal Tree once served as a guidepost for Native Americans traveling the Cuyahoga River. Today, it embodies the community foundation’s deep roots in greater Akron and the permanent philanthropy of our endowment fundholders. 

A powerful vision

In 1955, Edwin Shaw’s bequest of $1,033,533 established Akron Community Trusts, now Akron Community Foundation, a place where charitable people from all walks of life join together to improve their community forever.

Akron Community Trusts, as it was originally known, was incorporated by the state of Ohio that same year. On June 8, its founding trustees gathered for the first board meeting at Shaw’s former residence on North Portage Path. Those trustees were:

  • John L. Collyer, board chairman of B.F. Goodrich Co.
  • Bert A. Polsky, board chairman of Polsky’s department store
  • J.P. Seiberling, president and board chairman of Seiberling Rubber Co.
  • Harvey S. Firestone Jr., chairman of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.
  • Paul A. Frank, president of National Rubber Machinery Co.
  • John S. Knight, president and editor of the Akron Beacon Journal and publisher of Knight Newspapers Inc.
  • P.W. Litchfield, board chairman of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
  • W.B. McIntosh, executive director of the C.W. Seiberling Memorial Foundation
  • William O’Neil, president of General Tire & Rubber Co.

Timeline

Akron Community Foundation over the years.

According to Shaw’s will, the community foundation would "meet the changes in the community needs brought about by the passage of time and the variance in circumstances." This included grants for the health, educational, cultural and welfare needs primarily, but not exclusively, of Summit County, Ohio.