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Diversity, senior initiatives funded in community foundation’s first round of proactive grants

AKRON, Ohio (Sept. 13, 2019) - Today, Akron Community Foundation’s board of directors approved quarterly grants totaling $3,378,258, including $225,000 in its first-ever round of proactive grants chosen by the foundation’s Community Investment Committee.

Over the past two years, Akron Community Foundation has uncovered concerning issues in the community through various initiatives, including its On the Table Greater Akron conversations, a community needs assessment, and researching other community-based reports. As a result, the foundation has identified three key areas ripe for community-wide improvement and funding: diversity, equity and social inclusion; the aging senior population; and drugs and addiction. Two of those areas of focus will be receiving funding this quarter. These proactive grants are above and beyond the traditional reactive grant cycles the foundation’s board approves quarterly, and Akron Community Foundation will continue to award approximately $2 million in its health and human services, arts and culture, civic affairs, and education grants every year.

The Greater Akron Chamber will receive a $100,000 grant, paid over three years, to support the Elevate Greater Akron Initiative, which aims to create an inclusive economy in Greater Akron by intentionally advancing income and employment to address long term equity gaps. The grant will be used for training and educational activities for minority-owned businesses; the creation of a diverse supplier guide that will be shared with companies in the region; and to facilitate a dialogue with community partners to identify a set of community-wide inclusion goals, focuses and training tools.

This grant comes on the heels of the chamber’s first Inclusion Summit, a half-day event held yesterday morning, that attracted nearly 400 local professionals to learn more about the economic impact of inclusion, opportunities for improvement and next steps needed for an inclusive economy.

In addition, the Women’s Network will receive a $25,000 grant to improve on the key findings from its Gender Equity & Women’s Leadership Study, a comprehensive local examination of women in leadership roles, which found that compared to the national average, local women are underrepresented in leadership, particularly women of color.

Also receiving proactive funding is Direction Home Akron Canton, which was awarded a $100,000 grant, paid over three years, for an initiative to make Summit County a more livable and accessible community for people of all ages over the next five years. The initiative is presented in partnership with AARP, Direction Home Akron Canton, the University of Akron, the City of Akron and its Senior Citizens Commission, and the County of Summit.

“One of the most important things in this first year will be assessing the current state of our community,” said Harvey Sterns, co-chair of the Age-Friendly Akron committee and psychology professor at the University of Akron. “Were interested in how to better coordinate all of our services to support aging people and caregivers, as well as multigenerational interaction.”

As of the 2010 census, Akron had more than 40,000 people age 60 and older, making up about 20% of the population. By 2030, the number of Summit County seniors with a severe physical and/or cognitive disability is projected to grow 49%, according to Akron Community Foundation’s Creating Measurable Community Impact assessment.

The age-friendly initiative will focus on issues that affect the quality of life of local seniors, including housing, transportation, walkability, public spaces, community engagement, complete street design and public health. Affiliated with the World Health Organization’s Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, the AARP network helps cities and towns prepare for population aging and increasing urbanization.

This quarter, the foundation also awarded $528,033 in civic affairs funding from the following field-of-interest and board discretionary funds, which were created by charitable residents to support emerging needs in our community: Jean S. and Thomas J. Amer Fund; V.E. (Tom) Atkins Fund; Betty R. Axline Fund; Board of Directors Annual Giving Fund; Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Fund; Lisette Ertel Fund; John L. Feudner Jr. Fund; H.A. Flannery Family and James R. Flannery Family Fund; Gala Fund; Lucille Scott Harris Fund; Arthur Kelly Fund; John S. Knight Fund; William C. Krisher Fund; John A. McAlonan Fund; W. Bishop & Elizabeth C. McIntosh Fund; Polsky Fund; Helen S. Robertson Fund; James G. Robertson Fund; Roush Memorial Fund; Sanatorium Contingent Fund; Schrank Family Fund; Shaw Foundation Fund; George Stevens Fund; Ronald L. Stiles Fund; Emma Vioran Fund; William Wallace Fund; and L. Frank & Angela M. Wilson Fund.

An additional $4,250 in civic affairs funding was contributed through the community foundation’s grant co-investment program, which enables donor-advised fundholders to review the board’s competitive grant applications and support initiatives that align with their charitable interests. Participating in the co-investment program this quarter were the Charles E. and Mary K. Booth Family Fund and Barbara Marie and Marilyn S. Minney Fund.

The following organizations will receive civic affairs grants:

Akron Parks Collaborative, to support the Friends of Parks program, which encourages resident stewardship of neighborhood parks while building community and creating vibrancy in shared public spaces, $7,500
Akron Rotary Camp for Children with Special Needs to provide camp scholarships for children and adults with disabilities so they can attend overnight, day and respite camps, $6,000
Akron SCORE, to provide one-on-one mentoring and workshops to small businesses and startups in the Greater Akron area, $7,500
Akron Urban League, to help sustain programs and services in workforce development, entrepreneurship and education, $25,000
Akron Zoo, to provide the ZooMobile Program to fifth-grade students in Akron Public Schools, $6,500
Asian Services in Action Inc., to pilot a debate program for immigrant youth attending North High School, $10,000
Big Love Network, for the Akron City Repair Project, which empowers residents to create public spaces that foster civic engagement and a shared neighborhood identity, $7,700

Business Volunteers Unlimited, to support consulting services designed to strengthen Summit County nonprofits, including board development and succession planning training, $5,000
Candid Midwest, to help Summit County nonprofits secure funding and increase their sustainability through educational programs and services, $2,500
CASA Board Volunteer Association, to recruit and train community volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in the Summit County Juvenile Court system, $15,000
Cascade Locks Park Association, to support the operation and maintenance of historical assets, including the Mustill home and store, $6,500
City of Akron, to support the Beyond the Table grant award program, a neighborhood-based initiative designed to encourage new and creative neighborhood efforts that align with Akron Community Foundation’s On the Table Greater Akron priorities, $60,000
Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, to support environmental education programs for Akron Public Schools students and the completion of the Boston Mill Visitor Center, $45,000
ConxusNEO, to partner with local companies to identify skills gaps, fill current positions and build a talent pipeline, $20,000
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, to provide unique rail experiences and educational field trips for local residents, and to maintain vintage railroad equipment, $21,000
Development Fund of the Western Reserve, to support the Akron Community Revitalization Fund, which improves economically distressed neighborhoods in the City of Akron by offering tax credits and flexible loan terms for revitalization projects within these communities, $10,000
Downtown Akron Partnership, to support downtown business development, beautification, volunteer outreach and public space improvements, $16,000
Dr. Bob's Home, to support the upkeep of Alcoholics Anonymous founder Dr. Bob's home, $5,250
First Tee of Akron, to support the expansion of this golf-based youth development program to two new locations in Cuyahoga Falls and Green, $6,000
Friends of Metro Parks, to connect underserved residents to nature and protect the parks for future generations, $5,000
Friends of WKSU, to support investigative reporting and community engagement in Greater Akron, $5,000
Fund for Our Economic Future, to help transform the Northeast Ohio economy by advancing job creation and preparation initiatives, $33,333
GASP: Guardians Advocating Child Safety and Protection, to support child safety activities, including child identification kits, community outreach programs and educational materials, $5,000
Greater Akron Chamber, to create an inventory of Summit County business leaders and connect them with civic initiatives that drive social and economic impact, $10,000
Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, to support neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including exterior home repair programs and interest-free mortgages, $10,000
Heart to Heart Communications, to support the Leading with Authenticity program for leaders in the Greater Akron nonprofit sector, $2,500
Humane Society of Summit County, for animal intake care, vaccination, and microchipping of Summit County's rescued cats and dogs, $15,000
International Soap Box Derby, to support the All-American Soap Box Derby, STEM education programs, and community engagement events, $25,000
Karen Community of Akron, to support cultural events and programming for Karen refugees who have resettled in Akron, $5,000
Keep Akron Beautiful, to create vibrant public spaces in Akron through urban beautification programs, $10,000
Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, to renovate and repurpose vacant space on Kenmore Boulevard for Kickstand Coffee Co., which will employ and empower local residents while providing rental income to increase the nonprofit’s sustainability, $12,500
Leadership Akron, to support the Signature Class 37 Opening Retreat and Junior Leadership Akron Philanthropy Day Project, $14,000
Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, to support the Akron Civic Commons, Summit Lake Environmental Stewardship Program, which engages neighborhood residents in recreational and volunteer activities to revitalize Summit Lake, $12,500
Safety Forces Support Center, to support mental health services, crisis intervention, and professional training for first responders, $10,000
South Street Ministries, to provide community engagement programs in the Summit Lake neighborhood, as well as re-entry resources for formerly incarcerated residents, $17,500
Summit Food Coalition, to support community access to nutritious and local foods, and to spur the development of a Local Food Action Plan for Summit County, $25,000
Summit Metro Parks Foundation, to support program development at the new Summit Lake Nature Center, $10,000
Truly Reaching You, to support an employment training program for men who are re-entering the community after an extended period of incarceration, $7,500
The Well Community Development Corporation, to increase home ownership in the Middlebury neighborhood by rehabilitating 60 homes in 60 months, $15,000

About Akron Community Foundation
            Celebrating 64 years of building community philanthropy, Akron Community Foundation embraces and enhances the work of charitable people who make a permanent commitment to the good of the community. In 1955, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Edwin Shaw established the community foundation. As of June 30, 2019, it is a philanthropic endowment of nearly $225 million with a growing family of more than 640 funds established by charitable people and organizations from all walks of life. The community foundation and its funds welcome gifts of all kinds, including cash, bequests, stock, real estate, life insurance and retirement assets, just to name a few. To date, the community foundation’s funds have awarded nearly $167 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations. For more information about Akron Community Foundation or to learn more about creating your own charitable fund, call 330-376-8522 or visit www.akroncf.org.