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ACF announces nearly $4 million in grants


Funding includes support for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, civic affairs programming

Today, Akron Community Foundation's board of directors approved grants totaling $3,873,997, including $534,834 in competitive civic affairs grants chosen by the foundation's Community Investment Committee. Also announced today was $150,000 for two proactive grants that have been awarded for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 

One of the proactive grants, a $100,000 award to the Akron Urban League, awarded over three years, will help increase the organization's capacity to lead social justice efforts through the addition of a director of diversity and strategic initiatives. The organization announced earlier this week that Jennifer Ross, Ed.D., has filled this role.  

"The current pandemic has highlighted disparities in health care and unemployment for African Americans," said Teresa LeGrair, president and CEO of the Akron Urban League. "The important work of the Akron Urban League continues to focus on the need for increased programs in workforce development, entrepreneurship and education. The funds awarded by Akron Community Foundation will help us in these efforts, and we are very grateful for the support."

An additional $50,000 in proactive grantmaking was awarded to ConxusNEO to fully convert its training program to a virtual platform and provide innovative community outreach strategies to connect Black residents in Summit County to career opportunities and job preparation resources. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion was identified as an area ripe for community-wide improvement and funding in both On the Table Greater Akron conversations from 2017-19 and in a community needs assessment commissioned by Akron Community Foundation in 2018. In addition to diversity initiatives, the foundation also committed to proactively funding programs related to the aging senior population and drugs and addiction.  

"Between our research and the racial justice protests that have taken place across the country this summer, it's never been more clear that funding focused on equity and inclusion is needed, and it's needed now," said John T. Petures Jr., president and CEO of Akron Community Foundation. "This proactive funding is just one way the community foundation is committed to doing its part to eradicate racism and create a more inclusive community." 

Additionally, as part of its civic affairs grant cycle, the community foundation awarded two grants to propel local journalism and reporting. A $7,500 grant to The GroundTruth Project will support a Report for America reporter in the Akron Beacon Journal newsroom focused exclusively on expanding local coverage of immigrant communities and communities of color. An additional $7,500 was awarded to Friends of WKSU to support investigative reporting and community engagement in Akron. According to The GroundTruth Project, during the peak of journalism in the early 1990s, more than 450,000 reporters were employed in the U.S. Today, that number has dropped to about 180,000, leaving a significant gap in bandwidth for news reporting, especially at the local level. 

This quarter's civic affairs funding was provided from the following field-of-interest and board discretionary funds, which were created by charitable residents to support emerging needs in our community: Allio Memorial Fund; Jean S. and Thomas J. Amer Fund; V.E. (Tom) Atkins Fund; Betty R. Axline Fund; Board of Directors Annual Giving Fund; Decker Endowment Fund for Families; Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Fund; Lisette Ertel Fund; Evant Fund; Lillian D. and Lincoln H. Gries Fund; Hermine Z. Hansen Fund; Lucille Scott Harris Fund; Vivienne S. and Russell R. Johnstone Family Fund; Kathleen Joyce Fund; Arthur Kelly Fund; John S. Knight Fund; William C. Krisher Fund; John A. McAlonan Fund; W. Bishop & Elizabeth C. McIntosh Fund; Howard and Margaret Palmer Fund; Daniel L. and Sherida L. Pohl Fund; Polsky Fund; Helen S. Robertson Fund; James G. Robertson Fund; Roush Memorial Fund; Schrank Family Fund; Shaw Foundation Fund; George Stevens Fund; Jean P. Stevens Fund; Ronald L. Stiles Fund; Dr. Kenneth F. Swanson Fund for the Arts; Emma Vioran Fund; William Wallace Fund; Orpha and Howard Wellock, Parents of Cheryl Wellock Fund; and William C. and Betty J. Zekan Fund.  

An additional $13,300 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; Rita and David George Family Fund; Don and Lynne Gordon, Jr. Fund; Sandra F. Selby Fund; and Alan and Janice Woll Family Fund. 

The following organizations will receive civic affairs grants: 

Akron Marathon, to support virtual race experiences that engage and motivate runners in the community, $10,000 

Akron Parks Collaborative, to support the development of a strategic plan, $5,000 

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, $10,000 

Akron SCORE, to provide one-on-one mentoring and workshops to small businesses and startups in the Greater Akron area, $9,000 

Akron Urban League, to help meet an increasing demand for the organization's programs and services supporting workforce development, entrepreneurship and education for African Americans, $26,000 

Asian Services in Action Inc., to support a public speaking and civic debate program for immigrant and refugee youth attending North High School and Jennings Community Learning Center, $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, $5,250 

BRITE Energy Innovators, to support eight Akron-area clean energy technology startup companies, $1,000  

Business Volunteers Unlimited, to support consulting services designed to strengthen Summit County nonprofits, including board development and leadership training, $5,000 

Candid Midwest, to help Summit County nonprofits secure funding and increase their sustainability through virtual educational programs, resources and services, $5,000 

CASA Board Volunteer Association, to recruit and train community volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in the Summit County Juvenile Court system, $17,000 

Cascade Locks Park Association, to support the operation and maintenance of historical assets, including the Mustill home and store, $5,000 

City of Akron, to support the Mayor's Citizens Institute, a 10-week civic engagement program covering social issues, safety services, arts and culture, and other aspects of city governance, $5,250 

Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, to support environmental education programming and enhance public use of the park, $35,300 

ConxusNEO, to partner with local companies, educators and workforce programs to identify skills gaps, fill current positions, adapt to virtual training software, and build a talent pipeline, $20,000 

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, to provide unique rail experiences for guests and to support the preservation and maintenance of historical railcars, $26,000 

Development Fund of the Western Reserve, to support the Minority Contractor Capital Access Program, which provides funding and technical assistance to businesses owned by people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, veterans and people with disabilities, $10,000 

The Devil Strip, to help the cooperatively owned news organization fund a full-time reporter to provide deeper, solutions-based civic journalism in the areas of public health, economic development, and equity and inclusion, $7,500  

Downtown Akron Partnership, to support downtown business development, beautification, volunteer outreach and public space improvements, $16,250 

Dr. Bob's Home, to support the upkeep of Alcoholics Anonymous founder Dr. Bob's home, $5,000 

First Tee of Greater Akron, to support a youth development program for kids ages 4 to 18 that teaches life skills alongside the game of golf, $7,000 

Friends of Elizabeth Park, to address food insecurity, neighborhood health disparities, and environmental racism through a community empowerment garden for Cascade Valley residents, $5,250 

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 Akron, $7,500 

Fund for Our Economic Future, to help transform the Northeast Ohio economy by advancing job creation and preparation initiatives that promote inclusive economic growth, $33,334 

GASPGuardians Advocating Child Safety and Protection, to support child safety activities, including child identification kits, community outreach programs and educational materials, $5,000 

The GroundTruth Project, to support a Report for America reporter in the Akron Beacon Journal newsroom focused exclusively on expanding local coverage of immigrant communities and communities of color, $7,500 

Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, to support neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including exterior home repair programs and interest-free mortgages, $13,500 

Heart to Heart Leadership, to provide leadership training scholarships for leaders of color in the business and nonprofit sectors, $5,000 

Humane Society of Summit County, for animal intake care, vaccination, and microchipping of Summit County's rescued cats and dogs, $10,000 

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 programming and youth leadership activities for Karen refugees who have resettled in Akron, $5,000 

Keep Akron Beautiful, to support the removal of litter and graffiti in Akron, $10,000 

Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, to support the revitalization of the Kenmore Boulevard Historic District, $10,000 

Leadership Akron, to support the Signature Class 38 Opening Retreat and Junior Leadership Akron Philanthropy Day, $14,000 

Legacies of Success Community Development Corporation, to support homeownership in Akron's North Hill neighborhood by rehabilitating distressed properties for low-income families, $6,000 

North Hill Community Development Corporation, to provide leadership and entrepreneurship opportunities for women and immigrants in Akron's North Hill neighborhood, $5,000 

Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, to support the revitalization of Summit Lake by engaging neighborhood residents in recreational and volunteer activities, $10,000 

One of A Kind Pet Rescue, to create a dental clinic offering low-cost dental services for pets, $12,000 

Open Tone Music, to provide music education programs for students of color in Summit County, $5,000 

Rebuilding Together Northeast Ohio, to provide home repairs and safety modifications that allow low-income, elderly, disabled and veteran homeowners to remain in their homes, $15,000 

Safety Forces Support Center, to support mental health services, crisis intervention and professional training for first responders in Summit County, $10,000 

South Street Ministries, to support community engagement programs in the Summit Lake neighborhood, as well as re-entry resources for formerly incarcerated residents, $17,500 

Summit County Public Health, to recruit and train volunteer guardians for indigent adult wards of the Summit County Probate Court, $10,000 

Summit Food Coalition, to address inequities in the food system by increasing access to nutritious foods, supporting economic opportunities for food-based businesses, and advocating for lasting policy change, $25,000 

Summit Metro Parks Foundation, to support community participation in the Summit Metro Parks centennial celebration, $12,500 

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 support a workforce development pilot program for single mothers in the Middlebury neighborhood, $10,000 

Women's Network Inc., to support leadership training for women of color working at small companies and nonprofits, $11,000 

Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop, to support free virtual academic tutoring, workshops and programming, $15,000 

About Akron Community Foundation 
Celebrating 65 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. It is a philanthropic endowment of nearly $222.5 million with a growing family of more than 680 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 more than $180 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

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