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ACF celebrates new grants, family philanthropy at annual meeting

Akron Community Foundation logo

Yesterday, Akron Community Foundation officials welcomed more than 450 fundholders, donors, grantees, professional advisor partners and other community leaders to celebrate its growth and success during its fiscal year ending March 31, 2019. Guests gathered at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn and learned that during the past fiscal year both contributions to the community foundation, and grants and distributions, neared $10.9 million.

Outgoing board member Steven Cox announced that the foundation's more than 640 funds represent $220.2 million in assets and have collectively invested more than $163 million in grants back into the community since the community foundation's inception in 1955.

Former Board Chair Steve Strayer also announced during the event that local historian Dave Lieberth will be honored with Akron Community Foundation's Bert. A Polsky Humanitarian Award on Oct. 15. Lieberth will be the 52nd recipient of the award, which Akron Community Foundation presents each year to an individual or couple who has shown selfless dedication to humanitarian causes in Akron.

John Petures, president and CEO of Akron Community Foundation, discussed two new grantmaking programs the foundation instituted during the past year: the On the Table Community Impact Awards and the Capital Improvements grants. He also announced that the community foundation will announce its first round of proactive grants this fall. Funding will be focused on topics that emerged in On the Table surveys, as well as in research provided through a community needs assessment. The three funding areas the foundation and its Community Investment Committee have determined are: the aging senior population, drugs & addiction, and diversity, equity & social inclusion.

Petures also told attendees about the $1.65 million expansion and renovation taking place at the community foundation's office. He announced that the project will be completed in February of 2020 and it is being fulfilled without taking on debt or diminishing board discretionary grantmaking back into the community.

The expansion will include a physical home for The Center for Family Philanthropy, the foundation's new resource center for charitable families. Cheryl Venarge spoke to the crowd about the involvement her family has had with the foundation's charitable resources over the years and the importance of including family members in decisions from a young age.

"We had our first annual family meeting in 2011, including our four oldest granddaughters, ages nine, seven, six, and four. We all know children learn through experiences. When they see how much of an impact they can make, they're hooked," said Venarge. "Our meeting did all of the above. It introduced the younger children to agencies in our town that are working with families and children. Our girls listened and asked questions, and yes, they were hooked."

Also at the meeting, Marty Hauser, Governance Committee member, introduced the slate of incoming officers for Akron Community Foundation's board of directors: Rick Fedorovich, Bober Markey & Fedorovich, chair; Ilene Shapiro, Summit County Executive, vice chair; Mike Zeleznik, Zeleznik & Associates, treasurer and finance chair; Robert Cooper, CBRE, secretary; Sylvia Trundle, Retired, Akron Police Department, community investment chair; Rob Malone, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, community relations chair; Sarah Friebert, M.D., Akron Children's Hospital, governance chair; and Steve Strayer, PNC Institutional Asset Management Group, immediate past chair.

Hauser welcomed the board's newest members, who accepted a three-year appointment to the board: Whitt Butler, Akron managing partner at Ernst & Young; Carla Chapman, director of community relations and diversity, equity and inclusion for Akron Public Schools; and Keeven White, president & CEO of WhiteSpace Creative. He then thanked Tommy Bruno and Steve Cox, who retired from the board.

Incoming board chair Fedorovich closed the evening by thanking Strayer for his decade of service on the board, including the last two years serving as board chair.

"[Steve's] championed large-scale strategic plan initiatives, from building renovations to revamping professional advisor policies to executing the On the Table Greater Akron program," said Fedorovich. "He has also helped make smaller, yet meaningful improvements behind the scenes to make sure your community foundation is one of -- if not the -- strongest run organizations in Summit County."

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