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Akron Community Foundation announces record $8.5 million in quarterly grants

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Competitive grants support health and human services needs in Summit County.

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Today, Akron Community Foundation’s board of directors approved a record amount of quarterly grants totaling $8,579,481, including $594,500 in competitive health and human services grants chosen by the foundation’s Community Investment Committee, as well as two off-cycle education and arts and culture grants.

This quarter’s health and human services funding included a $6,000 grant to Empower Her Network (EHN), to provide support and empowerment for Akron survivors of human trafficking. EHN works with survivors of human trafficking by removing housing barriers, providing financing education, and uncovering employment opportunities. The organization has nine locations across the United States, including Northeast Ohio.

The Polaris Project's U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline saw 22,326 individual human trafficking victims in 2019, a nearly 20% increase compared to 2018. The majority of these individuals are minors and immigrants. In Ohio alone, nearly 900 victims and more than 170 traffickers were identified. Though the hotline received more calls, texts and other contacts in 2019 compared to any other year of recorded data, unfortunately many cases of human trafficking go unreported.

"Survivors of human trafficking in Akron need people and organizations to invest in removing obstacles that shouldn't be there in the first place, so survivors can accomplish their goals and be on their own," said Kristy Norbert, co-founder and executive director of EHN. "With EHN and Akron Community Foundation collaborating, we will be able to break generational cycles of poverty and exploitation for survivors in the Akron community."

In addition, Akron Community Foundation’s board approved a $12,500 grant to support Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy to expand food access programs at Summit County farmers markets and help alleviate increasedfood insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our mission is to build a vibrant food community by connecting people, food and land. That means all people," said Tracy Emrick, CEO of Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy. "Never in our society should ensuring health and dignity be defined by someone’s financial capacity. Our programs are empowering families who want to choose fresh, healthy food. The rate of poverty and hunger in our community is staggering and now with COVID-19, it’s even more devastating. The demand for assistance programs like ours is growing significantly, and Akron Community Foundation’s grant means that Countryside can reach more people in need.  We will continue to do all we can to serve our community until lasting change arrives."

An additional $37,000 in health and human services 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 & David George Family Fund, Eleanor and Roger Lindway Family Fund, Summit Portage Area Health Education Fund, and The Alan and Janice Woll Family Fund.

Their grants will support the following health and human services programs:

  • A Kid Again Northern Ohio, to offer destination adventures for families of children with life-threatening illnesses, $5,500
  • ACCESS, to provide services to women facing homelessness, including short-term secure housing, case management, health counseling and job readiness training, $21,500
  • Akron Blind Center, to offer programs, resources and classes for blind and visually impaired individuals in Summit County, including Braille, computer literacy, physical fitness, crafts and volunteerism, $9,000
  • Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, to support food distribution in Summit County, as well as the 2021 Feeding Kids Initiative, a backpack and after-school snack program for local children, $41,500
  • Akron Children’s Hospital, to expand the Reach Out and Read program to focus on infants and children with autism, ADHD, developmental delays, anxiety, behavior problems, and spina bifida, $7,500
  • American Red Cross of Summit & Portage Counties, to support disaster preparedness, response and recovery services in Summit County, $15,000
  • Autism Society of Greater Akron, to support children and adults on the autism spectrum, $5,500
  • Battered Women's Shelter, to support crisis intervention services for victims of domestic and sexual violence, $35,000
  • Birthing Beautiful Communities, to address and improve the systemic and community structures that lead to poor birth outcomes through education, advocacy, support programs and community engagement, $3,500
  • Bobby Tripodi Foundation, to provide specialized bereavement support groups and grief therapy for those in need, $1,000
  • Broken Chains Jail & Prison Ministry, to support mentoring and workforce development programs for former offenders in Summit County to help eliminate barriers that lead to recidivism, $10,000
  • Caring Hands Charity, to provide hot meals to venerable individuals living in Summit County, $2,500
  • Catholic Charities of Summit County, to support the 2021 Emergency Assistance Program, which offers rent and utility assistance to residents in need, $15,000
  • Celiac and Allergy Friendly Food Initiative, to support a food pantry serving allergy-friendly food to low-income families, $2,500
  • Chair-ity, Inc, to provide furniture and household goods to young adults who have aged out of foster care systems in Summit County, $7,500
  • Christ Child Society of Akron, to provide clothing for low-income students, $10,500
  • Cleveland Clinic Akron General, to support training to mitigate unconscious bias towards patients living in generational poverty, $2,000
  • Community Legal Aid Services, to support the HEAL project, a medical-legal partnership that represents patients and families when issues like education, housing and public benefits threaten their health, $25,000
  • CORE Furniture Bank, to provide donated furniture to Summit County families in need, $9,000
  • Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, to expand food access programs at Summit County farmers markets and help alleviate food insecurity due to increased needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, $12,500
  • Embracing Futures, to provide orthodontic treatment for children in underserved families, $3,500
  • Empower Her Network, to provide support and empowerment for two Akron survivors of human trafficking, $6,000
  • Family & Community Services, to address senior hunger in Summit County by providing home-delivered and congregate meals through the Mobile Meals program, $20,000
  • Family Promise of Summit County, to help homeless families with children remain together and achieve lasting independence, $9,000
  • First Glance Student Center, to support mentoring and outreach programs for at-risk teens in Kenmore, $8,500
  • Forget-Me-Not Baskets, to provide bereavement items for families who have experienced a loss during pregnancy or childbirth at Akron-area hospitals, $3,000
  • Freedom House for Women, to decrease addiction and homelessness in Summit County women by providing substance abuse treatment, recovery housing, and support services, $8,000
  • Girls on the Run Northeast Ohio, to support a physical activity-based youth development program that promotes confidence and healthy choices for girls in high-poverty neighborhoods throughout Summit County, $9,000
  • Grace House Akron, to support access to end-of-life care for low- to moderate-income residents in Greater Akron, $6,500
  • GriefCare Place, to provide free support group counseling and other programs for residents grieving the loss of a loved one, $2,500
  • Harmony House, to provide housing and supportive services to homeless youth in Summit County, $5,500
  • IBH Addiction Recovery Center, to track the long-term, post-treatment success of clients who have completed the residential substance abuse treatment program, $10,000
  • International Institute of Akron, to provide mental health services and case management for refugees and immigrants with significant barriers to economic and social stability, $15,000
  • Jewish Family Service of Akron, to support the Happy, Healthy and At Home program, which offers case management, information referrals, counseling and other critical services for Summit County senior citizens, $10,000
  • Let's Grow Akron, to provide affordable and locally grown healthy food for low-income residents in Greater Akron’s urban areas, $12,500
  • NAMI Summit County, to provide basic household items to residents with serious mental illness who are transitioning from homelessness, group home living, or incarceration, $5,000
  • Open Arms Adoptions, to support the Keeping Siblings Together by Adoption, community outreach and education program to increase the rate of sibling group adoptions, $6,000
  • OPEN M, to support the organization’s free clinics and pharmacies for uninsured and underserved residents of Summit County, $18,000
  • Pegasus Farm, to support rehabilitation, mental health services and additional therapy at the Military Family Center, $4,000
  • Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, to provide low-income women at the Akron Health Center with long-acting reversible contraception, $20,000
  • Prevent Blindness Ohio, to provide vision care for at-risk individuals in Summit County, $7,500
  • RAHAB Ministries, to support outreach, mentoring and safe housing for victims of human trafficking, $20,000
  • Red Oak Behavioral Health, to expand its mental health programs through family therapy, $5,000
  • Ronald McDonald House Akron, to provide a home away from home for families with children receiving care at Akron Children’s Hospital or nearby medical facilities, $10,000
  • Second Chance Village, to lease a rest center to provide food, support and hygiene needs for unhoused adults in East Akron, $2,500
  • Shelter Care, Inc., to support the Safe Landing Youth Shelter Program, providing immediate assistance to youth and families in a time of crisis to prevent involvement in the juvenile court system and youth homelessness, $3,500
  • Stewart’s Caring Place, to offer support groups and educational programs for residents affected by cancer, $5,000
  • Summit County Community Partnership, to support the Deterra Project, which reduces access to unused and expired opiates by providing drug deactivation pouches that safely neutralize prescription medicines, $10,000
  • Summit County Fatherhood Initiative, to provide education, legal assistance, mentoring and other support services for fathers in Summit County who have previously been incarcerated or estranged from their children, $14,000
  • United Disability Services, to provide employment services, including skills assessments and interview training, for Summit County residents with severe disabilities, $15,000
  • United Way of Summit County, to help residents navigate health and social services available in Summit and Medina Counties through the 2-1-1 information and referral helpline, $15,000
  • VANTAGE Aging, to help older adults remain in their homes by providing in-home assistance, including personal care, cleaning, grocery shopping and other critical services, $18,500
  • Victim Assistance Program, to provide 24-hour support and advocacy for victims of crime and sudden trauma, $20,000
  • Victory Gallop, to support therapeutic horseback riding programs for children with behavioral challenges and life-threatening illnesses, $6,000
  • Whitehawk Ranch, to provide life-skills training to promote emotional resilience, heathy lifestyles and goal setting for homeless youth, $2,500
  • Women's Auxiliary Board, Summit County Children Services, to promote safer sleeping conditions by providing beds for kids in the care of children’s services, $6,000

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