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Akron Community Foundation awards $4.4 million in quarterly grants, approves Education grant cycle 


Education funding focuses on mentoring, literacy, middle school transformation

Akron Community Foundation's board recently announced quarterly grants totaling $4.4 million and approved $760,000 in competitive education grants chosen by the foundation's Community Investment Committee. A total of 41 organizations received funding during the education cycle.

Among the nonprofits receiving education grants this quarter is Dreams Academy, which received funding for Dreams and Queens Academy, a weekly program that helps local students ages 10 to 16 increase their confidence, mental health and self-esteem through activities and dialogue with local professionals. The nonprofit considers itself an "Excellence Incubator" for the community's future leaders.  

"We just try and bring them role models and people to put in front of them to facilitate the sessions that are adult professionals that have been through similar upbringings and come from similar communities as they do," said Brandon Scarborough, executive director of Dreams Academy, who adds that the mentoring time spent with the students each week is crucial for those children. For some participants, this program is their first opportunity to leave the few-mile radius of their neighborhoods.  

Always Climbing, another nonprofit receiving education funding, is taking a unique approach to its mentorship program. As part of its Future Climbers project, high-schoolers mentor students in middle school, and the high-schoolers in turn are mentored by adults in Greater Akron.   

"There are a lot of students, and a lot of high school students in particular, that are ready to be leaders," said Bryce Harris, co-founder and executive director of Always Climbing Project. "They're ready to take that leadership step. They have the great ideas, they have the passion behind it, and a work ethic. They just might need a little bit of guidance." The goal, he added, is to help create a more connected Akron.  

ACF also renewed its commitment to Akron Public Schools' Middle Schools as the board approved a $100,000 education grant to help support the middle school partnership liaison position, which helps build partnerships between the schools and more than 100 local nonprofits, as well as the 8th Grade Changemaker Challenge, where students propose solutions for real-world problems.  

This quarter $24,500 in education funding was contributed by the Charles E. and Mary K. Booth Fund, This Town is My Town Fund, The Howard Atwood Family Fund, and an anonymous fundholder 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. 

Grants will support the following education programs: 

  • ACE Mentor Program of Greater Akron-Canton, to support a mentorship program that introduces students to careers in architecture, construction and engineering, $5,000
  • Akron Children's Museum, to support the Mobile Museum in a Box program, which brings interactive learning experiences to preschoolers in Head Start classrooms throughout Akron, $13,000
  • Akron Inner City Soccer Club, to support youth academic and social development through after-school soccer programming for families with low income in Akron, $13,500
  • Akron Promise, to support the social and emotional health of students and families at Garfield and Innes CLC through activities like team-building exercises, field trips and career preparation, $6,000
  • Akron Public Schools, to support the middle school partnership liaison position, which helps build partnerships between the schools and more than 100 local nonprofits, as well as the 8th Grade Changemaker Challenge, $100,000
  • Akron Youth Mentorship, to support experiential learning for junior high and high school students, the Annual Back to School Bash and other educational initiatives, $6,000
  • Akron Zoo, for the School Transitions program, which includes story-time, animal demonstrations and classroom experiences to help young learners with the transition to kindergarten, $8,000
  • Alchemy Inc., to support an in-school group mentoring program for adolescents in Akron that features mythological storytelling, drumming circles, mentors, journaling and other activities, $8,000
  • Always Climbing Project, for Future Climbers, a mentorship project that helps bridge generational gaps in Akron by connecting high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors with both successful adults and elementary to middle school-age students, $5,000
  • ASIA Inc., for the International Community Empowerment Project (ICEP), which provides academic support, language skills, and other enrichment opportunities for immigrant and refugee students in Akron, $17,500  
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Summit, Medina & Stark Counties, to support one-to-one and site-based mentoring for school-age children in Summit County, $13,500
  • Boy Scouts of America, Great Trail Council, for the Exploring program, which connects youth and community partners through educational and hands-on sessions that help enhance knowledge of potential career paths, $11,000
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio, to support free, evidence-based youth development programming for youth at the LeBron James Club, Steve Wise Club, and Helen Arnold CLC in Akron, $67,000
  • Bridge the Village Inc., to support an after-school program serving students in grades 3 through 12 in Summit County, including tutoring, enrichment activities, and leadership workshops, $15,000
  • Bright Star Books, to support children's book-giving programs in Summit County, $10,750
  • Building for Tomorrow, to support early childhood home visits for residents of Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority focusing on parents' engagement in their child's education with an emphasis on social-emotional and early math and literacy skills, $93,000
  • Child Guidance & Family Solutions, for the Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding Program, which offers training and on-site support for teachers, students and families to help increase the social and emotional well-being of young children in preschool programs, $80,000
  • Citizens Akron Church, for operating support of the Vincent House, an after-school program and safe space for K-12 students in East Akron and their families, $6,000
  • The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, to support diversity, equity and inclusion education for students in Akron Public Schools, $8,000
  • Dreams Academy, to support Dreams and Queens Academy, an 8-week mentoring experience for African American youth ages 10 to 16, $6,000
  • Empower Her Network, to support college and career readiness and persistence for Summit County human trafficking survivors between the ages of 18 and 24, $8,000 
  • Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, for the Girl Scout Journey Program, which offers after-school activities like STEM, financial literacy, and healthy living, $12,000
  • Global Ties Akron, to support global education and cultural diversity programs in Summit County schools, $12,500
  • International Student Services Association Inc., to support immigrant and refugee students at Cuyahoga Falls High School with career exploration and planning, among other areas, $5,250
  • Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio, for financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness programming for K-12 students in Summit County, $10,000
  • Law & Leadership Institute, to support a legal and leadership preparatory institute, a tuition-free program for high school students who are at risk of not graduating high school or attending college, $6,000
  • Leadership Influencing Teen Empowerment, to support leadership development and emotional intelligence training in area high schools and middle schools, $3,500
  • Limitless Ambition, to support educational social-emotional programming for teen girls in Greater Akron, $7,500
  • Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS Air Museum), for a U.S. history & STEM program for Summit County schools, $10,000
  • National Inventors Hall of Fame, to support STEM enrichment programming for Summit County students with a focus on Akron Public Schools, $10,750
  • Project GRAD Akron,for the Bridge to Kindergarten program, which prepares children for kindergarten through a summer academy, parent engagement activities, and family support services throughout the school year, $23,000
  • Project Learn of Summit County, to support family literacy for English learners through the Caregiver English and Conversation Club programs, $15,750
  • Proyecto RAICES, to support the Proyecto RAICES Enrichment Program, which helps youth ages 4 through 14 increase academic and social skills, $10,000
  • Students With A Goal (SWAG), to provide after-school mentoring programs, tutoring, and other enrichment activities for middle school and high school students in Akron, $12,500
  • Summit Education Initiative, for general operating support including the implementation of a new strategic plan, $30,000
  • TomTod Ideas, to support a project-based mentorship program guiding teams of Summit County middle schoolers through the project management process of prototyping and piloting their ideas, $5,000
  • Tri-County Jobs for Ohio's Graduates, to help educate employers to recruit, engage and employ local youth ages 14 to 24, $12,500
  • University of Akron Foundation, to support Summit County's kindergarten through second-grade teachers in evidence-based reading instruction for at-risk readers through an equity-informed multi-tiered system of supports, $12,500
  • University School, to support K-12 Akron educators through the YIPPEE entrepreneurial platform, which allows educators to "shop" for classroom resources at no cost, $7,500
  • Urban Vision, for the Set On Success after-school enrichment program, which provides academic support and life skills classes for students in Akron's North Hill neighborhood, $13,500
  • Young Men's Christian Association of Akron Ohio (YMCA), to support high-quality, affordable early care and education programming, $40,000

About Akron Community Foundation
For 68 years, Akron Community Foundation has been our community's champion and generator of enduring philanthropy. In 1955, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Edwin Shaw established the community foundation. It is a philanthropic endowment of more than $288 million with a growing family of more than 870 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 $236 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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