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Women’s fund breaks record grant total

AKRON, Ohio (Feb. 26, 2013) – The Women’s Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation recently awarded $95,000 to 11 Summit County nonprofit organizations that improve life for women and girls. This is the largest amount awarded in a single year in the fund’s 20-year history. 

Girls on the Run combines physical fitness with
programming that improves girls' self-esteem.

The announcement comes during the final stretch of the fund’s endowment campaign, which seeks to raise $2.013 million by its 20th anniversary in 2013. Money raised from the campaign will help grow the Women’s Endowment Fund’s impact on local women and girls by continuing to increase its annual grant awards. 

This latest round of grants was ratified by Akron Community Foundation’s board on Friday, Feb. 22, at its quarterly meeting. Among the funding priorities were health and wellness, safety from violence, and economic empowerment for women and girls. A $10,000 grant to Building for Tomorrow will provide education and support to women with maternal depression in Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority communities. 

According to AMHA Community Partnerships Coordinator Katie Collard, maternal depression is very common for women living in poverty. In fact, more than 40 percent of the mothers screened in AMHA neighborhoods show signs of depression. 

“When you’re not sure where your next meal is coming from or if you’ll be able to keep your utilities on, it becomes a really vulnerable time,” Collard said.

Research shows that maternal depression can significantly affect the bond between a mother and her child. If not addressed, the lack of attachment can negatively impact the child’s long-term mental, physical and emotional development. 

“When moms don’t have the energy or strength or desire to bond with their babies, they’re not making that initial attachment, which is so crucial to a child’s development,” Collard said. “We need to address the depression so there’s not a trickle-down effect on these children.”

The Women’s Endowment Fund grant will provide monthly support groups where women can learn coping strategies and get help from other mothers. Topics discussed in the support groups range from self-care and time management to budgeting and parenting. Mothers are screened every third session to track their improvement, and early results have shown significant improvement in the women’s sleeping habits and other physical signs of depression.

“By improving the mental health of moms in these neighborhoods, the program enriches the lives of entire families and, by extension, the whole community,” said Tracy Carter, president of the Women’s Endowment Fund. “It’s an investment that will pay dividends for years to come.”

Other grants this year will help prevent teen dating violence, provide women in poverty with transportation, and prepare high school girls for college. The following is a full list of organizations receiving Women’s Endowment Fund grants:

Building for Tomorrow, to raise awareness about maternal depression, and to provide education and support to mothers in Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority neighborhoods, $10,000

Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron, to support Respect, a teen dating violence and sexual assault prevention program, $5,000

Community Legal Aid Services Inc., for the HEAL Program at Summa Women’s Health Center, which helps patients address non-medical barriers to health, including economic instability, insecure housing, threats to physical safety, and poor access to education, $10,000

Girls on the Run of Greater Summit, Jewish Community Center of Akron, to mentor girls in high-poverty neighborhoods through a program that combines fitness training with discussions about personal values, respect and self-worth, $5,000

H.M. Life Opportunity Services, to support the Mobile Moms program, which provides used cars to women transitioning out of homelessness, $20,000

Kent State University Foundation, for Sisters United Now, which teaches African-American girls in the Project GRAD Akron program healthy coping strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety, $13,900

Mental Health America of Summit County Inc., for mental health and stress management workshops for adolescent girls living in AMHA neighborhoods, $6,000

Mustard Seed Development Center, for a financial counseling and case management program that helps Summit County women secure stable housing, rebuild their credit and get out of debt, $5,100

Opportunity Parish Ecumenical Neighborhood Ministry, for Diamond Ladies, a mentoring program for adolescent girls that focuses on career exploration, community service and healthy behaviors, $4,000

Project GRAD Akron, for a college readiness summer program at Buchtel High School that teaches girls about healthy relationships, positive decision-making, nutrition and goal setting, $6,000

Victim Assistance Program, to prevent recurring violence against women by helping victims navigate the judicial system and file protection orders, $10,000

About the Women’s Endowment Fund
The Women’s Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation was established in 1993 as a permanent endowment committed to encouraging the advancement of Summit County women and girls. To date, it has grown to more than $2 million and awarded nearly $600,000 in grants. In order to grow its impact on local women and girls, the fund seeks to raise $2.013 million by 2013 in celebration of its 20th anniversary. Contributions of any amount are welcome. You can give online at www.akroncf.org/give/WEFcampaign or via mail to Women’s Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation, 345 W. Cedar St., Akron, Ohio, 44307. For more information, call 330-376-8522 or visit www.akroncf.org/wef

About Akron Community Foundation
Celebrating 57 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. Today, it is a philanthropic endowment of more than $140 million with a growing family of more than 400 funds established by charitable people and organizations from all walks of life. The community foundation welcomes 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 $105 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.