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Odom Fund grants target fatherhood programs

AKRON, Ohio (Feb. 26, 2013) – The Vernon L. Odom Fund of Akron Community Foundation announced its 2013 grant distributions Friday. In total, $7,500 in grants was awarded to nine Akron-area nonprofits that promote ethnic and racial harmony. 

More than a quarter of this year's Vernon Odom Fund grants went to
programs that help men become better fathers.

The committee allocated more than 25 percent of the funds to programs that help non-custodial fathers develop healthy relationships with their children. A $1,000 grant to Williams Challenge will provide an eight-week skill-building program for men who are transitioning out of the court system or have otherwise been absent from their children’s lives. This free program teaches fathers important parenting skills, including punctuality, responsibility and effective communication. It also provides a supportive environment for men who need help finding employment, gaining visitation rights and re-entering society from prison. 

According to Williams Challenge CEO Frank Williams, children who grow up without an active father are more likely to live in poverty, use drugs, drop out of school or commit a violent crime. But with the help of programs like the Man 2 Man Fatherhood Building Program, men in greater Akron can stop the cycle of absenteeism and become a healthy influence in their children’s lives. 

“By equipping men with the skills (they need) to sustain positive relationships with their children, the course of many young lives could be forever altered for the better,” Williams said.

Other grants this year will provide food for hungry students, teach leadership skills to inner-city adolescents, and improve behavioral services for Spanish-speaking families. The following is a full list of Vernon L. Odom Fund grants:

Blessings in a Backpack (Akron), to provide backpacks of food for the weekend to students in need at Helen Arnold Community Learning Center and the Akron Digital Academy, $500

Child Guidance & Family Solutions, to increase the independence of Spanish-speaking clients by translating therapy materials and health care forms into their native language, $1,000

Fathers and Sons of Northeast Ohio, for fatherhood education classes that help non-custodial fathers be an active parent in their children’s lives, $1,000

Girls on the Run of Greater Summit, Jewish Community Center of Akron, to mentor at-risk girls at Glover Community Learning Center by combining fitness training with discussions about personal values, respect and self-worth, $1,000

One Love Unity, Charisma Community Connections, for Teen Talk, a 12-week open forum that provides a safe space for at-risk adolescents to discuss issues ranging from peer pressure to family dysfunction, $1,000

Opportunity Parish Ecumenical Neighborhood Ministry, for a mentoring program that helps young men from inner-city neighborhoods succeed in school, find employment and make healthy choices, $500

Summit County Youth Employment for Success, to send at-risk teens to the University of Akron’s 2013 Black Male Summit, which addresses critical issues facing young African-American males, $500

Urban Vision, for an incentive program that allows youth participants to purchase school supplies with the “dollars” they’ve earned through good behavior, attendance and grades, $1,000

Williams Challenge, for a fatherhood education and mentoring program that gives at-risk and absent fathers the support they need to develop positive relationships with their children, including help applying for employment and transitioning from incarceration, $1,000

About the Vernon L. Odom Fund
The Vernon L. Odom Fund was established in 1993 in honor of the late Vernon L. Odom Sr., respected long-time leader of the Akron Urban League. Since its inception, the fund has awarded more than $120,000 in grants to innovative programs that promote ethnic and racial harmony and improve the quality of life within greater Akron’s minority communities. For more information about the Vernon L. Odom Fund or to contribute, visit www.akroncf.org/odom or call 330-376-8522.

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.