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Gay Community Endowment Fund to host annual celebration June 7

Akron Mayor Shammas Malik to speak on LGBTQ+ issues in Greater Akron
colorful graphic that says: exHALE, an annual celebration advancing lived equality. benefiting the GCEF scholarship fund.

Tickets are now available for the Gay Community Endowment Fund's 2024 annual celebration, "exhALE: Advancing Lived Equality." The event will take place Friday, June 7, at 6 p.m. at the Knight Stage at the Akron Civic Theatre. General admission tickets start at $50 and can be purchased online at

This annual fundraiser celebrates the Gay Community Endowment Fund's impact in the community and recognizes its most recent grant and scholarship recipients. Proceeds from the event support academic scholarships for LGBTQ+ students and allies in Greater Akron.

This year's celebration will feature the unveiling of the fund's new mission and vision statements, as well as remarks from Akron Mayor Shammas Malik. Guests may also purchase raffle tickets throughout the evening for the chance to win prizes donated by the Cleveland Museum of Art, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Wayside Furniture, the Akron RubberDucks and more.

The event will culminate with the presentation of the 2024 Paul Daum Award to an individual who has demonstrated a significant commitment to LGBTQ+ causes in Greater Akron. In 2023, the fund honored Sandy Varndell, founder of OutSupport, with the award.

"We can't wait to reflect on the successes of the fund's last fiscal year while sharing our vision for the future with the broader community," said Kim Rivers, who is co-chairing this year's event with fellow Gay Community Endowment Fund Board Member Mar-quetta Boddie. "There is no better way to showcase that vision than by supporting LGBTQ+ and allied students who will lead us into the future," added Boddie.

Major sponsors of this year's event include Gregory Hail & Matthew Culler; Raymond Dental Group – Dr. Kate Raymond & Michelle Krocker; the Read Family; Ed & Audrey Kancler; McKenica & Associates – Adam & Tracy Besenyodi; and Presper Financial Architects.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available and range from $500 to $1,500. Sponsors receive complimentary tickets and recognition in event materials, among other benefits. A complete list of sponsorship opportunities can be viewed at For more information, contact Malia Rivera at 330-436-5649 or

About the Gay Community Endowment Fund
Founded in 2001, the Gay Community Endowment Fund is a permanent philanthropic endowment of Akron Community Foundation. The fund advances a lived equality for all LGBTQ+ people in Greater Akron by investing in strategic and responsive grantmaking that empowers the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. Since its inception, the fund has grown to more than $2.2 million while reinvesting nearly $840,000 into the community. Contributions of any amount are welcome and support future grantmaking. Checks should be sent to Akron Community Foundation, 345 W. Cedar St., Akron, OH 44307, with Gay Community Endowment Fund in the memo line. Donations may also be designated for the GCEF Scholarship Fund. For more information, or to contribute, call 330-376-8522 or visit

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 approximately $290 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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