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Inaugural class of Institute for Emerging Philanthropists graduates, awards grants


Akron Community Foundation recently announced the graduation of The Center for Family Philanthropy's inaugural class of its Institute for Emerging Philanthropists, which culminated in an $80,000 grantmaking initiative by class participants.    

Throughout the six-course educational program, which is focused on cultivating the region's future philanthropic leaders, participants identified their personal philanthropic goals and learned evidence-based methods of practicing strategic philanthropy. The $80,000 in grants that they recommended went toward local nonprofit organizations, like Akron Children's Museum, Greenleaf Family Center and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Summit, Medina and Stark Counties.  

Along with making grants to local nonprofits, through their learnings the class members decided to use a portion of their available funding to establish the Institute for Emerging Philanthropists Alumni Endowment Fund, which will create a legacy of giving for future program participants and increase the amount they're able to grant as it grows over the years.  

Although the COVID-19 pandemic led to an area shutdown of events and meetings, the group successfully transitioned to video-based classes culminating in a virtual graduation ceremony featuring a keynote presentation on the history of philanthropy in Akron from local historian and civic leader David Lieberth.

The institute featured seminars with local philanthropists about giving strategies, along with classes led by Akron Community Foundation staff members on the mechanics of evaluating grant proposals, including how to read an IRS Form 990. Class members also honed their own charitable interests and wrote a personal mission statement.  

"Developing a personal mission statement was my biggest light-bulb moment, as it helped me clearly see the organizations that aligned with my mission," said Frank Shotwell, national account manager for The J.M. Smucker Company and a graduate of the inaugural class of the Institute for Emerging Philanthropists. "My cohort and the team at Akron Community Foundation stand out as leaders in our community and will play an important role in preparing the next generation's stewardship of our community."

"Akron Community Foundation's Institute for Emerging Philanthropists has provided citizens in the community with a great opportunity to learn more about this little great community we call Akron and how we can continue to be better philanthropic residents," said class member Rosheadra Edwards, senior financial analyst at FirstEnergy. "As a graduate of the first class, and a non-Akron-born resident, I have become so attached to this great city. Akron has so many hidden beauties and amazing philanthropists that have paved the way for many people to continue helping this community thrive."

Akron Community Foundation will conduct the Institute for Emerging Philanthropists program every other year as an initiative of The Center for Family Philanthropy. The next class will begin in September 2021, with nominations opening in January. The next class will be announced at Akron Community Foundation's annual meeting in July 2021. For more information, visit or contact Karen Hrdlicka, director of The Center for Family Philanthropy, at 330-436-5640 or

Grants from the inaugural class will support the following organizations: 

  • Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, $2,000 
  • Akron Children's Museum, $2,500 
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Summit, Medina & Stark Counties, $1,000 
  • Bulldog Bags, $2,000 
  • Dreams Academy, $5,000 
  • Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio, $5,000 
  • Greenleaf Family Center, $4,000 
  • Humility of Mary Housing, $4,500 
  • Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio, $5,000 
  • Limitless Ambition, $5,000 
  • Pediatric Palliative Care Fund at Akron Children's Hospital, $5,000 
  • Rubber City Church, $5,000 
  • Stewart's Caring Place, $10,000 
  • The Children's Center of Medina County, $5,000 
  • The Well Akron, $5,000 
  • United Way of Summit and Medina, $6,500

About Akron Community Foundation 

Celebrating 65 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. It is a philanthropic endowment of nearly $222.5 million with a growing family of more than 690 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 more than $180 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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