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Vernon L. Odom Fund announces grants to empower minority youth

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Group of kids standing around a statue
A grant to South Akron Youth Mentorship supported a hip-hop summer camp for local teens.

On Friday, March 6, the Vernon L. Odom Fund of Akron Community Foundation awarded $6,750 in grants to programs that promote diversity and enrich the quality of life within local minority communities.

Several of this year’s grants supported mentoring and enrichment programs for area youth, including a $1,000 grant to South Akron Youth Mentorship for Fresh Camp, a weeklong hip-hop music program for teens in the Arlington Road neighborhoods of Southeast Akron. The camp uses the power of music to encourage at-risk youth to become change agents in their community by addressing social justice, education and health concerns.

"After walking through their neighborhood with adult mentors and discussing both the assets and needs that they observe, students will craft their own messages to promote community health," said Donald C. Breece, executive director of SAYM.

Professional artist mentors will guide students through the entire hip-hop songwriting process, including beat-making, lyric writing, mixing, recording and performing. Participants will also learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

"Our ultimate goal is to have the children share their message and new skills by performing at local events to promote a fresh, uplifting impact in their community," Breece said. "These at-risk students will learn that they do have a voice and the ability to become community change agents."

Other grants awarded this year will support a tour of Akron’s African American history, provide year-round soccer programs for inner-city youth, and build positive relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

The following is a full list of Vernon L. Odom Fund grants:

Akron Inner City Soccer Club, for a year-round, after-school soccer program for inner-city youth, $1,000

Dancing Classrooms Northeast Ohio, to support a ballroom dancing program for fifth graders at Forest Hill Community Learning Center that teaches teamwork, self-confidence and respect, $1,000

Embrace Clinic & Care Center, to support a fatherhood mentoring program that equips fathers to connect with and care for their children, $500

First Tee of Akron, for the 2020 Putting with the Police event, which aims to build trust between law enforcement officers and the southwest Akron community through an informal golf competition and outreach activities, $750

LeBron James Grandmothers Fan Club, to support a mentoring program for third graders at Helen Arnold Community Learning Center that provides academic and social support for at-risk students, $1,000

South Akron Youth Mentorship, to support a hip-hop music camp that empowers teens living in the Arlington Road neighborhood to use their voice to become change agents in their community, $1,000

Summit County Historical Society, to support a trolley tour during the University of Akron’s Rethinking Race forum featuring the city’s African American history and a hike to the John Brown Monument, $500

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, $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 longtime leader of the Akron Urban League. Since its inception, the fund has grown to almost $220,000 and awarded nearly $200,000 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 64 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 more than $238 million with a growing family of more than 670 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 $173 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 www.akroncf.org.

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