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Proactive grant to help with equitable downtown development 


Akron Community Foundation awards $52,000 grant to Downtown Akron Partnership to help create equitable investment and development 

Main Street in Downtown Akron
Main Street in Downtown Akron | Photo by LoveWhatIDo Photography

Akron Community Foundation's board of directors recently approved a proactive grant that will help bring equitable access for future investment and development to downtown Akron. The $52,000 grant to Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) will enable the organization to develop an equitable framework as it continues to bring new businesses and residency to the city's core.  

Much like the Elevate Greater Akron initiative, an areawide partnership that focuses in part on equitable housing and commercial real estate, this project will create a framework that "informs and instructs equitable economic development holistically," according to DAP. For example, one of the main recommendations of an earlier downtown plan includes a possible hotel near the John S. Knight Center; an equitable framework would help ensure that equity be considered when including contractors, suppliers, and employees as part of this development, said Kimberly Beckett, vice president and interim president of Downtown Akron Partnership.  

DAP embarked on a similar, consensus-led planning process with the 2018 Downtown Akron Vision + Redevelopment Plan, which brought over $200 million in private investment to residential projects. The recommendations for the equity framework will include successful best practices learned from other cities, which will be applied to workforce development, employment, financial literacy, small business development, entrepreneurship, development financing, and housing.  

After creating this framework, DAP plans to take these recommendations to a large alliance of area partners, like City of Akron, Summit County, Metro RTA, Development Finance Authority, and Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA). Beckett, who points out the earlier downtown plan spurred several neighborhood plans, said there are hopes that, when completed, the equity framework can be expanded and applied to the city as a whole. Another DAP consensus-led initiative, called Start Downtown, has specifically focused on supporting businesses owned by people of color, helping to increase the number of Black-owned businesses downtown from two to 18 between 2018 and 2023. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion is a focus of ACF's proactive grants, which enables the community foundation to work with targeted nonprofit partners to tackle key issues facing our community. Since 2019, the community foundation has invested nearly $680,000 in proactive grants to help move the needle on important issues, like drugs and addiction; diversity, equity and inclusion; and our aging senior population, among others.   

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 more than $288 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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