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Vernon L. Odom Fund awards $10,500 in grants

Grants will support programs empowering children and families in Summit County
Students With A Goal (SWAG) received a $1,000 grant to support a weekly reading circle.
Students With A Goal (SWAG) received a $1,000 grant to support a weekly reading circle.

On Friday, March 1, the Vernon L. Odom Fund of Akron Community Foundation awarded $10,500 in grants to programs dedicated to enriching the quality of life among local communities of color. Funding this year was awarded to organizations offering leadership training for youth, programs empowering parents, and more.

Frank Williams, president and CEO of Williams Challenge, explained the impact of the organization's free fatherhood mentoring program. "We are committed to developing strong families and ending the cycles of poverty and incarceration. The goal is for absent fathers to become more involved, responsible parents, impacting hundreds of children by increasing stability and removing barriers to connecting with their children."

This year, Limitless Ambition and The Village Is Us also received grants to support parenting programs. A $750 grant to Limitless Ambition will support its mother-daughter brunch, which features bonding activities designed to help mothers strengthen their relationship with their teenage daughters.

Additional grants will support Bondage Breakers' All Youth Matter project for young children and teens, as well as the Akron Urban League's Young Adult Council for older teens and young adults. Both programs teach important life skills and healthy coping strategies to youth in our community.

The following is a complete list of the 12 organizations that received a grant from the Vernon L. Odom Fund in 2024:

  • Akron Inner City Soccer Club, to support an after-school soccer program for under-served and low-income families in Akron, $1,000
  • Akron Urban League, to support the Young Adult Council, a project that connects diverse youth ages 16-26 from historically disadvantaged communities to caring adult mentors who will teach them life and leadership skills, $500
  • Akron Youth Mentorship, to support the Fresh Camp summer series, which provides Akron youth with opportunities to creatively express themselves while promoting healthy decision-making, work habits and collaboration with peers, $500
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Zeta Theta Omega Chapter, to support Perfecting Our Pearls, a one-day youth leadership program that provides girls from diverse backgrounds with education and mentorship, while improving their self-esteem, $1,000
  • Bondage Breakers Inc., to support the All Youth Matter project, which helps children and teens from West Akron improve their social and emotional skills, $750
  • Law & Leadership Institute, to increase the capacity of a tuition-free, four-year college preparatory program for promising high school students who are at risk of not graduating high school or attending college, $1,000
  • Limitless Ambition, to support a mother-daughter brunch event that will empower Summit County mothers to strengthen their relationship with their teenage daughters $750
  • South Street Ministries, to provide reentry services and peer-to-peer support groups for returning citizens, $1,000
  • Students With A Goal (SWAG), to support a weekly reading circle that will foster literacy, facilitate meaningful dialogues on race, and introduce students to authors from diverse backgrounds, $1,000  
  • Summit Artspace, to support the creation and exhibition of "The Aunties," a collection by local artist Sylvia Sykes that explores diverse examples of womanhood, $1,000
  • The Village Is Us, to support The FatherHood Meet Up, a transformative program dedicated to empowering Black fathers and fostering positive family environments, $1,000
  • Williams Challenge, to strengthen families by providing a fatherhood mentoring program at no cost to low-income, absent or recently incarcerated fathers, $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 more than $240,000 while awarding nearly $235,000 in grants to innovative programs that promote ethnic and racial harmony and improve the quality of life within Greater Akron's communities of color. For more information about the Vernon L. Odom Fund or to contribute, visit or call 330-376-8522.

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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