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Akron Community Foundation approves $3.6 million in grants, focuses on early childhood education

Published: February 24, 2017 2:21 PM

AKRON, Ohio –  The Akron Community Foundation announced grants totaling $3,606,282, including $3,103,532 from designated, donor-advised, agency endowment and scholarship funds, and $502,750 in competitive education and early learning grants awarded by its Community Investment Committee.

A number of education grants will focus on early childhood development, as children in low-income neighborhoods often fall behind in learning before they even enter kindergarten.

A grant to Summit Education Initiative will help the organization form Readiness Coalitions, which will coordinate preschools and other early childhood centers with kindergarten educators to help ensure area children are prepared to begin school.

“Early childhood sets the stage for all future learning,” said Laura DiCola, early childhood strategy leader for Summit Education Initiative. “The Readiness Coalitions are designed to bring the world of early educators together with those who are dealing with the same children when they hit the doorsteps of kindergarten.”

Greenleaf Family Center is part of this coalition. The agency’s Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) program, which will receive an education grant this quarter, is a home-based initiative that establishes parents as a child’s first and most important teacher.

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The Charles E. and Mary K. Booth Family Fund and an anonymous fund added $16,000 in donor-advised funding for education programs. The rest of the grants were made possible by the following field-of-interest and unrestricted funds, which were created by charitable residents to support emerging needs in our community: Adam Fund, V.E. (Tom) Atkins Fund, Community Fund, Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Fund, John L. Feudner Jr. Fund, H.A. Flannery Family and James R. Flannery Family Fund, Lillian D. and Lincoln H. Gries Fund, Arthur Kelly Fund, W. Bishop & Elizabeth C. McIntosh Fund, Polsky Fund, Helen S. Robertson Fund, James G. Robertson Fund, Roush Memorial Fund, Shaw Foundation Fund, George Stevens Fund, Ronald L. Stiles Fund and Muriel A. Zodrow Fund.

The following organizations received grants:
Akron Inner City Soccer Club, for an after-school soccer program for inner-city youth from underserved and at-risk families, $10,000

Alchemy Inc., for storytelling and journaling sessions that help urban youth build character and a positive self-image by applying stories to their own experiences, $5,000

Arc of Ohio, to provide advocacy and inclusion programs for students with developmental disabilities in Summit County, $10,000

Asian Services in Action Inc., to support the READY Program, which prepares immigrant and refugee children ages 0 to 6 for successful entry into kindergarten with culturally and linguistically appropriate education, $10,000

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Summit, Medina & Stark County, for one-on-one mentoring that pairs adult role models with children ages 6 to 24 from low-income families, $10,000

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve, for after-school and summer programs for local children, including homework help, hot meals and activities surrounding health, art and other topics, $72,500

Building for Tomorrow, to support the Early Childhood Initiative, which promotes parents as their children’s first and most important teacher, while also providing physical and behavioral health services, $90,500

Child Guidance & Family Solutions, for the Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding Program, which offers training and on-site support to teachers, students and families to increase the social/emotional well-being of young children in preschool programs, $75,000

College Now Greater Cleveland Inc., for college and career advising services for students at two Akron high schools, including financial aid counseling and transition-to-college services, $20,000

Crown Point Ecology Center, to support the Farm and Food Immersion Experience, a summer pilot program that helps high school students in Summit County explore careers in the agriculture and food industries, $7,500

Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, to support programs that empower Summit County youth to combat bias, bigotry and racism, $3,750

Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, for the Journey project, which provides programming to underserved girls in second through fifth grade, offering interactive lessons and badges, $8,000

Global Ties Akron, for the Know Your Community – Know Your World program, which connects students with global and multicultural people and issues, $7,500

Great Lakes Biomimicry, to create a biomimicry education ecosystem in Summit County, engaging educators and students in nature-inspired thinking, wildlife conservation and STEM fields, $10,000

Greenleaf Family Center, for the SPARK program, a home-based, kindergarten readiness program for 3- and 4-year-olds, $15,000

He Brought Us Out Ministry, for an after-school tutoring and summer enrichment program that is tailored for high-risk students in the North Hill neighborhood, $10,000

Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio, for after-school programs in Akron Public Schools that teach students about earning, spending and sharing money, as well as career planning, teamwork and communication, $10,000

Lenibug Foundation, to purchase and distribute books to children living in poverty in the Greater Akron area, $9,500

Project GRAD Akron, for the Bridge to Kindergarten program, which prepares children in the Buchtel cluster for kindergarten through a summer academy, parent engagement activities, and family support services throughout the school year, $27,500

Project Learn of Summit County, to help job seekers secure and maintain employment through hands-on workshops that build skills in interviewing, communication, customer service and problem solving, $20,000

Proyecto Raices, to provide educational support to children of Latino and Hispanic families through activities that increase bilingual literacy, introduce STEM programs, and retain cultural traditions, $10,000

RePlay for Kids, to promote STEM education for Summit County public school students by teaching them to adapt toys for children with disabilities, $3,000

Summit County Family & Children First Council, for First Things First, a countywide program that screens children ages 0 to 5 to help identify and refer needed early intervention services, $9,000

Summit Education Initiative, to support regional early childhood education through Readiness Coalitions, which connect preschool educators, youth-serving community organizations and elementary schools, $17,500

Tri-County Jobs for Ohio Graduates, to provide school- and community-based dropout prevention and recovery programs to more than 300 high-risk Summit County youth ages 16 to 24, $10,000

United Way of Summit County, for Students With A Goal (SWAG), an after-school mentoring program for students ages 11 to 18 in the Summit Lake neighborhood that provides learning, leadership and life skills, $10,000

University of Akron Foundation, to support literacy coaching for teachers at Ledgeview Elementary School in the Nordonia school district, $10,000

Urban Vision, for the Set On Success (S.O.S.) after-school program, which provides academic support and life skills classes for high-risk, inner-city youth, $7,500

Veggie U, for indoor classroom gardens for third-graders and students with special needs in Akron Public Schools, $10,000


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