AKRON, Ohio – The Women’s Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation recently awarded $114,460 to 19 nonprofit organizations that uplift women and girls in Summit County. This latest round of grants represents the largest amount awarded in a single year in the fund’s 24-year history and brings its cumulative grant-making total to more than $960,000.
Among this year’s funding priorities were health and wellness, safety from violence, and economic empowerment for local women and girls.
Several grants this year supported programs that help women and girls develop healthy relationships, including an $8,000 grant to the Rape Crisis Center for Heroes 4 Hope, a violence prevention education program for teens. Formerly known as the Tina Project, this school-based program helps prevent dating and sexual violence by teaching middle and high school students about bullying, consent, healthy relationships and how to be an active bystander.
With the help of the Women’s Endowment Fund grant, the program will reach more than 4,500 students in Summit County during the time when girls are most vulnerable.
“Young women ages 16 to 24 are at the highest risk of experiencing sexual violence, and an alarming one out of four high school girls has already been victimized,” said Cindy Bloom, director of the Rape Crisis Center. “Without the Heroes 4 Hope program, young women may not recognize the signs of dating violence or know where to turn after an assault has occurred.”
In addition to teaching adolescents about the warning signs of abuse, the program also emphasizes the hallmarks of a healthy relationship, including mutual respect, honest communication, and the freedom to make your own choices.
Since its inception, the Women’s Endowment Fund has granted a total of $30,000 to the Rape Crisis Center to support programs that raise awareness about sexual violence and advocate for women and girls who are affected by this crime.
“The mission of the Rape Crisis Center is perfectly aligned with the funding priorities and mission of the Women’s Endowment Fund,” said Barb Greene, co-chair of the WEF Grants Committee. “We’re proud to support an organization that provides such critical services for women and girls in our community.”
Other grants from the Women’s Endowment Fund this year will provide financial counseling to women in poverty, purchase baby supplies for homeless teenage mothers, and support job readiness programs for women recovering from addiction.
The following is a full list of organizations receiving grants:
ACCESS Inc., to meet the emergency needs of homeless women and children, including safe shelter, counseling, addiction support and job readiness training, $10,000
Asian Services in Action Inc., to provide culturally sensitive support groups and domestic violence education to Hmong women in Akron, $3,000
Battered Women’s Shelter, to provide protective shelter, food, clothing and counseling for victims of domestic violence, $10,000
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve Inc., to provide summer program scholarships for at-risk girls in Summit County, $4,960
Building for Tomorrow, to support the Reach Opportunity Center, which helps families in the Summit Lake neighborhood rise above poverty by providing job readiness programs for women and preparing young children for kindergarten, $5,000
Girls on the Run Northeast Ohio, to support a running-based program for girls in Summit County that combines physical activity with discussions about self-confidence, bullying and healthy relationships, $5,000
Greenleaf Family Center, to support a perinatal program for African-American women in Summit County that reduces infant mortality through early prenatal care and maternal education, $10,000
International Institute of Akron, to support a “Mommy and Me” program for Afghan refugee women that will increase their language and self-sufficiency skills while preparing their young children for kindergarten, $9,500
Mustard Seed Development Center, for a financial counseling program that helps Summit County women secure stable housing, improve their credit, and develop a budget, $8,000
Not Wasted (Truly Reaching You), for a job skills training program for women in Summit County who have been incarcerated or are recovering from addiction, $5,000
OhioGuidestone, for a maternal depression program that provides in-home mental health assessments and support services for pregnant women and new mothers in Summit County, $5,000
OPEN M, to help women in poverty become economically self-sufficient through a financial literacy and job mentoring program, $5,000
Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, to teach girls in Akron-area high schools about healthy relationships, birth control and sexually transmitted infections using an evidence-based, LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, $7,500
Rape Crisis Center, to prevent dating and sexual violence by educating middle and high school students about bullying, consent and healthy relationships, $8,000
Shelter Care Inc., to purchase baby supplies for homeless teenage mothers living at the pregnancy shelter, $2,500
South Street Ministries, to support an arts-based mentoring program for teenage girls in the Summit Lake neighborhood that builds character and self-esteem, $4,000
Students With A Goal, for Girls Circle, a discussion group for adolescent girls in the Summit Lake neighborhood that promotes healthy lifestyle choices, pregnancy prevention, entrepreneurship and personal accountability, $2,000
Victim Assistance Program Inc., to provide 24-hour crisis response services for victims of crime and trauma in Summit County, $5,000
Women’s Network Inc., to create a leadership and management training curriculum for female professionals, $5,000