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ACF awards $1.65 million in grants

10/3/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

More than $400,000 will support countywide and neighborhood-based civic programs

AKRON — The Akron Community Foundation (ACF) Board of Directors has ratified $1.65 million in grants, including 271 grants totaling more than $1.2 million from designated, donor-advised, agency endowment and scholarship funds. The board also approved 27 grants totaling $445,500 for local civic programs from discretionary, or board-directed, funds.

More than 30 percent of the discretionary funding will revitalize local neighborhoods through home construction and rehabilitation, beautification and vacant property demolition.

A grant to Western Reserve Land Conservancy’s Thriving Communities Institute will provide the city of Akron with an inventory of residential properties and locations of vacant houses within the community. Data from the 2010 U.S. Census showed more than 12,000 vacant homes in Akron. With demolition costs estimated at $10,000 per unit, Jonathan Logue, development director for the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, said the inventory will provide a “road map” of properties for which demolition makes the most sense in the context of overall redevelopment plans. It also positions the city to capitalize on the recently announced $60 million in available funding within the state for vacant home demolition.

Robin Darden Thomas, land bank program director for the Thriving Communities Institute, added, “There is money out there, but to be successful in securing state and federal funding for demolition, cities are required to have concrete plans for revitalization. Funding guidelines are tight, and the project supported by this grant will better prepare Akron to capitalize on funding.”

In 2012, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine made available $120 million in funds through Moving Ohio Forward, a funding program developed through a combination of national mortgage settlement money and local matching funds. Summit County received more than $7 million from the program. The federal government has slated an additional $60 million from the federal Hardest Hit Fund for vacant home demolition. Summit County’s share of these funds will be based on its strategic demolition plan.

Other discretionary grants will provide emergency home repairs for seniors, mentoring for minority business owners and court advocates for abused and neglected children. These grants were awarded from the following field-of-interest and unrestricted funds created by charitable residents to support emerging needs in the Akron community: the V.E. (Tom) Atkins Fund, Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Fund, Arthur Kelly Fund, John S. Knight Fund, William C. Krisher 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, William C. and Betty J. Zekan Fund and the Community Fund.

The following grants were approved:

  • Akron Digital Media Center Designated Fund of ACF, to train citizen journalists to share news and information from and about their neighborhoods, $30,000;
  • Gay Community Endowment Fund of ACF, to support the 2014 Gay Games, a sports and culture festival that emphasizes inclusion, which is expected to draw more than 33,000 visitors to Northeast Ohio and generate approximately $57 million in economic impact, $35,000;
  • Akron Community Service Center & Urban League, for operating support to sustain the agency’s programs and services to minorities in Summit County, $20,000;
  • Akron Community Service Center & Urban League Partnership for the Minority Business Accelerator, to provide intensive mentoring and training to minority business owners, $20,000;
  • Akron Inner City Soccer Club, for free after-school soccer programs throughout the year and seasonal youth soccer camps, $5,000;
  • Akron Regional Development Board Educational Fund, for the HYPE Summit, a conference designed by and for young professionals to attract and engage a new generation of leaders in Greater Akron, $2,500;
  • Akron Rotary Camp for Children With Special Needs Inc., to construct a new, handicap-accessible recreation and resource center, including a medical facility for campers, $20,000;
  • CASA Board Volunteer Association Inc., to recruit and train volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in Summit County Juvenile Court, $10,000;
  • City of Akron, for the 2014 Neighborhood Partnership Program, which helps residents revitalize and celebrate their community through beautification efforts, festivals, safety programs and more, $80,000;
  • Cleveland International Film Festival, to bring the 2014 Film Festival to Akron for a third time with screenings at the Akron Art Museum and the Akron-Summit County Public Library, $5,000;
  • Cleveland Restoration Society Inc., for the Akron Heritage Home Program, which provides low-interest loans to help low- and moderate-income homeowners make energy-efficient upgrades to their older homes, $7,500;
  • Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, for general operating support to implement strategic programming for adults, families and volunteers, $20,000;
  • Crown Point Ecology Center, for the Watershed Improvement Project, which helps sustain and grow Crown Point’s programs by improving access to water, reducing soil erosion and expanding growing capacity to include year-round food production, $10,000;
  • Cuyahoga Valley Preservation and Scenic Railway Association, for alternative transportation, as well as educational and recreational rail trips through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio & Erie Canalway, $10,000;
  • Downtown Akron Partnership, to beautify, recruit and retain business and support activities and events in Downtown Akron, $10,000;
  • East Akron Neighborhood Development Corp., to protect the home, health and safety of low-income homeowners and homeowners with disabilities through one-time emergency home repairs, $15,000;
  • The Foundation Center Cleveland, to encourage philanthropy and connect nonprofits to the resources they need to be effective, $2,500;
  • Friends of Metro Parks, to provide overnight camping experiences to urban children within the Summit County Metro Parks, $10,000;
  • Fund for Our Economic Future, to continue Phase 4 of strengthening of Northeast Ohio’s economic competitiveness, $33,000;
  • Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, for neighborhood revitalization initiatives, including home construction, homeowner education and home repair for low-income families, $10,000;
  • International Soap Box Derby, to support the All-American Soap Box Derby and the Gravity Racing Challenge, which uses hands-on activities to engage young people in science, technology, engineering and math, $15,000;
  • Keep Akron Beautiful, for the 2013-14 urban beautification program, which adds vibrancy to the city of Akron through professionally designed flowerscapes in public flowerbeds, medians and downtown planters, $10,000;
  • Leadership Akron, for the 30th annual orientation retreat, which introduces class members to top community leaders, $12,500;
  • Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, to create the Summit County Trails Virtual Visitors Center, a comprehensive online resource about hiking and bicycling trails in Summit County, $10,000.
  • PAWSibilities®, Humane Society of Greater Akron, to provide medical treatment, rehabilitative services and daily care for abused or abandoned companion animals and injured strays throughout Summit County, $7,500;
  • Oriana House Inc., to reduce recidivism by hiring a full-time re-entry liaison who will connect inmates to community resources before they are released into Summit County, $20,000; and
  • Western Reserve Land Conservancy, for a city-wide survey and comprehensive inventory of residential structures to help city officials identify where demolition will have the greatest ability to reduce crime and restore property values, $15,000.
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