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ACF announces record assets, awards $1.93 million in grants

3/6/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

DOWNTOWN AKRON — On Feb. 21, the Akron Community Foundation’s (ACF) Board of Directors reported a record $181.6 million in assets as of Dec. 31 — an increase of $12.6 million over the same quarter last year. According to ACF officials, the growth was fueled by more than $5.7 million in gifts received between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 and investment returns of 5.8 percent for the same quarter.

Additionally during that quarter, a record 15 new charitable funds were started by individuals, companies and nonprofits. With just more than a month to go until March 31, the organization was two funds away from setting an all-time record for funds established in a fiscal year, said President and CEO John Petures Jr. He attributes the success to donor-centric changes the ACF has implemented during the past three years.

“Our increased transparency, financial flexibility and ability to connect people and companies with emerging needs in our community is really resonating,” Petures said.

In addition, the board approved $1.93 million in grants, including 323 grants totaling more than $1.43 million from 91 designated, donor-advised, agency endowment and scholarship funds and 22 grants totaling $502,000 from discretionary, or board-directed, funds. Nearly half of the discretionary funding went to early care and education programs, bringing total support for such programs to more than $1.36 million since the board announced its early learning funding priority in 2008.

A $35,000 grant to Summit Education Initiative will create consistent measurement tools for out-of-school providers in the county, according to ACF officials. This initiative will help providers better align the outcomes of their participants with the countywide Cradle to Career metrics that area schools already use to measure student success. The grant also will help pay for an out-of-school program facilitator to work with these providers and help develop the metrics.

“This initiative will help funders like us become even more strategic,” said Steven Cox, chairman of the community investment committee. “Summit Education Initiative is the consistent link between all Summit County schools and is the go-to source for measurement data. By extending its expertise to out-of-school programs, funders will have consistent information we can use to compare programs and, ultimately, continue progress toward countywide goals.”

The board-directed education grants were approved from the following field-of-interest and unrestricted funds, which were created by charitable residents to support emerging needs in the community: Board of Directors Annual Giving Fund, Charles C. and Dorathea S. Dilley Fund, Arthur Kelly Fund, John S. Knight Fund, Helen S. Robertson Fund, James G. Robertson Fund, Roush Memorial Fund, Shaw Foundation Fund, Ronald L. Stiles Fund, V.E. (Tom) Atkins Fund and the Community Fund.

The following is a complete list of the discretionary grants:

Early learning grants

  • Asian Services in Action Inc., for the Ready Program, which helps prepare children 0-4 years old, for whom English is a second language, to successfully enter kindergarten, $12,500;
  • Building for Tomorrow, to help parents be their children’s first and most important teacher through home visitation, outreach events and physical and behavioral health services for families living in Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority housing communities with children younger than 5, $95,000;
  • Child Guidance and Family Solutions Inc., for the Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding program, which teaches child care providers how to address children with behavioral issues and promote attachment, initiative and self-control in the classroom, $65,000;
  • Greenleaf Family Center, for the SPARK program, which prepares 3- and 4-year-olds for kindergarten through home visitations that address children’s educational, developmental and social-emotional needs and encourage parents to become their child’s first teacher, $15,000;
  • Project GRAD Akron, for the two-week Bridge to Kindergarten school readiness summer camp, $25,000; and
  • Summit County Family and Children First Council, to enhance the First Things First community developmental screening project by incentivizing day cares to recruit parents to complete the Ages and Stages Questionnaires for their children, $20,000.

Other discretionary grants

  • Akron Inner City Soccer Club, to support year-round soccer programs for inner-city youth, $5,000;
  • Akron International Friendship, for the Know Your Community-Know Your World project, in which diverse speakers teach students about the importance of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, $5,000;
  • Akron Public Schools, to contract with the expertise of the College Now program to supplement and improve existing college-readiness programs, creating a stronger infrastructure to support at-risk students entering post-secondary education, $25,000;
  • Arc of Summit and Portage Counties, for People Together, a program in Summit County schools that encourages understanding and acceptance of individuals with developmental disabilities through presentations and simulations that mimic the experience of living with a disability, $10,000;
  • Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, to encourage students in grades seven through 12 to explore higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine through the Austen BioInnovation Academy, $20,000;
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve, to support after-school and summer programming that focuses on building good character, physical health and academic success in at-risk youth, $70,000;
  • Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio, for Dancing Wheels, a physically integrated dance company, to perform “The Story of You: Understanding Disability” in Akron schools during Disability Awareness Month, $2,500;
  • First Book, to purchase new, age-appropriate books for children from birth to age 18 living in poverty, $7,000;
  • Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, for a high-adventure, physically demanding Challenge Course at Camp Ledgewood that will include ropes courses, ziplines and climbing walls, $15,000;
  • Hattie Larlham Community Services, for vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities to help them secure employment and become financially self-sufficient, $20,000;
  • Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio, for the More Than Money program, which teaches third- through fifth-grade students in Akron Public Schools about earning, spending, sharing and saving money, $10,000;
  • Project Learn of Summit County, to recruit and train volunteers for the GED and English as a Second Language classrooms to help improve outcomes on the new and more rigorous GED test, $20,000;
  • Summit Education Initiative, to create consistent measurement tools for out-of-school providers to align their outcomes with the countywide Cradle to Career effort, $35,000;
  • Tri-County Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates, to provide school- and community-based dropout prevention and recovery programs to disadvantaged Summit County youth ages 16-21, $10,000;
  • The University of Akron Foundation, for the 2014 BEST Medicine Engineering Fair that encourages students to pursue a career in the biomedical engineering and medical science fields, $5,000; and
  • Veggie U, to teach third-graders in Akron Public Schools about healthy lifestyles by providing them with gardening kits, $10,000.
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