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WEF awards $72,050 to women’s and girls’ causes

3/13/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

AKRON — The Women’s Endowment Fund (WEF) of Akron Community Foundation (ACF) recently awarded $72,050 to 11 nonprofit organizations that improve life for Summit County’s women and girls, according to ACF officials. This latest round of grants was ratified by ACF’s board Feb. 21 at its quarterly meeting.

Among this year’s funding priorities were health and wellness, safety from violence and economic empowerment for local women and girls. Nearly half of the grant funding supported programs for women who are transitioning out of homelessness, including a $10,000 grant to Bridges Summit County for its Getting Ahead program. During this 16-week program, participants examine what keeps them in poverty, assess their existing resources and develop a plan to build those resources as part of their move to self-sufficiency.

The grant will help women living in transitional housing units, such as ACCESS, Legacy III, Harvest Home and Freedom House for Women, where they have access to the basic building blocks for success, including food, clothing, shelter and mental health and addiction counseling. This funding will provide them with the next layer of tools, including career assessment and counseling, financial literacy, conflict resolution and stress management training. The goal is to help women make the giant leap from survival to stability.

Donae Ceja, senior vice president of community impact for the United Way of Summit County, the fiscal sponsor for Bridges, thanked the WEF for supporting an important collaboration for women. “This grant allows for the services of these sheltering agencies to be leveraged by a new, robust Getting Ahead program, providing the best chance for these women to break the cycle of generational poverty,” she said. “As a new model, it also has the potential to inform the entire Getting Ahead effort.”

The following is a list of organizations receiving grants:

  • ACCESS Inc., to provide reliable used cars to women transitioning out of homelessness so they can find employment and become economically self-sufficient, $10,000;
  • Asian Services in Action Inc., to provide culturally sensitive support groups and domestic violence education to Hmong women in Akron, $5,000;
  • Bridges out of Poverty Summit County Collaborative, United Way of Summit County, to provide the Getting Ahead program to women in transitional housing at ACCESS, Legacy III, Harvest Home and Freedom House, $10,000;
  • Building for Tomorrow, to raise awareness about maternal depression, and to provide education and support to mothers in Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority neighborhoods, $10,000;
  • Collaborative Against Human Trafficking of Summit County, for the Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution (SOAP) Project, which distributes bars of soap with the National Human Trafficking Hotline phone number to high-risk motels in Summit County and educates cleaning staff about reporting suspicious behavior, $3,550;
  • Community Legal Aid Services Inc., for the HEAL Program at Summa Women’s Health Center, which helps patients address nonmedical barriers to health, including economic instability, insecure housing, threats to physical safety and poor access to education, $10,000;
  • gHealth Solutions, to mentor female entrepreneurs and help them launch businesses in technology, retail and service industries, $2,500;
  • Girls on the Run of Greater Summit, Jewish Community Center of Akron, to mentor girls in high-poverty neighborhoods through a program that combines fitness training with discussions about personal values, respect and self-worth, $5,000;
  • Legacy III Inc., to provide transitional housing and case management for homeless women recovering from addiction, $6,000;
  • Ruling Our eXperiences Inc., for an empowerment program at Green Middle School that helps girls develop their self-worth and offers a supportive environment to address issues of bullying, sexual violence, peer pressure and body image, $5,000; and
  • Shelter Care Inc., for the Wonder Women program, which helps at-risk girls at the Safe Landing Youth Shelter learn healthy behaviors and positive decision-making skills, $5,000.
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