Vernon L. Odom Fund grants support diversity initiatives
AKRON — On Feb. 21, the Vernon L. Odom Fund of Akron Community Foundation (ACF) awarded $7,800 in grants to programs that promote diversity and enrich the quality of life within local minority communities, according to ACF officials.
Two grants went to partners of the newly formed Summit County Fatherhood Initiative, a collaboration spearheaded by ACF to pool resources to end father absenteeism locally. Fathers and Sons of Northeast Ohio and Williams Challenge each received $900 to help at-risk fathers develop healthy relationships with their children.
The Williams Challenge grant will fund the Man 2 Man Fatherhood Building Program, a series of educational workshops for men who are transitioning out of the court system or have otherwise been absent from their children’s lives. The free program teaches fathers important parenting skills and provides a supportive environment for men who need help finding employment, gaining visitation rights and re-entering society from prison.
Similarly, a grant to Fathers and Sons of Northeast Ohio will support fatherhood education classes for homeless men at the Haven of Rest shelter. Men in the program will receive child support debt counseling and learn how to navigate the court system to request parenting time. They also will receive employment coaching specifically designed for people with a history of felony convictions and substance abuse. The ultimate goal is to help these men become better fathers and play an active role in their children’s lives.
Other grants this year will teach leadership skills to inner-city adolescents, prepare at-risk students for college and provide financial literacy training to minority youth. The following is a full list of Vernon L. Odom Fund grants:
- 100 Black Men of Greater Akron Inc., for the 100 Leadership Academy, a mentoring program for minority youth that teaches financial literacy, self-respect and positive decision-making skills, $1,000;
- Akron Inner City Soccer Club, for a year-round after-school soccer program for inner-city youth, $1,000;
- Akron International Friendship, for the Know Your Community — Know Your World program, in which diverse speakers teach students about the importance of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, $500;
- Fathers and Sons of Northeast Ohio, for fatherhood education classes that help noncustodial fathers be an active parent in their children’s lives, $900;
- Girls on the Run of Greater Summit, Jewish Community Center of Akron, to mentor at-risk girls at Glover Community Learning Center by combining fitness training with discussions about personal values, respect and self-worth, $500;
- Law and Leadership Institute, for a college preparatory program for students in Akron and Barberton that helps at-risk and minority youth graduate from high school, get accepted into college and choose a professional career path, $1,000;
- Opportunity Parish Ecumenical Neighborhood Ministry (OPEN M), for a mentoring program that helps young men from inner-city neighborhoods succeed in school, find employment and make healthy choices, $500;
- Summit County Youth Employment for Success (YES), for a money management workshop that equips at-risk teens to build a solid financial future through budgeting, saving and avoiding debt, $500;
- Urban Vision, for an incentive program that allows youth participants to purchase school supplies and holiday gifts with the “dollars” they’ve earned through good behavior, attendance and grades, $1,000; and
- Williams Challenge, for a fatherhood education and mentoring program that gives at-risk and absent fathers the support they need to develop positive relationships with their children, including help applying for employment and gaining visitation rights, $900.
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