The Akron Community Foundation is giving about half of its education grants this year to initiatives that support early education (preschool and kindergarten readiness) efforts. Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority gets $90,000 this year to assist with its many kindergarten readiness programs and a program aimed at reducing expulsions from preschool, yes preschool, gets $50,000.
I reported last year that such projects comprised about 60 percent of the foundation's education grants. The total funding level is down from last year, too. This year's education grant total is $384,500. Last year, it was $441, 000.
Read the whole press release and list of recipients after the jump
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Akron Community Foundation awards $2.8 million to local nonprofits
Half of foundation's education grants will support early learning initiatives
AKRON, Ohio (Feb. 22, 2010) – Akron Community Foundation is helping Summit County's children grow up healthier, safer and smarter. On Friday, Feb. 19, the foundation's board remained true to its first grant-making priority of the year, focusing 50 percent of its $384,500 in education grants on early learning initiatives. In all, $192,500 will support early childhood education programs in greater Akron.
This is the second year Akron Community Foundation has concentrated its education funding on Summit County's youngest citizens. The board decided to renew its commitment after witnessing a significant change in the county's education landscape following last year's grants.
''One of the most gratifying results of our focus on early childhood education has been the innovative collaboration of local agencies, government entities and foundations that are working together to meet the needs of our children in a time when everyone's budgets are under stress,'' said Rev. Sandra Selby, chair of the foundation's Distribution Committee.
In addition to supporting the development of a countywide early learning initiative called First Things First, the foundation's 2009 grants helped expand a program that prevents preschool expulsions; supported the opening of a resource center for early education teachers at the library; and established programs for immigrant families with young children. Last year's $262,000 in grants also encouraged a new collaboration between Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority and the Summit County Family and Children First Council, which together were able to serve 250 families in eight months.
This year's grants will continue Akron Community Foundation's support of these crucial initiatives. A $95,000 grant to AMHA will deepen its services and expand its reach to additional communities. In partnership with several local agencies, AMHA will conduct comprehensive home visitations and teach parents how to prepare their children for kindergarten. The agencies will also help identify and provide interventions for existing issues at home, including maternal depression and developmental delays.
''Through programming, community outreach events and home visitation services, AMHA is able to help address early childhood needs across a number of developmental domains,'' said AMHA Community Relations Director Christine Yuhasz. ''Providing comprehensive programs and services to help support the developmental needs of children living in AMHA housing will better equip them to enter kindergarten.''
A $50,000 grant to Child Guidance & Family Solutions will help the organization expand its reach to five times as many preschoolers. The grant was directed to the Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding Program, which develops kids' social-emotional skills in order to prevent expulsions from preschool. Since its inception, the program has cut annual expulsions at program sites to zero through early screening and intervention for behavioral issues. This year's grant will leverage new government funding and help the agency reach 2,000 children in 22 sites.
''(With the program), kids are able to make friends easier, learn how to follow the rules and do well in school,'' said Ken Ditlevson, Child Guidance's early childhood services director. ''When they learn how to cope with (their emotions) in an appropriate way, that lasts with them forever.''
Ditlevson said the Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding Program also benefits parents and teachers by helping them work positively with children who, in the past, would have been expelled from school due to anger issues or harmful social interactions.
''Now we have parents and teachers that know where to turn,'' he said. ''Before, they were lost and would just give up and send these kids away.''
Asian Services in Action received a $12,500 grant for its READY Program, the only program in Summit County to serve refugee families with young children. This bilingual early learning program helps children from birth to age 5 develop the English-language skills they need for school.
''(For these families), getting a child ready to enter school is a very low priority, as parents are in 'survival mode,' focused on finding a job, adjusting to a new culture and attempting to master the English language,'' said ASIA Executive Director Michael Byun. Byun added that the READY Program helps children ''build resistance and lay a strong foundation for psychosocial and emotional growth and academic success.''
In addition to its education grants, Akron Community Foundation's board also ratified 246 designated and donor-advised grants from 77 funds totaling $2,394,813. These grants bring the quarterly total to nearly $3 million, the foundation's largest cycle in more than a year.
The following is a full list of programs receiving Community Fund grants:
Alliance for Healthy Youth, for youth development programming, $7,500
Akron Council on World Affairs Inc., for Global Scholars, $7,500
Akron General Medical Center, for the Healthcare in Progress collaborative, $7,500
Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, to continue early childhood development programs in AMHA communities, $95,000
Alchemy Inc., for the Myth, Muses & Scribes collaborative with Kent State University's National Writing Program, $7,500
All-Star Training Club, for an academic/sports summer camp for youth with disabilities, $12,000
The Arc of Summit & Portage Counties Inc., for the People Together disability awareness program, $10,000
Asian Services in Action Inc., for the READY program, an early childhood development program for children in refugee families, $12,500
Beacon Journal Charity Fund Inc., for oral health education for third-graders, $7,500
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve, for the Eller Club, $30,000
Child Guidance & Family Solutions Inc., for the Toddlers and Preschoolers Succeeding Program, $50,000
First Book, to purchase new books for children in need, $5,000
Fund For Our Economic Future, to increase Akron Community Foundation's support to $100,000 for Phase III, $50,000
Good Neighbors Inc., to purchase food, $10,000
Hattie Larlham Foundation, to provide vocational opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities at the Doggie Day Care & Boarding site, $20,000
He Brought Us Out Ministry, for after-school and summer programming, $10,000
Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio Inc., for JA More Than Money, $7,500
Project GRAD Akron, for a literacy program for elementary students, $25,000
Project LEARN of Summit County, to support the transition of GED students to college, $20,000
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Hilary Church, for the AIM HIGH computer refurbishing program, $10,000
Summit Education Initiative, for Destination College, $20,000
Twinsburg City School District, for the Project STAR summer reading program, $10,000
YMCA, to provide after-school programming for at-risk girls and female juvenile offenders, $10,000
About Akron Community Foundation
Celebrating 55 years of building community philanthropy, Akron Community Foundation is a $124 million philanthropic endowment with a growing family of more than 320 funds, including the Community Fund, which meets the community's changing needs in health, human services, education, civic affairs and the arts. In 1955, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Edwin Shaw established the foundation, which works to improve the quality of life in greater Akron. It accepts charitable gifts and bequests from individuals, families, organizations and corporations committed to making a difference in the community for generations to come. To date, the foundation and its funds have awarded more than $85 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations. To learn more about Akron Community Foundation, call 330-376-8522. Or, to make a gift, visit www.akroncommunityfdn.org/contribute.