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University Park Alliance receives $75,000 grant from Chase for housing stock improvements

By Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal business writer

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The University Park Alliance — which is refocusing its operation after losing its major funding — on Monday received a $75,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase.

The new funding comes after the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation canceled the nonprofit organization’s $6 million grant on Friday and an accompanying $1.8 million low-interest loan. The reason was because real estate directives in the original grant were not met. The Knight Foundation did grant UPA, which is working on redevelopment of 50 city blocks around the University of Akron, a $500,000 grant to help with its finances through January. The Miami-based foundation also invited UPA to reapply for new grants.

The award from Chase came Monday in a Chase employee “town hall meeting” for Northeast Ohio employees attended by Chase’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon.

UPA Board Chair David James, who is superintendent of the Akron Public Schools, accepted the grant. The money will fund what is called the UPA’s Neighborhood Enhancement Initiative.

The funds will be aimed at “maintaining affordable rentals and our exterior home improvement,” said Carol Murphy, UPA’s director of operations.

“Helping the residents of UPA who actually live there to keep their properties up is important to having a stable university neighborhood,” said James. “[UPA] isn’t just about building up Exchange Street or Market Street with our projects, but it’s about building up the neighborhoods where we do have residents. They are important stakeholders.”

James said UPA sought the grant from Chase and is seeking other funding opportunities.

The Neighborhood Enhancement Initiative’s fund had been depleted since the UPA ran into financial difficulties, said James.

Chase said it awarded $200,000 on Monday to three nonprofits in Northeast Ohio. The other recipients were Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. and Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

Fairfax is working on a $12 million housing project.

The youth program offers after-school events for teens including life skills, employment skills, job readiness, study skills and community service.

At the event, James Geuther, Chase president of the Northeast Ohio Region, said: “We are proud to partner with University Park Alliance for their Neighborhood Enhancement Initiative, a comprehensive approach to enrich the housing stock in University Park and to promote neighborhood stabilization and affordable housing.”

Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blinfisher and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/betty


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