KeyBank is awarding a $500,000 grant to United Way of Summit County to create a finance learning lab in East Community Learning Center for the 2019-20 school year.

Half of the grant will support experiential learning for high school students there with real-life financial technology, while the other half will support wraparound services for elementary students and their families in the East cluster.

The grant is KeyBank’s first major contribution to Akron Public Schools’ College and Career Academies rolling out next fall, when high school students will have 57 different learning pathways across the district on which to focus their learning. Students will choose their paths next school year, and the model will be implemented wall-to-wall in the 2019-20 school year.

KeyBank Market President Tim Burke said the bank chose East CLC so that the students in its Academy of Business and Health Services, which will include the finance and business pathways, can be prepared to enter the field of finance as soon as they graduate high school. Burke said the investment was also made as a way to support United Way’s Bold Goals for the community.

United Way of Summit County, which is receiving the grant, is serving as a broker for partnerships between the academies and local businesses.

The goal of the financial learning lab is to give students access to financial technology that would typically be found in a banking center, which will provide them hands-on learning experiences.

Another portion of the grant will create a position for a wraparound services coordinator to serve elementary schools in the East cluster and direct programs and support services to those kids and their families. Some services might include family engagement, adult education, extended learning, mentoring, child nutrition programs, health and social services and more.

“We feel if we can also provide appropriate financial wellness and training to parents, that could really go [a] long way” in helping their kids learn the concepts as well, Burke said. “We believe the earlier we can reach these students, the easier it will be for them to learn these principles.”

Ellen McWilliams-Woods, the assistant superintendent of APS, said the district is still trying to determine what the programs and the actual lab will look like.

“KeyBank is investing in our students, educators and schools in ways that are both supportive and inspirational. Early supports will help prepare kids so they can be here to be part of the exciting possibilities of our College & Career Academies,” said Superintendent David James. “We and our families are grateful for their partnership.”

Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or Follow her on Twitter @Theresa_Cottom.