Tag Archives: Philanthropy

The Summit Education Initiative Overview


Story by Lyndsey Schley


The Summit Education Initiative is an organization that brings together a broad coalition of community partners with the goal of improving education in Summit County. The group uses data to track the progress of current programs and helps schools predict early in a child’s education whether they are likely to achieve later on. This helps educators help children who are falling behind. This group not only works with public schools, but also private, parochial and charter schools, along with community organizations.

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Happy 20th Anniversary, Love Akron!


Robert DeJournett, Director of Community Relations & Diversity, Summa Health Systems and Chairman of the Board for the Love Akron Network, welcomed the nearly 700 people at the 3rd Annual Love Akron Awards breakfast Sept. 30. The event, held at the John S. Knight center, brought together a mix of businessmen and women, nonprofit organizations, ministry leaders and local philanthropic groups, as well as political leaders.

“The theme for this morning is simply, Servant Hearts. These two words capture the essence of Love Akron’s mission,” said The Rev. Dennis Butts, Associate Pastor at The House of the Lord.

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YMCA’s Phoenix School Gets Kids on the Right Track – 2013-06-14

YMCA’s Phoenix School

By: Katie Sobiech

Kids these days face a lot. There are multitudes of kids with different issues, and the proper care isn’t always easy to find.

Where do kids with special needs and behavior issues go to get the help they need to stay in school?

The Akron area YMCA’s Phoenix Alternative School provides a place where troubled youth, grades 4-12th, can receive close attention, getting them back on track and into their school systems quickly.

“The focus is on behavior management,” Tony Grimes, East Akron YMCA, Executive Director, said of the program.

The average student stays for 6 months, about a semester long, before returning to their public school.

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Habitat for Humanity: Clears Away Misconceptions, Beautifies & Builds Up Neighborhoods – 2013-02-20

Dare To Be Different

By Katie Sobiech

Habitat for Humanity of Summit County (HFHSC) has recently come together with the city of Akron in efforts to beautify “blighted” areas.

This non-profit organization builds and renovates homes in partnership with qualified families, using donated or discounted materials to keep it low cost. This not only helps families, but the surrounding communities.

Each year about 1,500 volunteers build and repair homes in Summit County through HFHSC. The non-profit has invested over 12 million dollars in new homes they’ve built, which includes over 170 new homes.

Lately they’ve been doing more deconstruction demolition work.

“If you’re familiar with the plan that the city of Akron has to eliminate blighted structures from neighborhoods, we are one of those contract partners,” Rochelle Fisher, President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, said.

Programs and Services

Habitat for Humanity

HFHSC has 3 specific programs and services that they offer.

“We build new homes in partnership with families who want to do sweat equity, as well as purchase the home from us on the low interest mortgages. We also have a home repair program, and reconstruct and demolish homes to eliminate blight in neighborhoods,” Fisher explained.

Then there’s their ReStore, a retail store open to the public that sells donated furniture, building materials and appliances.

“We’re not just taking a bulldozer and a bunch of dump trucks out and tearing (a house) down in two hours. We’re being very deliberate about deconstructing it first. We take out recyclable features and resale type items that we can put into our ReStore,” Fisher said.

They recycle everything from shingles, dry wall and siding, to hot water tanks and furnaces. They put doors, windows, cabinets and light fixtures into their Restore.

Habitat for Humanity Habitat for HumanityHabitat for Humanity

One Big Misconception

But keep in mind, just because this is a non-profit, doesn’t mean it is for struggling families. Families must be able to purchase the home and have to meet some strict qualifications.

Habitat for Humanity

“They have to be pretty stable because they’re going to purchase this home. They have to fall between the 30 and 80% range of the area median income so they have to be working families. They have to have decent and responsible credit and their debt to income percentage each month has to be 39% or less, including having the mortgage,” Fisher said.

“They’re not families who have traditionally been on public assistance or in public housing. They’re not on cash assistance programs. These are working families,” she continued.

Benefit of Habitat

So what’s the benefit of building through HFHSC?

“The benefit here is it’s a zero interest mortgage verses you go to a bank or mortgage company and may be paying anywhere between 2 ½ – 6 % on the mortgage interest rate,” Fisher said.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity makes no profit on the homes themselves.

“We build it, and what it costs is what we charge the families. It’s payable over 30 years at 0 interest,” Fisher said.

“The average payment for our homeowners on an $85,000 purchased home, which is the average for us to build, is around $400 a month,” she continued.

It also benefits the community.

“They pay real estate taxes, so the county is collecting real estate taxes from our families. About $1200.00 a year in real estate taxes are paid to the county, as well as paying home owners insurance, shopping at the grocery stores where the homes are built, and their children are in the schools where their homes are built,” Fisher said.

Outside and Inside Beautification

And if you aren’t looking for an entirely new home, but to enhance your own, they offer outside beautification services through their home repair program.

“It’s an exterior home repair program so we can do things like roofs, windows, siding, doors, landscaping, painting, gutters – anything exterior that we can help to get a home in better shape, help make it more energy efficient. If we can put some additional insulation into a roof, that’s a part of our program,” Fisher said.

New Families Wanted

Habitat for Humanity

HFHSC builds year-round and their repair program normally runs from spring through fall.

“We’re always looking for families. They go through homeowner education with us. We want to prepare them,” Fisher said.

“And we’re always looking for volunteer groups, whether they’re companies that want to give back in the community and want to do corporate volunteer service or church groups that do mission service in the community. Were always looking or people who want to step up and help us fund what we do,” Fisher said.

If you would like to visit the ReStore, it’s open on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays.

For more info. please visit http://www.hfhsummitcounty.org .

If you have any story ideas, questions, or comments you can contact: Katie@akroneur.com.

United Way’s Young Leader’s Society: Positive Avenue for Young People to Plug into the Community – 2013-02-06

United Way Young Leaders

By Katie Sobiech

The Young Leader’s Society (YLS) falls under the umbrella of the United Way of Summit County (UWSC). You could call it their “baby”, as it is for a younger crowd, ages 40 and under.

The YLS was established in 1996 “To recognize young leaders who value the importance of philanthropy and who believe in and support the work of United Way. This group exemplifies the best Summit County has to offer in the form of young women and men who share their spirit and resources for the betterment of our community” the YLS website http://www.uwsummit.org states.

YLS provides a great way to get involved and have a positive impact in the community through financial support and volunteer activities.

What it Looks Like

United Way Young Leaders

“It’s an affinity group for United Way donors at the leadership level,” Jennifer Eckhoff, Director of Resource Development at the UWSC and Staff Liaison to YLS, said.

YLS donors support the United Way Campaign, which funds local non-profit programs to improve the city.

There are different giving options and the price point changes depending on one’s age.

Top Shelf Citizens

“It’s so impressive and says so much about our community that we have a really wonderful group of young professionals here in Akron and the surrounding communities,” Eckhoff said.

There are currently 120 members enrolled.

“You realize that people are just getting started in their careers and that they have the capacity to give and realize how important it is to give back to the community and support these programs. We really have an amazing group of young professionals that want to invest in Summit County and make it a better community for all of us,” she continued.

What it Involves

United Way Young Leaders

Levels of activity in the program depend on each individual’s preference.

“It depends on how involved the individual wants to be. We offer various events throughout the year that members can attend. We do social activities, we have volunteer projects. One of our big ones is our ‘Day of Action’,” Eckhoff said.

“It’s a day in June every year where we gather people from across the community to go out and volunteer. We have a lot of different companies and groups that sign up and everyone goes out on the same day to do projects across the Summit County community,” she continued.

The entire YLS group goes to the same non-profit center to volunteer as a group on that day.

“It really depends on what the member is interested in and what the committee is interested in doing that year,” Eckhoff explained.

Seeing is Believing

United Way Young Leaders

They also do “Seeing is Believing” tours throughout the year.

“We get together as a group and tour an agency that is supported with United Way funding. It’s a chance to meet the people at that organization, see the programs that are impacted by the funding and why they’re so important to the community. It’s great for members to see the end result- where the money is going and what it is accomplishing,” Eckhoff said.

“It’s also great for prospective members to get involved to see if this is something they would choose to do. (They get to see) where the money goes and what kind of things it could do,” she continued.

Philanthropist of the Year

United Way Young Leaders

One of their biggest projects at the moment is their Young Philanthropist of the Year award.

“The award is going to recognize a young professional in Akron based on their financial support of the United Way and their commitment to organizations throughout the community,” Eckhoff explained.

“We just opened up the nominations for that, so if there’s anyone you know to make a nomination you can get that information on our website. That’s our big focus at the moment,” she continued.

United Way Young LeadersUnited Way Young LeadersUnited Way Young Leaders

Get Involved

They are also looking for new members. Many of their events are open to prospects just wanting to get an idea of what they do.

“We’re always looking to educate more people about what great things are going on in the community and we’re always happy to get new people involved,” Eckhoff said.

To find out more about the YLS please visit http://www.uwsummit.org for more info.