At his organization’s annual meeting today, United Way of Summit County president and CEO, Jim Mullen, announced a new, more targeted approach to solving the problems facing Greater Akron. Speaking to a crowd of more than 500, Mullen unveiled four Bold Goals for 2025 that will guide United Way’s mission across Summit County in the coming years. Citing current statistics that leave much room for improvement, Mullen referred to these goals as a rallying cry for his organization:
• Goal 1: 65 percent of Akron Public School third graders reading at or above grade level
Currently at 38 percent.
• Goal 2: 90 percent of APS high-schoolers graduating in 4 years, with 60 percent college/career ready.
Currently at 75 percent and 21 percent, respectively.
• Goal 3: Financially empower* 11,000 people.
Currently, 42,000 people in Akron are considered to be “working poor.”
*With the skills, knowledge and resources to budget and save, manage debt, build credit and access banking services.
• Goal 4: Reduce ER visits due to drug overdose to 1,000.
Currently at 2,400 annually.
Ultimately, says Mullen, United Way envisions a future where everyone has the tools to be financially empowered, where every student has the skills to succeed in the classroom and beyond and where no family is devastated by addiction. But as the organization works towards that future, these Bold Goals for 2025 will serve as concrete benchmarks for its success, holding the nonprofit organization accountable to the local community.
At last year’s meeting, Mullen invited attendees to reimagine a better future for Greater Akron, promising to deliver a strategic vision to make that future a reality. The goals announced today are the culmination of a year of discussions between United Way board and staff members, local business leaders and more than 400 key community stakeholders.
After recounting United Way’s successes over the past twelve months, new board chair Christine Amer Mayer called to the stage the many people who had a hand in crafting the Bold Goals. “Whenever I speak to local leaders in business, government and the nonprofit sector, a common theme emerges,” said Mayer. “We need to work together.”
In the months to come, United Way’s community impact task force will craft strategies aimed at making the Bold Goals a reality. Future strategies will likely include:
- Programs and investments that support increased third grade reading scores though quality preschools, kindergarten readiness, summer learning and increased parent involvement
- Mentoring opportunities, career education, college preparation and more parent involvement to raise graduation and college/career readiness rates
- Programs that promote financial empowerment by providing skills, knowledge and resources to budget and save, manage debt, build credit and access banking services
- Programs and investments that support addiction prevention, awareness and education, access to treatment and recovery services and empowered quick response teams.
The final strategy maps are expected to be announced in June 2017.
“We need to do more than just talk about the problems we’re facing,” says Mullen. “We need to do what it takes to push the needle forward on the measures that matter to children and families in Summit County.”
Also announced at the Annual Meeting were 14 new members of United Way’s board of directors: Katie Albrecht-Schwartz, Acme Fresh Markets; Vishal Bhatt, Akron Children’s Hospital; Ann Clark, Signet Jewelers; Mark Cohen, Akron Beacon Journal; Laura Duda, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company; Emmanuel Glover, The Huntington National Bank; Douglas M. Krapf, Wells Fargo Advisers; Brant T. Lee, The University of Akron; Ilene Shapiro, Summit County Executive Office; John P. Slagter, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC; Linda Teodosio, Summit County Juvenile Court; Pam Williams; Bradley Wright, Roetzel & Andress; and Stephanie York, Hennes Communication. They will serve a three-year term ending in 2020.
A slate of officers for 2017-18 was also announced: board chair, Christine Amer Mayer, GAR Foundation; vice chair, Mark E. Krohn, Law Office of Mark E. Krohn; immediate past chair: James E. Merklin, Bober Markey Fedorovich; secretary: Brock W. Steere, Steere Enterprises; and treasurer: Michael P. Mazzeo, EY.
The event also featured the presentation of awards to companies that went above and beyond to ensure great results through the annual United Way campaign.
Steere Enterprises received the 2016 “Spirit of Caring Award.” United Way’s highest corporate honor, the Spirit of Caring Award is presented annually to a company that exhibits outstanding support of United Way and year-round commitment to the Summit County community.
Cornerstone Awards were presented to The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and FirstEnergy Corp, the two largest campaigns in Summit County.
United Way’s Wendell L. Willkie Award was presented to Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, LLP. The award honors the top United Way campaign at a local law firm.