United Way of Summit & Medina partners with Harold Varner III to launch Youth United program

Mar 14, 2023

BOLTON, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 02: Harold Varner III of the Unites States on the third tee during Day One of the LIV Golf Invitational – Boston at The Oaks golf course at The International on September 02, 2022 in Bolton, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

United Way of Summit & Medina today announced the launch of Youth United, a new out-of-school-time program for Akron Public Schools students. Created in partnership with Akron native professional golfer Harold Varner III’s HV3 Foundation, the program will connect students with trusted adults to provide guidance, advice and inspiration to help them achieve their potential. The new program, which is open to male and female students and adults, is now recruiting adult Success Coaches and student Youth Leaders at uwsummitmedina.org/youth-united.

In a typical year, school-aged kids spend an average of 80 percent of their waking hours outside of the classroom. How they spend this time away from school has a tremendous impact on the way students see themselves, build healthy relationships and find their place in the world. Through enrichment activities and opportunities to build healthy relationships with trusted adults, Youth United will help students develop their social capital – that is, the value derived from positive relationships with others.

Youth United participants will take part in scheduled enrichment events throughout the year. United Way and the HV3 Foundation have partnered with First Tee – Greater Akron to host these events, which kick off on June 2 with an exclusive meet and greet with Harold Varner III prior to United Way’s annual Bold Glow Golf event. While the program is associated with the game of golf, enrichment events will expand beyond the sport to include attendance at other professional sports games, cultural events, outdoor experiences, fine dining and more.

“Growing up, I never imagined that I’d have someone in my life that truly cared about me besides my parents,” said Harold Varner III, Founder and President of the HV3 Foundation. “But I was lucky enough to meet people who believed in me and made a difference in my life. That’s why it’s so important for me to use my influence as a professional golfer to give back to kids in my hometown of Akron. Making a difference outside of golf is something that has become important to me,” Varner explained. “No matter what I achieve professionally, if I can’t make an impact on the next generation then I don’t feel like I’m doing enough, and having an influence on these kids is something that can last a lifetime.”

Youth United will help advance United Way’s Bold Goal 2 – to boost high school graduation and college/career readiness rates among APS students and to increase youth participation in extracurricular activities. The program will build on an existing partnership between United Way and the College & Career Academies of Akron by placing an emphasis on helping students build networks aligned with their chosen academy pathway

“Youth involvement in extracurricular activities has been shown to improve social skills, boost self-esteem and help lead to long-term success,” said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit & Medina. “This is crucial to advancing our service work around education, with goals of boosting graduation and college/career readiness rates among Akron Public Schools students and expanding youth opportunities in our community. We’re proud to partner with the HV3 foundation on Youth United to connect caring adults with young people, so that the relationships they build can help students learn valuable social skills, explore their interests and stay on track for a successful future.”

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