Efforts to lift Akron families out of poverty received a big boost with the awarding of a $437,161 grant from the State of Ohio. The grant, which was given to the local Summit County Healthier Buckeye Council last month, will support the efforts of Bridges Summit County, a United Way-led community impact initiative.
Bridges Summit County works within the local community to build support for adults and families struggling to escape generational poverty. The initiative takes a two-pronged approach, offering workshops to individuals and organizations looking to understand and find solutions for the causes of poverty, and “Getting Ahead” classes that provide skills and resources to people working to gain financial independence. The grant from the Healthier Buckeye Council will support Bridges Summit County “Getting Ahead” classes.
To date, more than 750 individuals have graduated from “Getting Ahead” classes. On average, those who complete the 16-week course, which meets twice a week, have lower unemployment rates and go on to earn significantly higher incomes.
52 percent of Akron children live in poverty – more than triple the national average. Bridges Summit County will use the $437,161 grant to expand “Getting Ahead” to help provide pathways out of poverty for more local families and individuals.
Over the next year, the initiative will increase the number of sites that offer “Getting Ahead” classes and recruit more facilitators to lead them. In addition, United Way has hired a full-time “Getting Ahead” coordinator to help guide the expansion. This will enable Bridges Summit County to recruit more “Getting Ahead” participants than ever before. Though the new funding comes as a one-year grant, United Way has a sustainability plan in place to ensure that the initiative can continue to serve the local community throughout the coming years.
“An important commitment we are making through our organization’s new business model is to use our institutional resources to attract new kinds of investment, like this grant, to Summit County,” says United Way president and chief executive officer Jim Mullen. “Ultimately, we want to make sure that the contributions our donors make to the health and success of this community are leveraged many times over.”
The Summit County Healthier Buckeye Council was established in 2016. The council coordinates with the State of Ohio to promote self-sufficiency and assist low-income individuals and families.
“All of us in Summit County benefit from living in a community full of healthy, thriving families,” says Karen Talbott, chair of the Summit County Healthier Buckeye Council. “We’re very grateful to United Way for taking the lead on securing this grant from the State of Ohio, so that, together, we can continue helping those that need it most.”
For more information about Bridges Summit County, visit uwsummit.org/bridges.