This summer, United Way of Summit County was awarded more than $100,000 in funding to support its iC.A.R.E. in-school mentoring program. The funding comes in the form of a $100,000 Community Connectors grant from the State of Ohio and two $10,000 grants from the Barberton Community Foundation and the Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Foundation. An additional $21,050 from Community Connectors will benefit the iC.A.R.E. program in its work with the University of Akron in Barberton City Schools.
Created in 2013, iC.A.R.E. became a United Way of Summit County program in 2016 and now serves more than 400 students in the Akron Public Schools (APS) and Barberton City Schools (BCS) systems. Mentors commit to spending one hour per week with their mentees, thereby becoming a constant, supportive presence in their mentees’ lives. And unlike other mentoring programs, which generally involve activities outside of school hours, iC.A.R.E works within the school system, coordinating with administrators to ensure that students can spend time with their mentors without taking time away from their academic work.
Of the $141,050 in grant funding from Community Connectors, Barberton Community Foundation and Tuscora Park Health and Wellness Foundation, $100,000 will fund the program’s expansion in APS. The remaining $41,050 will go toward the hiring of an iC.A.R.E. program manager who will oversee the program’s expansion in Barberton City Schools, as well as training and recruiting expenses for mentors.
For United Way of Summit County, the growing success of iC.A.R.E. represents an auspicious start for its recently announced Bold Goals for 2025. Designed to guide the organization’s impact work, the four Bold Goals aim to improve key community conditions, from raising third grade reading scores to reducing emergency room visits due to drug overdoses.
While traditional fundraising remains an important part of the organization’s impact work, United Way is also working to secure other sources of funding – including local, state, federal and private foundation grants – to support its Bold Goals and the programs that will help the organization achieve them. Success in Goals One and Two, which are focused on increasing academic performance among Akron Public Schools students, will rely in part on the accomplishments of the iC.A.R.E. program.
Studies show that a sustained relationship with a caring mentor can have a profound effect on a student’s life. Absenteeism rates for students who are mentored through in-school programs have been shown to decrease by nearly 50 percent, and mentees demonstrate significantly lower rates of drug use.
United Way is now actively recruiting iC.A.R.E. mentors for the 2017-2018 school year. Find out more at uwsummit.org/mentor.