AKRON, Ohio – United Way of Summit & Medina announced Tuesday it has secured a $1.5 million grant from the Hewlett Foundation that will go toward college and career readiness programs at Akron Public Schools.
Akron’s College and Career Academies began in 2017 and are now offered at each high school, providing students with vocational training and other field-specific opportunities in one of about 60 career paths. The grant money will go toward expanding the academies, including in Akron’s elementary and middle schools, and supporting the programs which have moved online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Way of Summit & Medina said in a news release.
The United Way and school district are also seeking to make students more engaged in their learning and to enlist the support of parents and the community by sharing information about student learning and involving them in decision-making.
“Their grant award in the amount of $1.5 million will go a long way to address the social and emotional needs of our students as we navigate our way out of the current COVID-19 pandemic,” said Superintendent David James. “Having United Way of Summit & Medina serve as the fiscal agent for this grant is indicative of the partnership that we share in serving our community in reaching our Bold Goals.”
The district established its so-called Bold Goals in 2017 in collaboration with the United Way. Bold Goal 1 calls for 65% of third-graders to be reading at or above their grade level by 2025, and Bold Goal 2 calls for 90% of high-schoolers graduating in four years and 60% being college- or career-ready.
James discussed the district’s progress in reaching the Bold Goals during his State of the Schools address in February. From 2016 to 2018, the percentage of third-graders reading at their grade level rose from 37.9% to 49.5%, and the district’s graduation rate increased from 74.3% to 79.8%, he said.
“Making sure that our students feel empowered as they learn and grow makes a difference in how they perceive themselves well after graduation,” said Jim Mullen, president and CEO of United Way of Summit & Medina. “Also, having parents and the community play a role in the education process shows the students that learning is more than just the student-teacher relationship. We all have a stake in our students’ futures. United Way is proud to continue to grow our partnership with Akron Public Schools and thankful for the support of the Hewlett Foundation.”
This is the first time the Akron school district has received a grant from the California-based Hewlett Foundation, which was founded in 1966 by Flora and William R. Hewlett, co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard computer and software company. The foundation reported awarding more than $450 million in grants in 2019 to support causes including education, environmental preservation, performing arts, economic development and women’s health.
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