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Table of Contents
ARTS & CULTURE
6N ancy Brennan and Amy Mothersbaugh: Moving Artists “Compassion is an action word with no boundaries” —Prince (1958-2016)
e began last year’s edition of Spirit of Philanthropy with this same quote from Prince. Not everyone knows he was a secret philanthropist whose giving went far beyond money. We’ve learned this past year that Prince died of an overdose of opiates at the age of 57. His words and the cause of his death bear repeating this year when 70,000 Americans are expected to die of drug overdoses. In this year’s edition of Spirit of Philanthropy, you’ll meet Game Changers who are heroically facing the opiate crisis head-on and creating innovative, promising solutions. There are 23 Game Changers in all—individuals, programs and organizations uniting creativity, collaboration and compassion to help others in the arenas of Arts & Culture, Community Development, Education, Health, Human Services and Youth. When we showcase individuals, they exhibit “the philosophy of The Three D’s,” explains Laura Jo Hawk, director of the Akron General Foundation at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. She believes, “Being a donor, a doer, or a door opener takes on a deeper meaning than the often used adage, ‘time, treasure, and talent.’” Game Changers “are committed, dedicated and generous people who go above and beyond, are willing to mentor, encourage and lead by example.” They range from a dynamic young man impacting male youth through etiquette and life skills to a passionate, innovative government leader working to unite the county. You’ll also meet our cover subject, the talented pianist that helped launch a jazz and blues festival in Akron where the genre has a storied, colorful history. Spirit of Philanthropy began, as so many good ideas do, with a conversation at a bookstore coffee shop. We decided on a simple mission: To Elevate. To Encourage. To Engage. Our goal? To inspire the many by highlighting the good works of the few. Since our inaugural issue in 2014, we’ve expanded beyond the annual print and electronic publications to social media. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter spreading the news of philanthropic people, initiatives and events. And our website (spiritofphilanthropy.com) encourages viewers to “Get Engaged” by matching their passions with opportunities to donate, volunteer and attend nonprofit events. Inspiring stories demonstrate how Greater Akronites believe, as Prince did, that compassion is an action word. May you be elevated, encouraged and engaged. The Spirit of Philanthropy Team
Spirit of Philanthropy
Along the Track
7 T heron Brown: Jazzing Up the Akron Community COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
8 Ilene Shapiro: A Magnet for Collaboration 9W illiam Steere: Family Business Models Philanthropic Values
10 N orma Rist: A Stellar Model of Creative Mentoring 12 E lizabeth Bartz: Powerhouse of Generosity EDUCATION
13 A MHA’s Reach Opportunity Center: Empowering a Neighborhood
14 T he EXL Center: The University of Akron Brings Together Students and the Community
16 N ancy and Vincent DiGirolamo: Establishing a Legacy to Honor Caregivers
17 T he Tony Gorant Community Leadership Institute 18 G iant Eagle: The Registers Ring to Support Akron Children’s Hospital
19 T he Opioid Crisis: Fighting for Lives Takes a Village 22 A my and Jeff Belles: Addressing Sensory-Inclusion Through KultureCity Ohio
23 T ommy Bruno: Tuning In on Recovery 24 V ictoria Tifft: Pursuing Cures for Infectious Diseases Sets the Stage for Family Giving
25 J im Mullen: Bold Goals for a Stronger Community HUMAN SERVICES
26 S age Lewis: Embracing and Sheltering the Homeless 28 T he Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company: The Impact of 2,400 Hands in One Week
29 K ylie Rose Jacobs: Fighting Cancer One Stitch and One Step at a Time
30 B randon Scarborough: Teaching Life Skills to Promising Young Men
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ARTS & CULTURE
Nancy Brennan and Amy Mothersbaugh, Akron Soul Train
the course of their fellowships, the chosen artists would take part in a variety of events, such as demonstrations, workshops and artist talks to be held at the artists’ residency village and other sites. At the end of their fellowships, each artist hosts a public exhibit and receives a percentage of sales of their work. They were elated in early 2016 when they were awarded $150,000, the second largest such arts grant in the Knight Foundation’s history. They were able to meet their matching funds ahead of deadline. A $50,000 grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation aided them in meeting their final matching funds requirements. Akron Soul Train has raised more than $300,000 since that day of Nancy Brennan’s shower. Akron’s art community has strongly supported the group’s efforts. Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders donated, and two train cars came from railroad engineer Will Carney, brother of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney. Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo serves on the Akron Soul Train board. “People really grabbed onto the idea. They loved it,” said Brennan. She thinks people embraced the concept so quickly in part because it ties into established efforts to build up the Northside Arts District. They expect to break ground in spring 2018 on a wooded site
COURTESY OF NANCY BRENNAN
eople often say our best ideas come to us in the bathtub. For Nancy Brennan, it was the shower. In summer 2015, Brennan and friend/artist Amy Mothersbaugh were trying to think of a project for the annual Arts Challenge issued by the Knight Foundation. The deadline was fast approaching, and nothing was coming. The Arts Challenge is designed to encourage creative ideas for connecting people to their communities through the arts. Winners are awarded sizeable grants as well as guidance and publicity. It’s a dream grant for all creative souls. A developer and philanthropist, Brennan felt she had the connections and moxie to make an idea work—if only she had the idea. As she shampooed, her mind wandered to the HGTV show Tiny House Hunters, which she had been binge watching earlier. The idea bubbled up: a village of tiny houses for visiting artists. Brennan and Mothersbaugh fleshed out the concept as they completed the essay that started the application process. They decided to call it Akron Soul Train, a reference to the iconic dance party show of the 1970s as well as to Akron’s rail history. They were invited to submit a full proposal, so the two women got to work. They decided that during
An architect’s rendering of the Akron Soul Train shows an artists’ colony in northwest Akron scheduled to be built in 2018. 6
Spirit of Philanthropy
COURTESY OF NANCY BRENNAN
Providing Artists the Chance to Chug Along
Nancy Brennan (Left) and Amy Mothersbaugh, founders of the Akron Soul Train artist colony, celebrate winning the Knight Arts Challenge, the contest that inspired the duo.
off North Canal Street, adjacent to the Towpath Trail. They are working with the GPD Group of Akron to design the village. Phase I of the village includes shipping containers housing two studio areas, gallery space and a restroom area. Construction has undergone some delays because the site needed to be graded and utilities brought in. “I had no idea we’d be building a property from scratch,” Brennan said. “But everything is moving along.” Brennan and Mothersbaugh decided to launch the fellowship even though the site isn’t ready. John Sokol, a longtime Akron artist, was awarded the first fellowship. He worked out of his home studio, as will the other fellows until the site is completed. Sokol, during the month-long fellowship, created more than 30 paintings, which were displayed at Spectrum Gallery. The exhibition had more than 1,000 visitors in three days, resulting in strong sales of Sokol’s work. In the current fellowship year, Akron Soul Train sponsored one part-time and three full-time fellowships in fall 2017. Two more fellows are expected to come aboard in spring 2018.—ME
Theron Brown, Rubber City Jazz & Blues Festival
Making Straight Ahead Fun for All
kron has a rich history in jazz and blues. And for the past two summers, its hepcat heritage has been celebrated at the Rubber City Jazz & Blues Festival, a multi-day homage to that hippest of American art forms. The festival grew out of a backyard conversation in 2014 between jazz pianist Theron Brown and musician Dan Wilson. They were discussing the Knight Arts Challenge, the contest put on by the Knight Foundation to inspire and uncover the region’s best arts ideas. Brown noted that Pittsburgh and Detroit have well-known jazz festivals, so it stood to reason that Akron—with its deep roots in the genre—should have its own. “The light went on,” says Brown. Akron was known as the jazz corridor of the Midwest in the 1930s and ’40s when it was a hub for musicians traveling between Chicago and New York. Howard Street was jamming with clubs that attracted musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong. In the 1960s and ’70s, pianist native sons Pat Pace and bandleader Roland Paolucci carried the flame. The scene today is seeing an extraordinarily rich revival among millennials who grew up with swipe-button access to all sorts of music. The LockBottom and BLU Jazz+ nightclubs are packed on weekends. The University of Akron, from which Brown graduated, has a thriving jazz music program built on its storied history. Vogue magazine, in an article titled “6 Reasons Akron, Ohio, Should Be on Your Radar,” cited
Theron Brown takes the lead on the keyboards as he jams with his jazz band.
the city’s hot blues and jazz scene as a reason to visit. Once the festival got the green light from the Knight Foundation in 2015, Brown got to work raising matching funds required by the $75,000 grant and planning the inaugural festival. The 2016 event was two days of concerts at four venues. The 2017 event was expanded to four days, 10 venues, a kickoff parade, a lecture and a documentary on the legendary Bill Evans at the indie Nightlight Cinema. Brown, with the help of partner Open Tone Music—a Clevelandbased nonprofit—hopes to expand the festival’s educational elements. “We want to keep this legacy alive,” says Brown. “We need to nurture young talent.” Organizers also hope to draw more performers from across the country and the globe, reviving the Rubber City’s role as a jazz alley for the genre’s best artists. Can you dig it?—ME
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Ilene Shapiro, Summit County Executive
Putting A Work Ethic Into Action
lene Shapiro leads her life with ambition and motivation few people have. When asked where she finds this drive, she says: “I was raised by a single mom. She had three jobs. I learned then that bad things can happen to good people. It’s what you do with it. It’s about people who didn’t have every break in life who are willing to have ownership in the future. Good people, working hard, extended hard work. I understand that struggle.” Her business acumen and experience prepared her for managing all matters related to economic development. She owned a beauty supply company and then founded Shapiro Consulting, a company that focuses on marketing and growth for turnaround and start-up businesses; she was then elected to the Summit County Council and spent 10 years there, three as council president. In 2016, she became the first woman County Executive in Ohio, elected as Summit County Executive, a four-year term. Shapiro manages a half-billion-dollar budget and nine departments for the county. As if fulfilling that job is not a total commitment, she also uses her energy and passion to serve on close to a dozen boards, mostly geared toward women and business owners. Shapiro was a co-founder of the Women’s Endowment Fund of the Akron Community Foundation and helped start WUTNGA (Women Up to No Good Again), which works to help women achieve the highest levels of leadership in the community. She has served as past president of the Women’s Network and is a current member of the League of Women Voters. Her ability to bring people together and collaborate on new initiatives makes her a game changer. She is a magnet for those who believe in diversity, so it’s no surprise that in 2017, Shapiro founded the Summit County 8
Spirit of Philanthropy
“Ilene Shapiro has been a longtime advocate working to level the playing field for women and girls. She was one of the six founders of the Women’s Endowment Fund when we started it back in the 1990s, and continues her support to this day,” says Marie Covington, fellow founder.
Ilene Shapiro, Summit County Executive, is a motivator for positive change.
Executive’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion to reflect the diversity of the county’s residents and allow community leaders to discuss and evaluate the county government’s policies and initiatives. The Council is the first of its kind in the county. She believes, “It’s all about making a difference.” Her goal is to move the County’s 31 communities forward as long as she can, to help people through programs and activities, transportation, healthcare and any other resources. “Whatever it takes,” she says, “to deliver services to make a difference in peoples’ lives. I get done what needs to get done.”
Some of the many boards and organizations Shapiro serves on include The University of Akron Research Foundation Board, the County Executives of America Board of Directors, the Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization and the Akron Community Foundation. She is also an alumnus of both Leadership America and Leadership Akron. She is a recipient of the ATHENA International Leadership Award and has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as “Women In Business Advocate” for Ohio and the Akron Urban League as a “Pioneer.”—CS
F. William Steere, Steere Enterprises
Balancing business and Philanthropy for Three Generations
COURTESY OF STEERE ENTERPRISES
n 1984, Bill Steere was named president and CEO of Steere Enterprises, a plastics manufacturing company his father founded in 1949. He is still involved in the business, but his current priorities are to mentor his sons, Brian and Brock Steere, to successfully transition the business to the third generation. He also wants support of the community and philanthropy to be a continuing focus. “Growing up, both my parents and grandparents were very involved in the community” says Steere, who is now the company chairman. “I grew up trying to making a difference; it was ingrained in my sister and me.” Steere has been actively involved in the community since coming back in 1975 and has held a number of leadership positions including board chairs of Child Guidance & Family Solutions, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Akron General Medical Center and Akron General Health Systems (now Cleveland Clinic Akron General). Other boards on which he’s served on include The Akron Community Foundation; United Way of Summit County: American Red Cross of Summit, Portage, and Medina Counties; The University of Akron College of Business Advancement Council, Akron Area YMCA, Rotary Club of Akron, Summit Education Partnership Foundation, AAA, and Healthnetwork Foundation. He has also been involved with the Young President’s Organization having served as chair of the Cleveland Chapter as well as being a member of YPO’s International Board of Directors. Steere also serves on the boards of a number of privately held companies. When Steere joined his family’s business in 1975, he got involved in the community immediately. Following in his parents footsteps, he looked for ways to make a difference in community. He often asks, “How can we make
William (Bill) Steere (left) and sons Brock and Brian (middle and right) role model philanthropic action in their company and community.
community better, more vibrant?” He has continued to instill those values in his two sons, Brock and Brian, now co-presidents of the company. In addition to his duties at Steere, Brock serves on the board of United Way of Summit County and The Young President’s Organization in Cleveland. Brian serves on the board of directors of Junior Achievement, Coleman Professional Services and the Rotary Foundation. He also was a member of Torchbearer’s and Leadership Akron Class 33. The Steere’s philanthropic philosophy can be summed up by the term “servant leadership.” Servant leadership focuses on the growth and well-being of people and communities to which they belong. Servant leaders measure their individual success by the success of the organizations and people they serve. “Giving back to the community is part of our culture” Steere says. “We’re also looking for
ways to involve our employees in philanthropic activities and events. We want to do more than just write a check.” Steere Enterprises, based in Tallmadge, is an international plastics manufacturer that produces products using different manufacturing processes including blow molding and injection molding. They have recently added a machining and engineering division. The company was founded by Bill’s father, Frank W. Steere, Jr., a chemical engineer who worked for the BF Goodrich Company. Frank Steere started the business using vinyl plastisols he was introduced to in the rubber industry. In the ‘60s, Steere expanded into the automotive industry making seat belt sleeves, and automotive remains a major market for them today. “We are especially proud of our heritage and the core values that have made us successful over the years,” Steere says. —CS Champions of Change in Greater Akron
Leading by Example
orma Rist faced plenty of sexism throughout her career, and she has the photo to prove it. In a mid-1980s shot, Rist stands outside a brick building with 50 or so of her fellow executives from Pepsi and General Cinema. It takes a second of scanning faces to realize that Rist is the only woman in the group, looking a bit like sheâ€™d wandered into the wrong class photo. As a vice president and general manager, Rist led the operations of bottling plants in Northeast Ohio while setting the curve of gender advancement in the workplace. Women executives were rare in 1980s-era corporate America; in manufacturing management, they were virtually unheard of. What makes Rist so remarkable,
friends say, is not so much her pioneering positions, but her insistence on reaching back to those women who have come after her. She introduces emerging leaders to established ones who may be able to help. She connects, supports, encourages and advises women leaders and those women who want to be leaders. In spring 2017, Rist was given the ATHENA International National Leadership Award, which recognizes an individual who has helped women to attain leadership skills and whose work has had a global or national impact. ATHENA International, founded in 1982, is the Chicago-based parent organization of ATHENA Akron, which Rist helped to launch as the first affiliate. ATHENA International supports, develops and honors
Norma Rist has worked to empower women in business and the broader community through her many philanthropic activities.
emerging female leaders in their professional and community roles. In 2016, the Leadership Akron Alumni Association honored Rist with its Distinguished Leader Award. The award recognizes a graduate of Leadership Akron who has
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contributed in an extraordinary and significant way to a specific issue or cause in the community. Rist, always a trailblazer, was in the second class of Leadership Akron and one of few women in those early classes. Rist helped found the Akron Community Foundation’s Women’s Endowment Fund, which funds nonprofit programs that benefit women and girls in Summit County. Rist and the other founders began the effort by soliciting $1,000 donations from more than 100 people. The fund now stands at more than $2 million and is in its third decade. Rist is a founder of the informal but powerful group of Akron women known as WUTNGA (Women Up to No Good Again), which works to help women achieve the highest levels of leadership in the community. Rist cites several reasons for her early success in a corporate world ruled by mostly unenlightened men, not the least of which is her golf game. She says this with a laugh, but she means it. She noticed that many business relationships were solidified on golf courses. She was determined to add the game to her skill set. It’s that combination of gritty experience, easy humor and actionable advice that has made Rist a sought-after mentor to—and advocate for—female executives and entrepreneurs, especially in Northeast Ohio. Rist currently runs her management consulting firm from her office in west Akron where she serves clients from across the country. Her background as a controller is revealed when she counsels clients—of both genders and all stripes—to take a closer look at their numbers yet again. She looks nearly beatific while discussing efficiency and profit margins. But Rist will tell you that one plus one is more than two. If you’re lucky and determined, it adds up to something much greater and grander. “Nothing brings me more happiness than introducing two people who can help each other to achieve great things,” she says. “I seek opportunities to bring people together.”—ME
Norma Rist connects women business owners through a variety of programs, including the Boardroom Groups for Women.
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Elizabeth Bartz, State and Federal Communications
hen Elizabeth Bartz was hired in 1983 at State and Federal Associates in Washington, D.C. (founded in 1976), she had no idea that she would eventually own her own business. “In 1993, I bought out my department, State and Federal Communications, from State and Federal Associates, and moved it to Akron,” she says. She relocated the government compliance division back to her hometown and now employs 40, including 12 attorneys, and says she has other positions open she would like to fill. “We are a company that is unique and valued in our field,” Bartz says. “We are experts in lobbying compliance laws, political contribution compliance laws, and procurement lobbying compliance laws. We are a company with
Spirit of Philanthropy
a strong commitment to helping our clients comply with these state and federal laws and regulations.” Under Bartz’ leadership, the company offers quick access to online, up-to-date information provided on its website each day. She has over 100 clients, which now include GM, Honda, Walmart, Target and Lyft. But that is not the only aspect of Bartz’ career and life that is unique. Philanthropy has been very important to her. “I grew up Christian. I learned the importance of helping others,” she says. “Outside of your job, Elizabeth Bartz is “all in, all the time” to what are you doing to make improve the community. this a better place?” Today, she is involved with many local charities and passes on the philosophy of helping others together and do it together,” she her employees. “Every year, all says. employees participate in the United “We participate with a lot of Way Day of Action. We’ve been nonprofits in Akron and Northeast involved for ten years; we all get Ohio including the Akron Urban League, Project GRAD Akron and Akron Children’s Hospital.” And Bartz wears Kent State University blue and gold proudly. A passionate alum of both the Trumble and Kent campuses, she has provided funding for student scholarships—one to graduates of Howland High School, her alma mater, the other to promising incoming freshmen in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She also sits on WKSU’s community board and underwrites news programming focusing on election reporting. In October 2017, Bartz received the Kent State Advocacy Award. “Philanthropy makes the community a better place to live,” she says. “I think it’s important to help people less fortunate. I’ve been blessed. I don’t feel the need to spend any Elizabeth Bartz sports her Kent State more money on myself.”—CS University swag to support her alma mater.
COURTESY OF KEN LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY
Success That Means Giving Back
Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, Reach Opportunity Center
hen discussing philanthropy, we usually think of powerful people doing good things in a community. But sometimes a community can discover its own power in a place. One visit to the Reach Opportunity Center in Akron’s Summit Lake area provides evidence enough. The laughter of children on its four playgrounds is dazzling. Adult computer labs hum with activity. People gather to learn and uplift. Poverty is put on notice. The Center, which opened in 2014, is owned by the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) and Akron Public Schools, but more than a dozen public and nonprofit groups are involved in its operation. It’s a place families can get targeted support to help them disprove the theory that poverty is intractable. There’s no question Summit Lake has its challenges. AMHA, which also runs a 241-unit housing development next to the Reach Opportunity Center, reports that according to the 2010 census, one-third of the area’s residents lack transportation. The median family income is $15,500. More than a quarter of residents are high school dropouts, and 80 percent of households lack two parents. Summit Lake’s unemployment is more than double that of Akron overall. One in four children live in public housing—including 60 percent of the area’s preschool children and nearly half of its kindergarten students. If childhood environments are unstable and stressful—these children fall behind in critical ways. Advances in neuroscience have proven that brains of poor children don’t develop the same way as those of their more privileged peers. But the situation isn’t hopeless. If interventional steps can be taken before poverty imprints itself permanently, whole communities can be uplifted, said Anthony
O’Leary, executive director of AMHA. A recent study by Harvard researchers underlines the point— the more time a child spends in a good neighborhood, the more gains he or she makes. “AMHA has taken the position from the beginning that we’re not just in the real estate business,” says O’Leary. “We’re in the business of supporting our residents in a holistic way.” O’Leary and David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools, first imagined Students at the Reach Opportunity Center learn about the Reach Center in nature from a Summit County Metro Parks naturalist. 2010. The city, which owns the land on which the Center was selected by the Council of now sits, agreed to provide a 99Large Public Housing Authorities as year ground lease for $1.00. one of three promising solutions Funding for construction of forged between the nation’s largest the Center came from AMHA housing authorities and their local and Akron Public School along counterparts in education. with a $4 million grant from the The Center has drawn other U.S. Department of Housing and activities in the neighborhood. Urban Development. AMHA’s Summit Lake was selected as a site nonprofit arm, Building for through the Akron Civic Commons Tomorrow, is actively involved in project to improve public space raising additional funds to sustain around the lake. Summit Lake operations. residents have enjoyed a pop-up In the Center, adults can nature center provided by Summit participate in GED training Metro Parks. The nature center provided by Project Learn of featured displays, a learning lab, a Summit County, learn how to reading corner, picnic tables and perform job searches, and learn an event space. Outreach programs to use a computer, and more. included educational walks, fishing Parents can enroll their children and kayaking. Funding from the in preschool classrooms staffed Knight Foundation provided kayaks by educators from Akron Public and 100 fishing poles for residents. Schools and Akron Summit “We want people in the Community Head Start. They also neighborhood to know all the have the opportunity to learn “how resources the Center offers,” says to be their child’s first and most O’Leary. “AMHA and the Reach important teacher” through home Opportunity Center’s collaborative visitation programs offered by partners are committed to the staff from AMHA’s Early Childhood Summit Lake neighborhood and its Initiative. residents.”—ME The Reach Opportunity Center Champions of Change in Greater Akron
COURTESY OF AMHA
Empowering a Neighborhood
The EXL Center, The University of Akron
Connecting Student Leaders with the Community
he EXL Center at The University of Akron (UA) was created in 2015 to produce leaders by “supporting innovations in teaching and learning that are hands-on, team-based and engaged with the community,” says current co-director Carolyn Behrman, Ph.D., an anthropology professor at UA. The students learn about the business and the organizational fabric of Akron. Led by Behrman and Annal Vyas (law professor), the Center has a number of innovative programs of its own in addition to supporting faculty in their work to incorporate experiential learning into the curriculum. Take the “Unclasses” program, for example. Three EXL Faculty Fellows who sought to overcome barriers to approach innovative teaching developed this concept. Forcredit courses, the unclasses are “hands-on, community-engaged opportunities in which students and faculty define goals and tap into students’ skills to problem solve in interdisciplinary teams,” Behrman says. One example of an unclass is Open Science for Clean Water. Led by faculty from Biomimicry and open to all majors, this class works in teams to consider issues impacting water around the world, and even more important, in our immediate area (from algae blooms on the Maumee to reworking waste water engineering in Akron). Another game-changing program is Akron Community Internships, which adds a unique dimension of the learning experience by offering significant, short-term opportunities for students to work with start-ups and nonprofits that otherwise might not be able to afford to pay interns. The goal is to enhance the overall capacity of the community while offering students experience with valuesdriven mentors who work hard to develop and sustain Akron. Students can earn 100 credit hours and $1000, thanks to a grant from 14
Spirit of Philanthropy
As an Akron Community Intern, University of Akron student Savannah Sprankle (left) creates a Leadership Akron podcast segment at Kenmore Garfield High School with Justin Hilton (center) and Kemp Boyd (right).
the GAR Foundation. Piloted in summer 2016 and expanded in May 2017, the program provides the opportunity to apply a specific skill to a specific task while meeting some of the dedicated leaders of the community’s business and nonprofit organizations. “The partner sets a real goal that will positively contribute to their organization’s success, and the student gets both a real work experience and access to local thought-leaders and mentors,” Behrman says. So far, the program has placed 50 interns with 40 organizations. The internships must be of academic relevance, and if students’ home departments agree, students receive course credit for their experience. Examples of partners include the International Soap Box Derby, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, the new Northside Marketplace, Round House Media Productions, the International Institute of Akron, Timocco,
Community Legal Aid, Connexus, Downtown Akron Partnership, Leadership Akron and Crafty Mart. Akron Community Intern Scott Swiatek, a sociology student, is working with the director of social services at the International Institute of Akron. He helped to conduct and analyze interviews with resettling refugees as part of a study to help understand needs and create a flexible mental health management program. EbaNee Bond, Akron Community Intern and engineering student who is working with the Akron Global Business Accelerator (AGBA) now called BOUNCE Innovation Hub, believes that the experience working with AGBA and EXL has been the most significant part of her university experience and has changed how she plans to approach career and community involvement going forward. Creativity and community pride is also evidenced in the 10K Start-Up Competition, which
Co-directors of The EXL Center Dr. Carolyn Behrman and Annal Vyas (second from right and far right) work with University of Akron Students.
was spearheaded by Vyas with a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation in 2016. Like other EXL programs, this one seeks to “help students become fluent in the language of Akron,” according to Vyas. More than 80 UA students have come forward with startup ideas to join the competition. The students progress through a series of activities including engagement with community mentors and obtaining legal and business guidance. The challenge culminates with a pitch competition
and a $10,000 grand prize. “We’re showing students with a lot to offer what a phenomenal place Akron is to live and work,” Behrman says. “EXL is a place for innovative and experiential learning opportunities. It is a catalytic center we hope students, faculty and community members will continue to use for meeting, brainstorming and launching their own projects. EXL will enrich the university experience and enhance the Greater Akron community at the same time,” says Behrman.—CS
Please support our campaign to support the Reach Opportunity Center by donating to our non-profit subsidiary, Building for Tomorrow at www.amhabft.org. Or mail to: Building for Tomorrow 100 W. Cedar Street, Akron, OH 44307. For additional information, please contact Chris Yuhasz at email@example.com or at 330 376-9466.
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Champions of Change in Greater Akron
Nancy and Vincent DiGirolamo
Thankful Couple Honors Caregivers by Establishing a Legacy place for her to be treated. Nancy continued to volunteer in the Akron area throughout her two diagnoses and treatment. “We were always involved in the community. Living in this community has given so much to us that we felt we should participate in the needs of the organizations that serve our community,” Nancy says. In honor of the care they received at Summa Health, the couple established the Vincent and Nancy DiGirolamo Endowed Chair in Oncology in 2010, currently held by Gilbert Padula, M.D., medical director of Summa Health Cancer Institute. The couple also established an annual oncology symposium, which is now in its The DiGirolamo’s generosity focuses primarily on supporting Summa Health System’s oncology research and care.
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COURTESY OF SUMMA FOUNDATION
ancy and Vincent DiGirolamo are longtime benefactors of Summa Health. As a retired president, chairman and CEO of National City Bank, and vice chairman of National City Corporation, Vincent served on Summa Health boards for many years and was also chair of the Summa Hospitals’ board. In addition, Nancy served as a member of the Women’s Board of Summa Health System for nearly 30 years and for many other local organizations, including her church and Meals on Wheels. In 2006, Nancy was diagnosed with blood cancer and, three years later, lymphoma. The couple knew Summa Health was the best
10th year. To date, the DiGirolamos have donated nearly $4 million to Summa Health, mostly to the Summa Health Cancer Institute, while continuing to volunteer their personal time. “It’s the best hospital in the area,” Nancy says. “We want it to be available to our family and friends. The community needs to be aware of what we have here and the value it adds to the community.” Nancy and Vincent continue to volunteer on the Summa Health Cancer Institute Leadership Council. In addition, Nancy remains a member of the Women’s Board of Summa Health System, and Vincent serves on the Summa Health finance committee. The couple continues to volunteer for other local organizations. Vincent says, “We enjoy the people of the Akron community and always look forward to working with them.”
The Tony Gorant Community Leadership Institute
Keeping a Memory Alive by Educating Caregivers About Their Community
egend has it that Tony Gorant would say: “Giving back is better than sitting back.” He never lived to know the extent to which his wife, Toby, would take that philosophy to heart. Tony Gorant worked for Ohio Edison for 42 years. After retiring in 1995, he served for 15 years as senior vice president of community affairs for Akron General (now called Cleveland Clinic Akron General) as an advocate for healthcare and hospitals in Ohio. But caring about his community was as important to him as his business career. After he passed in 2011, his wife, Toby, created The Tony Gorant Community Leadership Institute (CLI), along with hospital leaders and Leadership Akron, in memory of her late husband. It has been funded through gifts to the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Foundation in Tony Gorant’s memory. The community leadership institute is based on Tony’s philosophy of balancing social responsibility for his community with his career. The Tony Gorant Community Leadership Institute involves Cleveland Clinic Akron General health system executives, directors, managers and other emerging leaders to explore topics related to, but outside of, the scope of their day-to-day work to forge better collaborative links with other organizations within the community. “(It’s a way to) strengthen their role as a leader, by getting them involved in the community,” says Laura Jo Hawk, director of Cleveland Clinic Akron General Foundation. “Getting them involved in the community strengthens their role as leaders,” adds Sue Hobson, director of regional community relations at Akron General. Each class of between 15 and 20 conducts research to identify and
create a project in Tony’s memory at a local nonprofit. The class can spend up to $1,000 to purchase supplies to complete the project for those in need. Past projects include painting buildings at the Interval Brotherhood Home and building free-lending libraries at elementary schools throughout the community. The Institute usually holds two classes a year, and now has 200 “graduates,” mostly management and caregivers at the hospital who have demonstrated leadership potential. “A lot of organizations have community leadership institutes,” says Hawk. “This is unique, as it was created as a legacy to this man’s life.” Hawk says the program is geared to “caregivers who have leadership potential to get more involved in the community, to get more involved with the clients they serve. Our (hospital) clients come from the community, but they (caregivers) should know the different walks of life they are coming from.” Participant caregivers spend four full-day sessions visiting various agencies. They take on community projects after learning about a variety of local issues, including social services, justice, education and arts. In 2017, the program’s participants visited Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, The Salvation Army, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and The University of Akron. And Toby Gorant, an avid volunteer for many other local charities, participates in each and every class, Hawk says. “This is a way to keep Tony’s memory alive for her.” “The Tony Gorant Community Leadership Institute is a wonderful opportunity for the Cleveland Clinic Akron General caregivers to ‘give back’ to our community,” says Toby Gorant. “Tony’s motto was that it is
The Tony Gorant Community Leadership Institute was created by Toby Gorant in memory of her late husband, Tony Gorant (pictured here).
‘better to give back than sit back.’ Tony did just that and CLI keeps his memory alive for me and in the community. I am so blessed,” Tony’s wife says. Tony Gorant was involved in many volunteer initiatives, from local government to community issues. Some of his positions include life trustee, Akron Regional Development Board; trustee, American Diabetes Association; chairman, Akron Public Schools Business Advisory Council; board member, Akron Symphony Orchestra; past chair and member, Akron City Planning Commission; and past chairman/life trustee, Salvation Army Advisory Board. “The program allows participants to learn more about our patient’s community where our patients come from and the context in which they live.” An added benefit is that caregivers get better acquainted with other caregivers, especially those they don’t normally interact with.” Champions of Change in Greater Akron
Giant Eagle and Akron Children’s Hospital
The Wind Beneath Their Wings
n the three decades that Giant Eagle has operated stores in Northeast Ohio, it has lent its support to Akron Children’s Hospital. From leading marketwide fundraisers to providing birthday cakes to hospitalized patients, the Pittsburgh-based retailer has helped make a difference in the lives of ill children. Over the past seven years, Giant Eagle customers have given more than $620,000 for the Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders during the chain’s register campaigns. Each year, the campaign grows in popularity, netting $143,000 in 2017 alone, according to hospital officials. “Many of the services we provide for patients and families in the Showers Center are made possible
entirely through philanthropic support from donors and companies like Giant Eagle,” said Machelle Syx, corporate alliance coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital. For instance, donations make it possible for the hospital to bring in teachers to help kids stay current with their classwork, she reports. Giant Eagle donated $15,000 to Children’s Hospital programs in recent years. Those donations helped fund several hospital programs, including the Safe Sleep Initiative aimed at reducing the number of infant crib deaths. “It’s very important to us to give back to the communities where we do business,” said Jannah Jablonowski, spokeswoman for Giant Eagle. “We’ve done that throughout our 86-year history
simply because it’s the right thing to do.” Giant Eagle customers who shop with small children are likely familiar with another of the chain’s campaigns on behalf of the hospital: The Little Shopper Treat Card. For $1, parents or grandparents can purchase a treat card for each of their children. In return, each child receives a free treat every time they visit the store with an adult during the year. The array of available treats includes a piece of fruit from a produce display, a slice of cheese from the deli or a cookie from the bakery. Totaling more than $2 million during the program’s longstanding history, all proceeds are donated to local children’s hospitals in communities served by Giant Eagle stores.—ME
COURTESY OF AKRON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
The time is now to bring down barriers to financial stability Our forthcoming Financial Empowerment Centers – created through a partnership between the City of Akron and United Way – will provide much-needed support to Akron’s “working poor” families who struggle just to get by.
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 and access banking services
Coming soon! Visit uwsummit.org to find out more.
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A young patient is treated at the Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Akron Children’s Hospital thanks, in part, to support by Giant Eagle.
ADM Board, Greg McNeil, Shelly and Travis Bornstein, Jonathan Greer
Opioid Crisis Sparks Fight for Lives
COURTESY OF GREG MCNEIL
he opiate crisis is a formidable foe. Its death toll is staggering, reaching record levels in 2016. It has strained community budgets; led to divisive debates and broken innumerable hearts. But the people of Summit County have harnessed their heartbreak and are fighting back—hard. From the streets of inner city Akron to the boardrooms of Wall Street, Summit County has one message: enough. Local governments have made significant headway in the opiate battle, but some of the most remarkable work has come from people who aren’t paid a dime for it. They’ve come armed with their experience, power and creativity in other arenas. They’ve worked alongside police, courts, corporate shareholders and school systems. They’ve leveraged work relationships, started their own nonprofits and made unexpected alliances. They’ve risen to the challenge of saving the next person struggling with addiction, the next kid. The headquarters of the antiopiate forces is in the west Akron office of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board (ADM). The board has taken up the fight metaphor in its latest public service campaign. It features people of all ages wearing boxing gloves with their dukes up and ready. “Recovery: It’s Worth the Fight,” reads one such poster. Last year, the board earmarked $3.2 million for the expansion of drug treatment over a three-year period. Those funds led immediately to 20 more beds in residential treatment and 10 more in the facility known as detox where patients get over the physical addiction before embarking on recovery. They’ve cut the average wait time for treatment from 45 days to eight. The ADM board oversees the Summit County Opiate Task Force, which is made up of people and organizations, both public and private.
Greg McNeil, who lost his son Sam to an overdose, is working to halt the opiate epidemic.
“Collaboration is essential to address this complex problem,” says Jerry Craig, executive director of the ADM board. The communication is paying off. For instance, the number of police departments that carry Narcan, the anti-overdose drug, increased nearly 90 percent last year. Summit County Public Health began a needle exchange program. The board has sponsored a retreat for teens, workshops for employers and prevention programs for children. The board also launched a help hotline 330.940.1133, which allows callers to be connected to a local treatment provider. One of the most significant developments to arise from the task force came from volunteer member Greg McNeil, a grieving father who lost his son Sam to an overdose in 2015. McNeil decided to help educate other families about the disease, so he launched a nonprofit called Cover2 Resources, named for a popular defensive move in football, Sam’s favorite sport.
“I want to offer families the education I wish we’d had,” says McNeil. Cover2 remains an educational resource, primarily through a podcast McNeil titles the Cover2 PPT Podcasts, a series about people, places and things making a difference in the opioid epidemic. In the course of preparing for a podcast, he heard about a new effort in Colerain Township, outside Cincinnati. The township, overwhelmed with overdoses, had formed so-called QRTs—Quick Response Teams—made up of a paramedic, a police officer and an addiction counselor. When someone survives an overdose, the QRT visits him or her in the days following to offer information on treatment and provide support. It’s not unusual for a police officer to shepherd the addicted person into treatment, McNeil says. The QRTs proved to be remarkably successful; the number of overdoses in Colerain dropped 35 percent in the first few months after the deployment. McNeil asked Colerain officials to visit Summit County. With the help of the ADM board, they put on a workshop in Akron in December, and the idea took off. As of this writing, 85 percent of overdoses in Summit County are visited by these QRTs. There are teams in Akron, Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls, among others. “It changes the whole flavor of the relationship between the person struggling with addiction and law enforcement,” says Craig of the ADM. “The teams are there to help the person and the families. They’re not there to threaten or shame them.” Out of about 350 people who’ve been visited by QRTs in these first months, 125 have gone into treatment. “There’s such a small window when an addicted person is willing to get help,” says McNeil who added that window usually opens after a crisis such as an overdose. Champions of Change in Greater Akron
Tyler Bornstein (second from left), who died of an overdose soon after this photo was taken, stands with his sisters and his mother Shelly (far left) and father Travis (far right).
The QRTs are just one of McNeil’s efforts. He has partnered with Drug Free Clubs of America to create high school clubs where students opt in for random drug testing. He’s ridden alongside health officials in Cleveland in the mobile syringe exchange clinic. He is working closely with them to provide users with test strips that detect fentanyl, the drug mixed in with heroin that contributes to many overdose deaths. “Harm reduction is an important piece to this whole fight,” McNeil says. “You have to keep people alive long enough to get them into recovery.” Travis and Shelly Bornstein have learned many such lessons since their son Tyler was found dead of an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin in the fall of 2014. He was 23. Tyler had been addicted to opiates since he was prescribed pills for pain after surgery at age 18. During the five years before his death, the family went through a cycle of rehab and relapse, which is common in early recovery. While clean and sober, Tyler studied at Walsh University and earned a scholarship for academics and athletics. He earned top honors in a bodybuilding contest before relapsing again. The Bornstein’s grief, like that of all parents who lose a child, was overwhelming. But unlike that of parents who lose a child to cancer or accident, their grief was colored by the stigma of addiction. They felt only those who’d gone 20
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abuse, but that there aren’t a lot of resources for those fighting addiction beyond the initial few months of recovery. “We’ve found there’s not money being put into aftercare. That’s where the gaps are,” says Shelly Bornstein. “Tyler went into treatment for 21 days, and then he was out. That’s just not enough.” As this issue went to print, Summit County government announced it is donating 25 acres of the old Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation Center property in Springfield Township to Hope United to build a “recovery campus” where those in recovery and families can get long-term care and support. Current plans call for a 12-month treatment center, sober housing, an aftercare center and meeting space for support groups. Travis Bornstein said the cost of such a project is $8-10 million and that Hope United will contribute the first $1 million. Sam’s and Tyler’s addictions began, as so many others, with prescription painkillers. When they ran out of theirs, they began getting them from friends and buying them on the street. What if Sam and Tyler could have seen that taking those painkillers would lead them to the needle? Drug use leads to death. That’s the message prevention programs want to get across to students before they experiment.
through what they had could truly understand. So the Bornsteins started a support group called The Well for people who’ve lost a loved one to addiction. They’ve also organized a support group for children who’ve lost a parent to addiction and another for people with a loved one in active addiction. They recently changed the name of their nonprofit Breaking Barriers to Hope United. They have marched in Washington, D.C. and spoken to many schools and community groups. Travis has testified before lawmakers. Shelly has volunteered with women with addiction issues. And they began raising money. They had about $10,000 in the bank in June of 2016 when Travis addressed the International Brotherhood of Teamsters convention in Las Vegas. Travis is president of Local 24 in Akron. The Teamsters rallied their support for the Bornstein’s nonprofit and pledged $1.4 million to the cause. Since then, the Bornsteins have worked to determine the best way to put that money to use. “We want to make sure we’re not duplicating services that are already there,” says Shelly. During the course of their fact finding, they learned the brain A United Way of Summit County iC.A.R.E. mentor takes at least a year shares a laugh with an Akron Public Schools student to recover from opiate at their weekly meeting.
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COURTESY OF THE BORNSTEIN FAMILY
According to the ADM’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, more than 15 percent of Summit County’s middle and high school students admitted to taking a prescription that was not prescribed for them. Many of those students are lacking role models and other positive forces that help protect them from the appeal of such drug abuse and other risky behavior, studies show. By giving children supportive role models, communities can stem high-risk behavior before it starts. Keeping kids off drugs is one of the many goals of iC.A.R.E. Mentoring, a United Way of Summit County program that began less than four years ago as a small nonprofit. The United Way’s iC.A.R.E. works to increase student success in all areas through mentoring, and stemming drug addiction is one aim. Jonathan Greer, founder of the Man Up faith-based program, launched iC.A.R.E. (Creating
Authentic Relational Energy) with the help of a $109,000 social services grant. iC.A.R.E. matches one student with one adult for one hour each week. Studies have shown that even that small amount of time can have a profound effect on children. Although there’s a modest amount of training involved in becoming a mentor, consistency is the primary qualification. “We need people who are going to show up week after week,” says Greer. “A lot of these students have been disappointed too often by the adults in their lives.” Surveys of students in Summit County reveal 25 percent experience trauma in the first three years of life. One in five experiences violence. More than a third change schools at least once during the school year. “All of these things are risk factors,” when it comes to drug abuse, says Greer. Early data on results show improved attendance and
academic performance among mentees. Research into similar mentoring programs shows longterm positive gains such as higher graduation rates and a better postsecondary outlook. Greer works with the Akron Public Schools to identify the children who might benefit most from such an adult relationship. The program started off small— just 23 mentor-mentee pairs. The goal is 1,200 pairs for the 20172018 school year. The program has shown such promise, the United Way of Summit County brought it under its umbrella a year ago as part of its work to raise student success on all levels. “If we can prevent students from picking up drugs in the first place,” says Greer, “then we’ve saved lives.” Until that day comes, those who become addicted—as well as their families—should remember the words of Shelly Bornstein: “There is hope. People do recover.”—ME
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Amy and Jeff Belles, KultureCity Ohio
Building Sensory-Inclusive Areas for All Ages
my Belles can tell us a lot about breaking the barriers of the status quo. Having a non-verbal autistic son taught her and her husband, Jeff, not just a lot about how to deal with autism, but maybe more about how to deal with the environments he and so many others have to live in. Amy and Jeff are founders of the Ohio division of KultureCity, an organization that started in Birmingham, Alabama, and is now spreading across the United States. The Belles have an autistic son, and they realized the need he has had in public places to find a quiet space with resources to distract him from outside noises and influences. “When people care who are not directly impacted . . . that’s when change happens,” Amy says.
Amy first spoke to KultureCity, the company out of Alabama, about creating a sensorysafe area in the Quicken Loans arena, a “quiet room” where people can go when things become too loud, a place for those of any age who need this retreat— from elderly to children, from those with PTSD to those with dementia. “People don’t know and aren’t aware,” Amy says. Quicken Loans has trained its employees to deal with and set up a sensory-safe area
Carson and Amy Belles believe in miracles.
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COURTESY OF AKRON ZOO
for those in need with time-outs for them and sensory bags full of supplies to help with their needs. The Akron Zoo quickly bought into the idea and created a sensory-inclusive destination. Amy, a schoolteacher in the Copley/Fairlawn district, brought the concept back to her Akron home area. “We did an event at the Akron Zoo first, rented the zoo out, handed out ‘life boxes,’ kits that prevent wandering ,” she says. The kits, which are now given out at many destinations, include fidget toys, candy, markers and tablets. The Akron Zoo is now the second in the country to offer sensory inclusive places for people of all ages in need, with headphones, blankets and “quiet” animal areas. “We wanted to keep funds here locally. Wanted to directly impact our community,” she says. The Belles have also successfully brought the concept to the Akron Childrens’ Museum and 18 libraries in Summit County. They are working with the Akron RubberDucks, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and FirstEnergy Stadium as potential future venues. “The more we could get our son out, the more he could learn,” she says. “We need to get these individuals back into society,” she says.—CS
Children enjoy quiet areas at the Akron Zoo, thanks to the Belles family.
Tommy Bruno, 91.3 The Summit
Rocking into the Hardship of Recovery
he Greater Akron region is no stranger to addiction issues, and in turn, to creating measures to resolve those issues and to help those in need. As early as 1935, Henrietta Seiberling, daughter-in-law of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company founder F.A. Seiberling, brought Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, both admitted alcoholics, to a meeting at Stan Hywet Hall, which resulted in the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unfortunately today, Ohio leads the country in heroin overdoses. In 2011, Tommy Bruno, general manager of 91.3 The Summit, a nonprofit radio station with a broadcast area throughout Northeast Ohio, wanted to step in to help. He designed a program called “Rock and Recovery,” which is broadcast every night from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., the time when people typically tend to slip. “This (the heroin problem) has been a pandemic in the cities of Akron, Canton, Youngstown . . . We flipped that on its side and said ‘Recovery Rocks,’” Bruno says. The program was created to get people through tough times, not only with drug or alcohol addiction but also with grief and other personal issues. “As a public broadcaster we felt a responsibility to provide the community with this,” he says. “Whatever addiction, we’re a little bit of sunshine in a cloud.” Don’t expect to hear “What a Wonderful World” played very often. While the thoughtfully puttogether programming focuses on positive messages, real Rock and Roll rules. Artists such as U2 and Todd Rundgren often lead the playlists. The programming is also interspersed with stories and messages from professional healthcare providers, addicts, comedians and family members. The playlists are hand picked, and not associated with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. It was important for
Tommy Bruno takes rock to the airwaves to aid in recovery.
Bruno’s staff to be on board with the idea and to use their music expertise to create the playlists: “To dedicate the airwaves to that which we want to help and will help,” he says. “It mobilizes and supports a regional and national recovery community, and heals through the therapeutic power of music and shared messages of hope and inspiration. That really defines what it is. We have carved out a niche that I would argue is not like any other in the country. Music can be very therapeutic, bonding . . . brightening our days,” he says. “Rock and Recovery” (91.3 FM) also broadcasts worldwide through its APP, which can be found at rockandrecovery.com. Non-commercial WAPS 91.3 The Summit FM relies on listener membership donations for much of its annual funding. Additional funding is provided by local and regional businesses and organizations, which underwrite station programming and grant funds from local and regional philanthropic organizations. The station receives a Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.—CS Champions of Change in Greater Akron
Victoria Tifft: Philanthropy at the Cellular Level
Pursuing Cures for Global and Local Ails By Chris Miller, Akron Community Foundation
wenty-five years ago, while working for the Peace Corps, Victoria Tifft lay fever-stricken in a Togo, West Africa, hospital bed. The fever was familiar: It was the third time the infectious disease biologist had contracted malaria, a treatable but often deadly disease transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Such an experience would prompt most people to avoid exposure to the disease at all costs. Not Victoria, who was more concerned with the plight of the West African people than anything else. “Unfortunately, some of those conditions still exist today, which is horrifying,” she said. This reality has caused her to run toward, not away
Index of Advertisers ADM Board...............................................21 Akron Area YMCA................................ 29 Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank............................................. 10 Akron Children’s Hospital.................... 3 Akron Community Foundation...........................................32 Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority................................................15 Akron Public Schools............................. 5 Akron Rotary Camp............................ 29 Association of Fundraising Professionals Northeast Ohio Chapter................................................. 26 Cleveland Clinic Akron General.......27 Metis Construction Services............. 10 Northeast Ohio Medical University.............................................31 Omnova Solutions Foundation............................................. 2 Ronald McDonald House Akron........11 Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens................15 Summit DD...............................................21 Tuesday Musical....................................... 7 United Way of Summit County........ 18 The University of Akron......................22 WKSU.........................................................12
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“I think just being able to see (the needs) in your community is really compelling.”
from, the front lines of disease prevention. After returning to the states, Victoria and her husband, Quinten, partnered to create the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Clinical Trial Center, which develops vaccines for infectious diseases like malaria, and later launched the Hinckley, Ohio-based Clinical Research Management (ClinicalRM), which specializes in research and trials. The tough work of creating a startup business ultimately led to global success, government contracts and a direct line to philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates. “We had developed a protocol, or clinical trial, to collect plasma from Ebola survivors and use that plasma to (treat) Ebola patients,” Victoria said. The disease was moving fast, so she met with Bill Gates personally in November 2014 and was approved for what she called “the quickest grant in Gates Foundation history.” “The money was wired overnight, which just doesn’t happen at the Gates Foundation,” Victoria said. “But it was a global crisis. We’ve been working with them ever since on the Ebola crisis.” In the infectious disease world, the only thing that remains constant is change. In 2016, a big change came for the Tifft family when global drug development solutions provider ICON purchased ClinicalRM. This enabled the
Victoria Tifft created a donor-advised fund to support her and her family’s favorite causes.
Tiffts to leverage several decades of success into a permanent charitable vehicle to fight diseases worldwide and support a variety of other causes that are important to them. With the help of financial advisor Bill Manby Jr., they established the Tifft Family Fund, a donoradvised fund at Akron Community Foundation. “(Victoria) has always been philanthropic, so when she sold the business, it was a foregone conclusion that philanthropy would be part of the process,” Manby said. “We thought Akron Community Foundation would be the perfect home.” Ultimately, the Tiffts hope to use their donor-advised fund to infuse their passion for giving into their three children, who have already shown interest in supporting music, health and children’s causes both locally and around the globe. “I think just being able to see (the needs) in your community is really compelling,” said Victoria. “This (fund) is going to be the culmination of being able to give them something that they can move and drive on their own.”
Jim Mullen, United Way of Summit County
Bold Goals Set to Ensure a Stronger Community
nited Way of Summit County is looking to the near future by setting up four “Bold Goals” to meet by 2025. So far, the organization is on the road to meet them. The goals include empowering elementary and highschool children to read and to graduate; to financially empower the city’s “working poor” with skills, knowledge and resources; and to cut drug overdoses to more than half of what they are today. “We have an obligation to the community to ensure that the community is healthier for us than what it was,” says Jim Mullen, president and CEO. “We’re at that pivot point in Summit County. We want to see a scope of change. happening here. The time is right.” ■ Goal One: To get 65 percent of Akron Public Schools (APS) third-graders reading at or above grade level (Currently, we are at 38%.) ■ Goal 2: To get 90 percent of APS high-schoolers graduating in 4 years, with 60 percent college/ career ready. (The graduation rate is currently at 75 percent.) Also increasing college and career readiness, 90 percent of APS high-schoolers graduating in 4 years, with 60 percent college/ career ready (Currently, the rate is 75 percent and 21 percent respectively.) ■ Goal 3: To financially empower 11,000 people with the skills, knowledge and resources to budget and save, manage debt, build credit and access banking services (Currently, 42,000 people in Akron are considered to be “working poor.”) ■ Goal 4: To reduce ER visits due to drug overdoses to 1,000, from currently 2,400 annually. Mullen has been with United Way for 11 years. He grew up in Cleveland; in 2011 he moved to Nashville, TN, where he served as director of workplace giving, one of the most innovative United Way organizations in the U.S., he says.
“We want to see a change in what’s happening here and see community change. The time is right.”
President/CEO Jim Mullen advocates robust programming to meet Bold Goals.
Two years ago he moved back to Akron and took on the position of president and CEO of United Way of Summit County. “We want to see a change in what’s happening here and see community change. The time is right. There’s an unprecedented time of leadership now. Transitions and long-standing leadership— there’s been so much of that that it created an opportunity. There’s been a wonderful embracing of leadership,” Mullen says. Mullen says his access to new leadership within the community has helped him move forward with the goals. In September 2017, students at 11 Akron public schools received backpacks full of classroom materials, courtesy of United Way of Summit County’s Stuff the Bus school supplies drive. Now in its fourth year, and sponsored by Steere Enterprises, Stuff the Bus has grown into one of United
Way’s largest events. Individuals and organizations from throughout Summit County—including 49 local businesses—donated 60,218 supplies, amounting to a 54 percent increase over last year’s total. The growth in donations allowed United Way to distribute one backpack full of school supplies to every student at 11 local public schools, nearly double the number of schools served in 2016. The 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. “Too many of our children live in poverty, go hungry and fall behind in school. Our youth find too few opportunities. Too many of our neighbors lose loved ones to addiction. And too many families struggle to find a way forward financially.”—CS Champions of Change in Greater Akron
Sage Lewis, The Homeless Charity
Helping the Homeless: One Man. One Accidental Vision.
o say The Homeless Charity, started by Sage Lewis, Akron realtor and owner of Rubber City Auctions, was created by chance may be an understatement.
Lewis never knew he would create a village for the homeless in the back of his warehouse in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood. But in the cold Ohio winter of early 2017,
Celebrating the impact of philanthropy in our community 2 0 1 7 N AT I O N A L P H I L A N T H R O P Y D AY
AWA R D R E C I P I E N T S
Each award recipient was honored at our awards luncheon for their vision, generosity and the difference they make in our community. Please join us in celebrating their efforts to change the world with a giving heart.
Corporate Leadership Award Lifetime Achievement Award
Justin T. Rogers, Jr.
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award
Outstanding Philanthropist Award
Bob & Linda DeHoff
Small Business Leadership Award
Julia Rea Bianchi
Foundation Leadership Award
Stephen A. Comunale, Jr. Family Cancer Foundation
Special Recognition Award Outstanding Professional Fundraiser Award
The Women’s Board of Aultman Hospital
Spirit of Philanthropy
Kylie Rose Jacobs
Visit www.AFPNEO.org/npd.php for more information. Presenting Sponsors
Youth in Philanthropy Award
he realized there was a crucial need to get homeless people off the streets, and he knew he had the space to shelter them. Lewis has built what has now become a village for interim housing. He turned the space in the backyard of his 15 Broad Street building into a tent village for the homeless where they could live and thrive—with tents, bathrooms, laundry facilities, a computer lab, The Second Chance Store and a community garden. “I did not (initially) have the idea,” Lewis admits. “The only thing I really did was not say ‘no.’ We’re organically driven, with little-to-no strategy,” Lewis says. Lewis reports the village now houses 15 tents and 25 families and is a completely self-run, selfdirected democratic community. Three of the homeless men who moved there were elected by the other residents to take on the roles of running the village. For instance, Paul Hayes, who was living on the streets of Akron for seven years due to extreme alcoholism, is the Operations Director. Hayes oversees the security and maintenance of the organization, and monitors the area wearing a shirt bearing the letters “SECURITY.” No alcohol or drugs are allowed on the property. He also coordinates the volunteers and oversees The Second Chance Store, where all the profits go back to the community. The nonprofit is only a temporary facility to get people back on their feet and into permanent housing, Lewis stresses. “I don’t know if I’m the long-term home guy. I am just a stepping stone. I am the guy you come to (if you are) the poorest of the poor . . . ” he says. When asked if the city’s zoning laws accept this concept, Lewis simply says, “It’s not legal but not illegal. We’re riding in a gray area. There are no zoning books to deal
with us . . . I get it. I’m not upset with that.” “I dream about a place like San Francisco, and I want to be in the worst place. I want to be in with the hardest, do the hardest thing to do. My mind is clearest in chaos. When things are good, I don’t know what to do.” Lewis and his elected directors are planning for their first full winter of 2017-18. They are not allowed to have outside electricity, but are considering other ideas such as insulation and emergency blankets. “I try not to get ahead of myself,” Lewis says. “I’m a ready-set-fire type of guy.” The strategy that has so far worked is getting families off the streets and into a transitional home.—CS
The self-run, selfdirected village now houses 15 tents and 25 families.
Sage Lewis saw a need and met it by establishing the The Homeless Charity.
Working together, we can make a difference One simple action can make you part of something remarkable. Please help us save lives and continue to shape the future of medicine for the next 100 years. One idea can create a cure. One caregiver can change countless lives. One gift can make a difference. Learn more at akrongeneral.org/giving or contact the Akron General Foundation at 330.344.6888.
Champions of Change in Greater Akron
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company Week of Volunteering
Joining Helping Hands Worldwide
Spirit of Philanthropy
COURTESY OF THE GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY
ore than 75 percent of millennials prefer to donate their skills instead of money, according to a 2015 Gallup survey. They’re a hands-on generation that wants to give back to their communities in tangible ways, the researchers say. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is on top of this trend, although they didn’t set out to be. In June 2017, the tire maker launched its inaugural Week of Volunteering. More than 1,200 Goodyear employees, retirees and their loved ones took part in 69 projects in Akron as well as in other countries where the tire company operates, including Brazil, China, Indonesia, Romania and Ukraine. All generations, not just millennials, were invited to volunteer, and they did. The company said volunteers donated the equivalent of nearly $300,000 worth of time. The majority of activities occurred in Akron where volunteers spent more than 5,000 hours with 12 nonprofit organizations. Projects included repacking enough food at the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank to provide more than 33,000 meals. They also beautified areas, including Lock 2, with the Downtown Akron Partnership and Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition. The Goodyear team completed nearly three years’ worth of maintenance work at the YMCA Camp Y-Noah. And Goodyear’s brainpower was in high demand. Volunteers held professional development classes for the nonprofits, sharing triedand-true business tools that can be transferred to the philanthropic world. More than 200 people participated in the workshops. The point of the week was to make it easy for anyone to volunteer. Goodyear, like most companies, has a core group of people who consistently volunteer at nonprofits. But the idea of the week was to engage those who’ve thought about volunteering
Goodyear employees landscape a seating area at Camp Y-Noah in Clinton Township during the company’s Week of Volunteering.
but never acted on the impulse, says Alison White, director of community engagement at Goodyear. One man who volunteered for the first time with the Downtown Akron Partnership made a point of telling White that his experience beautifying downtown was deeply rewarding. He said he planned on continuing to volunteer with the organization. “He was hooked,” she says. “That’s exactly what we wanted to see.” Goodyear began planning the week by studying the best practices of other companies and determining which ones could work with Goodyear’s culture and organization. The company knew that its size and global reach harnessed significant power. “We have all these exceptionally intelligent and creative people at Goodyear—engineers and others. We just had to figure out the best way they could help our communities,” says White. The company’s size also posed particular challenges. They decided on a week of volunteering, as opposed to a single day, to allow the thousands of employees to find times that worked for them without losing the impact of a short-term effort. The team sought out nonprofits with which they had an existing
relationship, asked what was needed and determined whether Goodyear employees could provide it. When they had decided on the nonprofit beneficiaries as well as the week timetable, they gave employees a menu of choices. They used a program called Sign Up Genius that helped to simplify the organization of times and places, White says. The week was a true success according to White. They weren’t sure how the workshops would be greeted, but all 200-plus slots were rapidly filled. They were able to complete ambitious projects in seven days because so many people signed up to volunteer and brought their loved ones along. It has inspired the company to consider doing the same kind of volunteer effort next year. The team is studying the outcomes of the week—what worked well and what could be improved—and is developing their plans for next year accordingly. They’re hoping the week will help other companies develop similar programs. “There’s nothing wrong with writing a check (to an organization),” says Keith Price, a spokesman for Goodyear. “But this kind of program has long-lasting effects for the organizations and for our associates.”—ME
Kylie Rose Jacobs
ou wouldn’t expect a 6-yearold child who is lying in a hospital bed fighting cancer to be thinking about anything more than missing her friends, losing her hair and her own health prognosis. But then you don’t know Kylie Jacobs, who has fought cancer twice and has spent the majority of the last three years at Akron Children’s Hospital. Lying in that hospital bed after her first diagnosis, Kylie thought about the kids around her who needed to be occupied by more than sad thoughts about their health. “I thought of myself getting gifts, and thought of others being lonely and wanted to give them something to do,” Kylie says. So in between cancer treatments,
Kylie came up with the idea for Kylie’s Bags of Love: handmade bags filled with age-appropriate toys and crafts. “After beating cancer the first time, she asked for a sewing machine to make bags for kids, and one thing led to another,” says Eric Jacobs, Kylie’s father. “We started the project, and two months later she was diagnosed again (with cancer) in February 2016.” That didn’t stop the project. She and her parents solicited the help of neighbors, friends and relatives to sew the bags and donate items like colored pencils, art supplies and Beany Babies geared toward 6 to 9-year-old children. As of 2017, they have sewn, filled and donated 700 bags for both Akron Children’s
COURTESY OF THE JACOBS FAMILY
Sending Bags of Love and Running the Race to Fight Cancer
Kylie Rose Jacobs and her family raise funds for Akron Children’s Hospital through the annual Kylie Rose’s Run.
Champions of Change in Greater Akron
Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The Jacobs family also founded Kylie Rose’s Run, held at Copley High School once a year in August, to raise money for Akron Children’s Hospital Oncology Division. Funds are raised through registrations, donations and sponsorships. The run is in its third year, and has raised $50,000 for the hospital
through the 800 runners who participate annually. “It was Kylie’s idea,” Eric Jacobs says. “She speaks at the beginning of the run, and people are inspired by her.” Kylie is now a cancer-free, healthy 8-year-old in third grade at Copley Public Schools. She and her parents have since expanded the Bags of Love idea to include
bags with teen-oriented supplies, and have received donations from Copley Police and Fire divisions, while still relying on the muchneeded help and donations from their friends and family members. “ I will keep doing it, as long as everyone at the hospital loves them,” Kylie says.—CS
Brandon Scarborough, Dreams Academy
Turning Young Men’s Dreams into Reality
Spirit of Philanthropy
COURTESY OF DREAMS ACADEMY
fter graduating from Mt. Union College and then receiving his master’s in education, Brandon Scarborough, now 37, realized he wanted do to more with his career than to just hold a traditional job. Throughout his life, he witnessed too many young African-American men who needed focus, who needed a path to become successful. Then it dawned on him: “The Lord opened door and asked, ‘What are you waiting on?’ That was it. I wanted to focus on younger kids— to make an impression,” he says. He took the sign from above and developed an 8-week program designed to mentor young AfricanAmerican men ages 10 to 15, and named it Dreams Academy. “Dreams” stands for “Developing Responsible Extraordinary AfricanAmerican Males for Society.” Scarborough says the Monday night classes, held at House of the Lord Youth Center in West Akron, are designed to “holistically encourage and teach soft skills, problem solving, career guidance and financial literacy.” Professional African-American males who work in a variety of fields, including management, finance, health and politics, teach the classes. Health and wellness classes are held in the fall and focus on staying holistic and keeping both the body and mind healthy. Classes on politics often involve trips to court: suits and ties required. Scarborough says the concept is to have older, successful
Scarborough and his students attend the Dreams Academy Gala in style.
men be role models and to mentor the younger generation. He requires students to wear a dress shirt and tie to class. “Each week we talk about etiquette: Walk with pants up, what to wear, suits and ties in city council meetings.” He recently took his students to a Juvenile Court session to teach the legal implications of not adhering to the law, for example. “The best thing about attending Dreams Academy is you get taught things you will need to know as you progress in life,” says Grant Thompson, who is attending the Academy and is in seventh grade at Akron Middle School. Isaac Harris, a ninth grader at Firestone High School who graduated from the Academy adds, “Being able to see more career choices available by meeting the speakers and having the opportunity to be in a real court-
room have been great experiences at Dreams Academy.” Scarborough recently added a summer Dreams Academy Camp to his curriculum. The nominal $200 fee includes activities, meals, supplies, seven ties and many field trips. At the end of each session, students attend the Dreams Academy Gala: tuxedos required (which are usually donated). “Each student will be challenged and encouraged by building their personal and professional networks. The mission is to expose young men to possibilities, to develop them into young men who will remain in community,” he says. “Sports are not the only the way to be successful. We try to give them other avenues. Most of the kids do play sports, but we want to focus on the person. Sports makes for a good discipline; we want to focus more on character,” Scarborough asserts.—CS
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Champions of Change in Greater Akron