Keep Akron Beautiful
GAR’s Grantee Spotlight series is our effort to showcase many of the inspiring programs and nonprofit organizations in Summit County. These are the people who inspire us to do better. The organizations who tirelessly work towards a cause. The ones we’re proud to call our partners in philanthropy. We’re excited to introduce a new series within the Grantee Spotlight feature, Vision & Voice, where we can sit back and give our grantees room to express themselves in their own words.
In this guest post with Jacqui Flaherty-Ricchiuti, chief executive officer of Keep Akron Beautiful, we learn how the organization has encouraged Akronites to take pride in their city over the last three decades and how you can help celebrate the organization’s 35th birthday. Hint: Swenson’s is involved.
What is Keep Akron Beautiful and how does it well, keep Akron beautiful?
Keep Akron Beautiful is a nonprofit organization that serves the citizens of Akron, Ohio. KAB develops and implements public education and community improvement programs on litter prevention, recycling, graffiti eradication, waste management and beautification to encourage citizens to take pride in Akron by participating in these activities.
How has KAB effectively adapted to challenges and opportunities in Akron to survive and thrive over the last 35 years?
New advances in technology have changed how we communicate with each other. The Akron landscape continues to evolve which means no year’s beautification plan is the same. We see new breeds of donors and volunteers emerge simultaneously as our relationships with our longtime donors and volunteers develop and mature. A lot of things change over 35 years! It is up to KAB to roll with the changes, no matter the challenge, so that we can continue to serve our community.
What does the Akron community love the most about KAB?
People are thankful that not only is our organization beautifying the city and picking up litter and illegal dumping 365 days a year, but we are giving people the tools, resources and education to do the same! People love what we do and that we encourage others to join.
We often receive notes from people just thanking us for existing.
What are some of the challenges Akron faces with beautification and how does KAB help change our community?
Akron is a City that takes challenges head on. We see more and more citizens taking environmental responsibility in their communities. People are not waiting to be given a solution to their problem. They are finding the solutions themselves!
People are becoming empowered to do things on their own or in small groups to tackle bigger problems.
We also have seen so much collaboration between organizations in the community, coming together to make really big, impactful lasting things happen. Keep Akron Beautiful has been able to play a role by figuring out how to meet people where they are with our educational resources and tools. We are adapting our programs so they better serve the community. Extending the hours that people can pick-up their project supplies, adding tools so that our Community Pride Trailer program is more useful, providing people accurate information on programs like loan-a-receptacle, graffiti removal services, and how to use 311 for complaints are just some examples. We are striving to make our resources accessible and simple!
What are three ways folks can help KAB out right now?
We’re hoping to hire a fall intern to gain experience in communications or marketing. We also invite volunteers to help with the Green Team for the Akron Marathon. And lastly, we are looking for volunteers who may want to take on a public beautification site for the spring- with our Adopt-A-Site Program.
Any big plans for the 35th anniversary?
Guests can help us celebrate 35 years of improving Akron’s quality of life by joining us for a beautiful summer evening on August 31 from 5:00 – 7:30 pm. Our event will take place at the new Akron Art Museum Bud & Susie Rogers Garden. You can hop on the City of Akron trolley for a quick downtown tour of the KAB Flowerscapes, and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with a bite to eat from the Swensons Food Truck. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online or by mail.
Great! We just have to ask: What song best describes Keep Akron Beautiful?
Soak Up The Sun- Sheryl Crow
GAR Grant at a Glance:
Amount: $11,000 in 2016
What we funded: programs to improve Akron’s quality of life through beautification and responsible environmental management.
Why we funded: improves vibrancy of place and supports efforts designed to protect and increase public access to green space in Akron and Summit County.
Header image: Blooming Designs