Our Mission

GAR Foundation’s mission is to help Akron become smarter, stronger, and more vibrant.

Our History

Established in 1967, GAR Foundation was born of the philanthropic desire of the Roush family to support the needs of those in the local community.
GAR is an acronym for our founders, Galen and Ruth Roush and is pronounced je-a-ar.  

Galen Roush co-founded Roadway Express during the Great Depression in 1930 with his brother, Carroll. Their first shipment was a load of B.F. Goodrich tires which left Akron, OH headed for St. Louis, MO. By 1939, Roadway was the largest long-haul trucking company in the United States. Through careful stewardship and superior service, Roadway Express grew into a global transportation company servicing over 100 countries by the 1990’s. Galen believed superior service was much more than delivering freight on-time, it was about the experience. Because of his servant minded leadership and the innovation of Roadway’s employees, the company excelled in providing extraordinary experiences for their customers for over 80 years.

Galen and his wife Ruth loved their home area of Akron and Summit County, and never stopped investing in their community. GAR Foundation was established by Galen and Ruth Roush to be a way in which their legacy of serving others could continue on long after they were gone.

Today, GAR Foundation awards over $6 million annually to organizations and programs in the following areas:

  • Early Childhood Education
  • K-16 Education
  • Economic & Workforce Development
  • Basic Needs
  • Arts & Culture
  • Nonprofit Sector Advancement

Our Vision

Every child gets a great start in life and benefits from the best education, preparing for lifelong success, meaningful employment, and career advancement. Companies grow in our talent-rich environment, creating an abundance of career opportunities. Pathways to prosperity are equitable, readily accessible and easily navigated by everyone, especially those most in need. All residents and businesses feel connected to Greater Akron, are energized by its creative assets and aligned around broadly shared goals.

At GAR Foundation, we…

  • Seek long-term solutions.
  • Commit to building and maintaining trusting relationships.
  • Respect our grantees as experts in their fields who commit to continuous learning.
  • Embrace transparency and candid communication.
  • Encourage reasoned risk-taking to seek innovative solutions.
  • Advance strategic priorities through partnerships built on shared learning and collaborative action.
  • Use data to understand issues, evaluate outcomes, and guide our decisions.
  • Hold ourselves accountable to the same level of excellence we ask of our grantees and community partners.
  • Bring enthusiasm, compassion, and love for our community to our work and volunteer engagements.
  • Tackle structural barriers rooted in racial and economic inequities.

We are proud of our heritage. Every GAR employee is committed to serving others and continuing the legacy of what was started 50 years ago.