19 Great Things That Happened in Akron in 2019

Christine Mayer \
December 20, 2019

As 2019 draws to a close, we at GAR Foundation are pausing to reflect on what we have learned and accomplished in partnership with you this year. It has been an eventful one for us, marked by the launch of several new initiatives: Essential Experiences, STARS, and Elevate Greater Akron.

It was also a busy and exciting year for Akron. With all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to lose sight of all the good things happening in the world – and in our own backyard – which is why we asked our staff and the community to tell us their favorite “Akron moments” this year. We compiled a long list of moments – way more than the 19 we’re sharing here.

As you review this Akron highlight reel, we hope you feel gratitude and love for the fantastic community that holds us all together. Know that all of us at GAR Foundation are deeply grateful to you, our partners and colleagues in advancing a better future for Akron.

Our 2019 Akron highlight reel, in alphabetical order:

  1. 70% of all Summit County Third Grade students met or exceeded state reading standards, attaining Summit Education Initiative’s initial county-wide goal.
  2. Akron underwent the first Cultural Planning process in the city’s history with leadership from ArtsNow.
  3. Akron was featured in a documentary about college retention, called UNLIKELY
  4. All of Akron came out to see world-renowned artist Nick Cave in his performances at the Bud & Susie Rogers Garden of the Akron Art Museum and at Summit Lake.
  5. Bounce Innovation Hub opened its doors to the public, with inspired co-working space and event space for Akron’s makers and innovators.
  6. Downtown Akron enjoyed record attendance at downtown events, orange barrels notwithstanding!
  7. Knight Arts Challenge announced 16 talented, creative winners in Akron.
  8. Mayor Dan Horrigan was reelected to his office where he will lead the City of Akron for another term.
  9. Metro RTA offered free rides on Election Day, in an effort to ensure that all of our neighbors and friends can exercise their right to vote.
  10. More than 8,400 Akron Public School elementary students in pre-K and grades 1-5 attended an Essential Experience with our local arts & culture partners.  
  11. Stark State College opened its new CDL program to help fill the critical shortage of licensed commercial truck drivers.
  12. STARS: Supporting Teachers & Ready Students participants in Akron graduated 36 new Child Development Associate certificate holders. STARS supports teachers who educate more than 1,400 preschoolers in Akron.
  13. The Bowery Redevelopment Project is bringing back the grandeur and life of Main Street, as it re-purposes five empty buildings next to the Akron Civic Theatre.
  14. The College & Career Academies of Akron launched new academy partnerships with Key Bank , First Energy, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, opening more experiential learning doors for APS kids.
  15. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park opened its first Visitor Center, orienting visitors to the many assets of our beautiful national park.
  16. The Greater Akron Chamber hosted the inaugural Inclusion Summit in conjunction with Elevate Greater Akron, setting all of our sights on a more inclusive economy.
  17. The University of Akron welcomed a talented new president in Dr. Gary Miller; NEOMED named an innovative new president in Dr. John Langell, and Kent State University named the accomplished Dr. Todd Diacon as its new president – making it a clean sweep of successful leadership transitions for our institutions of higher education.
  18. The Well Community Development Corporation launched Akron Food Works and opened its first shared-used commercial kitchen.
  19. United Way of Summit County held 2,384 financial coaching sessions creating over $1M in debt reduction and asset building. In addition, over the last two years returning $3.4M to our local economy through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

May the holiday season be a time of blessings, family, and rest. We look forward to working hard alongside a refreshed, recharged you in the new year!

Header Photo: Ilenia Pezzaniti | Park East Mural led by Lizzi Aronhalt (another great thing that happened in Akron this year!)