GAR Foundation awards more than $2 million to Akron-area nonprofits

December 13, 2019

GAR Foundation recently awarded more than $2 million to Akron organizations in the areas of education, economic and workforce development, basic needs, arts and culture, and nonprofit sector advancement.

A grant of $460,000 was awarded to advance Akron’s economic development strategy, Elevate Greater Akron. The Elevate strategy is the product of a groundbreaking partnership between the City of Akron, the County of Summit, and the Greater Akron Chamber. GAR Foundation convened the groups to create an integrated economic development strategy to advance the region’s economy.

The grant from GAR Foundation supports the plan’s key strategy areas: improved business retention and expansion efforts, economic inclusion and opportunity; a refocus on the urban center; innovation and entrepreneurship; and a unified culture of high-performing, inclusive economic development efforts.

“From real advances in collaboration in our business and retention work across multiple entities, to the inaugural Inclusion Summit highlighting the business case for inclusion, and the super-charging of supports for minority entrepreneurs at Bounce Hub, we have seen great progress with Elevate Greater Akron over the past year,” said Christine Mayer, president of GAR Foundation. “We are very encouraged by the collaborative and its early successes in supporting and driving a more effective and connected economic development system for Greater Akron.” 

Other notable grants include $200,000 to Summit Education Initiative for its work to improve educational outcomes; $50,000 to The Well CDC for the Akron Food Works kitchen; and $80,000 to the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park for the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative which provides underrepresented populations with opportunities to enjoy greenspace, learn about preservation, and build careers in environmental fields.

The $2 million awarded this quarter rounds out GAR’s grantmaking for the year, bringing the Foundation’s giving total to $6.6 million to over 130 nonprofit organizations and school districts serving Summit County.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to advance GAR’s strategic priorities through partnerships built on shared learning and collaborative action,” said Mayer. “We’re looking forward to another year of helping Akron to become smarter, stronger, and more vibrant.”

Some of the organizations receiving programming support this quarter include:
  • Akron Civic Theatre, $90,000, for operations
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio, $30,000, for post-merger integration support
  • Building for Tomorrow, $90,000, for the Early Childhood Initiative
  • Candid, $10,000, for operations
  • Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, $80,000 for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative
  • Crafty Mart, $15,000, for operations
  • Downtown Akron Partnership, $75,000, for operations
  • Early Childhood Resource Center, $198,000, for SPARK
  • Greater Akron Chamber (and partners), $460,000, for Elevate Greater Akron
  • Heart to Heart Communications, $12,000, for facilitated convenings
  • Magical Theatre Company, $30,000, for operations
  • None too fragile, $15,000, for operations
  • Northeast Ohio Center for Choreography Akron, $20,000, for operations
  • Project GRAD Akron, $80,000, for operations
  • Rubber City Theatre, $10,000, for operations
  • Summit Artspace, $20,000, for operations
  • Summit Education Initiative, $200,000, for operations
  • The Devil Strip, $50,000, for operations. Fiscal sponsor: Community Hall Foundation.
  • The Nightlight Cinema, $45,000, for operations
  • The Well CDC, $50,000, for Akron Food Works
  • Torchbearers, $7,500, for operations
  • Tri-County JOG, $75,000, for operations
  • Tuesday Musical Association, $50,000, for operations
  • University of Akron Foundation, $30,700, for the Center of Literacy professional development and coaching in Akron Public Schools preschools

For more information contact Dina Younis [email protected], 330.572.2809

About GAR Foundation

GAR Foundation was established in 1967 by Galen Roush, co-founder and chief executive officer of Roadway Express, and his wife Ruth Roush. GAR Foundation’s mission is to help Akron become smarter, stronger, and more vibrant. Visit for more information.

Header photo: Bounce Innovation Hub / Meghan Meeker