Summer Kenmore Connection Article Features Akron Promise Intern Margaret Tulay

From Minnesota to Akron: Margaret Tulay Engages with Kenmore-Garfield
High School Students through Akron Promise’s Student Success Team

by Jeanne-Hélène Roy

Just five years ago, if you’d have mentioned Kenmore to Minnesota native
Margaret Tulay, she wouldn’t have been able to readily identify the reference –
beyond perhaps a brand of appliances sold by Sears. Since then, the University
of Akron education major slated to graduate in December has become a fixture
of Kenmore-Garfield High School (KGHS) where, through her work with Akron
Promise’s Student Success Team (SST), she regularly interacts with Kenmore’s
high schoolers, guiding them to post-secondary pathways and self-sufficiency.

Tulay moved to Akron after having kicked off her college career in Omaha, where she served as goalkeeper for the University of Nebraska women’s soccer team. After experiencing some setbacks there, Tulay, 22, whose father hails from Liberia, chose to continue her degree in Akron to experience living in a more racially diverse area as a means of more authentically connecting with her Black identity. Thanks to the University of Akron’s EX[L] Center’s experiential learning internship program, which strives to help students become locally engaged leaders, Tulay hooked up with Akron Promise two and a half years ago.

In the SST’s bi-monthly meetings with KGHS students, Tulay harnesses her natural sense of leadership to connect with the group, challenging them to identify their personal strengths and goals as well as to devise better time management strategies. Self-assured yet relaxed in her approach, Tulay devises well-crafted activities that prompt students to engage with each other, teaching them invaluable teamwork skills that they can readily transfer to their next chapter of life, whatever it may be.

Tulay relishes the opportunities Akron Promise affords her, especially at KGHS, where she’s able to make meaningful connections with the student cohort, many of whom can identify with her as a young Black woman – a role model not significantly older than they are. In the short term, Tulay hopes to work in the
Akron area, both teaching special needs children and assisting in “taking Akron Promise and making it mobile,” as she remarks, meaning that she’d like to help the non-profit expand to serve more students across the city. In a handful of years, Tulay envisions living in a townhouse in Washington, D.C., where
she can take her career aspirations to the next level, both in the classroom and in effecting change at the policy level.

Akron Promise is a non-profit organization that strives to shape and implement a community-involved culture of education in Akron. Along with other local stakeholders, Akron Promise directs students and families to appropriate opportunities, resources, and supports as it mentors Akron Public School students through high school into post-secondary pathways.

Akron Promise’s Student Success Team currently focuses on
Kenmore-Garfield high school, where it holds bi-monthly meetings, in addition to providing ACT Testing Support programs and FAFSA workshops to prepare students in applying for the Kenmore-Garfield Stark State College Scholarship.

For more information on Akron Promise and the SST, please see: or

Or please contact Dr. Jeanne-Hélène Roy, Executive Director at (330) 715-5598

Akron Promise article in the Kenmore Connection

Akron Promise’s Student Success Team Steers Kenmore-Garfield Students Towards Bright Outcomes
by Jeanne-Hélène Roy

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”
–Dr. James Comey, Child Psychiatrist and Education Specialist, Yale University

Dr. James Comey’s simple, declarative sentence – delivered during a 1995 lecture – speaks mountains of truth in K-12 education, where often a strong connection with an adult will inspire students of opportunity to succeed after high school and into adulthood. For Stephanie Martin, a Nursing and Patient Care instructor at Kenmore-Garfield High School, Comey’s words hit home over the course of a discussion with Tom Ghinder, Founder of Akron Promise, an educational non-profit launched in 2015. In 2017, Akron Promise established a direct working relationship with Kenmore-Garfield High School, and two years later the non-profit announced the Kenmore-Garfield Stark State Scholarship.

The Student Success Team
Since the implementation of its scholarship program, Akron Promise also inaugurated the Student Success Team (SST), a mentoring group available to assist the entirety of Kenmore-Garfield’s 786 students. Staffed by Mike DiFalco, the school’s Academic Achievement Coordinator, and Margaret Tulay, an Education major at the University of Akron, the crew welcomed Akron Promise’s new Executive Director Dr. Jeanne-Hélène (Néna) Roy last week; since the SST’s inception Ghinder served as the group’s third member.

On bi-monthly SST meeting days, learners arrive with their APSissued Chromebooks in tow, ready to participate in goal-setting activities while relishing sandwiches provided by the team. Skills taught range from time-management to ACT prep and résumé-writing. Seniors learn to complete FAFSA forms as well as to compose college application essays and apply for jobs. The SST continues to monitor seniors after graduation as they segue into the workforce and/or enroll in college programs.

Flexibility: Celebrating the Individual
Ghinder attributes the program’s success to its underlying flexibility. Rather than approach mentoring with a one-size-fits-all mindset, the SST practices a version of “radical hospitality,” which in this context entails meeting students where they are to address their own expressed needs.

By considering each student’s unique circumstances and goals, the SST not only provides directional assistance to learners, but also cultivates qualities that can’t be found in a manual: respect and empathy. When met with direct eye contact and supportive words, humans tend to respond in kind. Part of the SST’s philosophy, then, is to transcend mentoring models that adhere to a rigid structure, as well as to bring a “human touch” into the equation.

It Takes a Village
We all know that nobody can brave it alone in the world, and this aphorism certainly holds true in the case of the SST’s efforts. Without the help of invited guest speakers who periodically hold lunchtime Q&A sessions and parents/community members who assist in transporting students to field-trip destinations, the SST wouldn’t be able to extend as many options for enrichment as it does to learners. The relationships Kenmore-Garfield students form with engaged adults in their midst are ultimately bonds for life, bonds passed down from one generation to the next.

For more information on Akron Promise and the SST, see:
or contact:
Dr. Jeanne-Hélène Roy

May 18 Golf Outing & Other Akron Promise Updates by Daralee Ghinder

Equal access to college, technical training and other post-secondary opportunities takes more than scholarship money. The focus of Akron Promise is to help KGHS graduates become enrolled, enlisted or employed. This article is an update on the work of Akron Promise at Kenmore-Garfield High School. Please save the date and mark your calendar for our annual fundraiser, a golf outing and dinner on May 18th at Mayfair Country Club. All proceeds will go to the Kenmore-Garfield Stark State Scholarship Fund. (Non-golfers are invited to attend the dinner).

Akron Promise continues to support scholarship students at Stark State College. This ongoing effort includes working closely with the SSC administration to ensure persistence and success.

Twenty KGHS students are receiving ACT (American College Testing) support at a twice weekly “ACT Bootcamp”. Improving an ACT score by just a few points can be life-changing with regard to college acceptance and scholarships. Much appreciation goes to High Point College Coaching and instructors Lara Wilson and Rich Wilson, and grants from both the Akron Community Foundation and the GPD Employee Foundation. In addition to the ACT bootcamp, Akron Promise is working with the Kenmore-Garfield Football team on academic achievement and ACT preparation at their weekly Study Tables.

Since “it takes a village,” there are many opportunities for the Kenmore community to help. Akron Promise needs:

* Golfers (and non-golfer dinner guests!) for the May 18th Fundraiser
* Donations (cash for scholarships & raffle items) and sponsorships for the golf outing
* Additional Akron Promise Board Members
* Mentors for students (No experience necessary!)

If you are interested in helping, need more information about any items mentioned in this article, or additional information about Akron Promise, please contact Tom Ghinder, Founder of Akron Promise, at or 330-329-4855.   You can also keep up with us on our FaceBook page.

Published in the Kenmore Connection, Winter 2019 (Vol. 20, Issue 4)

Akron Promise Helps Eight Attend Stark State by Daralee Ghinder

With eight Kenmore Garfield High School graduates attending Stark State College on full tuition and book scholarships, Akron Promise is back at work for the 2018-19 school year. The Stark State freshmen are not only receiving financial support for books and tuition, they are also getting information on how to steward those dollars. Students are attending sessions at the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) on Kenmore Blvd. The FEC is available to all residents of Summit county.

Akron Promise is also working with Stark State’s academic advisors, and we are helping to ensure that each of the scholarship recipients also feel emotionally and academically supported.  Stark State’s team is working to help all of our students persist until they achieve their goals.

In early October, Akron Public Schools and Stark State College announced that Stark State will be a ‘Sister College” to Kenmore-Garfield High School.  They have committed to initial in-kind support of $150,000 in the first year, and $75,000 of in-kind support in the following two years. Akron Promise is very excited about the recent announcement, as this collaboration will give extra support, information and opportunities to the students and staff at KGHS. Stark State and the University of Akron have also announced a partnership where classes taken at Stark State will transfer to the University of Akron, with seamless movement between the two.

Other big news is the commencement of College and Career Academies at KGHS. This method of education brings real-world application to what our students learn in their required curriculum, as well as potential career paths. Partnerships with local businesses expose students to internship and employment opportunities. There are a variety of fields to choose from, though students are allowed to change their path. This learning meets requirements for mandated tests and is transferable no matter which path they choose. All freshmen participate in the Freshman Academy where they learn skills necessary to be successful in high school, complete career exploration activities, and visit college campuses.  Upperclassmen will participate in either the Academy of Emerging Technology and Design or the Academy of Health and Human Services.  Students can also apply to attend other academies at other high schools in Akron.

There are many positive initiatives to give KGHS students access to opportunities that can lead to a rewarding and productive post high school life. Akron Promise is working to help connect students to all available resources. It’s a mission that requires a lot of community investment. For anyone interested in giving an hour a week, there is a big demand for mentors. No experience is necessary. For those interested in making a tax deductible contribution to the Kenmore-Garfield Stark State Scholarship, there is a link on the Akron Promise website.

If you’d like more information about any of the programs mentioned in this article, links are available here or contact Tom Ghinder, Founder of Akron Promise, at or 330-329-4855.

Published in the Kenmore Connection, Summer 2018 (Vol. 19, Issue 4)

Just Another Reason Life is Good in Kenmore by Daralee Ghinder

On Saturday July 14th, Akron Promise held two fundraisers for the
Kenmore-Garfield Stark State Scholarship Fund.

The golf outing at Mud Run Golf Course was blessed by good weather
and a supportive group of golfers. In the evening, there was a Dessert
Party at the Live Music Now! venue. Peach cobbler, strawberry shortcake
and a s’mores bar were big hits, along with the live music of JT Buck,
KHG Graduate Chris Miller, Greg Milo and Jared Soster.

Tom and Daralee Ghinder, founders of Akron Promise, are incredibly
humbled by, and appreciative of, the generous support of this
community, the administrative staff at KGHS, Summit County Executive
Eileen Shapiro and the friends, family and others who helped in the
success of these events.

The big announcement of the night was that Akron Promise will commit
to scholarships through 2022. This means that as soon as this year’s 9th
graders start high school, they know there is a tuition free path to postsecondary success. This scholarship is currently offered to ten graduating seniors at KGHS to attend Stark State College.

Please consider adding your time and resources to Akron Promise,
as they continue to grow and expand opportunities for Kenmore-Garfi eld
students. The continuation of the scholarship is made possible, in
part, by the generous contributions of these local Kenmore
businesses: Beneficial Building Services, The Guitar Department,
Showcase Meats, Kenmore Komics & Games, and Olde 97 Cafe.
Please support these businesses, as they support our youth.

Dessert Party at the Live Music Now! Venue


Published in the Kenmore Connection, Summer 2018 (Vol. 19, Issue 3)





Akron Promise Announces 10 Scholarships and Summer Fundraisers by Daralee Ghinder

In February, Akron Promise, in partnership with The Stark State Foundation, announced a scholarship to benefit TEN 2018 Kenmore-Garfield High School graduates. The Stark State Foundation will match donations to Akron Promise up to $10,000 to fund these scholarships.
The scholarship will cover books, fees and tuition that is not covered by other aid. It is renewable for two full years – enough to earn an industry certificate or associate’s degree.

This is where YOU come in! Akron Promise is hosting TWO fundraisers on July 14th, 2018.

First will be a golf outing, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, at Mud Run Golf Course. Tickets are $70 per person or $280 to sign up a foursome. We will have door prizes, proximity contests, and lunch. All proceeds will go directly to scholarships for Kenmore-Garfield Graduates!

Next, will be a Dessert Party, from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm, at 952 Kenmore Boulevard (the Live Music Now building). Tickets are $25 per person and your ticket includes a variety of desserts, (catered by Akron Public Schools culinary students), a drink voucher, and plenty of local entertainment. This will be a fun, casual night out.

If you are unable to make it to either of these fundraisers, but would like to make a donation to this scholarship fund, please mail your donation to: ATTN: Akron Promise, Kenmore-Garfield High School, 2140 13th Street SW, Akron, OH 44314.

Akron Promise will continue their efforts to shape a community involved culture of education which includes providing tuition free paths to post secondary degrees and certificates for all students in Akron. For more information and/or to purchase tickets please visit our website at, contact us on Facebook, or via e-mail.

Published in the Kenmore Connection, Spring, 2018 (Volume 19, Issue 2)

Akron Promise Needs You! by Tom Ghinder

You can change lives. You can help break the poverty cycle. You are wanted and needed by students at Kenmore-Garfield High School!

In mid-November, Tom and Daralee Ghinder, founders of Akron Promise, set up a table outside the KGHS cafeteria. They had one simple sign that read, “After high school… got plans?” Students were asked about their plans after they left KGHS and if they’d like to sign up to have a mentor to coach them to their goals. Fifty-six students signed up and twenty-five have returned the required permission slips. The number was a pleasant surprise and more mentors are needed right away.

No experience is necessary! Akron Promise will provide mentors with all the needed resources. United Way’s iC.A.R.E. mentoring program is providing mentor background checks, fingerprinting, and a one-hour training session. The time commitment is flexible, anywhere from one to three hours per month. Students will be matched with mentors, based
on their backgrounds, interests and job choices. Mentors will meet with their students at a mutually convenient time, in or out of school.
Akron Promise is working to shape a community-involved culture of education in Akron.

We’re working to give students and families access appropriate supports, resources and opportunities. For more information, or to sign up, please call Tom Ghinder at 330-329-4855, email at, or go to

Published in Kenmore Connection, Winter 2018, Volume 19, Issue 2