Join us tomorrow for “Unlikely” – a movie about Education Attainment and featuring Akron

TUESDAY, NOV.  13, 2018, 6PM
Over the last 3 years, Los Angeles-based filmmakers Jaye & Adam Fenderson spent hundreds of hours filming a new documentary about educational attainment, with a focus on five U.S. cities—including Akron.
Tomorrow night Three Frame Media is bringing “Unlikely” to Akron. This film focuses on the reality of higher education by following students, two of   whom call Akron home, through their own process at The University of Akron.


The evening will include a pre-screening catered dinner reception in the lobby and the chance for the audience to connect with local schools, organizations and businesses and get resources for post-secondary and workforce opportunities. 
Doors will be opening the doors at 6 pm for a 45-minute reception featuring a local caterer. Click here to get your tickets.

The screening will be followed by a townhall discussion who will share their expertise and perspective on supporting student success in the Akron community.

Moderator: Amani Abraham

David James, Superintendent, Akron Public School
Jolene A. Lane, Chief Diversity Office and Vice President Inclusion & Equity, The University of Akron
Clarissa Santana, Adult Focus Student/Unlikely Cast, The University of Akron
Derran Wimer, Executive Director, Summit Education Initiative
Adam & Jaye Fenderson, Directors & Producers, Three Frames Media

Akron Promise Announces Scholarship fundraisers!

Saturday, July 14, 2018 – 9am – 2pm = GOLF OUTING (Get tickets)

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.

Saturday, July 14, 2018 – 7:30pm-10pm = DESSERT PARTY (Get Tickets)

952 Kenmore Blvd (the Live Music Now building). Tickets are $25 per person and your ticket includes a variety of desserts, (catered by Kenmore-Garfield High School culinary students), a drink voucher, and plenty of local entertainment. This will be a fun, casual night out.

All proceeds from both events will go directly to scholarships for Kenmore-Garfield Graduates!

If you are unable to make it to either of the fundraisers, but would like to make a donation to this scholarship fund, please mail your donation to: 

Kenmore-Garfield High School
2140 13th St SW
Akron, OH 44314.

Donations can also be made directly to our FaceBook page.

Akron Promise Announces Kenmore-Garfield Stark State College Scholarship!

Akron Promise, in conjunction with the Stark State College Foundation, has launched a scholarship to benefit the graduates of Kenmore-Garfield High School.  

The Kenmore-Garfield Stark State College Scholarship will provide scholarships for up to two years toward tuition and books for the Kenmore-Garfield Class of 2018 to attend Stark State College in the fall of 2018.  To be eligible, students must graduate from Kenmore-Garfield High School, be Pell eligible, reside in the city of Akron, and pursue a full time certificate or degree at Stark State College.

There will be up to ten scholarships awarded to 2018 Kenmore-Garfield High School Graduates.

This is a pilot program for Akron Promise.  Our hope is that this scholarship will be expanded to more students and more Akron Public Schools’ high school graduates in the future.

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.

More information is available hereor by contacting Tom Ghinder at

The application is available directly here.

The Campaign for Free College Tuition Reports Progress in 2017

In the latest Blog post from The Campaign for Free College Tuition, they reported some success in state policy across the country in 2017.  Akron Promise is dedicated to working with the State of Ohio to find the right program to implement here to enhance our economic opportunity and the economic development of our state.

From the Blog Post:

— Tennessee extended its first in the nation Promise program to all adults who want to return to a community or technical college to get their certificate or degree this fall. We expect that their Tennessee Reconnect program, which was discussed in detail with state leaders at our May workshop in Denver, will be copied by other states as well, just as the Tennessee Promise has become the model several state Promise programs – including Nevada and Rhode Island – enacted this year.

— New York’s Excelsior Scholarship program made that state the first to extend the concept of free tuition to its four-year institutions, for students at any level of undergraduate studies.

— California’s new College Promise Grant will be the first to offer a “first dollar” scholarship at the state level when the program is funded for the Fall 2018 term. This means that, assuming funds are appropriated for those grants in next year’s budget, Pell and Cal Grant eligible freshmen community college students who take a full course load can use these need-based funds on books, transportation, and other costs of attendance.

Their entire review is available here.

PromiseNet 2017 Preview

Last week, the Upjohn Institute hosted a information webinar, “Learning from a Decade of College Promise Scholarships”, on data, metrics, and the status of Promise programs in the US.  I invite you to view and consider how, together, we can bring a Promise program to Akron and the affect such a program would have on our community.

Here are some links mentioned in the webinar:

Buchanan Promise
El Dorado Promise
Richmond Promise
Detroit Promise
Michigan Promise Zone Designations
Kalamazoo Promise

A Recap of  PromiseNet 2017 is available at the link.

Fall 2017 Update – VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

Thank you for your continued interest and support of Akron Promise. We have had an exciting few months since our last update, including a number of meetings with various civic and education leaders in Akron and Summit County. We’ve refocused our efforts for the coming year. Here is a summary:

Kenmore-Garfield High School Education Advocates
Instead of tackling the entire district, we’re starting with one school. It’s known that at-risk kids (and at-risk families) need lots of help with post-secondary navigation. We are working with Akron Public Schools to help 25 seniors navigate the requirements to succeed after they leave high school. The focus will be on working with the students and families so that they know about job and educational opportunities, completing the FAFSA, applying to and visiting colleges, and preparing for life after high school. To do this work, WE NEED VOLUNTEERS! Please contact us via the methods mentioned at the bottom of this update if you are interested in this important work.  No experience or prior knowledge is required!

PromiseNet 2017 Invitation
PromiseNet 2017 will take place in Kalamazoo, MI on November 6 and 7th.  PromiseNet is an annual gathering of people seeking to transform their communities by making a long-term investment in education.  Akron Promise has attended the last three conferences with other local education stakeholders.  Each year there is more to learn about how to develop and shape a program.  There is something to learn for everyone!  If you would like to attend with our group from Akron, please let us know via the contact information at the bottom of this update.  More information about PromiseNet 2017 can be found here.

The cornerstone of every Promise program is to remove the financial barrier from post-secondary educational attainment. We are learning about current scholarships, focused on graduates of Akron Public Schools, to make them more accessible for students. More dollars for students has been, and will continue to be, one of our goals.

Neighborhood Approach
A beautiful thing about Akron is that people are always willing to help! In addition to city, state and county assistance, we continue to find out about smaller, grass-roots organizations offering a variety of assistance to Akronites. This year, we will be looking at resources in the Kenmore Garfield cluster neighborhoods and work with leaders in them to find ways to connect people in need to the help available.

You can’t just throw scholarship money at kids and expect them to succeed. In addition to others in our city, we know how important the wrap-around supports are in getting our graduates enrolledemployed or enlisted. We all need to support our kids from cradle to career – it truly takes a village. If you’d like a role in Akron’s village, please contact us via the links below.

Read about how you can support scholarships for Akron Public School students here via Amazon Smile.

And please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed as we continue to shape the community involved culture of education in Akron! 

To be sure to stay informed on future updates, please join our official mailing list by signing up here!

For further information, please contact Tom Ghinder at or (330) 329-4855.

Do you remember you?

​Now is the time to begin planning on how you can contribute to the future of Akron.  One possibility is to mentor an Akron Public School student via iC.A.R.E. mentoring.
Mentors go through a short training, background check and are provided with a activity playbook and guide to provide a framework for developing your relationship with your mentee.  Mentors are given much flexibility in the program and they determine which schools they wish to be matched with and choose the time of each meeting.  Students are matched to mentors by coordinators that take into account the needs and desires of both the student and the mentor.

People of all ages and experience are needed.  No one is too young or too old to participate.  Our youth need caring adults in their lives.  I encourage you to fill out this profile and begin the process.  YOU can make a profound impact on a child’s life.

Amazon Smile supports Akron students

The Amazon Smile Program has ended. This page is for archive purposes only

Akron Promise has linked with the Amazon Smile program in order to take advantage of the ‘collective spending’ of our community to benefit the students of Akron.

When buying most products via Amazon Smile, Amazon will donate a portion of each sale to the charity of the your choice.

Amazon has created this FAQ that may answer more questions.

Please consider selecting Akron Promise as your preferred charity when you use AmazonSmile.  Use this link to select Akron Promise as the charity of your choice.

Once you have selected your charity, be sure to use the url rather than ‘www’ each time you make a purchase.  If you use the app on your phone to purchase products, the smile benefits are not available.  Some users solve this issue by not using the app at all, or switch to their browser once their cart is ready to order and place their order using their browser.

I am happy to help you with any questions you may have.  Please post a comment or send me an e-mail

All proceeds from AmazonSmile will go to scholarships for Akron Students.

Announcing the Weiss Institute. This work matters!

When you’re at the same conference as Retired Gen. Colin Powell; his wife, Alma Powell, chairwoman of America’s Promise Alliance; 240 educators, philanthropists, business & civic leaders and impassioned citizens; and your keynote speaker is Bill Clinton, you know you’re at something important. THIS WORK MATTERS.

Tom and I were recently invited to attend a conference put on by Say YES To Education and America’s Promise Alliance. These organizations are among the largest in helping to make post-secondary education attainable for all. The culmination of our conference was the announcement of a new collaboration between them called The Weiss Institute.  The Wall Street Journal ran an article describing the new partnership.  (The article is also available here.)

Our first day was with Say YES To Education (SYTE), sharing their strategies and best practices. In particular, Promise programs need to be COMMUNITY driven. Data sharing, reciprocal obligations and public commitments are imperative for success. We heard from a panel of college presidents who emphasized the significance of investment in their students in the form of financial aid, persistence support and mentoring. Dr. Alex Johnson, President of Cuyahoga Community College, expressed the importance of getting younger children involved in the arts and their community, keeping them more engaged in school.

We explored a Case Study on the SYTE Buffalo Promise program, led by Dr. Jim Honan, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University. Again, the collaborative impact of community coming together is the main ingredient for success. Here are a few highlights from this panel:

  • Community Stakeholders must be patient in looking at results. While graduation, attendance and discipline have significantly improved, this is a cultural shift and takes time to infiltrate the system.
  • Creative reallocation of state and federal dollars. For example, access to family needs programs are IN every school, removing the transportation barrier.
  • Community stakeholders are around a table every 2-3 weeks, solving problems.

At the end of a very informative day, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of America’s Promise Alliance.

Our second day was with America’s Promise Alliance and with several expert panels, including discussions on The State of the American Dream, Place and Belonging, Pathways in Learning & Working, and hearing from young adults who have benefited from Promise programs. Of particular interest were:

  • The “Five Promises” of appropriate developmental resources for youth. These can be used as a guideline for the work of improving the culture of education in Akron. Programs offered should help to achieve at least one of the five promises. Each of the five promises should be addressed comprehensively.
  • Private Sector Public Commitment, discussing “Conscientious Capitalism” (choosing to follow a business strategy, in which they seek to benefit both human beings and the environment).
  • The Power of Relationships
    • Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Pediatrician, Founder & CEO, Center for Youth Wellness spoke about a study on the neurological effects of adversity on brain development in children: If children can’t transform or process their pain, they will transfuse it to others.
      • The more relationships a child has, the more ‘buffers’ exist to help diffuse emotional distress.
      • Studies have shown that elementary-age students who participate some kind of Arts program (dance, singing, instrumental music, etc.) can better transform their “toxic stress”, are less likely to have discipline problems and more likely to be successful in school.
      • More information can be found in this brief published by Harvard University,
  • a call to action by Colin and Alma Powell and by former President Bill Clinton, in his keynote speech.

This blog post doesn’t include everything we saw, heard or learned, but the continuous theme of our two-day conference was that THIS WORK MATTERS. Since 2008, less than 1% of all jobs have gone to people without post-secondary education. It is urgent for us ALL to do what we can to help our kids get through school successfully, and onto the appropriate post-secondary education that leads them to a fulfilling career.

Akron Promise is currently working to bring the Weiss Institute to Akron to explore what we can do together to improve the culture of education for our community.

​Daralee “Dee” Ghinder

Rethinking The Classroom

Today, I came across this article from 2014 that identifies fourteen items that need to be examined and changed to support learning required in our 21st Century society and economy.  The article doesn’t propose specific solutions on all items, but identifies possibilities and reasons that the status quo must be changed.  Many schools are already implementing the changes which have been suggested here.

A significant point that isn’t mentioned, but is evident based on the list is that schools must be nimble and open to change in order to address the needs of students as society continues to change.  This list isn’t finite, but will change again and again as the needs of the students change.

Do you have other ideas of things that are now ‘obsolete’?   This article invites all of us involved in education to continuously review the status quo and be prepared to respond to new requirements and situations in order to provide the best possible education for our students.

There are two quotes that stand out to me.  The first is that standardized tests “measure only a small part of what we want our kids to learn and by focusing on these exams we are narrowing the curriculum. “

The second quote is addressed to teachers, but I believe that all who have a passion or interest in education can take to heart and find ways to invoke change to improve opportunity for our next generation.

If you want to see change in education, you should start in your own classroom.”

What do you think?