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 TGhinder@gmail.com 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 smile.amazon.com 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?

LeBron James Family Foundation Announces the “I Promise School”

In this 16 minute video, the LeBron James Family FoundationAkron Public Schools, and the City of Akron announce the creation of the “I Promise School”.

At about 14:30 in this video, LeBron says that the infrastructure, the mentors, the leaders are here for the kids, but it’s also a reminder to the adults “that it’s our job to put forth the effort to help these kids understand that they do have a purpose in life, individually and collectively”

The LJFF has many partners working to make this school a reality.  A key component to these efforts are the contributions of individual community members.  There is a role for everyone in the education of the next generation.  I encourage everyone in Akron to ask “What can I do?” and then step up and help make a difference in our hometown.

Summa Donates Lab Coats. What Can Your Business do?

​All community businesses have the potential to contribute resources to our students. Summa Health recently donated old lab coats to the students at Akron’s National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Middle School.  You can read more in this article at Ohio.com.

What can YOUR business do?  Various opportunities are available for all kinds of businesses for all sizes.

  • Invite one or more students to visit your place of employment or work site.
  • Speak at a career day or in a classroom about your business or your role in the business.
  • Volunteer to provide assistance or sponsor a community event.
  • Give employees time off or other incentives to provide mentoring or to be a classroom volunteer.
  • Provide financial support for a classroom, school, academic event, sports team, or arts organization.
  • Inquire whether items no longer needed in your business would be useful for the students and, if so, donate them to the appropriate organization

More information about current needs and opportunities can be found on the APS Website.

There is a role for everyone in educating our next generation.  What can YOU do?

Akron Promise, THANK YOU!

After years of preparation and study, we now approach the one year anniversary of the official incorporation of Akron Promise, Inc., I want to take the opportunity to update you on the progress that we have made in our efforts to create a unified culture of education in the City of Akron.

We would like to thank our community for enthusiastically embracing this idea. We know that it will require all of us working together to help Akron's kids access family and academic support services leading to good educational and career opportunities.

We recently returned from an informative and engaging meeting with Say Yes To Buffalo and the Say Yes to Education national team. We are still processing all we learned and will be sharing more about that visit in the coming weeks.

Please join our official mailing list by signing up here!

If you wish to volunteer with Akron Promise, please let us know!

The Year in Review
Akron Promise, Inc. has been incorporated as an Ohio not-for-profit corporation and has been recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3), Non-Profit Corporation.

Akron Promise named the following Board of Directors:

  • Daralee (“Dee”) Ghinder, Co-Founder
  • Tom Ghinder, Founder
  • Emery Leuchtag, Attorney, Physician, Education Advocate
  • David Loar, Retired minister, Funeral Home Assistant, Youth Mentor
  • Greg Milo, Educator

Community Presentations
In an effort to inform community stakeholders about Akron Promise, presentations were made to the following:

  • Akron City Council
  • Akron Community Foundation
  • Akron Huntington Foundation
  • Akron Public Schools Board of Education
  • City of Akron Administration
  • CollegeNow, Greater Cleveland
  • G.A.R. Foundation
  • iCare Mentoring
  • State Representative, Amelia Sykes
  • Summit Education Initiative and their College Attainment Team
  • United Way of Summit County
  • University of Akron

PromiseNet 2016 (our 3rd)
In October nine people from Akron attended the annual convention of Promise programs, held in Washington, D.C. The sharing of information was of great value to us all. Some of us were invited to the White House for the final community college convening, under President Obama. Some were also invited to a reception at the Vice-President’s residence. It was a wonderful surprise to have Dr. Jill Biden and Vice-President Joe Biden show up, speak to the group and offer their time for pictures with each of the 100 in attendance. The convening and reception were to thank those in attendance for their work to make post-secondary education accessible to all, and to encourage us to keep at it.

College and Career Academies of Akron
Tom Ghinder participated in the steering committee and working groups for this Akron Public Schools initiative. Based on other districts’ successes, APS is forming learning communities for grades 9-12 to better prepare students for employment.


  • Add more members to the Board of Directors.
  • Define program mission, vision and program parameters.
  • Work with Akron Public Schools to establish our working commitment and relationship.
  • Work with the City of Akron and other stakeholders to build Akron Promise as a community effort.
  • Keep talking to members of the community about our organization.
  • Raise scholarship funds.

Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed as we make progress in our second year!

An Economic Case for Preschool

Akron Promise is here to promote education support from cradle to career.  This post addresses the issue of education and preparation that must occur for a student to be ready to learn when entering formal K-12 education.

In this 15 minute talk by Timothy Bartik, he makes the economic case for preschool. Below, I have selected two quotes that intrigue me.

“When other people’s children get more skills, that actually increases the prosperity of everyone, including people whose skills don’t change.”

He concludes with this challenge.

“This is ultimately not an economic question, it’s a moral question: Are we willing, as Americans, are we as a society still capable of making the political choice to sacrifice now by paying more taxes in order to improve the long-term future of not only our kids, but our community?”

Use this link for an interactive transcript.