Homelessness is stressful, especially for children, and can cause developmental delays, learning difficulties, depression and anxiety. Regardless of their living conditions, all children have the right to receive high-quality educational and social services in a safe and caring environment.
Project RISE is a collaborative effort by Akron Public Schools, local shelters and the community to provide supplemental educational services to children and youth who are experiencing homelessness. The program serves approximately 800-900 students annually.
- Project RISE is accepting school supplies, new or gently used uniforms, and/or children and youth clothing. A drop-off container is located near the superintendent's office, second floor of the Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway. You may also donate to the Project RISE Trinity Clothes Closet at 915 N. Main St. (contact Judy Walser, 330.283.6552).
- The PACT (Performing Arts Can Teach) program partnered with Project RISE and the Magical Theatre Company to present two dinner theatre performances at the First United Methodist Church of Akron ("Hood in the Wood" and "Aesop's Fables"). APS students and their families, who are in homeless situations, enjoyed a meal by church volunteer members, worked on enrichment activities and took home a new book.
- The Project RISE Harvest Dinner was hosted by the Salvation Army for APS students and families in homeless situations. Donations were provided by the VFW Post 1070, Robert J. Events & Catering, the UA advanced food preparation class and other local shelters and RISE staff members. Project activities included cornucopias, bead work, dream catchers, turkey hats, fall scene mosaics and turkey magnets. Each child received a new book, and everyone watched (and participated in) Native American dances performed by the Tonweya Dancers of Boy Scout Trout No. 74 from Firestone Park United Methodist Church. Guests took various donations home with them. Go to the photo gallery for pictures of the event!
- The University of Akron's Student Social Work League collected 35 pairs of new shoes for Project RISE (a $525 value) to benefit Akron-area homeless families. The "Got Sole Project" will be a yearly effort. SSWL also helped distribute parent information packets, the Akron Resource directory and 2011 Street Cards to Akron schools earlier this year.
- Project RISE manager Debra Manteghi was recently interviewed for and published in the Fall 2011 issue of Uncensored, a publication of the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness. Manteghi was asked about the effectiveness of the McKinney-Vento Act in Akron Public Schools, which ensures educational rights and protections for homeless children. She was also published in the November 2011 issue of The Beat, a publication of the National Clearinghouse of Families & Youth. The article discussed the collaboration between Project RISE and local libraries.
- The University of Akron's Association for the Education of Young Children gathered more than 110 bundles containing socks – along with mittens, gloves or a hat – for Project RISE homeless students. The items will be distributed by Project RISE staff who visit nine shelter sites during the holiday season to sing carols and deliver gifts.
- Miller South students in the National Junior Art Honor Society created and sold jewelry made from recycled materials to benefit Project RISE. The students sold $350 worth of jewelry created from potato chip bags or discarded computer parts, as well as "scribble cookies" and mini-crayons from recycled crayons. Their art teacher is Susan Yingling.
- UA professor Dr. Baomei Zhao, students, Enterprise Holdings Foundation and the local community worked together to give UA students hands-on learning experiences through the Service Learning Program, providing services to agencies such as Project RISE. This was the fifth consecutive year that the program received a grant from Enterprise Holdings Foundation, and a December luncheon meeting was held for the Service Learning advisory committee. This year, students from the program worked with the Project RISE Love and Learn Doll Project, providing homeless students with hand-crafted dolls, tote bags and educational activity books.
- On January 18, Project RISE staff and homeless families participated in the fourth annual Skate for the Kids Program at Rocky's Skating Rink, sponsored by the Rubber City Roller Girls. Attendees enjoyed pizza and a few hours of skating to DJ-played music. The Roller Girls is looking for interested individuals to volunteer with the league during the 2012 season. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
- Project RISE is collecting the following items for children and youth, both boys and girls: socks, underwear, toiletries, healthy snacks (such as juice boxes, granola bars, trail mix, nuts, etc.) and school supplies. If you have items to donate, please call 330.761.2969.
- Litchfield work and family teachers Jacquelyn Heisler and Debra Casanova and their students created a "Hope for the Homeless Drive" by collecting more than $340 and 15 garbage bags full of gently-used clothing from fellow staff members and students. The donations benefited Project RISE students and their families who are experiencing homelessness.
- To celebrate Easter, Project RISE organized a Spring Celebration in collaboration with Trinity United Church of Christ for homeless students and families. The event included food prepared by church members, activities relating to spring and Easter, an egg hunt, and other family-oriented activities. Students and families received take-home items (toiletry bags, gift cards and books).
- Project RISE (Realizing Individual Strength through Education) students crafted African tribal masks for annual Soul Food Dinner with Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. Project RISE is a federally-funded program that works through local shelters and the community to provide supplemental educational services to children who are homeless.