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Posted on 10/18/2019
Image of Robinson CLC Resource CenterIn the middle of your busy days, we have been making news here at Akron Public Schools for all of the right reasons. Since I never assume the news has reached everyone, I will occasionally re-deliver some headlines to those who take time to read Community Connect. So, allow me to give you a couple of exciting headlines from the past week.

The groundbreaking work we are doing here at APS in support of our students and families continues to grow with some significant, new partnerships. These relationships are bolstering academics and what once might have been considered an intangible element in learning: social and emotional (wraparound) supports.

While our I PROMISE School, in partnership with LeBron James, has certainly received the lion's share of attention for its work partnering with companies and organizations and for what we call wraparound supports for families, we are making strides in those same areas in many of our 46 other schools as well.

Partnership: APS, Key Bank, United Way
A week or so ago, we joined our partners at United Way of Summit County in the opening of our first Family Resource
Center at Robinson Community
Learning Center (CLC).

Key Bank was on hand because it donated a quarter of a million dollars to establish the resource center inside the school.

The Family Resource Center is designed to help families overcome non-academic barriers to success by connecting them with health and social services, academic enrichment, and more. Yes, many families have non-academic forces in their lives that inhibit success in the classroom.

The resource center is open to all community residents and is staffed by a full-time resource coordinator who meets with residents to discuss their needs and provide information and referrals to appropriate resources.

Additional United Way services available to residents at the center include free one-on-one financial coaching and free tax preparation services.

This is why we use wraparound supports to describe the manner in which we embrace our students and families. And we have more resource centers coming to other schools to help families and to make simpler their access to other community services they might need.

As Jim Mullen, United Way CEO said that day, "One of the most effective things we can do is to work with families individually. When we work to meet their needs, whatever they are, we can build transformational change on a large scale - in our schools and in our community."

Partnership: APS, FirstEnergy, Kenmore-Garfield High School

On October 11, I joined FirstEnergy President and CEO Charles Jones to announce that FirstEnergy will become a named integrated partner in the College & Career Academies of Akron at Kenmore-Garfield High School. FirstEnergy will offer instructional support and real-world learning opportunities in areas of business management, energy and environmental protection, information technology, and more. The academy will be named the FirstEnergy Academy of Emerging Technology and Design.

Students at Kenmore-Garfield are about to experience a new approach to learning that will create opportunities they may not have previously imagined. FirstEnergy has a wealth of expertise just waiting for our kids to mine.

As Mr. Jones said of his company's joining College & Career Academies, "FirstEnergy is committed to the Akron area, and we are proud to take a leading role in both education and economic development. The College & Career Academy at Kenmore-Garfield High School is a tremendous opportunity to allow our company and our employees to contribute their expertise to help cultivate our future workforce."

Kenmore-Garfield's Principal Kathryn Rodocker is thrilled to partner with FirstEnergy. She knows the strengths of FirstEnergy align perfectly with the pathways in the school's emerging technology and design academy. Most importantly, she has expressed gratitude for the company's willingness to share its time and talent with students and teachers.

The collaboration between Akron Public Schools and FirstEnergy was formed with the help of United Way of Summit County. United Way serves as a link between the College & Career Academies of Akron and local businesses to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students and to strengthen the education-to-employment pipeline in Summit County.

We are still facing a challenge within our communities in Northeastern Ohio to find enough skilled workers to fill the jobs available. Akron Public Schools has been working through its College & Career Academies, and its partners who now number close to 300, to connect potential employers to employees as early as high school. We let them meet one another -- students and the holder of the future opportunities.

They form internships and use other hands-on training tools so the students are not simply trained in something -- they are trained and they learn about the kinds of businesses and jobs that are right here in their community. And potential employers have the chance to meet them and get to know them. That gives our students an edge in the hiring process once they graduate.

We really are transforming education with our academies, now in every high school. And we're also working hard to make sure our students have everything they need to succeed -- not just classroom tools but life tools and necessities that will give their families more peace of mind in a most challenging world.

APS was designated a Ford Next Generation Learning Community in May 2017. Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, is supporting the transformation of public high schools into career-themed academies to better prepare students for college and professional success in today's competitive global economy. College and Career Academies of Akron are supported by the following key strategic partners: GAR Foundation, United Way of Summit County, ConxusNEO, Summit Education Initiative, and Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce.

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