More Than $280,000 Awarded to Address Child Poverty in Stark County

A third round of funding was recently awarded to local organizations combating child poverty as part of Protecting Stark’s Future, a Stark Community Foundation-led initiative. More than $280,000 was awarded to support collaborative, community-based solutions to reduce child poverty at the neighborhood level.

The Protecting Stark’s Future initiative grew from data-driven community research and the release of Protecting Stark’s Future: A Call to Coordinate Child Poverty Strategies, an eye-opening 2020 study of the child poverty challenges facing Stark County. The data in the report made it apparent that every issue of concern was related to poverty, and in particular, high child poverty rates in Stark County demanded increased and continued attention.

To spur community-based solutions and fuel lasting change, Stark Community Foundation provided nearly $430,000 in inaugural Protecting Stark’s Future grants to 12 organizations in 2021 and more than $225,000 to four organizations during its second round of funding in 2022.

Most recently, nine organizations received funding to address child poverty rates through efforts that increase families’ earnings, improve educational outcomes – including addressing high chronic absenteeism rates – and incorporate neighborhood-level strategies. Reflective of the collaborative aspect of the program, more than 30 partnering community organizations will be utilized to bring the funded projects to fruition across Stark County.

Through a request for proposals process, Stark Community Foundation solicited the best ideas from organizations that partner on imaginative solutions to address child poverty at the root level. One-year planning grants up to $15,000 per project and one-to-three-year implementation grants up to $100,000 per project were considered from eligible organizations. It is the intent of this initiative, and through these investments, to help strengthen a collective framework for addressing child poverty.

Protecting Stark’s Future 2023 grantees include:

Planning Grants:

  • AHEAD, Inc.: $12,500 to identify needed services and resources for families in the Southeast Massillon neighborhood based on collected data.
  • Cleveland Clinic Mercy Hospital: $15,000 to better understand and to help address the challenges of single-mother households in Southeast Canton and how they can connect with resources and collaborative partners.
  • JRC Learning Center: $13,890 to pilot a parent education program to enhance financial literacy and workforce development for parents of JRC preschoolers, fostering employment opportunities and improving household financial security.
  • Malone University: $14,600 to pilot a sports camp program for the Shorb neighborhood to help break the cycle of poverty by providing life-changing skills and exposure to educational opportunities.
  • Progressive Housing Solutions: $6,750 to help support “The Power to Earn" program, designed to empower unemployed Jackson Sherrick residential building residents in Southeast Canton to increase their income and enhance self-sufficiency.
  • Wilderness Center: $7,450 to continue to work with educators from Stark County school districts and plan opportunities for urban-locked children to better connect with and experience nature by creating on-site greenspaces.

Implementation Grants:

  • Access Health Stark County: $86,278 to provide a Community Health Worker for Canton City School District who coordinates students’ access to vaccinations and health care services and educates their families on the social determinants of health while helping to address absenteeism rates.
  • Greater Stark County Urban League: $76,400 to serve parents of disadvantaged families of Alliance City School District through a designated Employment Navigator who offers skill development and guidance to help navigate employment opportunities.
  • Habitat for Humanity East Central Ohio: $50,000 to help support the building and refurbishment of homes for families with children in Southeast Canton.

To learn more about Protecting Stark’s Future, visit

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