The Reach Opportunity Center at Summit Lake recently opened and houses a variety of programs for all ages that include job skill training and childhood development.
According to the press release, The Reach Center is a result of a $4 million grant awarded to the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) through their Capital Fund Education and Training Community Facilities (CFCF) program. One of ten grants awarded by HUD, this was the 4th largest award in the country and was provided to construct an early childhood, adult learning and job training center.
Christine Yuhasz, director of Strategic Engagement at the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, said the idea for the center had been in the works for four years. She, along with Akron Public Schools Superintendent, David James and a number of other groups and agencies, envisioned a community school and the “planets aligned” as the funding opportunity from HUD presented itself.
Sources such as the 2010 U.S. Census and the U.S. Census Bureau from 2006-2010 as well as AMHA’s internal database, provided statistics showing large percentage of individuals who have not earned a high school diploma or who have not gone on to higher education.
“We wanted to see a community revitalized and the need (in Summit Lake) was there,” Yuhasz said.
According to the press release, the Reach Center will house Head Start classrooms, two Akron Public Schools kindergarten classes, a kitchen, two computer labs, two adult learning classrooms, a multi-purpose room and several client meeting rooms.
Program partners include Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, Akron Public Schools, Akron Summit Community Action, Akron Summit County Public Library, Boys & Girls Club of the Western Reserve, Child Guidance & Family Solutions, County of Summit Dept. of Job & Family Services, Goodwill Industries of Akron, Greenleaf Family Center, and Project Learn of Summit County.
Yuhasz said the center will act as incubator to see how the collective groups will work together in the multipurpose space.
“We have a sophisticated evaluation process and we can see what is working (in this one space) rather than putting a lot of resources into the community,” she said. “We hope to intensify efforts and really focus on workforce development.”
Programs include Greenleaf Family Center which will offer SPARK Ohio, a program to support low-income families in preparing their 3 and 4 year-olds for kindergarten. Child Guidance and Family Solutions will offer Incredible Years program that works on reducing behavioral problems through parenting strategies. The Akron-Summit County Public Library will offer computer classes that will help train residents on work development skills.
Membership is free and open to Summit Lake residents. A recent open house was held on June 29 and encouraged community residents to tour the facility and learn more about the available programming.
“We didn’t have an official count but close to 300 people showed up and many residents signed up for membership,” Yuhasz said. “It was amazing and we’re excited to see what’s in store for the center.”
For more information about the Reach Opportunity Center at Summit Lake, please visit http://www.reachsummitlake.org/.