Outline of Ohio with United Way symbol

2-1-1 helpline delivers food to neighbors in need during pandemic

In April 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin Greer found himself homebound in his downtown Canton apartment, without a way to buy groceries. “That was a really rough time,” he said. “Living on the 6th floor of my building, it was like a prison cell. [I] was stuck. Even getting the mail is a nightmare.” Alone and …

McKinley high school student being interviewed

FAME program provides pathway to college for African American students

For many students, the path to college can be a challenging one. From admissions tests to financial aid, it’s a complex process. For African American males in Stark County, one program is helping to make the path to college more attainable. A roadmap to college FAME, which stands for Focus on African American Males in Education, is a pre-college program …

Stark County THRIVE helps curb infant mortality rate

Stark County THRIVE is working to ensure that more babies in Stark County celebrate their first birthdays. In 2013, the Ohio Department of Health identified Stark County as one of nine communities in the state with the highest infant mortality rates and a wide racial disparity between the rate of deaths in black infants and white infants. Canton City Public …

SPARK prepares Alliance preschoolers for success in kindergarten and beyond

More children in Alliance are entering kindergarten ready to learn thanks in part to a program through the Early Childhood Education Alliance, called SPARK. SPARK, which stands for Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids™, is an in-home program that helps children ages three to five prepare for school by building reading, language, math, and social skills. The program began as …

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Seth’s Story

For years, Dina Gast watched her son, Seth, struggle in school. “I remember sitting and crying because I knew he had dyslexia and couldn’t get anyone to listen to me,” she said. “He spent years struggling with schoolwork, feeling frustrated and stupid. He felt so badly about himself that he struggled to make friends, talk to girls or stick up …

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Renee’s Story

Every day, Renee faced the same question – how would she get to and from work that day? Renee worked a split shift as a bus driver for one of Stark County’s school districts, a job that she needed to maintain if she hoped to pay down her debt. Occasionally she borrowed a family car to get to work or …

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Mike’s Story

When Mike’s son first began using drugs and alcohol, he was only 13 years old. By the age of 18, his drug use escalated to heroin. “I absolutely had the belief that drug addiction happens to someone else or somebody else’s family,” Mike said. “I never expected that to happen to my child.” For nearly eight years, his heroin addiction …

Teen Court helps students learn from their peers

Peer connections drive positive outcomes. That message is clear in Stark County Teen Court, a program where students gain real courtroom experience and juvenile defendants can get a second chance.