ALLIANCE, Ohio — The Stark Community Foundation (SCF) recently awarded a $100,000 grant to support the Alliance Area Community Learning Center for Adults, Youth and Children. The initiative is being led by Dr. Kristine Still, founding dean of the College of Applied and Social Sciences at the University of Mount Union, and Abby Schroeder, director of Mount Union’s Regula Center for Public Service.
The Center will be located in the facility formerly known to many as the Alliance Neighborhood Center, which will now have dedicated spaces for Stark Fresh, the YWCA Clothing Boutique, Men’s Challenge, Sports Outreach and Mount Union. The grant will also assist in the conversion of vacant classrooms to shared spaces, producing a community hub for resources and learning.
Classroom supplies and laptops will be some of the additional physical resources provided by the grant’s funds. Instructors and Mount Union student employees will also be paid to assist in mentorship and teaching of Alliance area youth, earning hands-on opportunities for those interested in pursuing education-related careers. Additionally, the funding will aid in offering professional development opportunities for all interested nonprofit agencies in the community.
“Being able to provide services in an area that has been an afterthought has been inspirational,” Schroeder said. “Seeing so many agencies come together to support this initiative has been great and we are excited to see what we can make happen as a network.”
Abby Schroeder and Kristine Still
The grant will also help create Ohio’s first Raising a Reader program, which is a national network of educational, non-profit, and community organizations across the country that has helped bolster literacy in more than 150,000 children across the country.
Alongside Raising a Reader, a Little Free Library will be available inside the building for adults and children, which was constructed by Mount Union student volunteers as part of Make a Difference Day on October 22.
The grant will also support the monthly agency network meetings coordinated by Mount Union and create local professional development opportunities for all agencies serving the Alliance area. This network which started with 12 partners now encompasses more than 45 partners who are serving Alliance citizens.
“This grant is a testament to the cohesiveness of the Alliance community,” Still said. “None of this would be possible without everyone working together and the connections of Abby and the Regula Center.”
“The work done by Abby and Kristine to help secure this funding is important, and this grant will help make a significant impact on the community," said Mount Union Interim President Bob Gervasi. "I am pleased that Mount Union will have a place at the updated center to provide mentorship opportunities for area individuals, and for our students to gain additional experiences beyond our campus.”
Future opportunities for the University in this space include an extension of health professions learning opportunities and a space for telehealth and clinics, as well as visual and performing arts workshops for the Alliance community.
SCF and Mount Union have worked closely with the Greater Alliance Foundation to complete this project.