AKRON - Residents of Cascade Village, once one of the most troubled and impoverished areas in Akron, are thriving thanks to a community partnership.
The effort will be supported with $1.7 million invested by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The North Akron location was once the oldest public housing project in the city. Today, Cascade Village comprises 250 new homes populated by a mixed-income community working together to improve their niehgborhood and each other's lives.
The Knight Foundation support will help create new opportunities and activities that support future development.
Planned programs include career and financial coaching, and improved school and youth programming.
"Trusting people to lead their own solutions makes communities more adaptive and resilient," said Paula Ellis, vice president of strategic initiatives at the foundation.
"Frequently, resident-led plans are more effective than those developed by external organizations. People engage when the approaches are holistic, based on real-life experience and not technical solutions driven by 'experts,'" Ellis said.
Jeannie Wilson moved to Cascade Village with her husband and son in 2007.
"When I heard about this program, I got really excited," she said. "I couldn't help but think that my neighborhood would be like the one I grew up in, where everybody knew each other, and looked out for each other. You didn't have to go outside for help."
Community Builders helps manage the community.
"Those working in the arena of affordable housing must begin to think more broadly about our mission and obligations," said Patrick Clancy, president of Community Builders.
"We can't rebuild communities by focusing only on bricks and sticks. We have to rebuild the social capital and the neighborhood networks that support families and healthy neighborhoods," Clancy said.