Case Study: Housing and Education in Akron, Ohio

Case Study: Housing and Education in Akron, Ohio
Erwin de Leon, Priya D. Saxena
Urban Institute
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Housing providers and schools can work together to enhance the quality of education opportunities for low-income students and their families. An Urban Institute case study explores this potential in Akron, Ohio. The Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) and Akron Public Schools (APS) have partnered to improve children’s school readiness and educational outcomes through targeted programming—namely the Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) and the Reach Opportunity Center—to address the achievement gap between children in AMHA developments and those outside. The ECI assists families with programs such as home visitation, maternal depression, and outreach events. The Reach Opportunity Center is a community-based learning center offering educational opportunities, including ECI programming for all residents. In measuring outcomes of the partnership, the AMHA and APS engaged with the Summit Education Initiative to collect data on school readiness and educational outcomes from schools. The AMHA intends to secure additional funding to continue this programming and engage wider community partners to enhance the impact of opportunities for low-income children and their families through the partnership.

 Key findings:

  • The housing sector has an advantage in helping low-income students and their families tackle barriers outside school while improving educational opportunities.
  • The AMHA and APS leverage their joint resources to invest in long-term development benefits. They collaborate with the Summit Education Initiative and Summit County First Things First to build capacity in understanding these challenges and creating solutions.
  • The AMHA developments are home to about 10 percent of Summit County’s children ages 5 and below. Promoting early childhood development is a critical issue not only for the education sector.
  • The AMHA established Building for Tomorrow to help provide the services and execute collaborations to continue support; this nonprofit and other efforts are enhancing capacities to continue the reach of the partnership’s programs.

Teacher Alice Powell helps Robert Dorman, 4, left, Shianne Johnson, 3, and Lauren Slattery, 3, draw animals with stencils Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006, at Hilltop Educare Center in Columbus, Ohio.  (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)