Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance awarded $150K to help local moms, encourage culinary jobs on Boulevard

By Jennifer Conn, Akron reporter,

The Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance has received a $150,000 grant aimed at helping residents secure well-paying jobs while expanding the culinary presence on Kenmore Boulevard.

The CareSource Foundation’s two-year, $75,000-per-year grant will pay for the nonprofit Jump On Board for Success (JOBS) to train, license and prepare struggling Kenmore mothers for culinary careers.

CareSource awards grants to nonprofits working to eliminate poverty and address the health needs of families. JOBS works to combat generational poverty among mothers in the Kenmore area.

The culinary program, launched this week, will take 20 to 30 single mothers through several six-week courses, while providing them with transportation and childcare. The program is designed to:

  • offer students experience at restaurants close to home
  • equip them with chef tools for use at home and at restaurants pay for Level 1 and Level 2 culinary licensing
  • provide 50 percent of wages paid to licensed graduates if employed at restaurants within KNA’s area of focus 

Students also will receive counseling on banking, budgeting and saving through the Financial Empowerment Center in Kenmore. The center was launched last year by the city and the United Way of Summit County to offer free financial services to all Akron residents.

KNA has been focused on strengthening and launching businesses on the boulevard since its inception in 2016. Early on, the group conducted a survey in which residents listed a coffee shop and restaurants as the top two things they wanted on the boulevard.

The group also commissioned KM Date Community Planning to conduct a retail study that revealed more than $25 million in restaurant revenue is leaving Kenmore every year to nearby malls and business strips.

“That’s money that could and should be supporting our neighborhood with jobs and food for our residents and vibrancy for business district,” Tina Boyes, Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance’s executive director, said in a news release. “This grant will help us meet an immediate need of an at-risk group of residents while adding another tool to attract healthy food to our neighborhood. I call that a win-win.”

KNA is working to prepare the neighborhood to take advantage of activity expected to come via a new employer at the nearby site of the former Rolling Acres Mall. The city is working with a yet-to-be-named developer and expects the development will bring 500 jobs paying an annual average of $60,000.

“Eighty-six percent of folks who shop on Kenmore Boulevard are not from Kenmore, and from zip code data we know their average annual income is more than $66,000,” Boyes said in the release. “They’re demanding food and coffee like our residents are, who we know will patronize them, so we believe restaurants can do very well here.”

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