Insights: Akron-Canton | Community | Spring 2018

Akron Summit Community Action & Huntington

Serving low-income residents

Community involvement
Akron Summit Community Action (ASCA) has a first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by people in poverty, because many of the organization’s directors, staff and volunteers have been impacted by those issues.

“Many of our employees started as volunteers or participants of our programs,” says President and CEO Malcolm J. Costa, who himself started as a volunteer. “By engaging with those who have these particular needs, we allow them to help guide the solution to their challenges related to poverty, as opposed to thinking that those with better circumstances have all the answers.”

When ASCA formed out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, many of its services for low-income residents “started with those who were directly affected, trying to help others,” Costa says.

Today, one-third of ASCA’s board of directors “are democratically elected representatives of the poor,” Costa says, which keeps the organization’s services aligned with the community’s needs.

What the organization does

Working with federal, state and local government agencies and private resources, ASCA provides a comprehensive range of services to address the needs of low-income residents throughout Summit County. These include Head Start, providing early childhood education to low-income children; the Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps minimize and manage home energy costs; the Emergency Services Program, assisting with basic necessities such as food, clothing, rent, optical and dental care; the Earned Income Tax Credit Program, providing free tax preparation and financial literacy for low-income taxpayers; and the Foster Grandparent Program, in which economically disadvantaged seniors receive training (and tax-exempt stipends) for helping with early childhood programs.

Community support

Huntington assists the organization by volunteering time to prepare taxes through the Earned Income Tax Credit Program. It also offers financial education to pregnant women enrolled in ASCA’s Pathways HUB, launched in April 2017 to combat infant mortality among economically challenged expectant mothers.

ASCA’s services are targeted at helping people in poverty acquire skills and access opportunities to ultimately achieve economic self-sufficiency – benefitting the entire community.

About the organization

  • Name: Akron Summit Community Action Inc.
  • Website: www.ascainc.org
  • City: Akron, Ohio
  • Phone: (330) 376-7730
  • Mission: To reduce poverty and promote self-sufficiency.

How you can help

Volunteers are needed for the Head Start program, which serves 1,600 children; the Earned Income Tax Credit program, which uses certified, volunteer tax preparers to help low-income taxpayers (completing more than 29,000 returns since the program launched in 2003); and the Foster Grandparent program.