Back to Blog
Partners in STEM

Sponsor Spotlight: United Way of Summit & Medina

Since 2018, United Way of Summit & Medina (UWSM) has been a proud supporter of the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF). As both organizations believe in the transformational power of programming that provides a “whole-child approach” to education, this partnership has only strengthened over the years and continues to support underrepresented students with valuable opportunities to learn and grow.

The whole-child approach to education is an increasingly popular method that places an emphasis on not only academic success, but also on a student’s social-emotional, cognitive, character and 21st-century skill development. UWSM’s partnership with NIHF continues to help the organization meet its Bold Goals that support the needs of families within Summit County, Ohio.

The collaboration between NIHF and UWSM has been impactful from the beginning. In the summers of 2018 and 2019, NIHF partnered with UWSM to impact 1,198 and 1,062 Akron Public Schools (APS) K-6 children, respectively, through one week of Camp Invention®, aligning with the UWSM’s Bold Goals initiative. As part of this program, NIHF worked with Summit Education Initiative (SEI) to collect participants’ student data and analyze the weeklong program’s impact on school-year performance. The research supported by SEI revealed that, on average, students who attended Camp Invention increased their GPA, standardized test scores and in-school attendance.


Supporting United Way’s Bold Goals in Education

Announced in June 2017, UWSM (then the United Way of Summit County) released four targeted “Bold Goals” to support the Greater Akron community:

  • Goal 1: 65% of APS third graders reading at or above their grade level
  • Goal 2: 90% of APS high school students graduating in four years, with 60% college or career ready
  • Goal 3: Financially empowering 11,000 people by teaching them how to budget, save, manage debt and build credit
  • Goal 4: Reducing emergency room visits due to drug overdoses to 1,000 annually

“We need to do more than just talk about the problems we’re facing,” Jim Mullen, CEO of UWSM said in a press release detailing the Bold Goals. “We need to do what it takes to push the needle forward on the measures that matter to children and families in Summit County.”

Thanks to the generous support from UWSM, this fall, NIHF’s programming and professional development (PD) supported the educational components of the UWSM Bold Goals by engaging students and families at three Akron schools: Helen Arnold Community Learning Center (CLC), Robinson CLC and McEbright CLC.

To support UWSM’s Bold Goals with consideration of the whole-child approach, NIHF developed a custom program called APS Innovation 365: STEM Saturdays. For eight Saturdays, four hours a day, APS students experienced Camp Invention, infused with English Language Arts (ELA) and social-emotional learning (SEL). Twenty-five APS educators received PD prior to the program, which provided job-embedded training and concentrated virtual workshops based on NIHF’s pedagogy.

“The I365 program was custom made for APS to tailor meet the needs of the local community,” said Alaina Rutledge, vice president of education research and development at NIHF. “It is important to use best practice, researched pedagogy and engaging content to deliver hands-on programming, but the district need of the individual school must be a priority. All learners need innovation skills to ensure they have the tools to be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers. The I365 program was able to provide the opportunity to build these skills.”

Aligning to UWSM’s goal to improve literacy among APS students, the I365 STEM Saturdays curriculum combines hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities with enhanced reading and writing exercises to support student literacy. Throughout the program, students have multiple opportunities to journal, write an original narrative, and read both independently and in a group setting.

In this 21st-century global economy, NIHF believes that one of the most effective ways to prepare students for the future workforce is to help instill 21st-century skills like critical thinking and collaboration. Like all NIHF education programs, I365 is developed by education experts, informed by NIHF Inductees and designed to help children build an Innovation Mindset that enables and empowers them throughout their lives.


Thank You, United Way

NIHF would like to thank UWSM for its continued support of invention education and commitment to inspiring today’s students to become the innovators of tomorrow. To learn more about UWSM and the incredible work it does to support families in Summit and Medina Counties, please visit its website.

Related Articles