© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Knight Foundation Extends Commitment to Akron Civic Commons

A photo of ribbon cutting for Summit Lake loop trail
A trail around Summit Lake is one of the projects funded by the Reimagining Civic Commons initiative. The effort in Akron has received another $1.6 million in support.

The Knight Foundation has committed another round of funding to Akron projects that aim to "Reimagine the Civic Commons."

Akron will receive $1.6 million to extend efforts to revitalize public spaces in the Summit Lake neighborhood, develop the new Ohio and Erie Canal Park and continue work downtown with Locks 2, 3, and 4.

Knight Foundation’s Akron Program Director Kyle Kutuchief says the racial and economic diversity of these areas represent Akron.

“We see public spaces as an opportunity to bring everybody together. People who may not interact in their work life, or their church life or their current social life. In public parks we all come into that space as equals.”

Kutuchief says this is a particularly appropriate time to commit funds to outdoor spaces, which have become highly valued and utilized during the coronavirus pandemic. 

He says the efforts begun in Akron four years ago have been highly successful. He points to the large park in Park East, that previously went unused because people thought it was private property.  

Knight Foundation Akron program director Kyle Kutuchief says people thought the park in the Park East neighborhood was private property.

“Over the past 3 years they’ve added public art, a new playground, fit stations for people to be able to exercise and walk around the canal. And we’ve seen children, retirees and everybody in between coming out to use that great space.”

The funding in Akron is part of $10 million Knight and three other foundations have committed to civic commons efforts in ten cities around the country.

Besides Knight, the other foundations are The JPB Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and William Penn Foundation. 

The original five cities that were part of Reimagining the Civic Commons include Akron, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and Memphis. The five new cities added this year include Lexington, Macon, Miami, Minneapolis and San Jose.

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.