Summit County continuing work on poverty, economic mobility project

·3 min read
Summit County seal
Summit County seal

Summit County plans to work with a contractor on its Upward Mobility Project to find elements that contribute to poverty and boost economic mobility in county residents.

County Council's planning and economic development committee on Jan. 10 recommended passage of a 180-day contract with Synergy International Limited for services for the project at $20,000 per month and travel expenses estimated at $9,000, for a total contract amount of $129,000.

The full council is expected to vote on the legislation at its next meeting Jan. 24. (There is no meeting Jan. 17 because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)

Diane Miller-Dawson, Summit County community and economic development director, said the county had been using Synergy on an interim basis to help manage the project.

(Miller-Dawson was previously the county's finance and budget director but shifted to the role of community and economic development director Jan. 1. Phil Montgomery, the former finance and budget deputy director, replaced Miller-Dawson as director.)

The county was one of eight municipalities nationwide selected to join the Upward Mobility Cohort, a national group focusing on racial and ethnic inequities and poverty, through the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research organization.

Summit County is receiving a $125,000 grant and 18 months of technical assistance from the Urban Institute, including data analysis, advising and peer-learning opportunities.

Summit County’s participation in the program complements the county’s efforts on racism as a public health crisis after making the declaration in June 2020.

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Synergy is helping create an action plan for the county that will identify challenges and highlight strategies to improve local conditions for mobility and outcomes for residents. Miller-Dawson said the plan will be brought to County Council once it's developed.

The plan is expected to include short-term goals "to eradicate the determinants of poverty, and elevate the determining factors that provide economic success, social value in the community, and those that increase individual power and autonomy," the scope of services with Synergy states.

It will also include medium-term "stretch goals that both eradicate poverty and boost mobility" and "aspirational goals that we know may not be accomplished in the short-term, but are worth the effort and will benefit the community greatly," according to the scope of services.

Synergy will also help host community discussions and work with the Urban Institute, the county's Mobility Team and the Center for Marketing and Opinion Research, which will conduct analysis and quantitative data collection.

The discussions are meant to determine "the most pressing determinants of poverty in Summit County, as well as the most impactful determinants of economic and social mobility," according to the scope of services.

Synergy also expects to put together a community advisory board of community leaders, residents and other representatives to provide feedback and insights throughout the process.

"They must feel they are the beneficiaries of our work," the scope of services states about community members.

Contact Beacon Journal reporter Emily Mills at and on Twitter @EmilyMills818.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Summit County continuing work on poverty, economic mobility project

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