Thriving together with all those who count on its business.
It’s how The J.M. Smucker Co. defines success.
One of the ways the company sees this success in action is through its longtime philanthropic partnership with Akron Children’s. For years, the company has supported programs and services at our hospital that ladder up to several of its “thriving together” pillars. Most notably, this includes its commitment to promote education and development through programs that target literacy – and mental health resources that focus on identifying and addressing challenges early on.
This spring, Smucker continued its dedication to our patients and families by making a $1 million gift to support our early literacy efforts. This generosity established the Smucker’s Berry Good Reading program at Akron Children’s.
“A strong start in the early years, particularly acquiring reading skills, is critical to encouraging a love of learning and supporting continued growth and development,” said Mark Smucker, chair of the board, president and CEO of The J.M. Smucker Co. “We are excited by the growth of this program and delighted to support its expansion.”
Supporting the development of early literacy skills – for every child
Smucker made its first contribution to support early literacy efforts at Akron Children’s in 2019. The funds supported literacy skills among young children as part of their primary care visit, where they received a book during annual well visits up until the age of 5.
“One of our charitable focus areas is to support access to education,” said Tamara Fynan, executive director, community engagement and philanthropy at The J.M. Smucker Co. “The Smucker’s Berry Good Reading program helps expose children to books and storytelling, promoting the development of language skills, imagination and natural curiosity. The program not only exposes young, developing minds to the joy of books, it also educates their parents and caregivers on the importance of reading to your child.”
“One of the most effective ways to promote early literacy development among young children is to read aloud to them on a frequent basis, but it is estimated that only 48% of young children are read to daily by a family member,” said Bernett Williams, vice president for community initiatives at Akron Children’s. “This rate is even lower for minority and low-income families. And currently, 53% of our overall patient population at Akron Children’s is Medicaid eligible.”
The latest gift from Smucker will allow us to continue to grow the scope and quality of our early literacy outreach efforts amid rising book costs. Thanks to the company’s generosity, we will be able to purchase and distribute thousands of books to our affected patients.
Strengthening the Akron Children’s community through philanthropic support
Smucker recognizes its responsibility to help the communities where its employees live and work.
“We are proud to have a long-term and growing relationship with Akron Children’s and to have the opportunity to support this organization, as well as its patients and their families,” said Tamara. “One of the great things about Akron Children’s is the many different ways partners are able to offer their support, and we are a great example of that.”
This support includes:
- Helping to facilitate and expand early literacy efforts.
- Supporting developmental health through contributions to nursing scholarships at The Lois and John Orr Family Behavioral Health Center.
- Sponsoring the Doggie Brigade™, which helps bring a much-needed moment of joy and comfort to our patients.
- Introducing The J.M. Smucker Company Bistro in the Considine Professional Building on our Akron campus.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have this amazing, world-class organization serving and supporting the health and wellness of our children in northern Ohio and beyond,” said Tamara. “There is nothing more important than ensuring a thriving future for our children and our community.”