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Walter W. Born Foundation gives $100,000 grant to Family Child Learning Center

04-26-2016 (Akron, Ohio )

The Family Child Learning Center (FCLC) in Tallmadge will undergo renovations thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Walter W. Born Foundation.

The FCLC is a nationally-recognized collaborative effort of Akron Children’s Hospital and Kent State University (KSU) that provides services for young children with disabilities and their families through an integrated preschool for children with autism, early intervention services and a regional infant hearing program.

In addition to the 150 children and families the FCLC serves each year, it also provides training for 20-25 graduate and undergraduate KSU students. Students receive intensive training in early intervention strategies to help them acquire the knowledge, skills and hands-on experience necessary for working with young children with developmental concerns and their families.

“The Family Child Learning Center is such an important asset to the Akron area,” said Leigh Gerstenberger, senior vice president at FirstMerit Bank who oversees the bank’s trust department.  “Very few organizations in Summit County work as closely with children with autism as they do.”

The FCLC has been housed in the same facility for 20 years with only minor renovations. The grant from the Walter W. Born Foundation will cover construction costs to revamp the observation rooms, expand the waiting area, and upgrade the audiology space to include better soundproofing and testing abilities, among other projects.

The construction will start mid-June and be completed by the time graduate students return in mid-August. Marilyn Espe-Sherwindt, FCLC director, says one of the most impactful parts of the construction project, for the children and families, as well as the KSU students, will be having a new observation space.

“A key part of our mission is education, training and dissemination,” says Espe-Sherwindt. “This expanded observation space will give us a lot of new educational opportunities and take us to a whole other level in terms of our mission. We’re so grateful to the Walter W. Born Foundation for their generosity.”

This is the second gift the FCLC has received from the Walter W. Born Foundation, the first gift helped the FCLC to launch its Integrated Preschool for Children with Autism. During the past 12 years the Walter W. Born Foundation has given over $1 million to Akron Children’s.

“It’s a real joy for us at FirstMerit to be able to honor Walter Born with a gift in his name to Akron Children’s,” Gerstenberger said. “It’s our privilege to be able to serve in that capacity.”

Media Contacts

Alissa Hazlett

Anne Merchant