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Kent City Schools launches neighborhood bridges Gateway for Kindness



Dr. Justin Gates

Director of Student Services

Kent City Schools


[email protected]

Rick Bannister

CEO & Founder

neighborhood bridges


[email protected]

Kent City Schools Announces Launch of Neighborhood Bridges’ ‘Gateway for Kindness’

Collaboration with Nonprofit Channels Direct Local Giving to Students, Families in Need

Kent, Ohio, September 22, 2022 — Kent City Schools today announced the launch of neighborhood bridges’ “Gateway for Kindness”— a community resource to serve students and families in need within the Kent City school system.

Kent City Schools has approximately 3,100 students and operates six (6) schools. As a tool for teachers, counselors and social workers, neighborhood bridges Kent will aid in meeting essential needs for at-risk and underprivileged students with the aim of removing barriers to learning.

During the pandemic, all students were provided free meals at school. That program ended with the start of the current academic year. Before the pandemic, nearly half (43%) of Kent students met the criteria to receive a free or reduced meal at school. By collaborating with neighborhood bridges, needs within the school community will be identified by advocates, shared widely in the community through social media and other applicable platforms, resulting in the needs being met expeditiously while keeping the person in need and the donor anonymous. Neighborhood bridges is truly unique in that it provides a ‘bridge’ for the community to assist a person or family in need while helping the persons in need to retain their dignity in the process.

As a charitable organization, neighborhood bridges drives direct support and care by inviting local schools, mental health agencies, clergy and other service organizations to advocate for those in need. Advocates post needs via a secure portal that maintains recipient anonymity. Neighborhood bridges then shares those needs through daily emails and social media posts—engaging the community to come together to fulfill them. Typical needs include food, clothing, shoes, coats, eye exams, school supplies, school fees, furniture, household items, and monetary donations for household expenses.

A school district administrator learned of the neighborhood bridges program while attending the Ohio School Boards Association Capital Conference. The administrator shared the program with the central office administrative team and received the team’s support for bringing neighborhood bridges to Kent. A steering committee consisting of leaders throughout the Kent community was developed and a meeting was held to share how neighborhood bridges can impact the greater Kent community. The steering committee’s excitement helped expedite the launch of neighborhood bridges Kent.

In addition to Kent City Schools, organizations represented at the steering committee meeting included: Kent Rotary, Coleman Health Services, Kent Parks and Recreation, Portage County Board of Development Disabilities, Kent Police Department, Kent Health Department and Kent Jaycees. Additional community organizations were invited to attend and may participate in the future.

Superintendent George Joseph states, “Kent is a close-knit and generous community – a community that comes together for those in need. By utilizing neighborhood bridges we are able to ensure that 100 percent of what is raised in our community is used to meet the needs of those in our community. We want our students and their families to be able to focus on being the best they can be while at school rather than worrying about their next meal, sleeping on a hard floor, or having proper fitting shoes/clothing. It is our hope that through neighborhood bridges we can streamline the ways in which Kent residents come together to meet the needs of our neighbors, friends, and fellow community members.”

“The school system and community leaders of Kent have come together in an enthusiastic and inspiring way to support our mission and champion our Gateway for Kindness,” said Rick Bannister, CEO, neighborhood bridges. “We are excited and grateful for their partnership in directing impact to local students and families in need. Kent is the FIRST community in Northeast Ohio to launch neighborhood bridges!”

Families, community members and businesses can follow needs in the community and receive email notifications when new needs are posted by subscribing to neighborhood bridges Kent at https://www.neighborhoodbridges.org/community/kent-oh and following on social media channels:

Facebook: @neighborhoodbridgesKent

Instagram: @nbKent

For more information about neighborhood bridges Kent, residents can email [email protected].

Neighborhood bridges Kent will be led by active parent Kathleen Wiler, who will serve as volunteer Area Director. Donors will have the option to drop off their donated items at one of three Kent area spots:

1. Kent Recreation Center - 1115 Franklin Ave

2. Kent Police Department - 301 S. DePeyster Street

3. Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities - 2606 Brady Lake Road

About Kent City Schools

Kent City Schools serves approximately 3,100 Pre-K - 12 students in four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. The district is comprised of the City of Kent, Franklin Township, and the villages of Brady Lake and Sugar Bush Knolls. More than 75 percent of teachers in the district have master’s degrees and most have at least 13 years of classroom experience.

For more information, visit http://www.kentschools.net. Follow the school district on Facebook @KentSchoolsOH and Instagram @KentSchools.

About neighborhood bridges

A 501(c)(3) organization, neighborhood bridges’ mission is to bridge communities with schools in providing basic needs, removing barriers, and seeking equity for students so they can engage and succeed in school and life. The organization has driven direct support and care to more than 278,000 students and families through over $6 million in giving since its founding in 2017.

Neighborhood bridges is headquartered in Westerville, Ohio, and operates its “Gateway for Kindness” in 41 communities throughout Ohio and Alabama.

For more information, visit neighborhoodbridges.org.


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