KAB At A Glance

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*KAB Littering is Wrong Too, Pick It Up and Play Trash Ball banners pictured above. (See Littering is Wrong Too explained below. Pick It Up and Play Trash Ball was one of the first KAB campaigns, making those banners historic and practically antique!)


KAB At-A-Glance is a summary of our agency's community programs and their current successes/stats in our beloved Akron, Ohio. The mission of Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) is: Improving Akron’s quality of life through beautification and responsible environmental management.



Each November 15 for America Recycles Day (ARD), KAB partners with the River Valley Paper Company and the Akron public & private schools to boost mixed paper (fiber) recycling rates from October – November through the national Keep America Beautiful Recycle-Bowl program. In November 2017, a total of 30 schools and surrounding community recycled 24.32 tons (or 48,630 lbs.) of paper. This was over a thousand pounds more than in 2016! More information on past winners and the current competition can be found by visiting our America Recycles Day page found under the Litter Reduction tab of our website (also accessible by clicking on the link above).


i want to be recycled trash truck promo


"I want to be recycled" ads were still being run in rotation on City of Akron trash trucks in 2018. This is a continuation of the 2013 Keep America Beautiful, Inc. / Ad Council public service announcement featuring three recyclable commodities wishing for their 2nd life as a recycled product. As an affiliate, Keep Akron Beautiful localized the ads to use in print media (in 2014) and on City of Akron trash trucks (from 2014 to current) as a reminder to recycle every day.


green team 2017


The Akron Marathon continues to use the recycling frames purchased from a 2013 Coca-Cola grant written by Keep Akron Beautiful to help them increase recycling and reduce waste to landfill. Race day September 23, 2017, the amount of recycling collected totaled 5,880 pounds. The percentage of recyclable materials diverted was 59.7%, to include clothing, heat sheets and items needing special recycling (chip bags and protein bar wrappers). The overall diversion rate was 87%, due to composting and food donation efforts, which is amazing! See stats from the Akron Marathon. Keep Akron Beautiful staff and past interns volunteered again as Green Team Leaders to assist at race day recycling stations.  





Keep Akron Beautiful is a sponsor for the Science, Math and Technology (SMT) Expo, the yearly Akron Public Schools science fair, awarding cash prizes to environmental projects. In 2018, the KAB sponsor judges awarded 4 prizes (1st, 2nd and two 3rd place) at the 62nd annual event held January 27, 2018 at North High School. Read the info on our blog.


blue heron homecoming




Saturday, May 6, 2017, Keep Akron Beautiful staff again participated in the Akron Waterways Renewed! Blue Heron Homecoming, which was held at the Mustill Store. Our activity booth displayed special water cleanup equipment and tools available on the Litter and Illegal Dump Cleanup Trailer, such as waders, telescope rakes and litter grabbers. Keep Akron Beautiful educated guests on ways they can help restore water quality through cleanups and the use of these special tools. May 5, 2018 will be this year's event from 10 am - 2 pm at the Water Reclamation Facility, 2460 Akron-Peninsula Rd. Click previous link for info.



In 2017, the City of Akron continued to display the Keep Akron Beautiful Littering is Wrong Too banners. These banners were purchased with 2013 grant funds from the Ohio EPA and Keep America Beautiful, Inc. as part of a national litter public awareness campaign. The banners/street flags show often humorous wrongdoings that can be compared with "littering is wrong too" and are displayed in the spring and summer months in downtown Akron and around The University of Akron, along with the Pick It Up and Play Trash Ball green banners. See banners* slide show at the top of this page for example.




KAB had 26,275 volunteers donate 762,458 hours to planting trees/bulbs/shrubs/plants/flowers, litter/graffiti removal, source-separating recycling, cleaning & improving lakes/canals/wetlands (incl. Nesmith Lake, Summit Lake, Wilbeth Wetlands and Ohio/Erie Canal), education, environmental promotion, painting/landscaping public venues and parks, and more as part of the Keep Akron Beautiful mission. The volunteer value-of-time invested in Keep Akron Beautiful for the time period of July 2016 through June 2017 has an estimated value of $37.40. Meaning that Keep Akron Beautiful leveraged community resources to return back into the community $37.40 for every $1 donated or awarded towards programming.




day of action



The Community Pride Trailer (CPT) had another successful season from April 2017 to November 2017. This season, 54 groups consisting of 879 volunteers donated 6,107 man hours to remove 27.65 tons of litter, 8 bags of recycling, 112 tires and graffiti from 3 sites, as well as plant 3,002 flowers and 32 trees, paint 6 structures, and install 8 community gardens. Thank you to Dominion and Citizens Bank for their initial donations and to Citizens Bank, Akronite sponsors and various beautification donors for keeping it running each season. The CPT is being used in full force in 2017. (Community Pride Trailer pictured left)

drump trailer Akron neighborhood reborn



In its third year, Litter and Illegal Dump Cleanup Trailer had another successful season from April 2017 to October 2017. This season, 20 groups totaling 726 volunteers donated 3,123 man hours to remove 14.09 tons of litter, 22 tires and 7 bags of recyclables. Volunteers cleaned 7 waterways, 9 playgrounds/community centers, 11 city parks and 25 roadsides! Thank you to Citizens Bank for keeping it running each season. (Picture right is from the 2016 Neighborhood Reborn project.)

Some community-specific KAB trailer projects:

better block flowers

  • During the last week of August, the Community Pride Trailer was used to prepare for Kenmore Better Block which took place on September 1-2, 2017. Volunteers used equipment on the trailer to help transform Kenmore Boulevard with tasks like spreading mulch throughout the site which spanned several blocks, making it one of the largest Better Block footprints in Akron so far! KAB Flowerscape also assist, installing a fall garden while the Litter Crews removed graffiti from buildings on the boulevard and performed litter sweeps of the expressways and streets leading into Kenmore. (Pictured right.)
  • The third phase of the Neighborhood Reborn project occurred over the course of a weekend in May. Both trailers were utilized for landscaping in the neighborhood as well as with several vacant lot cleanups on Bettie Street. Keep Akron Beautiful Litter crew members assisted with removal of debris helping to remove 4 tons of litter and debris.


Keep Akron Beautiful's Clean Up Akron MONTH, coincides with Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup™  and takes place throughout the month of April. Last year was its 36th year. In addition, an Annual Earth Day cleanup has been held for the last 5 years at Summit Lake. Keep Akron Beautiful purchased waders for the cleanup groups working around water in 2017, which helped volunteers retrieve submerged debris from Summit Lake on April 22 as well as Lake Nesmith on April 29. The annual Super Saturday Picnic was held, April 29, 2017, at the Akron Zoo for volunteers who came for a free lunch and awards ceremony planned by our volunteers and local sponsors. The total stats for Clean Up Akron Month were: 3,221 volunteers (of which 1,370 were students), who cleared litter and illegal dumping from 112 public sites, including 31 city parks, 24 schoolyards and 8 community centers. Participants removed 19.27 tons of trash, 14 bags of recyclables and 91 scrap tires from public property. These numbers include the celebratory Earth Day Cleanup at Summit Lake, which had 239 volunteers, who removed an impressive 5.5 tons of litter and 18 tires in 3 hours.

cuam volunteers


Clean Up Akron Month (CUAM) supplies packing is done-in-a-day each year by a great group of students at North High School led by Intervention Specialist, Jen Lyle. This group of volunteers agree to test their counting skills, ability to follow directions, cooperation skills and stamina in order to stand at the long table loaded with supplies and pack them up according to the volunteers list so all CUAM participants can clean up Akron, Ohio. Pictured is the 2018 volunteer group who packed supplies.





Two contracts present earned income opportunities for litter programming   revenue: One with the Neighborhood Assistance Department in which KAB assists Inspectors by removing posted dumping violations from private property and the second is through Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA), in which KAB litter crews do bi-weekly litter sweeps at 16 selected developments. Through a beautification subsidy with the Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP), the agency has been able to continue Flowerscapes at three Summit County sites within the DAP's Special Improvement District.




As of November 2017, Keep Akron Beautiful handled the public graffiti eradication of 119 public properties with 35 community service-sentenced offenders for a total of 114 hours. Last year the season ended in mid-October, and the crew had eradicated graffiti from 74 public/private properties, working with 30 community service workers for a total of 151 hours. KAB created the grant-funded graffiti eradication system in 2008 for blasting sodium-bicarbonate and hired a full-time Supervisor to eliminate tagging of public areas, including parks where our Akron children play. The Supervisor and crew also use solvents and paint to further eliminate taggings. In 2010 graffiti removal services became available to private citizens for a nominal fee of $50.




2016 kab flowerscape and beds


Keep Akron Beautiful, the one investment guaranteed to grow, raised approximately over $115,000 from the private sector primarily to plan, plant and maintain the current 32 Flowerscape sites in downtown Akron, in various sites on Market St, at Alexander Park and Derby Downs. The number of sites is due to increase as roadway construction plans are complete. The 2017 season wholesale flower order was 24,445 plants for a wholesale flower bill of $18,725! (Pictured is Keep Akron Beautiful's own flowerscape and adjoining beds at their 850 E Market St office.)



Dreamscape Makeover Raffle returned for the 14th and final year in 2017. The Board members had sold 925 raffle tickets to give one Summit County private property owner a chance to win a $10,000 professional front or backyard makeover! The net profit from five months of ticket sales was $18,093, which supported the Flowerscape program. The winner was Holly Lerchbacher of Macedonia! Planning and design for this 2017 makeover will be led by Flowerscape Director, Leah Heiser, who together with over 20 vendor partners, listed on our Dreamscape page, made this project a success. The Dreamscape will be replaced by the Green the Scene fundraiser, where silent and live auctions possibilities will include items donated by the Dreamscape vendor partners. During its 14-yr. history, Dreamscape Makeover raffle has made $295,180, for the Flowerscape program designed to prevent purposeful littering, help the ecosystem, give us cleaner air, benefit our mental health, and increase our overall quality of life.


Flowerscapes for sale! For the 14th year donors could sponsor the cost of a site, a minimum of $3,500 (a number that hasn’t changed since pretty much the start of the program), and have the opportunity to put their name/logo on the signage for a year. There were 10 corporate or foundation contributors in 2017 that provided the funding, or the equivalent in-kind support, to be naming partners: Akron Beacon Journal, Akron Children's Hospital, The Akron Garden Club, Akron Community Foundation, The Henry V. and Frances W. Christenson Foundation, The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation, Dominion, The Lehner Family Foundation, Lowe's, The Charles E. & Mabel M. Ritchie Memorial Foundation, and The Orr Foundation.


alexander park dedication to kaczmarek





Keep Akron Beautiful honored their former Flowerscape Director, Polly Kaczmarek, through the dedication of the Alexander Park Flowerscape in 2017. One of Polly's favorite Flowerscape sites, it is the same location where Polly married her husband Jeff in 2003. Polly, who had been with the agency for 34 years, retired in 2016. She started the Flowerscape Program alongside first Executive Director, Judy Isroff.







Keep Akron Beautiful mailed out Beautification Watch Awards in September 2017 to 4,106 unsuspecting Akron residents and 280 companies/institutions that are setting the bar for private property beautification in all 10 wards of the city. Over 30 trained volunteers canvassed the city in their own cars throughout July to select properties that fit 5 criteria. This simple, non-competitive way of saying thank you has become a highly coveted award. Neighborhoods were canvassed in July 2017 by Adopt-A-Site volunteers,  Board members, Rotary Club of Akron, Goodyear and Signet Jewelers employees, as well as our long-time and new agency volunteers. (Neighbors are welcome to nominate neighbors. Nominations taken during the month of July.)


Overwood adopt a site



The Flowerscape Director is supervising over 60 volunteer groups gardening Adopt-A-Sites on public land located in all 10 wards of the city. In 2017, "A Low Maintenance Landscape" and "Hereford Shire Neighbors" joined our group of AAS volunteers, maintaining new sites on Afton and Dorchester and Revere Rd respectively. AAS volunteers purchased and planted 15,360 plants through us for a total of $5,463, which unfortunately was not enough to lower the wholesale flower bill this year. Our appreciation to the residents of 23 AMHA developments for pitching in and gardening around their development signs.


fall flowerscape kab



In September 2017, Flowerscape Director Leah Heiser and crew planted a fall garden in the City of Akron at Cedar and Maple, pictured right. Pictured below is the front of the Mayor's office decorated with fall-themed planters.


A beautification and an educational partnership beginning in late fall 2017 will allow Keep Akron Beautiful to work alongside Urban Vision Ministries in North Hill, to install a low maintenance garden in an area across the street from their location, which will beautify the neighborhood. Flowerscape Director, Leah Heiser, and Urban Vision Director, Rodney Matthews, are working together to have the Urban Vision children grow some of the plants in their Aquaponics Greenhouse, which will be planted in spring 2018. The Boy Scouts already planted bulbs in 2017 so that there will be blooms in early spring this year.


pollinator garden at carovillese akron





The Keep America Beautiful partnership allowed Keep Akron Beautiful to write a Lowes Grant in 2016 to install a pollinator garden at the Carovillese Club, part of our Adopt-A-Site program. In its inaugural year it bloomed lovely, attracting pollinators to busy Cuyahoga Falls Avenue, in North Akron.










Keep Akron Beautiful has managed a litter and illegal dumping collection program for 37 years in 2018. Our 2 supervisors, under the direction of a full-time Litter Collection Coordinator, canvass the city’s expressways, roadsides and parks daily, year-round. Last year, KAB staff supervised 1,083 community service-sentenced crewmembers who removed 50.22 tons of litter and 46.4 tons of dumping from public property, while source separating 648 bags of recyclables and 795 scrap tires.   .


The agency collaborated in 2016 with both Hattie Larlham and the HELP Foundation groups to provide litter cleanup hours in neighborhood parks so participants could be paid through these organizations’ employment programs, which allowed our litter crews to focus on the heavier traveled streets. This was a pilot program that continued in 2017 with the HELP Foundation only, due to lack of supervisors in Hattie's program.


Each fall, the Flowerscape crew collects spent plant material in kraft paper bags and delivers tons of yard waste to the City’s leaf composting yard for recycling into re-useable soil amendments for the city parks.  Litter Collection crews normally use KAB logo litter collection bags which are heavy-metal free and are designed to biodegrade in as little as 9 months.




Long-time volunteer Tom Deuri with KAB recycling and litter receptacles

(explained in further detail below) at a community event.


KAB loans out portable litter receptacles for civic events to keep litter under control.  Organizations are required to sign an acceptance form that they will make every effort to return the 45-gallon containers (worth around $8 each) to KAB following the event to be used by others.  From July 2016 through July 2017 businesses, city and/or community members used 1,678 litter receptacles; 2017 season only (Jan-Nov), they used 1,647. The number is decreased from 2016 significantly due to baseball teams practicing in parks with bins and Soap Box Derby reducing their litter intake. Akron area organizations use these for events like events like the Akron Open Tennis Championships, and you are likely to see them at Soap Box Derby, Lock 3, Stan Hywet Hall and more.


KAB’s mixed recycling loan out program Recycling-on-the Go! - is available to the public for civic events, as well.  A metal frame and 2 large plastic bags are available for borrowing through KAB.  This began as a pilot program in 2009 and was made possible through a grant received from the Nestle Corporation. From July 2016 through July 2017, businesses, city and community borrowed a total of 345 recycling frames (a slight increase of 60 receptacles from 2016). In the 2017 season only (Jan-Nov), they borrowed 456 frames. These receptacles have been affixed with stickers that show acceptable single stream recyclables that align with Akron curbside recycling (Smart Carts). The largest amount of recycling in one venue is usually the Akron Police Department Motorcycle Rally, where guests can give plastic another life by recycling. Another group, the Greek Fest at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Akron has been slowly incorporating recycling into their yearly event and had reduced their litter and increased their recycling containers in 2016!


ACBC (Aluminum Cans for Burned Children) – KAB is the distribution agent for cardboard can receptacles and initial liners. We coordinate and encourage new sites to collect their cans to benefit the burn unit at The Children’s Hospital of Akron and support area fire departments in their philanthropy. So far in 2017, a total of 43 boxes have been taken to collect cans. A total of 20 were replacement boxes requested by area fire departments, 15 were taken by a Mount Union Fraternity, 2 by Hasenstab Architects, 4 by a school and 2 by United Way Missing Pieces for recycling/give-back efforts.


Need more information on the recycling receptacle loan and ACBC programs? Paste keepakronbeautiful.org/rent-a-receptacle to your browser.




Keep Akron Beautiful conducted their 16th Community Appearance Index survey, a requirement of membership in the Keep America Beautiful, Inc. network for close to 564 state and local affiliates. On a scale of 0 - 4, a drive-by tour of all 10 wards rated Akron an overall litter index of 1.29. Volunteers also rated the amount of graffiti at 1.09. Temporary illegal signage rated a 1.46. Ward 1 and Ward 6 had the lowest average of litter, although all ten wards scaored an average number less than 2. See article in Cleveland.com for more on this year’s survey. Want to volunteer for the 2018 survey, Friday, June 1st from 9 am - 12 pm? Call us today at 330.375.2116.




KAB Presidents Circle Emblem

Keep Akron Beautiful was recognized for high performance within the Keep America Beautiful, Inc. network again in 2017, called the President's Circle Award. It is an award the agency has received ever since Keep America Beautiful started giving it in 2003. Digital emblems have been given since 2015 as tokens of this award since 2015. The award is announced each year at the conference in January. We thank Keep America Beautiful for the honor.



kab volunteers of the year 2017



Keep Akron Beautiful honored two West Akron residents, Dorothy Francis and Sylvia Martin, as Volunteers-of-the-Year for their longstanding commitment (13 years) as Adopt-A-Site gardeners and also for their additional volunteerism with the agency. They were then recognized again as Volunteers-of-the-Year by Keep Ohio Beautiful.







If you would like to donate to Keep Akron Beautiful programming, you may donate online or send donations to Keep Akron Beautiful, 850 E. Market St., Akron OH 44305-2424. You can also donate to the Keep Akron Beautiful endowment fund of Akron Community Foundation at https://www.akroncf.org/GivingYourWay/GiveNow.aspx?fn=Keep+Akron+Beautiful+Endowment+Fund or by calling 330-376-8522.




Keep Akron Beautiful brings me back to the moment…When rushing from one place to another you get a glimpse of a Flowerscape that catches your breath. I realize that no matter how noble my intentions for the day it all begins at home. Whether it is recycling, refurbishing or beautifying an area KAB knows its mission and I know that they have enhanced my community with their passion and drive.


Marilyn Keith, President of Akron City Council/Ward 8 Councilperson




Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscapes featured through photographs by an out-of-town traveling and blogging duo on http:www.dangtravelers.com/akron-ohio-visit/



Keep Akron Beautiful Honors Former Flowersc
ape Director, Polly Kaczmarek
The beautification
and litter prevention nonprofit
honors their first Flowerscape Director, now retired, through a
dedication of the
known garden at
Alexander Park
off West Market Street
Akron, Ohio
On the morning of September 25, 2017, the
Keep Akr
on Beautiful organization
dedicated a Flowerscape
recognize and
program, alongside first Executive Director, Judy
Isroff, and Board of Directors Member, Vince Lobello.
Polly Kaczmarek,
the agency’s
year Flowerscape Director
retired in 2
always favored
Alexander Park
her employ
. T
he beautiful garden was
ry new and unusual flowers,
but in addition, the site
a special place
in Polly’s
heart, because
it was
where she
married her husband, Jeff, in
Fittingly, t
he exact location
of the
sign is
in the area
son, Jason Simmons,
walked her
down the aisle
wedding day