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.)


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 Recycle-Bowl program. This year, 33 schools, and their surrounding communities, recycled 21.52 tons (or 47,460 lbs.) of paper. For 2016 winners and other ARD fun, visit 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 2016. 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.




KAB wrote a bin grant in 2013 to Keep America Beautiful/Coca-Cola to get 25 X-frame recycling receptacles to be used annually by the Akron Marathon to increase their recycling volumes. In its fourth year, this program helped to collect and divert from landfill a total of 3.41 tons of recyclables on race day 2016. Keep Akron Beautiful staff and former interns volunteered again this year as Green Team Leaders, who assist with race day recycling station training.






2017 akron public school science fairKeep Akron Beautiful is a sponsor for the Science, Math and Technology (SMT) Expo, the yearly Akron Public Schools science fair, awarding $400 in monies to top environmental projects. In 2017, the KAB sponsor judges awarded 4 prizes (1st, 2nd and two 3rd place) at the 61st annual event held January 28, 2017 at North High School.To be eligible, project categories must fall within the Smart Goal boundaries of the city's 2009 Greenprint for Akron sustainability plan. The first-place award of $200 went to 5th grader, Maya Bowers, of National Inventors Hall of Fame (S.T.E.M. Learning) for her project, How to Make a Solar Powered Heater. The second-place award of $100 went to 7th grader, Neeroj Ghatani, of Jennings CLC for his project, Solar Powered Desalination. The first of two $50 third-place prizes was awarded to 7th grader, Giustina Ricchiuti, of Miller South for the Visual and Performing Arts for her project, Whatever Happened to Glass? The other $50 third-place prize was awarded to 7th grader, Emma Highfield, National Inventors Hall of Fame (S.T.E.M. Learning), for her project, Aquaponics vs. Soil.

See pictures of many interesting projects on the 61st SMT Expo Facebook photo album

Read coordinating SMT Expo 2017 blog post

Read what the KAB CEO says about the quality of work by middle students this year in the KAB press release



For Arbor Day April 25, 2016, three Akron elementary schools celebrated by receiving a tree to plant as the winners of the KAB Arbor Day Slogan Contest, with winning slogans expressing how fruit trees nurture their body. The three classes that were judged 1st through 3rd place received donated nursery trees as their prizes. “Apples, oranges, lemons, limes, help nurture and grow young minds!,” was the 1st place slogan written by Shannon LaMarca's fourth graders at Schumacher Community Learning Center (pictured left with Mayor Horrigan and KAB Executive Director, Jacqui Ricchiuti. In addition, almost 2,500 American Plum seedlings were distributed by volunteers to every 4th grader in town after being packed with assistance from our City Aborists. Read the Arbor Day Recap in our Press Room naming all our partners on this project.  This year, the Education Specialist gave 54 classroom presentations to present her Arbor Day PowerPoint show and Jeopardy Game, reaching these thousands of elementary students from Akron public, private and charter schools. All tree planting ceremonies for Arbor Day Slogan winners are listed in Facebook albums.




Saturday, May 6, 2017, Keep Akron Beautiful staff will again participate in the Akron Waterways Renewed! Blue Heron Homecoming, which will be held at the Mustill Store this year. Come see our hands-on activity booth, "Can You Undo Water Pollution?" that shows how some forms of water pollution are impossible to eradicate by individuals without the help of treatment facilities like the City of Akron Water Reclamation Facility. Remember, the best way to handle water pollution is to stop it before it happens! Read the Keep Akron Beautiful blog post with pictures of the 2016 Blue Heron Homecoming event






In 2016, KAB also presented the "Can You Undo Water Pollution" activity booth at one of two litter-free events held at Canal Park Stadium as part of the Akron Rubber Ducks Education Days, which brings in over 8,000 fans. At the second event, the Educational Specialist handed out the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Lucky the Ladybug activity books. As Ohio's first lady of litter prevention, Lucky the Ladybug tells the story about how her hometown of Bugville turned into Litterville and how Lucky and her friends worked to solve their litter problems. (In the picture at left, Lucky is shown hugging a fan at the #CUAM2016 volunteer picnic.)



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 examples.


Throughout the month of June 2016, Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscape Director, Leah Heiser, and various staff participated in the City of Akron Neighborhood Art Celebration for residents in all 10 wards and offered a lesson in container planting. Participants at the KAB table walked away with a Zinnia planted with their own hands in a item upcycled as a planter or a handmade paper pot. (Pictured below an example of the hands-on table at Neighborhood Reborn**.)



**On June 17, 2016, Keep Akron Beautiful participated in the Neighborhood Reborn project. Keep Akron Beautiful was able to assist by hauling both KAB trailers to needed areas and helping to eradicate litter and illegal dumping. Staff and volunteers also removed overgrown foliage from vacant lots and also from behind houses--occupied as well as unoccupied. Over 3 tons of litter and debris were removed from the particular project sites! Leah Heiser was on hand to offer her container gardening to kids (pictured above with the dump trailer and Flowerscape van in the background).




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 in 2016. The volunteer value-of-time invested in Keep Akron Beautiful for the time period of June 2015-July 2016 has an estimated value of $29.63. Meaning that Keep Akron Beautiful leveraged community resources to return back into the community $29.63 for every $1 donated or awarded towards programming.




The Community Pride Trailer (CPT) is having another successful season April 2016 to current. As of mid-October, 870 volunteers had donated 5,144 man hours to remove 21.57 tons of litter and paint 2 buildings. 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.

drump trailer Akron neighborhood reborn

In its second year, Litter and Illegal Dump Cleanup Trailer is having another successful season April 2016 to current. As of mid-October, 23 groups totaling 507 volunteers donated 2,346 man hours to remove 8.67, 14 tires and 14 bags of recyclables. Thank you to Citizens Bank for the initial donation and to Citizens Bank, Akronite sponsors and various beautification donors for keeping it running each season. (Picture is from the Neighborhood Reborn** project.) This trailer is being used in full force in 2017.

Some community-specific KAB trailer projects:

  • On July 19-22, 2016 KAB staff and both agency community trailers helped prepare for Middlebury Better Block. The event, like in the North Hill area last year, reconfigured the corner of E. Market and S. Arlington. Both the Community Pride and Litter and Illegal Dump Cleanup trailers were also used the weekend of the actual event held July 30-31.
  • The second phase of the Neighborhood Reborn project occurred in late October. Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscape crew members planted daffodil bulbs with Middlebury neighbors on October 28. KAB then partnered with The University of Akron to use the litter trailer on Make a Difference Day, October 22, which was in conjunction with the Neighborhood Reborn project. Two KAB staff members were in assistance as volunteers collected .38 tons of litter and debris.
  • Partnerships and alliances with Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance to beautify Chestnut Ridge Park and also Lowe’s Heroes to positively impact the Battered Women’s Shelter, Carovillese Club, and the Junior League ShowHouse.




Keep Akron Beautiful's Clean Up Akron MONTH, which coincides with Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup™  took place throughout the month of April 2017 and mobilized 3,171 volunteers total, of which 1,370 were student groups. A big Earth Day cleanup was held at Summit Lake on April 22, where 239 volunteers removed an impressive 5.5 tons of litter and 18 tires in 3 hours. Keep Akron Beautiful purchased waders for the cleanup groups working around water this year, 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. More numbers coming soon.







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 mid-October 2016, Keep Akron Beautiful handled the public graffiti eradication of 74 public/private properties with 30 community service-sentenced offenders for a total of 134 hours. Last year the crew eradicated graffiti from 50 public/private properties, working with 20 community service workers for a total of 97 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. New sites already were installed at Cascade Plaza, High Street and S. Main. The 2016 season wholesale flower order was approximately 34,042 plants for a wholesale flower bill of around $17,900! (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 year and Board members 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 $19,275, 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, will make this project a success. The Flowerscape program was alive and healthy in 2017 because of a little help from our talented green industry friends!


Flowerscapes for sale! For the 14th year donors could sponsor the cost of a site, a minimum of $3,500, and have the opportunity to put their name/logo on the signage for a year. There were 11 corporate or foundation contributors in 2016 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 (new bed), 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, Medical Mutual of Ohio, The Charles E. & Mabel M. Ritchie Memorial Foundation, and The Orr Foundation.


Keep Akron Beautiful mailed out Beautification Watch Awards in September 2016 to 4,261 unsuspecting Akron residents and 423 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 2016 by Adopt-A-Site volunteers, the Wells Fargo Akron Breakfast Optimist Club, City employees, Board members, Goodyear and Signet Jewelers employees, and 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 64 volunteer groups gardening Adopt-A-Sites on public land located in all 10 wards of the city. There was 2 new Adopt-A-Sites during the 2016 growing season at Shadyside Park in Kenmore and at the Carovillese Club in North Hill. Residents of Hertfordshire on Paddock and Revere is being managed by new volunteers. This year, volunteers purchased and planted 11,972 plants through us for a total of $4,030, 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.


With help from the Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation and a task force of beautification volunteers, KAB purchased 100 new, smaller plastic lumber signs to replace the large wooden signs in all of the Flowerscapes and Adopt-A-Sites citywide. The new sign bears the KAB logo and a spot to change the name of the Adopt-A-Site or logo of the naming partners. As of 2015, all of the new beautification signs are installed.



In 2016 SBN partnered with Akron Zoo, Waste Management and The City of Akron to host three workshops:

  • Jenita McGowan Speaks on Cleveland’s Sustainability at Akron Zoo (25 attendees)
  • Sustainable Grant Workshop with James Skora of GT Environmental at Waste Management (33 attendees)
  • Smart Water Use 101 featuring water saving tips by Johnson Controls at the Akron Watershed (28 attendees)

The idea is to encourage sustainability planning and subsequent recognition by The Summit of Sustainability Awards program through application. No award ceremony took place in 2016. Past winners' videos are available on the sosaward12 YouTube Channel.




Keep Akron Beautiful has managed a litter and illegal dumping collection program for 35 years. Our 2 supervisors, under the direction of a full-time Litter Collection Coordinator, canvass the city’s expressways, roadsides and parks daily, year-round. So far this year as of June 9, 2017, KAB staff supervised 407 community service-sentenced crewmembers who removed 24.15 tons of litter and 13.8 tons of dumping from public property, while source separating 314 bags of recyclables and 164 scrap tires. In 2016, our numbers included: 1,154 community service-sentenced crewmembers, 51.57 tons of litter picked up, and 42.5 tons of dumping off public property, while source-separating 838 bags of recyclables and 1,062 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 did not continue in 2017 due to lack of supervisors within the individual organizations.


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 2015 through July 2016 businesses, city and/or community members used 3,182 litter receptacles. 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 2015 through July 2016, businesses, city and community borrowed a total of 285 recycling containers that 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 Anunciation Greek Orthodox Church has been slowly incorporating recycling into their yearly event and, as a result, has reduced their litter and increased their recycling containers for 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 2016, a total of 11 boxes have been taken to collect cans. A total of 8 were replacement boxes and 3 were taken by the Sheraton Cuyahoga Falls to begin a recycling effort.


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.




keep america beautiful presidents circle 2016


Keep Akron Beautiful was recognized for high performance within the Keep America Beautiful, Inc. network in 2016. The agency received the President's Award for their efforts. The award was given out in January 2017 at the Keep America Beautiful National Conference.



Keep Ohio Beautiful awarded the Dan Weisenbach Spirit Award to Captain Daniel Zampelli, Keep Akron Beautiful Board Member. (The Weisenbach Spirit Award recognizes an affiliate board member who embodies the drive and spirit of past Keep Ohio Beautiful President, the late Dan Weisenbach.) Zampelli was also recognized by the State of Ohio.


Keep Ohio Beautiful awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award  to Tom Deuri who has been a litter volunteer with the agency since it’s birth in 1981. Deuri was also recognized by the State of Ohio.




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 www.akroncf.org/give/KeepAkronBeautifulFund 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/