Who We are
Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB) is a nonprofit organization, that was established in 1981 to implement a comprehensive litter prevention, recycling promotion and beautification program for the City of Akron.
Keep Akron Beautiful is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization mandated to serve the citizens of Akron, Ohio, KAB is funded by the private sector, and the City of Akron. To obtain IRS Form 990 information, visit GuideStar.
KAB develops and implements public education and community improvement programs on litter prevention, recycling, graffiti eradication, waste management and beautification to encourage citizens to take pride in Akron by participating in these activities. The Board of Directors envisions a litter-free Akron, where all citizens and businesses take pride and responsibility for the cleanliness and beautification of their environment. Keep Akron Beautiful’s mission is to “Improve Akron’s quality of life through beautification and responsible environmental management.”
A board of directors, appointed by the mayor of the City of Akron, governs KAB.
Keep Akron Beautiful History
In 1980, Vince Lobello was a Loaned Executive from Xerox, serving as a Special Assistant to Mayor Roy Ray for Economic and Community Development. Charged with a goal of designing a platform to make Akron more attractive to new businesses and improve the city’s quality of life, Lobello, designed a program to address roadside and public property litter and initiate beautification projects. Lobello called the program Keep Akron Beautiful (KAB).
The first litter collection crews were welfare recipients and court system community service-sentenced offenders. The first volunteer cleanup was kicked-off with a symbolic “Clean Sweep” of Main Street, featuring the Mayor, prominent community leaders and local celebrities pushing brooms and was followed by a citywide spring cleaning.
Having knowledge of the national Keep America Beautiful organization, Mayor Roy Ray enlisted the help of Mr. Lobello to create Akron’s own local 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Judith B. Isroff was selected to plan, organize and lead the new agency, as a result of her strong ties to the community and dynamic spirit, and became Keep Akron Beautiful’s first Executive Coordinator. It was Mrs. Isroff’s tireless direction and creativity that spearheaded the fundraising necessary to grow the agency.
Judith Isroff addressed public land beautification needed in order to return Akron city pride, which also established a funding and volunteer base to build the future of the agency. In 1982, KAB initiated its Flowerscape program that involves the planting and maintenance of flowerbeds in high-visibility areas in and adjacent to downtown Akron. That popular beautification program, combined with the volunteer-oriented Adopt-A-Site program in Akron’s neighborhoods, has had a remarkable impact upon the community.
It was in 1987 when Keep Akron Beautiful joined the Keep America Beautiful, Inc. network. Judith, Vince and members of the City Planning Department wrote the first Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant, made possible by House Bill 361. Keep Akron Beautiful became a Litter Control and Recycling Program, receiving annual funding for promoting and educating the public in these program areas for 25 years until the Litter Prevention and Recycling Division merged with the Ohio EPA.
While the agency no longer receives consistent state funding, the City of Akron does provide a subsidy in the form of a street assessment. Over the years the agency has been asked to take on contracts that are within the agency’s stated mission of litter prevention and collection, public beautification, and environmental education. KAB is currently performing services for the City of Akron Service and Engineering Departments, and the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority.
From the very first Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Recycling & Litter Prevention grant, Keep Akron Beautiful had retained Education Specialist Pam Ray under contract from the Akron Public Schools. This employee spent her time in the public, private and charter classrooms of Akron teaching hands-on modules about solid waste management topics, non-point source pollution, graffiti prevention and energy efficiency. The well-respected educator continued to conduct the annual Arbor Day observance with all fourth grade classes in the city until her retirement in 2016.
The agency staff since 2015 works community events to spread the word on responsible environmental management and the importance of green spaces as well as continues to support the Akron Public Schools Science, Math and Technology Expo through sponsor judging environmental projects.
Undoubtedly, the most innovative programming has been in the area of beautification by bringing blooming color to public areas of Akron for residents, workers and visitors and also working to discourage littering in these public spaces.
Akron’s approach to the litter problem is unique in that it places full responsibility for planning and program implementation in the hands of a single nonprofit agency. That includes such activities as collecting litter from Akron’s expressways, roadsides and parks on a year-round basis and referring infractions to police officers for litter law enforcement or writing letters to encourage personal or business property litter control.
Keep Akron Beautiful also collects illegal dumping off of public lands with court-referred community-sentenced crews who work daily with the agency’s supervisors. The agency also enlists an army of volunteers to do a citywide cleaning during the annual Clean Up Akron Month-April, which coincides and is part of the Keep America Beautiful, Inc.’s Great American Cleanup™ litter prevention public awareness campaign.
In 2008, the agency assumed the responsibility for eradicating graffiti from public property with the creation of a sodium bicarbonate blasting system. Complaints come to the agency through the 311 customer service request system with the goal of eradicating the public graffiti as soon as possible. The agency also offers a service to eradicate graffiti for private property victims at a nominal fee.
Mr. Lobello was the founding member of the Board of Trustees and remains active with the organization to this day. Paula Davis, the retired President & CEO after Isroff, served the agency from 1988-2014. Jacqui Ricchiuti (Flaherty) came on board with the agency in 2012 as the Program Manager and was promoted in January 2016 as the new Executive Director & CEO.
The agency is proud to serve the community as an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and continues to be a Keep America Beautiful member in good standing by meeting requirements through consistent Community Appearance Index survey and other reporting. Keep Akron Beautiful has received consistent President Circle Awards through Keep America Beautiful since the recognition was established in 2003, along with other honors.
Keep Akron Beautiful Honors:
- 2019 Keep Ohio Beautiful Community Award, 150,000+ Population
• 2018 Keep Ohio Beautiful Board Member of the Year, Kim Haws Falasco, and Volunteer of the Year, Sue Kruder
• 2017 Keep Ohio Beautiful Volunteers of the Year, Dorothy Francis and Sylvia Martin
•2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 President’s Circle Award Winner –Keep America Beautiful, Inc.
•2016 Keep Ohio Beautiful Board Member of the Year, Dan Zampelli, Board Chair
• 2016 Keep Ohio Beautiful Volunteer of the Year, Tom Deuri, 35-year Volunteer
• 2013 Keep Ohio Beautiful Volunteer of the Year, Eric Jones, Board of Directors
• 2015 Keep America Beautiful, Inc., Second Place Affiliate Award (Category 150,001 and up)
• 2015 Keep America Beautiful, Inc. Storytelling Award
• 2013-14 Keep Ohio Beautiful Outstanding Affiliate (Community Award), Population 150,001 and up
• 2013 Keep Ohio Beautiful Volunteer Student of the Year, Intern Helen Dauka
• 2013 Keep Ohio Beautiful Volunteer of the Year, Eric Jones, Board of Directors
• 2013 Sue Smith Leadership Award recipient, Paula Davis, President & CEO
• 2011 Keep Ohio Beautiful State Program Winner for America Recycles Day
• 2009 Outstanding Sponsor Support/Great American Cleanup®-Colgate-Palmolive
• Numerous awards for Outstanding Sponsor Support during The Great American Cleanup™
• For partnerships with Bridgestone/Firestone, Pepsi-Cola, Yard-Vac by MTD, Waste Management, and Motrin-IB.
• 2003 America In Bloom, First Place Winner for Population Category 100,001-300,000
• 2002 America In Bloom, Second Place Winner for Population Category 100,001-300,000
• 2001 Distinguished Service Citation, Keep America Beautiful System Awards (by population category)
• 2001 Rogers Award for Local Television Advertising-Keep America Beautiful, Inc.
• 1995, 1996 Keep Ohio Beautiful Category II Award Winner
• 1994 Keep America Beautiful System Awards Program Finalist
• 1994 Take Pride, Ohio! Keep Ohio Beautiful Category II Award Winner-Build America Beautiful Pilot Program
• Second Place Award in the 1991 Keep America Beautiful System Awards (by population category)