June 2022

A Note from our Executive Director

Dear Friends,

The past two months have been extremely busy at Project GRAD Akron! Our staff and team members finished out the school-year activities; attended promotion and graduation ceremonies; prepared summer experiences for students; and just recently completed a three-week Summer Entrepreneurship Adventures for rising 8th and 9th graders, just to name a few of the activities! We are preparing for additional summer programs, including our Bridge to Kindergarten program, beginning in July. The letter "E" Says it All! The programs have been educational, engaging, exhilarating, exciting, and extraordinary! I will add another "E" which is exhausting, but in an enjoyable way!  

To put everything in perspective of how important the various experiences and activities are for so many students and families, I thought about my recent visit to the optometrist. As I was sitting in the chair and looking at the various letters and numbers on the screen, I thought about people who may not have the opportunity to visit an optometrist. They may have had blurred vision for awhile; however, that is all that they ever knew and didn't know that there could be an opportunity to see better. They may think it is normal until they can see something different and recognize that an adjustment can make all the difference in the world for them. 

Too often, I think people look at the world from their own lens and do not recognize that other people may not have the same viewpoint or vantage point. Sadly, far too often, people find it very easy to judge, criticize, and even condemn without taking into consideration different viewpoints or vantage points. In order to make our world a better place for all and not a few or a select, then I encourage everyone to figure out what is necessary for all of us to get out of our comfort zones and get a little uncomfortable so we can all grow, learn, and make a positive difference in the world!


As shared with you in our earlier e-newsletters, I informed you that we have so much to be thankful for at Project GRAD Akron that I wanted to share it with you on a regular basis. The "Thankful" portions of my columns have not been presented in any particular order, but are a constant reminder for me to reflect upon what keeps us grounded and moving forward. I am thankful for people who are willing to open their eyes to see a world and a community that needs more positive people involved in making a difference. We are so fortunate that many people see and value the work that we are doing and that they want to be a part of it, support it, and encourage our work. They share their time, talent, treasure, ties, and testimony!  

In this edition, you will learn about some of our interns and one of our Board members. We appreciate all of them and we appreciate you! Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and to support Project GRAD Akron! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions! Please continue to take care, be safe, and enjoy the summer!  


Jacqueline A. "Jackie" Silas-Butler, Esq.

Executive Director

Q & A with PGA Board Member:

Annie Hanson Hiliare

Q: Why did you become involved with Project GRAD Akron, and what has your involvement looked like over time?

A: I was thrilled to join the Board of Directors of Project GRAD Akron three years ago after attending events and fundraisers for several years as part of The University of Akron leadership team. I enjoy serving on the Marketing Committee to assist the organization in gaining more awareness in the community. I have been proud to support Project GRAD Akron in a few grant applications, including a successful award from Leadership Akron Class #36 for student mentorship and experiential learning.

Q: Why do you believe in PGA?

A: Project GRAD Akron's programming helps build confidence in students to graduate from high school and to create a plan for success after graduation. Navigating the FAFSA, college applications, and scholarships can be daunting, but with PGA's assistance, students are able to move through the process with an experienced team of supporters. I'm always amazed at the poise and confidence of Project GRAD Akron scholars who come back to share their experiences with the current high school students. They attribute much of their success to the preparation they received as part of the program. 

Q: What has been the most beneficial part of serving on the board? 

A: I've learned so much about the many PGA programs that support students all along their educational journey and have made several friends along the way with colleagues on the Board.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory in regards to PGA

A: My favorite project was packing bags for Project GRAD Akron Scholar graduates who were returning to Akron over the holiday break. We packed goody bags for them with food, cleaning supplies, and treats. I was up to my elbows in green beans and Clorox wipes for the better part of a day!

Q: What else are you passionate about / what are some of your hobbies? 

A: My husband and I are parents to Elizabeth (22 months) and Charlotte (2 months), so they are keeping us pretty busy these days! I enjoy baking, reading, and starting (and then often giving up on) sewing projects.

Project GRAD Akron Intern Highlights

We would like to thank our interns for all of their hard work and dedication this semester! Good luck in all your future endeavors. 

Interview with our Interns Part I

Click on the image to Watch

Interview with our Interns Part 2

Click on the image to Watch

Click on the social media links to connect with Project GRAD Akron!
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Linkedin