Kent State Leads First Comprehensive Greater Akron LGBTQ+ Specific Community Needs Assessment

Kent State University has partnered with Greater Akron community organizations to conduct the first comprehensive and specific LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment (CNA). Efforts of this assessment focus on producing a better-informed public health system and improving the health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community members.

 Thanks to the leading support of the County of Summit, Summit County Public Health, the city of Akron, Cleveland Clinic Akron General, Summa Health and the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation, the impact of this project will improve the day-to-day lives of many LGBTQ+ community members. 

This assessment will engage the entire Akron community to participate in the needs assessment process to determine what the local LGBTQ+ community identifies as important. To do so, the assessment will take a holistic view of the health and wellness in Akron’s LGBTQ+ community by looking at seven key health domains: health and wellness; religion and spirituality; education and literacy; housing, food and nutrition; business and commerce; safety and law enforcement; and recreation and leisure.

The concept for this effort was the brainchild of Andrew Snyder, MPH, BSN, research program coordinator for Kent State’s College of Public Health, who will lead the project. 

“My idea for this has been a long time in the making, but once started, it quickly gained momentum and great support,” Snyder said. “This is a celebration and triumph for the LGBTQ+ community, and there is tremendous excitement throughout Greater Akron.”

The County of Summit is one of the effort’s biggest supporters. 

“Being intentional about assessing and addressing the needs of the LBGTQ+ community continues Summit County’s commitment to be a welcoming and encouraging community for all of our residents,” said Greta Johnson, director of communications and assistant chief of staff for the Office of Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro. “Working with these dedicated partners demonstrates the best of public-private collaboration for the betterment of our residents.”

One of the first supporters was Sue Hobson, director of community health and partnerships at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

“I met Sue right before the pandemic hit to talk about another project I was trying to get off the ground,” Snyder recalled. “We ended up spending most of the meeting talking about the impact an LGBTQ+ specific needs assessment could have on the community. Before I knew it, she had put together an entire steering committee to support the project’s initial formation. I truly believe if it were not for Sue, this project may not have achieved the level of success it has found.”

Hobson immediately felt strongly about supporting the assessment.

“A comprehensive LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment will offer invaluable information for many local organizations, including Cleveland Clinic Akron General, on how we can help provide support,” Hobson said. “When I asked other community influencers to join the steering committee, it was obvious they felt the same way and didn’t hesitate to jump on board.”

The project is well underway, and community organizations are already mobilizing to take the project head on. The project is estimated to take 18-24 months to complete, with the final community report published in August 2022. Once concluded, information from this Community Needs Assessment will be made easily and freely accessible to anyone who wishes to view it.

“The Summa Health Pride Clinic applauds the work of Andrew Snyder and Kent State University in establishing a comprehensive assessment to better identify the needs of our LGBTQ+ community and looks forward to being an involved, collaborative partner,” said Scott Hamler, M.D., medical director of Summa Health Medical Group’s Pride Clinic. “From day one, our clinic’s primary mission has been to eliminate healthcare disparities affecting the LGBTQ+ community, and this project serves to assess a bigger overall picture of promoting health and wellness.”

While year one is fully funded, the team is looking for additional community partners and sponsors, as well as private donations, to finish funding year two. If your organization would like to become involved as a community sponsor or if you would like to become involved with any of the project’s various committees, please contact Andrew Snyder at asnyde20@kent.edu. Those wishing to contribute any amount to support this effort can do so at http://ksu.convio.net/GiveNowAkronLGBTQCNA

For more information about this assessment, visit www.kent.edu/publichealth/lgbtq-greater-akron-community-needs-assessment

For more information about Kent State’s College of Public Health, visit www.kent.edu/publichealth.

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Media Contacts:
Andrew Snyder, asnyde20@kent.edu, 330-672-8786
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Thursday, March 25, 2021 - 3:42pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 25, 2021 - 3:48pm