The word Ujima ("oo-JEE-mah") is a  Ki ("kee") Swahili* word that means "Collective Work and Responsibility": To build and maintain our community together and to make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together".  Ujima  is exactly what this project...this movement... is all about.

   *Swahili (Kiswahili among its speakers) is a Bantu language spoken in East and Central Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi, Somalia, and the Comoro Islands

​​Project Ujima, Inc.​.

Collective work and responsibility

PROGRAMS, SERVICE & PARTNERSHIPS

Schumacher CLC Teaching Garden – Schumacher CLC faculty asked if Project Ujima would collaborate with them on coordinating a teaching garden for the school. A faculty member joined the Project Ujima Wellness Circle Taskforce, which works with the school and students to help build, maintain and harvest the Teaching Garden. This collaborative effort has also benefited from partnership with the Akron Summit Community Action, Inc., Healthy Food and Healthy Families Initiative and support from the American Heart Association and the Summit County Public Health.

Kerr Park Restoration: The issue of a community park that had fallen into disrepair and misuse was brought to a community discussion circle. As a result of that dialogue, a taskforce was formed which put together an inter-generational team of community members to beautify this highly used community park. In the summer of 2015, Home Depot donated a beautiful community bench. This taskforce has benefitted from partnering with the following: a local Girl Scout troop, a graduating class from United Way’s Neighborhood Leadership Institute, and Circles of Summit County. Flowers are blooming, the grounds are improving and it is once again, being used for positive community gatherings. The park even received a Keep Akron Beautiful Award!

Project-based Learning Judges – Buchtel CLC faculty routinely call 

upon Project Ujima to recruit volunteers from the community to serve as “Judges” to evaluate Project-based Learning presentations from middle and high school students.  

Peace Circles – Project Ujima was invited by the Peace, Justice and Equality Committee of the Summit County Juvenile Court to collaborate, along with other community activists and organizations, in developing and implementing a Restorative Justice/Peace Circle initiative—a diversionary program for youth offenders. Project Ujima recommended volunteers to go through the training to become Peace Circle Keepers (i.e., circle facilitators) and volunteers to serve as community representatives to participate in the Peace Circles. Volunteers for the training were recommended from a pool of people who went through Project Ujima moderator training. Many of the community volunteers who currently participate in the Peace Circles held in the Buchtel Community are from Project Ujima as well. (Juvenile offenses in the Buchtel community are among the highest in the county.) 

Mentors for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) - A Project Ujima taskforce first identified the need for mentors as being critical in helping more middle school students qualify for the plethora of college and career readiness programs offered at the high school level. The taskforce then researched and invited to the table an organization in the community (BBBS) that already offers a quality mentoring program. The taskforce and BBBS collaboratively shaped the mentoring program, which serves a targeted group of seventh and eighth grade Buchtel students. This program serves as a BBBS pilot after-school mentoring program for middle school students. 

Tutors for Akron Public Schools (APS) – The need for reading tutors was presented by a participant in a Project Ujima community discussion circle, in light of recent legislation requiring Ohio third graders to pass the reading portion of the Ohio Achievement Assessment in order to be promoted to fourth grade. A taskforce was formed, and elementary CLC principals were interviewed by Project Ujima to determine where the most pressing needs were and how many tutors were needed. Project Ujima partners with the APS AkronReads program to recruit tutors for the three elementary CLCs in the Buchtel Community--Helen Arnold CLC, Crouse CLC, and Schumacher CLC. Tutors participate in the screening and orientation process provided by AkronReads.   


Service Opportunities and Partnerships

Programs





Knowledge of Self/African Centered Education

and African-American Read-In:

Through presentation of thought-provoking documentaries, movies, discussions, group book study, guest lecturers, and other activities and services, African and African-American history is explored and knowledge of self is expanded.

 
Wellness Circles:

Physical fitness activities such as line dancing, Tai Chi, Zumba, and yoga, are offered, along with education and discussion on important topics, such as minority health issues, high infant mortality rates within the African American community, achieving and maintaining good mental health, and nutritional eating on a budget.  These Wellness Circles are offered at regular intervals year round--indoors in the colder weather and outdoors in the summer.

 
Cashflow:

This program takes an engaging approach to exposing and raising financial literacy skills by using a board game called “Cashflow”. The regular playing of this board game helps residents of all ages increase their financial literacy and understanding of how to effectively use money to achieve their goals and meet the needs of their families. Discussion and regular opportunities to learn from people in the financial field about budgeting, investing and economic planning are available.

 

 

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Project Ujima promotes “a call-to-action process” through Deliberative Dialogue Discussion Circles.  Through our structured action-implementation process, residents and community stakeholders work together in taskforces to develop, organize and initiate programs and services that uniquely enrich our community.  This is done in partnership with local agencies, institutions, individuals, businesses, and organizations. 

Project Ujima works to secure volunteers who are interested in working on taskforces in service to our community. The taskforces are formed through the Deliberative Dialogue process, where the goal is to find “common ground” on enrichment services and solutions to the concerns of residents. 

This process provides opportunities for local providers to build relationships of trust with residents in the community by sharing information about their services, and offering educational and recreational enrichment activities tailored to our community.



Below are the current programs and service opportunites made possible by the

selfless volunteerism of residents and friends of the Buchtel Community

and by our wonderful partner service providers. 


We hope you will participate in one of more of the programs below, find your place of service, and/or join one of Project Ujima’s taskforces to ensure the continuation of the programming and services designed to fulfill our community vision.