Akron Year-end, tax-deductible donations to United Way of Summit County can bring a ray of hope into the lives of families struggling to lift themselves out of generational poverty. Nearly half of all Akron children live in poverty more than twice the national average but United Way's Bridges "Getting Ahead" classes help parents plan and build a better, more stable life for their families.

The 32-session "Getting Ahead" classes provide skills and resources to people working to gain financial independence. Students are guided by a trained facilitator who helps them recognize the causes and effects of poverty, explore the hidden rules of economic class and understand issues central to the health and success of their communities.

By the time they complete the course, students develop a greater awareness of their own resources, as well as in-depth plans for a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

To date, more than 750 individuals have graduated from "Getting Ahead" classes. On average, those who complete the course have lower unemployment rates and go on to earn significantly higher incomes. This year, the program aims to graduate its largest-ever cohort of "Getting Ahead" students 200 by July 1 2017.

That will only be possible with the help of generous donors from throughout the local community. A $20 contribution will support one hour of participation in a "Getting Ahead" workshop. $2,000 will support a student's full participation in the 16-week program. Any increment in between can help bring a struggling family one step closer to financial independence.

Visit uwsummit.org/gettingahead to donate or to find out more about Bridges Summit County and its "Getting Ahead" classes.