The Well CDC
MISSION & VISION
The Well Community Development Corporation (CDC) will work with like-minded partners to create affordable housing, a thriving economy, and place-making initiatives, while reinvesting worth, value, and dignity back into the individual lives and social health of the neighborhoods of Akron. Rebuilding community through relationships.
Zac Kohl, founder and executive director of The Well Community Development Corporation (CDC), was brought up in a historic church located in Middlebury. With a deep appreciation for the surrounding community, Zac volunteered his time to an annual summer camp for local children. He quickly developed rich relationships with the participants’ families. In doing so, Zac’s eyes were opened to the social injustices that plagued his neighbors.
Upon graduating from the University of Akron, Zac was determined to move his family into the Middlebury neighborhood. After purchasing a nearly condemned home, he dumped more than $50,000 into renovating the property. Spurred by a love for Middlebury, Zac continued to buy and remodel homes with an asset-based philosophy, converting “blighted property into marketable housing.
A few years later, several neighborhoods (including Middlebury) in the City of Akron hosted Better Block events which led to the inception of a community development corporation.Soon after, Zac enlisted the help of Tom Strauss, Craig Anderson, and Doug Kohl to bring his dream into fruition. The founding governing body established The Well CDC as a non-profit and purchased the same historic church building Zac was a part of in his youth.
The Well CDC sought to become a central location for neighbors, community connectors, and startup non-profits with the collective ambition to create equity in Middlebury. Understanding the felt needs of the community, The Well CDC also launched their three initiatives –Restoring Housing, Creating Economy, and Supporting Place ultimately advancing its mission and vision.
In effort to create a well within The Well, Compass Coffee opened in early 2017 as a coffee shop for all people. Compass Coffee was founded on the firm belief that the profits of the café would partially fund The Well’s housing initiative, encourage the local economy, and offer a communal space for Greater Akron.
The Well CDC continued to grow in notoriety by hosting events like Big Love Fest, Pechakucha Akron - Vol. VIII, and Summit County Eats. As the community development corporation continued to build capacity it secured a $240,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next two years amongst many other notable gifts.
Moving into 2018, The Well CDC grew to a staff of five and nearly a half dozen Compass Coffee baristas! With the support of both grasstop and grassroots leaders alike, The Well CDC set out to accomplish its three initiatives with great intentionality by launching the “60 for 60” Housing Campaign, Middlebury Placemaking Grant, and Akron Food Works – an incubator kitchen.
*Livingston, Doug. Knight Foundation sends $720,000 to Akron neighborhoods on the tipping point. Akron Beacon Journal. September 26, 2017.
The Well CDC
Our hope is proximity generates collaboration amongst support services available at The Well Community Development Corporation. Ultimately, strengthening the Middlebury community. In addition, we wanted to create a low-cost entry point for startup community-based organizations.