Coca-Cola Executive Celebrates Anniversary with Day of Service

United Way of Greater Atlanta has a reputation for convening, connecting and catalyzing resources to create solutions in the community. When Ceree Eberly, The Coca-Cola Company’s senior vice president and chief people officer, wanted an innovative way to celebrate her 25th anniversary with the company, she called on United Way. Working together, Ceree, her friends, colleagues and United Way celebrated the special occasion with a day of service. It was a fun day to give back to the community. However, Ceree’s ultimate goal is igniting a culture shift in how service awards are recognized. Her vision is that service awards are not just about celebrating the individual’s achievement inside the company, but an opportunity for that individual to make an impact on the greater community. Here is Ceree’s call to action in her own words.


Ashley Hungerford United Way of Greater AtlantaAshley  Hungerford is a lead development officer at United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at


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Make Charity Your Family

By Christy Eckoff, Director of Gift Planning, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Christy Eckoff, Director of Gift Planning, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Christy Eckoff, Director of Gift Planning, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Many people have a charity that they support on a regular basis. Most charities depend on this regular support for the most basic of their needs – keeping the lights on, paying salaries, renting office or program space. But what happens when you are no longer around to provide this critical support?

Did you know that you can leave money through your will and other estate plans to a charity? You can also leave a portion of your retirement plan, insurance policy or IRA to charity. There are all sorts of tax advantages to doing so, but most importantly you are continuing to provide that crucial support to a charity you love. By making a gift through your estate plan you are elevating that charity to family status. Who else would you leave your estate to other than your family or other loved ones?

At The Community Foundation, I see people from all walks of life decide to make a charity (or two or three) a member of the family through their estate plan. Some decide to make an outright gift to a charity, some decide to establish a fund that will make payments to a charity forever, and some decide to make payments over the course of several years. How you do it is up to you – just think about expanding your family.

I encourage estate planning attorneys and financial advisors to ask their clients this critical question. Do you have a charity you would like to support through your estate plan? Provide charities with critical support so that they may carry on their mission long after you are gone.

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Technology + Nonprofits: The Perfect Match

From the way we communicate to the way we make purchases, technology has changed our lives forever. In fact, right now, many of you are reading this blog on your phone – something that was unfathomable not too long ago.

New technology provides new opportunities for nonprofits to make a greater impact in our communities. Here are three tools we use at United Way to help us share our vision, work more efficiently and even increase donations.

1. PeriscopePeriscope is an application that allows you to share and watch live video broadcasts from your mobile phone. It’s free and easy to use. If you can take a picture or record a video with your phone, you can use Periscope.

We first used Periscope this past spring for our Leading a Life of Purpose event. Nearly 400 people attended the event, but 367 more people watched via Periscope. One person was so happy, she posted about it on Instagram.

Periscope has proven to be a perfect way for us to reach people, and a unique way for them to see our organization in action.

United Way Atlanta Periscope 1

367 people watched United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Leading a Life of Purpose event on the live streaming application Periscope.

United Way Atlanta Periscope 2

A United Way supporter posted on Instagram as the nonprofit used Periscope at an event. The post says, “Sooo thankful for technology that’s allowing me to view the Leading a Life of Purpose event being hosted by @unitedwayatlanta.”

2. Skype for Business – Email is great. The phone is good. However, sometimes it’s better to communicate face-to-face, even if it’s virtually. With Skype for Business, our staff in Downtown Atlanta can “meet” and share documents with multiple colleagues spread across the 13 Greater Atlanta counties we serve. The technology is also helpful for meetings with our partner agencies. Skype for Business makes us more efficient and effective as an organization, and it keeps our overhead low by cutting transportation costs.

Skype for Business


3. Mobile Giving – Technology is making it easier than ever for people to make contributions to nonprofits. So, in addition to traditional pledge forms – both print and online – we also allow supporters to donate through text messaging. By texting a keyword to a designated number, our supporters are able to make a financial contribution of any amount. This option is especially popular with our young professional donors and at events.

In addition to its convenience, mobile giving also allows us to capture email addresses and phone numbers, so we can correspond with these donors in the future.

United Way Atlanta Text to Give

United Way of Greater Atlanta used mobile giving to raise money to help homeless female veterans.

I’m an IT guy, so of course I love technology. And if nonprofits want to thrive, they are going to have to learn to love and embrace these new tools too. You’d be amazed at how they’ll help your organization work more efficiently, reach more people and generate more donations so you can make a bigger difference in your community.

Eric Pressley United Way AtlantaEric Pressley is the IT manager at United Way of Greater Atlanta. He can be reached at


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Stop and Smell the Roses (or the Printer Ink)

By Erin Dreiling, marketing and communications manager at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Erin Dreiling, marketing and communications manager at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Erin Dreiling, marketing and communications manager at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

I work at a very, very cool organization. Every so often, that really hits me. When working at a nonprofit, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work – the deadlines, the logistics, the nitty gritty details. That was the case for me during the development of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s 2014 Annual Report. I was focused on the deadlines, the layouts and the photos. When it was finally finished, I was able to step back and really look at it. I was struck by a sense of purpose and discovery when I took time to stop and smell the roses (or, in this case, the just-printed ink).

The theme of this Annual Report was “What’s in a name?” As Alicia Philipp, our illustrious leader, so often says, everything you need to know about The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is in our name. This report includes stories that demonstrate the promise we fulfill via our name: we were built for and aid our community; we are a solid, strong and fiscally-responsible foundation; and we serve the greater Atlanta region; passionately seeking to make Atlanta better and greater.

I don’t want to spoil the report, because I really hope you read it (shameless plug), but here are a couple of highlights:

  • In 2014, we distributed $106.2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations. I’ll wait just a minute to let that sink in. $106.2 million! Those grants went to over 2,300 organizations and 75% of those grants stayed within our 23-county region. How amazing is that? Those are dollars that help nonprofits make art, feed people, fight injustice, educate children and rescue puppies.
  • 90% of those grants were made by our fantastic fund advisors through their donor-advised funds. These are individuals, families and organizations that are driven to make our community better by sharing their resources and that trust us enough to serve as a philanthropic partner.
  • Those donors and other funders gave us over $79.8 million in 2014, resulting in a milestone accomplishment of The Community Foundation reaching over $930.8 million in philanthropic assets.

Now, these are all financial highlights. You will have to view the report to learn about how we work in our community through an array of case studies of nonprofits impacted by grants from our community initiatives, stories from our donors and examples of our impact.

So many people work to make this happen. We have incredibly talented, passionate and hardworking staff. Our donors are visionary and a part of our philanthropic family. Our volunteers share their time and talents with us. We have so many valuable partners – civic and community leaders and other organizations that share our vision. And, of course, the nonprofit organizations that are on the ground building a better, greater Atlanta.

Pretty cool, huh? To experience our 2014 Annual Report, please click here.

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go (Pt. 2)

We’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child.” And yet, today, new articles and disturbing data about the best and worst places to grow up make me pause and wonder what has happened to my village? Not just my own personal network of friends, family members and neighbors – who I depend on for everything from picking up the kids, offering me sage financial advice or inspiring my son to read a book. But, how strong is the broader village that includes the grids of services and supports my immediate network can’t provide?

From NY Times

From NY Times

Living on the edge of a few counties, I am keenly aware of “grids.” Whose power grid am I connected to? Which cable or internet provider serves us? All basic functions of a “village.” I don’t consider these questions often, but when I wake up at 5 a.m., I want the light to come on when I flip the switch. Similarly, there are many critical social services that we don’t think about until we personally need them. Yet, stories like the one about the young woman from Johns Creek who died of a heroin overdose remind me that we need a strong grid of social and community services in every community for prevention, intervention and healing.

I choose to live in my neighborhood because it’s where I grew up and it’s where my mother lives. My neighborhood is not among the best places to raise a child. Lots of people reading this might suggest that we move. And many friends and former school mates have moved to “better” communities. And yes, that’s a good option for a lot of people and I don’t criticize anyone for having the means and opportunity to improve their situation and life opportunities for their children. But, isn’t it a shame if that is our only solution? I want this community to thrive and I want to make every neighborhood a good place to raise a child.

Check out this interactive map to find out how your community compares to “the best and worst places to grow up.”

United Way AtlantaGinneh Baugh is the senior director of measurement and knowledge development at United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at


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The Legacy of One Region Atlanta

By Brian C. Friedman, The Wellspring Group and board member of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Brian C. Friedman, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta board member

Brian C. Friedman, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta board member

I have been honored and blessed to serve on the Council of Advisors for One Region Atlanta, an 18-month initiative of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta dedicated to building a more inclusive and tolerant region by helping connect metro Atlanta residents of all faith and cultural backgrounds through civic engagement and community building opportunities. The initiative has been a great success. Since its inception, One Region Atlanta has sponsored arts and cultural events, helped initiate and promote public dialogue opportunities and assisted in developing or strengthening education and training programs, all dedicated to promoting understanding and relationships among our diverse community. In addition, almost $80,000 in grants were given to 19 different faith and cultural organizations, including capacity building and program support grants to several prominent regional interfaith organizations such as Interfaith Community Initiatives, Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, and the Neshama Interfaith Center.

One Region Atlanta was initially funded by a grant from One Nation, a national initiative established after 9/11 out of concern for the increased prejudicial treatment against Muslim Americans. Grants were given to a number of community foundations across the country to develop programs that promoted more inclusive and tolerant communities. One Region Atlanta was designed to sunset in 18 months, but its legacy will continue in our region for many years to come. The Community Foundation is working with Welcoming America, a national intercultural organization based in Atlanta, and the Atlanta Regional Commission, in hopes of establishing metro Atlanta as the country’s first designated “Welcoming Region.” The Foundation will also continue to work with a number of interfaith organizations to help build their capacity, strengthen their programs and expand their reach. In addition, much of the knowledge, information, and relationships gained by the initiative will be integrated into the Foundation’s ongoing grant programs and its work with donors and other regional stakeholders.

It has truly been rewarding to serve with such a diverse and dedicated group of individuals on such a worthwhile and important project. My involvement also introduced me to some amazing, life-changing experiences. I participated in an Interfaith Immersion Weekend sponsored by Interfaith Community Initiatives and even traveled to Turkey last October with 30 Muslim, Jewish and Christian community and business leaders on an interfaith pilgrimage sponsored by World Pilgrims. These experiences not only broadened my respect and knowledge for other faiths and cultures, but also strengthened my own Christian faith in the process. I was also able to develop deep friendships with some amazing individuals whose backgrounds are much different from my own. After having such a positive impact on my life, I am excited and dedicated to see the legacy of One Region Atlanta continue to benefit our region for many years to come.

The Community Foundation has developed a case statement to share the story and successes of this initiative, entitled One Region Atlanta: The Power of Partnerships to Strengthen Community. To view it, please click here.

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The Places You’ll Go

Do you remember Dr. Seuss’ book “Oh the Places You’ll Go?” The one about exploring the world, finding oneself, facing challenges and moving mountains? If you’re anything like me, it’s on your top ten list of graduation gifts – kindergarten, high school, MBA. No matter what stage of life you are in, it’s a great reminder of opportunity and possibility.
In the first couple of pages, Dr. Seuss says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” It’s an inspiring message for graduates that is full of encouragement and signals that no place or destination is off limits.


Recent articles and research have made me consider not only the places or opportunity before new graduates, but also the places where they come from. The recent report on life expectancy from the Virginia Commonwealth University highlights that the place where you’re from can determine how long or how far you will go.

The map raised for me that this is not an issue of one graduate and his or her individual choice of path in life. Even Dr. Seuss recognized that “you can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a lurch.” If people living just a few miles apart – relative neighbors in a region that spans over 4,000 square miles – can have vastly different life expectancies, then there are far too many who are being “left in a lurch.” This is a much larger issue that we need to understand. That our road can be cut short not because of our own choices, but because of where we grow up, is obviously unfair. An injustice. But why do children born in some places go on to live 8, 9, or 10 years longer than others?

Research shows gaps in health across neighborhoods stem from multiple factors such as:
• Unsafe or unhealthy housing which exposes residents to allergens and other hazards like overcrowding
• Stores and restaurants selling unhealthy food may outnumber markets with fresh produce or restaurants with nutritious food
• Limited opportunities for residents to exercise, walk or play outside
• Limited access to primary care doctors and good hospitals
• Unreliable or expensive public transit can isolate residents from good jobs, health care, child care and social services

“But on you will go though the weather be foul…on and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far.” Plus Dr. Seuss already told us, “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!…[we’ll] move mountains.”

So, though this seems like a big complex challenge, I do believe there are many of us out there who care about our future leaders – not only about the places they’ll go, but the places they’ll come from. So what can we do collectively to improve the places we go and we come from?

United Way AtlantaGinneh Baugh is the senior director of measurement and knowledge development at United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at




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What’s Your Compassion Rating?

Staci Lynch, Philanthropic Advisor at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Staci Lynch, Philanthropic Advisor at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Staci Lynch, Philanthropic Advisor at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Not too long ago I was introduced to the concept of a “compassion barometer.” I was attending a homeless briefing sponsored by The Community Foundation and the speaker began by posing a question: what’s your compassion rating? She continued by asking additional questions for everyone in the audience to consider, walking us through a self-reflection process on how to arrive at our rating (presumably on a scale of 1 to 10). Her first question was: when was the last time you wept for someone other than yourself?

Each day during my morning commute as I drive through the “Grady tunnel” – I observe the dozens of homeless men and women stationed underneath the bridge. On dry mornings, there are usually a half a dozen or so but on rainy days the count jumps to twenty or more. While I see them and I feel my heart tug every time, do I weep? Sure I get blurry-eyed when I read or hear about natural disasters like the earthquakes in Nepal or the recent floods in Texas. But do I actually weep when I learn of these tragedies?

How often do I stop and take a moment (or two) and really feel what other people are feeling? It’s pretty easy to acknowledge another’s pain, but compassion and empathy mean something more. They mean really bearing someone else’s experience or burden, one human being in exchange for another. I think that was the point the speaker was trying to make –she was challenging the audience to think more deeply about how we see one another and feel for one another.

As the parent of two young children, ages 5 and 3, my husband and I find ourselves constantly reminding our kids of the golden rule – treat others the way you want to be treated. In fact, the question, “How would you feel, if someone did that to you?” is a fairly regular response in our home. Perhaps that’s our own attempt to strengthen our children’s compassion for others.

To bring this full circle, if I had to rate myself along the compassion barometer (on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest), I’m clearly not at 10; however, my daily actions and life are guided by a very basic foundation of gratitude and helping others. So, maybe that gets me somewhere right of the middle at a 6 or 7? But if I accept that compassion is an important value, I still have some growth and work to do. And to talk about those values that are important, my husband and I still have more work to do for our next generation.

What about you – where would you rate yourself along the compassion barometer? Can you think of the last time you wept for someone other than yourself? How often do you stop and considered what it feels like to walk in someone else’s shoes – before passing judgment? If you have young children, do you talk with them about the values that you hold dear? Just a few things to ponder as the temperature rises this summer.

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Live United: The Collective Concept

What do a hungry child in Gwinnett, a homeless veteran in Henry County and an unemployed, married, pregnant mother in Fulton County, have in common? They are all our neighbors with problems that need our collective help.

How will we connect our neighbors with the right resources, create the change our community needs and serve as a catalyst to move the needle on important community problems? I believe, it’s a daily walk of life, vested in the well-being of all people. It’s a motivated passion, a lifestyle, which wakes me up daily. Together, we keep a collective eye on our community issues and commit to building it daily. Sure, we all watch the news. Indeed, we know what’s happening in our world. We also know we have the power, the passion and the commitment to change.

That change begins with identifying and marshaling the right resources to address complex community issues in the most effective way. It’s important to collaborate with many stakeholders: non-profit staff, volunteers, donors, partner agencies, local government and more. All of these community stakeholders must come together to create innovative solutions that contribute to our community’s success. Our charge, as concerned citizens, is to collectively invest our time, talent and treasures to enhance the quality of life for all of us. It’s more than one problem with one solution. It’s an all-inclusive process in an effort to build a thriving community. Together, we can create communities where all people, children and families succeed. I am excited to invest more in the solutions. Indeed knowledge is power and each one of us has a story, one that illustrates our work.

There are many people, companies and organizations invested in the total immersion in an effort to architect the greatest solutions. My dear community builders, I know you are busy creating change but I would love to steal a moment of your time. In that moment, I want to learn more about you and your community work. It’s like magic to see how your time, treasure and talent becomes a community building investment. Finding other world changers is like finding a long-lost relative. When we live united, we ARE one! Will you join me in sharing? Comment below – What’s your story?

United Way AtlantaAllison Todd is the interim regional marketing manager at United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at



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Ideas Challenge – How Innovative Ideas Can Spark Change

By Alicia Clay, program associate at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Alicia Clay, program associate at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Alicia Clay, program associate at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

How would you use $10,000 to improve education in YOUR community? The Ideas Challenge asked this question on Facebook earlier this year, asking for 150 words for an idea that improved education. That’s it. Just an idea. No budget, no board list, no timeline. Just an idea, a thought.

The goal of the Ideas Challenge is to inspire residents of greater Atlanta to create innovative solutions to critical community-based issues. This was the second year of this social-media based program of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. In 2015, three top winners will receive a cash prize up to $1,000 and a partnership with a local nonprofit to implement their idea with a grant award up to $10,000.

The Ideas Challenge has been such a refreshing project to work on for a couple reasons. Why do I love this program? The Ideas Challenge is innovative, collaborative and an inspiration. Our goal is to inspire Atlantans to become grassroots leaders. To think, talk, and take action in their communities. It’s a reminder that communities are built, improved and strengthened by the people who live in them.

Today we announce top 16 ideas of the 2015 Ideas Challenge. We received 200 entries from across the 23-county region addressing issues in education through nutrition, eco-education, entrepreneurism and even mobile education (think a classroom on wheels). These ideas stood out for their creativity, reach and potential impact. Congratulations to the following semi-finalists:

  • ABCs vs APPs, Kathryn Rice
  • Camp Success, Tonya Gibson
  • Community Champion, Tammy Greer
  • Creating Bilingual Communities with Dual Language Classrooms, DeShea Ware Brooks
  • S.T.E.A.M. Summer Camp/After School Program, Vanessa Johnson
  • Knowledge is Freedom, Tami Boyd
  • Nutrition and Food Literacy, YaQutullah Ibraheem Muhammad
  • Our Town, Diane Dierks
  • Recycling For DREAMS!, Debra Clark
  • Shop Class as Soul Craft, Elise Blasingame
  • STE(A)M Truck, Jason Martin
  • The Babysitter’s Club, Aneta Lee
  • The Shared History Project, David Burt
  • We STEM for Adams Park, Debra Robinson
  • Yoga and Meditation for Pre-K and Kindergartners, Robert Douglas
  • Youth Unifying Youth, Susanna Spiccia


These semi-finalists will attend a workshop on June 6 where they will fine tune their ideas and pitch to a judges panel. Six finalists will be chosen to create a short video explaining their idea and a public vote will determine the winners.

Be sure to vote for your favorite ideas June 25 – July 9 on the Ideas Challenge Facebook page!

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