MAP International, a global health organization that delivers medicines and health supplies to those in need around the world, has continued to respond swiftly and effectively to health crises as they begin their new fiscal ...
Transit Agency Hosts Three Pop-up Events This Week (MARTA is expanding its outreach efforts to ensure residents, stakeholders and business owners in the Campbellton Road area have an opportunity to weigh in on historic transit investment planned for the corridor. In addition to ongoing canvassing activities taking place at area rail stations and on key bus routes, MARTA will host three pop-up meetings at Fort McPherson LRA located at 1794 Walker Avenue in Atlanta, on Tuesday, July 27 and Wednesday, July 28 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on Saturday, July 31 from 9 a.m. until noon. At the scheduled events, participants will be able to learn more about the proposed transit options, take a survey to weigh in on the preferred high-capacity transit modes and speak directly with the project management team. “Campbellton Corridor represents the heart of a thriving, growing and evolving part of Atlanta that includes one of MARTA’s busiest bus routes,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “This investment will continue to transform this area by offering a high-capacity transit option that will improve connectivity, accessibility, and travel time while promoting transit-supportive development. It’s critical for us to share information and receive important feedback from those who live, work, and spend time in this corridor as we continue to advance this dynamic project.” Event Details Tuesday, July 27 Wednesday, July 28 Saturday, July 31 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 9 a.m. – noon Fort McPherson LRA Fort McPherson LRA Fort McPherson LRA 1794 Walker Avenue SW 1794 Walker Avenue SW 1794 Walker Avenue SW Atlanta, GA 30310 Atlanta, GA 30310 Atlanta, GA 30310 Refreshments will be served, and masks are strongly encouraged. Visit the Campbellton Virtual Meeting Room and Take the Survey www.Tinyurl.com/campbelltoncorridor About the Campbellton Corridor Transit Project MARTA, in collaboration with the City of Atlanta, is investing in high-capacity transit in the Campbellton Corridor to improve connectivity, accessibility, and mobility in southwest Atlanta. The corridor, which links the Greenbriar Mall area to the Oakland City MARTA Station, is home to established neighborhoods and businesses and is currently served by one of MARTA’s busiest bus routes – 83 Campbellton Road. This historic multimodal investment will greatly enhance the service area and transform how residents travel to points of interests while supporting the community’s growth and development for years to come. Contact the Campbellton Project Team For project related questions, please email Marcus Arnold at [email protected] For general customer service questions, please call 404-848-5000. To request this information in another language other than English or in an accessible format, please call 404-848-4037. This is sponsored content.
With the 2021 school year around the corner, it is vital that families in the Greater Atlanta area have essential resources available to them so that they can return to school as safely and healthy as possible. Thanks to Families First’s partnership with Starbucks, Target, and Kroger for the Back-to-School Bash on July 24, many of our families will be provided many of those essential resources such as school supplies, groceries, and COVID-19 vaccinations. This community celebration is focused on building community resilience, promoting family health and education resources, and food accessibility for all families in the Atlanta community and will highlight a variety of Families First’s nonprofit partners including: Raising Expectations, Moving in the Spirit, Partners in Change, Career RISE and TechBridge. Creating healthy habits is one of the pillars of building resilience in youth and families and The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc.’s (JLA), Kids in the Kitchen (KITK) and Atlanta Youth Rugby will bring healthy experiences to the Back-to-School Bash attendees. In addition, in partnership with Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), Families First is providing free COVID-19 vaccines for event attendees. KITK, one of the JLA’s signature programs, encourages healthy lifestyle choices among youth to help fight childhood obesity and associated adverse health outcomes. Traditionally, KITK conducts in-person instructional and interactive cooking activities to teach children about healthy eating. During COVID, the KITK committee addressed the challenge of in-person activities restriction due to the pandemic through reimagining its programming with new and creative approaches to reach children in the new normal. Kimberly Houston-Bryant, KITK chair, said, “The goal is to expose children to different cooking techniques, methods and use of tools, to create an overall comfortability navigating the kitchen.” The cooking activities needed to be fun while teaching children and parents safety tips in the kitchen, such as proper use of safety scissors or gloves. A chef by training, Ms. Houston-Bryant, or Chef Kim, also wanted to teach kids the joy in cooking and understanding its value. To achieve this goal, the committee created a hybrid model that utilized a virtual platform to conduct online demonstrations and distribute cooking kits to participants. This approach allowed for real-time interaction from safe distances and the hands-on learning children enjoy. At the Back-to-School Bash KITK will share with kids a cool treat and recipe to help them stay cool during the hot Atlanta summer days. Families will also get a chance to learn about rugby from Atlanta Youth Rugby, which aims to build community through sport and is involved in Atlanta and the surrounding communities in a variety of ways. Rugby – unlike soccer, football, or almost every other team sport, requires constant reliance on your teammates (and constant movement) to succeed. Rugby is the fastest growing sport in the US and one of the fastest growing scholarship sports. Key nonprofit partners of AYR include The Ascent Project, WINGS for Kids, CAMP Best Friends, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, and Atlanta Public Schools. Through community partners AYR provides Atlanta’s youth in under resourced communities with access to qualified and trained coaches with the resources to engage and excel in rugby. This provides a holistic approach to health solutions to develop overall positive youth outcomes including both physical and mental wellness. Serving over 3,000 kids annually, over 45% of AYR’s rugby players identify as female, more than 85% of the athletes identify from racial or ethnic minority groups, and 80% of their ruggers come from neighborhoods with low household income. The hand-on clinic at the Back-to-School Bash will bring to life AYR’s goal to build character and athleticism through rugby while fostering sportsmanship and community in a fun, safe, and inclusive environment. The hands-on clinic will include fun and engaging ways for kids and families to experience AYR and rugby. We look forward to joining with Starbucks Kroger and Target on July 24 from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm, at our Westside headquarters at 80 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. for what will be an amazing event for our community. FREE backpacks, groceries and other essentials will be distributed to get our families ready to thrive this school year. This is sponsored content.
Last week, the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) announced ATL Action for Racial Equity, a multi-year, multi-step action plan designed to help address the ongoing effects of systemic racism impacting the Black community. In just a few days since launch, 30 additional metro Atlanta-based companies ranging in size and industry joined the initiative – to-date totaling more than 180 participating organizations. These companies and leaders will leverage the size, scale and expertise of the region’s business community to advance racial equity. Invitations to the initiative remain open, and MAC is inviting all businesses across metro Atlanta to sign on. ATL Action for Racial Equity focuses on measurable actions across corporate policies, inclusive economic development, education and workforce development – critical areas in addressing the region’s immobility and inequity challenges. See quotes below from the region’s business leaders on why they chose to participate and why this initiative is important, now more than ever. Reach out to [email protected] to learn more. Ed Bastian, CEO Delta Air Lines and 2021 Board Chair, Metro Atlanta Chamber: “In metro Atlanta, our differences are our strength. We work together to make our community and the world better. We are not perfect, but we are committed to preserving and holding up this region’s legacy, especially now. As we tackle economic recovery, public health and the disproportionate impacts on our Black community, our business community must do its part. This is a moral and economic imperative as we work to grow our region’s competitiveness today and into the future.” Jimmy Etheredge, CEO North America, Accenture: “Accenture is proud to collaborate with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and business leaders across Atlanta to take action on building a more equitable future for our community. Together, we are acting, we are leading, and we are driving change.” Steve Koonin, CEO, Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena: “We proudly support ATL Action for Racial Equity and promise that our franchise will continue taking the steps and supporting the causes that lead to equity for all in our city.” Rohit Malhotra, Founder and Executive Director, Center for Civic Innovation: “The Center for Civic Innovation mission and day to day operations are designed to fight for an equity-centered Atlanta. The business community in Atlanta has a long and complicated history with equity in our city— we’re glad to see the Metro Atlanta Chamber call on companies and institutions to take measurable actions that align with their publicly stated values and sentiments. It is in this city’s best interest for this effort to succeed.” Jenna Kelly, President, Truist Northern Georgia Region, Truist Bank: “At Truist, we firmly believe in building more just, inclusive, and equitable communities by standing for social justice, denouncing racism in all forms, and partnering with people and organizations who are as committed to equity we are. As we continue to have intentional dialogue around the role we can play in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’re excited to join the ATL Action for Racial Equity to do our part in making a positive difference throughout Atlanta.” Mary Schmidt Campbell, President, Spelman College: “If metro Atlanta is to close the region’s stark wealth gap, we all have to commit to bold innovative solutions. Spelman College, committed to the educational excellence of the 2000 Black women who attend the College, is also committed to the educational excellence of students in our neighborhood schools. For the past three years, our students have enjoyed major success in improving the reading scores of students in our neighborhood Washington Cluster Schools. We intend to launch a program that will accomplish improvements in math proficiency. This commitment to the improvement of K-12 education is aligned with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s business and community imperative to advance racial inclusion. We are proud to partner with MAC in their strategic approach to advocating for equity.” Kyle Porter, CEO, SalesLoft: “The social justice and equity issues facing our companies, city, and nation are complex and intense. At SalesLoft we are committed to the necessary introspection, self-reflection, and action to be a more inclusive company because we believe it’s the right thing to do for our team, customers, and marketplace. SalesLoft is joining the ATL Action for Racial Equity because our internal efforts will be magnified and our progress accelerated through collaborative community work. Our community will become our ally and accountability partner providing the space to heed best practices, share wisdom, and generate ideas that will positively impact us all. Russ Torres, President, Kimberly-Clark Professional: “At Kimberly-Clark, we believe racial equity and justice are moral issues that must be addressed through comprehensive actions to enact meaningful and sustainable change. We are moving with urgency. Therefore, we are proud to partner with ATL Action for Racial Equity in this mission. Their disciplined, multi-year plan leverages the collective strength of metro Atlanta employers to support focused corporate policies that foster inclusive workforce and community development. With more than 1,500 Kimberly-Clark employees in the metro Atlanta area, this initiative is uniquely personal to us. We believe the success of our company depends on creating workplaces, communities, and experiences where inclusion and diversity are evident and thriving. Together with ATL Action for Racial Equity, we look forward to creating a vibrant and more inclusive region that offers opportunity, growth, and long-term value for all.” Elie Maalouf, CEO, Americas, InterContinental Hotel Group: “We applaud the Metro Atlanta Chamber on this initiative and stand with our peers in the Atlanta business community to advance diversity and inclusion. This commitment and collaboration reflect IHG’s values and inclusive culture, and builds on our own efforts to bring lasting, sustainable progress for the region and our colleagues.” Paul Bowers (Chairman and CEO) and Chris Womack (President), Georgia Power: “At Georgia Power, we deeply value the diversity of our team and the communities we serve. That’s why we are committed to creating an environment where employees and customers feel a sense of belonging and can be their true authentic selves. We’re proud to be a part of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s ATL Action for Racial Equity efforts to do the same here in Atlanta. We believe businesses working together to ensure equality is how we can make a collective impact, and we’re …
By Bob Maricich, International Market Centers CEO The feeling of optimism was palpable throughout the recently concluded Atlanta Market – International Market Centers’ (IMC) flagship gift and home décor market at AmericasMart Atlanta – as retailers and designers from across the country and around the world gathered again to buy for their stores and projects. They were bullish on business and energized by the opportunity to be back at AmericasMart. After 60 years looking over Peachtree Street, AmericasMart has seen it all: recessions and recoveries, booms and busts, fads and trends passing and reemerging again. Since 1961, the impact of AmericasMart and its events endures: there is no substitution for the in-person market experience. Urged by customers to maintain wholesale business opportunities during the pandemic, since June 2020 IMC has safely and successfully produced 16 buying events attracting some 160,000 market participants. The creation of a safety task force and significant dollars spent on PPE, enhanced cleaning, health screening and social distancing methods have proved more than worth it. Market participation has steadily improved to meet – and beat – pre-pandemic levels for our Atlanta Apparel Markets and Open Year Round business, and Atlanta Market is poised for better than full recovery in Winter 2022. According to a recent economic impact report, AmericasMart’s pre-pandemic impact on Georgia was equal to five Super Bowl-level events every year. As such, the recovery of IMC’s markets at AmericasMart does not impact just the gift, home and apparel industries we serve, but also the Downtown Atlanta community as a whole. We are thankful to the area hotels, restaurants and businesses that help to create a positive market experience for our 200,000+ AmericasMart visitors and are excited to be working together to get back to those historic levels. Each year, AmericasMart Atlanta hosts 14 Markets for the gift, decor and apparel industries, connecting thousands of buyers and sellers. The campus is open year-round between Markets with 400+ permanent showrooms across three buildings serving the retail, commercial and design communities. AmericasMart and the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC) merged with International Market Centers (IMC), a Blackstone portfolio company, in 2018 to form the world’s largest owner and operator of premier showroom space. With more than 20 million square feet of premium wholesale showroom space in High Point, N.C., Las Vegas and Atlanta, IMC has more than 60 years of relationships and experience creating scalable business platforms for wholesale commerce. With the launch of Juniper, a fully integrated omnichannel B2B commerce solution and multiline B2B e-commerce marketplace, IMC now provides the only omnichannel sales and marketing platform that seamlessly connects physical and digital wholesale commerce. For more information, visit IMCenters.com.
Christina Szczepanski, Managing Director, Southeast, Reinvestment Fund For decades, historically excluded communities in neighborhoods across America have lived with the consequences of the development process happening to them and not with them. Oftentimes projects are developed based on market trends and expected returns with little attention to what the local community actually needs or wants. Conversely, mission-driven real estate developers led by the community, often face significant financing challenges that create steep barriers for bringing these projects to completion. But community development financial institutions (CDFIs) like Reinvestment Fund have seen the positive outcomes that can happen when development is led by residents. One such example is the Historic District Development Corporation’s (HDDC) Front Porch project in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood in Atlanta. Reinvestment Fund connected with Cheneé Joseph, Executive Director of HDDC to explore what defines HDDC’s approach. “A developer that is committed to a neighborhood has a sense of responsibility and accountability to the community they serve,” explained Cheneé Joseph. “They understand that in order for their work to be successful, the community must be a significant part of the development process.” Since its inception, HDDC has been committed to fulfilling a long-term vision for the Old Fourth Ward, a historic neighborhood and the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The neighborhood is home to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Sweet Auburn Historic District. In the 1940s and 50s, it was the bustling epicenter for Black businesses and the burgeoning civil rights movement. It is home to the Butler Street YMCA, once touted as the “Black City Hall of Atlanta” where civic leadership thrived, and social networks were cemented. In the decades that followed, redlining practices destroyed the vitality of the neighborhood as lack of investment robbed residents of the opportunity to build wealth and stymied business growth. By the 1970s, the neighborhood had been split by the construction of the I-75 expressway and residents and business leaders were overcome by the lack of opportunities for economic mobility. It was against that challenging backdrop that Coretta Scott King, Christine King Farris and John Cox founded HDDC in 1980 to restore the community to the proud, economically diverse and viable neighborhood it once was. “As a community developer, HDDC is entrenched in the neighborhood and understands that the most successful projects are those that address the needs of local residents,” says Cheneé Joseph. “True neighborhood change occurs when funders, community-based organizations, residents and other local advocates rally around a comprehensive strategy and remain committed to achieving outcomes.” Much of HDDC’s work has been dedicated to revitalizing the community using a block-by-block approach. The organization has restored and developed over 120 single family homes, constructed nearly 500 units of multifamily housing and added over 40,000 square feet of commercial space—catalyzing the resurgence of Old Fourth Ward and Sweet Auburn. In the mid-2000s, the neighborhood experienced a rapid pace of in-migration as suburbanites and newcomers were attracted to these renovated older homes, infill subdivisions and a proliferation of mid-rise and high-rise multi-family developments, both newly constructed and in redeveloped vintage buildings. However, the Great Recession and the housing crisis halted redevelopment. The challenge now is to continue to revitalize while maintaining the community’s character and celebrating its history. A key part of that work is preventing the displacement of long-term residents and supporting them in reaping the greatest benefits from the community they helped build. Even with close to half a billion dollars in development in its track record, HDDC’s success has been slow and painstaking. Resources like technical assistance and capital are often not afforded to community developers like HDDC. But that hasn’t stopped the organization from its bold vision to take on the first major revitalization project in the Sweet Auburn commercial corridor in 15 years. This fall, HDDC will break ground on Front Porch, a foundational community project that will create a mix of retail and for sale and rental housing, a majority of which will be at affordable to households with 80% of the area median income or lower, with set asides for existing long-time residents. The name of the project, Front Porch, pays homage to the communal spirit of the corridor. Front Porch is expected to be a catalytic project for Sweet Auburn because the community will see a reflection of itself in the finished product. HDDC conducted multiple surveys, workshops and listening sessions to gather feedback that has been incorporated in the design and programming. Many of the Sweet Auburn stakeholders that hope to develop their property are looking to HDDC as the leader in the revitalization efforts for the corridor. The completion of this project will confirm that the greatness of Sweet Auburn has returned. When HDDC and Reinvestment Fund began working together on Front Porch, part of the challenge we faced in financing the project is that the underlying properties are significantly undervalued. The legacy of redlining, the subsequent lack of investment at a meaningful scale and systemic issues like appraisal bias have resulted in depressed real estate values, despite the very walkable neighborhood and its easy access to public transportation and downtown Atlanta. However, the biggest challenges to developing in an underserved community are usually overcome by creating a network of partners who are committed to seeing change occur. As Cheneé Joseph puts it, “Community development requires strong relationships with government, businesses and nontraditional funding sources. A community developer must be courageous and willing to stand up to the social injustices that are preventing our communities from being revitalized and understand that people must be more important that making a profit.” Several partners have been working closely with HDDC to support their vision for an equitable development in Sweet Auburn, including Reinvestment Fund, LISC and other CDFIs and Invest Atlanta. This support has and will continue to require innovative financing solutions that address the historical barriers that community-led developments face. These partners focused on responsive, flexible strategies to ensure that HDDC could …
The Back-to-School Bash on Saturday, July 24 brought together Families First, Starbucks, Kroger and Target to provide families with many of the essential resources needed to head back to the classroom safely and prepared including school supplies, groceries, and COVID-19 vaccinations. The community celebration focused on family health and education resources, and food accessibility for all families in the Atlanta community. “The partnership between Families First, Starbucks, Target and Kroger is a powerful example of the positive change that can happen when nonprofits and corporations work together to improve our communities. More than 600 neighbors benefited from the 500 backpacks and 300 bags of groceries distributed. We are so thankful for Starbucks’ dedication to education, health, and community and to helping Families First promote our mission to build resilient families so all children can thrive,” shared DePriest Waddy, CEO of Families First. “Target helped us make sure our students have the supplies and resources needed to help them succeed this school year and Kroger provided generous food donations for our neighbors.” The Back-to-School Bash included family experiences and connections to nonprofits focused on health, education and community including: Health CORE Atlanta Youth Rugby JLA Kids in the Kitchen Moving in the Spirit Metro YMCA Humana Education Raising Expectations NELA JLA Journey to Literacy MODA TechBridge Atlanta CareerRise First Step Staffing Community Partners in Change PAL Parents Prosper Atlanta CareerRise Metro YMCA “At Starbucks, we are about inspiring and nurturing the human spirit – one cup of coffee and one neighborhood at a time. We gave away more than one cup of coffee today via gift cards that were going out earlier, but this is event represents the neighborhood aspect of what we do. At the Black Partner Network, our motto is, ‘Keep it brewing.’ So, we are keeping the spirit and inspiration of Starbucks brewing in every community that we impact, and this is what it’s all about,” shared Wayne Martin, Starbucks, Senior Manager of Government & Community Affairs. In addition, more than 100 attendees completed the Families First Resiliency Needs Screening to gauge their resilience and how prepared they are to bounce back from life’s challenges. The Families First program teams were also on hand to help neighbors and families navigate how Families First services can help them. One of the students in attendance shared with the crowd, “Thank you everybody for the care and love you have for kids.” This is sponsored content.
By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President Access to basic and specialized healthcare in Central America largely depends on socioeconomic status and geography (urban or rural). Honduras has worked to improve access and quality of care, particularly in rural settings. Despite improvements to health services and systems, rural populations still have difficulty accessing basic health services and receiving specialized pediatric surgery can sometimes be impossible. MedShare continues to work with partners like World Pediatric Project (WPP) to address the pediatric surgery gap in Honduras. World Pediatric Project has been actively working in Honduras since 2002. WPP works closely with local physicians and hospital partners throughout Honduras to help close gaps in access to advanced pediatric healthcare services and provide capacity-building and training opportunities to local care providers. WPP’s Hunduras Orthopedic Program consists of three annual spine teams and two pediatric orthopedic teams focusing on training local surgeons while treating the many children needing the team’s expertise. This program also includes sending children to the U.S. who necessitate more complex resources that a team can provide. As part of the World Pediatric Project, MedShare recently worked with Honduras medical volunteers Dr. Rachel Thmposon and Dr. Tony Scaduto (both from UCLA’s Orthopedic Institue for Children) to provide pediactric surgery support to Hunduras. They led a surgical team to Ruth Paz Hospital in San Pedro Sula, Honduras to treat children with spine conditions as well as general orthopedic needs. MedShare equipped the team with over $140,000 worth of small fragment surgical orthopedic sets that had been donated to MedShare by DePuy Synthes, a Johnson & Johnson Company. These highly valuable sets contained surgical tools, implants, screws and plates required to address pediatric orthopedic needs. The spine team continued their close collaboration with Dr. Tomas Minueza, the only pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Honduras trained to treat children with scoliosis – a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. The team also collaborated with local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Javier Ardon to assist children with general orthopedic needs. The impact of the trip included 56 patients receiving evaluations, followed by 7 spine and 16 general orthopedic surgeries performed. “World Pediatric Project is so grateful for partners like MedShare who provide us with high-quality, specialized orthopedic implants, without which we would not be able to reach as many children.” – Alicia Manteiga, International Teams Director with World Pediatric Project Children are referred to the Ruth Paz Pediatric Hospital in San Pedro Sula from public hospitals throughout the north part of Honduras due to lack of medical supplies, medicine and functional equipment. The Ruth Paz Pediatric Hospital provides general and specialized surgeries. These surgeries are performed by local Honduran surgeons or in conjunction with US surgical brigades. Daily surgeries include: hernias, gallbladder, cysts, orchidopexia, phimosis, plastic, orthopedic, cleft lip and palate and specialized surgeries such as: cardiac, anorectal, maxillofacial, hip and scoliosis. The hospital has the only burn unit in Honduras where they provide comprehensive burn care. Support to medical mission teams like World Pediatric Project is one of a number of ways that MedShare’s Primary Care Program is providing healing and hope to impoverished communities while improving access to quality healthcare. Having key partners like DePuy Synthes provides high quality, specialize medical devices that are essential to improving health outcomes for specialized orthopedic surgeries. Since 1998, MedShare’s Primary Care Program has aided in strengthening the Honduras’ health system by: Providing 39 forty-foot containers of medical supplies and equipment valued at over $5.4 million and serving 500,000 patients in the country. Provisioning 70 medical mission teams from 28 different non-profits, humanitarian aid and healthcare organizations with over $ $220,000 in medical supplies and instruments. This is sponsored content.
Peachtree Demonstration Project Creates Shared Space on Atlanta’s Signature Street By Kate Sweeney In this 9-minute listen, the What’s Next ATL podcast spent a morning out at the Peachtree Street Demonstration Project, which is testing how a three-block span of shared space for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists works for all those groups. Listen here or wherever you get podcasts. __________________________________________________________________________________________ A quiet murmur ripples through the crowd when the paint rollers first hit ground — and begin to define the long, white stripes that will make up the brand-new crosswalk on Peachtree Street between Harris and International. “Yeah, this is the jaywalk zone,” says Glenn Alexander, who works at Hotel Indigo. “Everybody jaywalks here because nobody wants to walk up to either corner to use the crosswalk.” Alexander says that the new mid-block crosswalk is probably his favorite thing about the Peachtree Street Demonstration Project, which, this summer and fall, transforms this stretch of Atlanta’s signature street from four vehicular lanes, to two. Planters and wheel stops also mark the new boundary — and the new space created by these boundaries is dotted with small, colorful tables. Read more at What’s Next ATL from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). This is sponsored content.
On July 1, 2021 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in a highly anticipated voting rights case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case arrived at the Court as a result of past litigation filed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and certain affiliates challenging the validity of two provisions in the State of Arizona’s voting framework under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). While VRA Section 2 cases have previously come before the Court for consideration in matters involving redistricting challenges and vote-dilution claims, Brnovich represents the Court’s attempt at answering the important question of how to answer a Section 2 challenge to state laws governing the time, place and manner of an election. As summarized below, the impact of the Court’s ruling will have a profound effect on how courts interpret VRA Section 2 challenges going forward, and the ability of plaintiffs to challenge facially-neutral state election laws based purely upon allegations of disparate impact on certain groups of voters. The first election regulation under review in the Brnovich case requires that Arizona state residents who live in counties using an electoral precinct system vote in their assigned registration precinct if they choose to vote in person on Election Day. The second state regulation under review in the case makes it a felony for anyone other than an election official, postal worker, or designated caregiver, family, or household member to collect another voter’s early ballot prior to or after completion. In the underlying litigation associated with the case, the DNC and its affiliates challenged both regulations as in violation of VRA Section 2 under the theory that they caused a purported “adverse and disparate effect” on Arizona’s American Indian, Hispanic, and African-American voters. The District Court in the case rejected these claims, as did a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit. Those findings were reversed, however, in an en banc decision by the Ninth Circuit, which was subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court. Following review and oral argument earlier this spring, a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court reversed the en banc decision of the Ninth Circuit and upheld the legality of both Arizona regulations. In its decision, the Court held that neither regulation violated the VRA’s requirement that the voting process be “equally open” to all voters based upon a review of the challenged regulations under the totality of circumstances required by Section 2. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, noted that Brnovich was a case of first impression as it relates to the Court analysis of state laws governing the time, place, and manner of voting under VRA Section 2. While the Court refused to announce a formal rubric for analyzing Section 2 challenges to time, place, and manner voting rules going forward, the majority did compile a list of guideposts by which to conduct the mandated totality of circumstances analysis. Factors identified by the Court for this analysis included: the size of the burden imposed by a challenged voting rule; the degree to which a voting rule departs from what was standard practice when Section 2 was last amended by Congress in 1982; the size of any disparities in a rule’s impact on members of different racial or ethnic groups; the opportunities provided by a state’s entire system of voting; and the strength of a state’s interests served by a challenged voting rule. Since Arizona’s system generally makes it easy to vote (through a combination of early voting, permanent no-excuse mail voting, and vote centers), and because Arizona has a “strong and entirely legitimate state interest in preventing election fraud,” the Court found that the challenged regulations did not burden voters in a manner that kept the state’s voting process from being equally open to all. According to the majority, both requiring Election Day voters to cast their ballots at their assigned precincts, and requiring voters to cast their own paper ballots or use statutorily authorized proxies for such activities, were examples of “the usual burdens of voting.” The Court also rejected the DNC’s argument that Arizona’s second regulation was racially-motivated, finding no evidence that the legislature’s restriction on early ballot collection was “imbued with racial motives”. Writing for the dissent, Justice Elena Kagan argued that the majority interpreted Section 2 of the VRA too narrowly, and created a set of extra-textual factors by which to apply the totality of circumstances analysis mandated by the statute. Rejecting this approach, the dissent noted that following a Supreme Court decision in 1980 requiring a showing of discriminatory purpose to support a Section 2 claim, Congress amended the law in 1982 to “make clear that ‘results’ alone” could establish a violation of the VRA. The majority, however, took issue with this analysis, highlighting Justice Kagan’s focus on adopting a disparate-impact standard for legality under Section 2 and placing a least-restrictive means requirement on the facially-neutral regulation of voting by state legislatures. Given the substantial number of states that have enacted new voting legislation in the wake of the 2020 election and the assortment of legal challenges pending across the country regarding these nascent laws, the legal standards announced in the Brnovich decision will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the implementation and interpretation of state election law in many jurisdictions leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. Much remains to be seen in the wake of this consequential decision, but at the very least the Court’s opinion signals that neutral time, place, and manner rules governing voting will likely withstand Section 2 scrutiny provided that a state’s election processes remain equally open to all voters. The Court’s ruling also likely strengthens the viability of efforts around the country to implement and strengthen state laws restricting third-party ballot collection, sometimes referred to as “ballot harvesting” activities. Looking ahead to the important 2022 election cycle, Dentons Political Law team will continue to monitor key election litigation, legislation and policy developments nationwide and provide updates as appropriate. This is sponsored content.
By Lauren Thomas Priest, MNM, program associate, prosperous people, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta As a part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) have been expanded to give more families access to higher tax credits. Economists estimate that these tax changes will reduce the number of children living in poverty in the United States by almost 50%. Metro Atlanta is currently facing increased housing insecurity, food insecurity and an economic shift that has caused millions of workers to lose jobs that economists estimate will take years to replace. At a time when many families are struggling, these tax credit expansions are a welcome relief and critical anti-poverty measure. The EITC has been expanded to include childless workers age 19-24 and workers over the age of 64, and to increase the amount low-wage workers who are not raising children in their home can qualify for. The changes to the CTC include making it fully refundable, increasing the maximum that families are refunded per child, and including families in which parents do not work. Perhaps the biggest difference to CTC is that families are able to receive a portion of this refund monthly (the first payment went out July 15, 2021), in advance of filing their 2021 taxes. The monthly option allows families to use this tax credit to meet their monthly expenses, or to defer the advance and receive the refund in one lump sum payment when they files taxes in 2022. The tax credit expansions mean that families who have traditionally been excluded from receiving them, among them some of the most marginalized families and those living in the deepest poverty, now have access to these funds. To understand what these funds can mean to low-income families, we can look at how families have spent their EITC payments in previous years. A study by The Center for Working Families found that more than 80% of their respondents – tax filers who qualified for the EITC – reported that the EITC is important to help with necessary expenses like household bills and food, while almost 50% reported that it’s critical for making future investments like buying a car or getting an apartment. Additionally, according to the EITC Funders Network, the EITC and CTC can have impacts on families far beyond the current tax season. Children whose families receive these tax credits have been found to be more likely to graduate high school or obtain a GED, more likely to enroll in college by age 20 and earn higher wages in adulthood. These tax credits have been found to reduce food insecurity and lead to better health and socioeconomic outcomes for children whose families receive them. Luke Shaefer and Kathryn J. Edin, co-authors of $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, have been calling for a program similar to these tax credit expansion for several years. In their book, they wrote about families in our country living in extreme poverty (earning less than two dollars per day), and how our system was failing them. In response to the passage of ARPA and changes to the CTC, they write, contrary to many other anti-poverty programs: “It is pro-work, because families don’t lose the aid by working until they reach the highest income levels. It is pro-family, because poor and middle-income kids keep the benefit even if a parent gets married, unless their spouse has a high income. It is pro-child, because it treats poor and middle-class kids exactly the same. Rather than stigmatizing families, it sends a message that our society acknowledges the hard work of parenting and says, We’re here to help.” They also argue that the cost of these tax credit expansions are hundreds of billions less than the amount we spend on child poverty annually, and that the long-term returns on this investment far exceed the expense. The expansion of the EITC and CTC will help hundreds of thousands of children and families in Georgia, those living in poverty and those who are just a few paychecks away. Some of the funds received will go to immediate use, paying for medicine, food, diapers, utility bills and rent. And, some of the funds will go into emergency saving funds or towards investments that will allow families to gain more economic security, like a car to get to work or fees to enroll in school. Unfortunately, the ARPA did not make these EITC and CTC expansions permanent, and many families who qualify for these tax credits still aren’t aware that they qualify or how to access them. In the last 18 months, our region has changed in many ways. COVID-19 has laid bare our interconnectedness and the pervasive inequities that exist throughout our region. We need everybody in our region to help spread the word about the importance of these tax credits and to advocate to make them permanent. It will take all of us to help metro Atlanta to make an equitable and strong recovery. To advocate for making the EITC and CTC expansions permanent, contact your senator and representative to tell them how much these expansions mean to families in metro Atlanta. If you want to know more about eligibility, and how to access these tax credits, click here to learn more about the EITC and here to learn more about the CTC. This is sponsored content.
Next Generation Classrooms Elevate Student Experiences and Extend GlobalReach Emory University’s Goizueta Business School is celebrating the opening of three next generation global classrooms that deliver a truly immersive, dynamic experience to students from anywhere in the world. The fully renovated spaces and innovative technology will connect students with each other and faculty in new ways, elevate classroom experiences, extend global reach, and eliminate the limitations of geography. The initiative was made possible by a transformational gift from The Goizueta Foundation. “The goal is not to use digital learning to replace all of our traditional classrooms but to reach a different audience and provide a top-notch educational experience,” said Jaclyn Conner, associate dean for Executive MBA. Conner has been spearheading the teaching innovation efforts. This summer, Goizueta’s Executive Education and Executive MBA students will be the first to experience The Roberto C. Goizueta Global Classrooms, which create online and hybrid learning opportunities without sacrificing one-to-one connection. Goizueta has partnered with X2O Media—a third-party vendor—to power the digital learning platform that drives each of the three global classrooms. With multiple camera angles and state-of-the-art audio, faculty and students will be able to see and hear each other through a wall of 20 to 40 high-definition monitors positioned with each student’s video feed assigned to a monitor, all in a familiar format. The new facilities combine the best of digital learning and teaching technology enabling faculty to be highly responsive and flexible with students — through real-time polls that gauge the “temperature of the room,” breakout room options for small group discussion, whiteboard technology, and engagement analytics. “The ability to not only adapt but to innovate is critical,” said Nicola Barrett,chief corporate learning officer at Goizueta Business School. “As with other sectors, higher education and executive development is undergoing significant change from new entrants, new technologies, and changing expectations of professionals and organizations.” In addition to upgrades to its physical space, Goizueta Business School is further innovating by incorporating hologram-like technology that will allow professors to bring in guest speakers from all over the world – connecting students to the best and brightest experts. The university is launching “pop-up” classrooms that will allow virtual visits to cities like Shanghai and Rome where faculty can deliver “in-person” instruction without the carbon footprint and expense of travel. Further, the institution is harnessing the power of virtual reality to immerse students and leading business professionals in real-world experiences- like crisis management and negotiations – allowing professors to insert unexpected challenges throughout the training and test business decisions, leadership behaviors, change management, and communication strategies. “Goizueta will continue to deliver world-class educational experiences and opportunities for our students, said Karen Sedatole, Interim Dean for Goizueta Business School. “Through this new technology and our overall teaching innovations, we are preparing principled leaders to have a positive impact on business and society.” To find out more about The Roberto C. Goizueta Global Classrooms, visit https://www.emorybusiness.com/2021/04/28/the-future-is-now-goizuetas-digital-learning-innovations-to-enhance-student-experience-strengthen-global-reach/. This is sponsored content.
Blythe Keeler Robinson, President and CEO, Sheltering Arms It has been a year and a few months since the pandemic hit, and families with little to no resources, including here in Atlanta and the state of Georgia, are still trying to recover. Some of the most vulnerable Sheltering Arms families continue to rely on us for food, diapers and personal hygiene products, along with resources for bill and rent assistance and mental health support. Sheltering Arms had the pleasure of hosting Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia) at our Educare Atlanta Center to help spread awareness about the new Child Tax Credit – critical relief for families in Georgia that could make a big difference. Starting July 15 and through the end of the year, eligible families will receive advance monthly payments of up to $300 per child. They will receive the balance of the full amount when they file their 2021 taxes. This program is part of the Biden administration’s economic aid package, the American Rescue Plan, which increases the existing tax benefit from $2,000 up to $3,600. Imagine how this could benefit families living in poverty. A family that has three children under the age of 18 could receive an extra $750-$900 per month for the balance of this year. As a childcare provider, we see parents who have to make hard financial choices just to provide diapers for their babies, a necessity that is not provided through any form of government assistance. This tax relief could make a big difference in helping them rebuild from negative financial impacts and get back on track. Imagine the impact on our communities if Congress passes the Plan to ensure that families continue to get this relief for years to come. Some of the most under-resourced areas will become more revitalized as families continue to move forward on the road to economic recovery. And we will see children who are stronger, healthier and more successful in school and life. This is sponsored content.
By Michael Williams, Small Business Banker Manager, Bank of America Atlanta Small business owners in Atlanta and across the country are slowly but surely regaining their footing after a uniquely challenging year. According to new research from Bank of America, business owners’ economic confidence and revenue expectations have bounced back significantly since last fall. We found that 70% of entrepreneurs in the Atlanta metro area expect their revenue to increase over the next 12 months, and 84% attribute this to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. While these signs of progress are encouraging, we know that the journey to full recovery can be a long one. Below, I’m sharing some key insights from the Small Business Owner Report as well as tips to navigate the path forward as the economy safely reopens. Hiring New Talent Last year, unemployment rose sharply during the pandemic, forcing businesses to reevaluate their budgets and make tough decisions around talent. With 22% of Atlanta business owners planning to hire this year, it’s important to ensure your business is attractive for top talent. Create an application that is easy to navigate. As businesses begin to reopen more job opportunities are expected to become available. Create an application process that is quick and easy, but still screens for the experience level you’re looking for. Make your application mobile-friendly, too. Get everyone to recruit. Tapping into your current employee base can be one of the most powerful and cost-efficient strategies to find and recruit talent. Your current employees have familiarity with your company culture and the necessary skillset to thrive at your organization. Consider offering bonuses to staff who successfully refer new employees. Reevaluate Short and Long-term Goals Atlanta business owners took advantage of many resources and programs throughout the last year to navigate the pandemic, leaning on friends and family and seeking professional guidance. And while almost one-quarter (23%) applied for a business loan or line of credit over the past year, nearly an equal number (26%) say they will seek financing in 2021. To continue this positive momentum throughout 2021, consider these strategies: Prioritize your business plan. Sit down with your small business banker to take stock of your business’ current situation and business plan. Your small business banker can help you set realistic goals as your business’ recovery continues. Explore available resources to meet your goals. The Bank of America team wants to ensure small business owners have access to the tools and resources needed to secure funding. Bankers can also help connect business owners who may not qualify for traditional bank financing to our network of CDFI partners across the country. Consider the following questions: What new goals require additional financing? Are you looking to boost your headcount? Do you anticipate any structural or technological enhancements in the coming year? Operational Shifts Business owners adapted their business for the health and safety of their employees over the past year. As the economy begins to reopen, 78% of Atlanta business owners anticipate that the operational changes they made in response to the coronavirus will continue beyond the pandemic – specifically enhancing their sanitation practices and building a digital sales strategy. As digital proliferation continues, we expect to see more helpful tools come out for business owners. Consider a digital transition. Businesses across the country have adjusted aspects of their operations, changing primary revenue streams and shifting to online sales. As we continue to adjust, consider digital banking to limit in-person interactions and greater client convenience. Proceed with purpose. If you are a part of the 72% of Atlanta business owners who indicated they are committed to advocating for social change through their business, be sure to set clear and attainable goals. Consumers are sharp, and will be able to tell the difference between platitudes and substance. Overall, we’re seeing encouraging progress for the small business community in Atlanta and we’re looking forward to helping business owners thrive in 2021 and beyond. This is sponsored content.