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Project to Include Community Painting Event By MARTA MARTA’s public art program Artbound is calling for artists to design a mural that can be translated into stencils, so the community can assist with painting the design on concrete barriers at a new bus transit center in Clayton County. As part of phase one of transit improvements at the Clayton County Justice Center, MARTA will move bus stop operations from Post Way to within the center’s northwest parking lot. The concrete barriers will serve as a temporary wall between buses and bus shelters and waiting areas until the permanent structure can be built. The transit hub will serve four bus routes with 800 daily riders and this project aims to bring vibrancy and color to the site. You can view a similar project here: NY DOT Barrier Beautification Successful applicants will be muralists and painters who show artistic merit demonstrated in a strong portfolio of work, as well as a willing spirit to work with the community. Required Submittals: Ten digital images of relevant previous work, labeled with title, dimensions and completion date Statement of Purpose describing your general approach and themes you will incorporate into the design Resume with current contact information and to include any community-centered project history Two references Applicants must submit these materials in a single PDF document (not to exceed 10 MB) to [email protected] by May 29 at 5 p.m. The selected artist will be notified by June 5 and must submit a final design for approval before completing commission. Designs may not represent violence or be profane or graphic in nature and may not contain overt political or religious messaging. Artbound will pay an artist’s fee of $5,000 to cover design and creation of the stencils and will host the community painting day tentatively set for Saturday, June 27, with consideration given to current social distancing requirements. One percent of MARTA’s annual budget is allocated to enhance the ridership experience through visual and performance art.
By Metro Atlanta Chamber Last week, Fortune released its annual 2020 Fortune 500/1000 list of America’s largest companies based on revenues. Thirty companies headquartered in metro Atlanta are among the 2020 Fortune 1000, of which 16 companies ranked in the elite Fortune 500. In fiscal year 2019, these 30 companies generated aggregate revenues of $438 billion. The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) team aggregates information from the 2020 Fortune List on the MAC Research page. Find additional research on the region here. Fortune 500 Notes: New to metro Atlanta’s Fortune 500 list (one company): #316 Newell Brands – In 2019, Newell relocated its headquarters back to Atlanta from New Jersey. Newell’s headquarters is in Sandy Springs. No longer on metro Atlanta’s Fortune 500 list: SunTrust. In 2019, SunTrust merged with BB&T and became Truist Financial headquartered in Charlotte. Fortune 1000 Notes: New to metro Atlanta’s Fortune 1000 list (4 companies): #962 Gray Television – Gray currently owns and/or operates television stations and leading digital properties in 93 television markets. Gray Television’s headquarters is in Brookhaven (DeKalb County). #980 Primerica – Primerica is the largest independent financial services marketing organization in North America, serving middle-income households. Primerica’s headquarters is in Duluth (Gwinnett County). #983 Floor & Decor – Floor & Decor is a leading specialty retailer of hard surface flooring, offering the broadest in-stock selection of tile, wood, stone, related tools and flooring accessories. Floor & Decor’s headquarters is in Atlanta (Cumberland/Galleria area, Cobb County). #993 Rollins – Rollins provides essential pest control services and protection against termite damage, rodents and insects to more than two million customers. Rollins’ headquarters is in Atlanta (Lindbergh area, Fulton County). Metro Atlanta Fortune 500 Headquarters, 2020 (16 companies) Rank Company Revenues ($ millions) 26 The Home Depot $110,225 43 United Parcel Service (UPS) $74,094 68 Delta Air Lines, Inc. $47,007 88 The Coca-Cola Company $37,266 153 The Southern Company $21,419 171 Genuine Parts Company $19,392 177 WestRock $18,289 309 PulteGroup, Inc. $10,213 316 Newell Brands Inc. $10,083 350 AGCO $9,041 412 Veritiv $7,659 428 Asbury Automotive Group, Inc. $7,210 439 NCR Corporation $6,915 459 Intercontinental Exchange $6,547 477 Graphic Packaging Holding Company $6,160 478 HD Supply Holdings, Inc. $6,146 Note: -Norfolk Southern Corp., ranked #283 on the 2020 Fortune 500 list, is relocating its corporate headquarters from Norfolk, VA to Atlanta. The company broke ground on its new corporate headquarters in Midtown Atlanta on March 26, 2019. The new complex, expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2021, will have two towers totaling 750,000 square feet. Norfolk Southern’s relocation will bring approximately 850 jobs to Atlanta. Metro Atlanta Fortune 1000 Headquarters, 2020 (14 companies) Rank Company Revenues ($ millions) 553 Global Payments Inc. $4,912 649 Aaron’s, Inc. $3,948 671 Acuity Brands, Inc. $3,673 689 Carter’s, Inc. $3,519 692 Equifax Inc. $3,508 758 GMS Inc. $3,116 849 FleetCor Technologies, Inc. $2,649 852 BlueLinx Holdings Inc. $2,637 904 SiteOne Landscape Supply $2,357 962 Gray Television Inc. $2,122 965 Beazer Homes USA, Inc. $2,088 980 Primerica, Inc. $2,052 983 Floor & Decor Holdings, Inc. $2,045 993 Rollins, Inc. $2,015 Source: The 2020 Fortune 500 List, Fortune, May 18, 2020 For more on the Metro Atlanta Chamber, visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/.
By Jim Durrett – executive director, Buckhead Community Improvement District I tend to wake early. As I lie in bed, trying not to disturb my wife Pat and hoping that it is after 4 a.m. and (please!) closer to 5 o’clock, where once I reflected on my good fortune and opportunity, I now sometimes experience a twinge of anxiety as I consider the day ahead, how to navigate this sui generis moment and deliver on my promise to improve conditions in my orbit. In the world of community improvement districts, the time it takes to get from idea to implementation of a solution can take multiple years, if not decades. When the world suddenly changes, as it has in the past few months, you should ask yourself the question, “Is what we are working on right now the right thing to do given the uncertain future before us?” In other words, might future conditions in the public realm require some other response inconsistent with what you are about to do? My conclusion regarding our mission in Buckhead – to make meaningful improvements in the transportation network and public realm that connect people and places, and thereby create and maintain a safe, accessible and livable urban environment – is that what we are doing is still absolutely necessary in a COVID-19 world. So, what are we doing? A LOT! You can go to our website to learn about everything that we invest our tax dollars in to improve our 2.5 square miles. But I want to focus on seven capital improvement projects underway right now that you can see from Peachtree. East Paces Ferry, between Roxboro and Lenox roads, has long been known as a bumpy ride. When the City of Atlanta proposed repaving of the road using Renew Atlanta funding, the CID jumped at the opportunity to partner with the City and combine resources to repave the road from Roxboro to GA 400 and redesign it for people – not just cars. As of last week, it is now 100% complete, with final road striping just applied. Also included in the Renew Atlanta bond program was funding to address Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements throughout the city. Again, we jumped at the opportunity to partner and by mid-summer we will have finished repairing and upgrading sidewalks, ramps and street crossings on Maple Drive, Pharr Road, Piedmont Road, Roswell Road, Lenox Road, and Peachtree. We call the area bounded by West Paces Ferry, East Andrews Drive and Roswell Road the West Village. Sidewalks are in poor condition, if not absent, the streets have needed re-paving for a while, and the area has experienced severe flooding in recent years due to a lack of sufficient stormwater infrastructure. Construction is now underway to vastly improve the walkability of this area, improve the streetscapes and address flooding. Work should be substantially complete by November. The Buckhead CID’s creation 20 years ago was spawned out of a desire to address the traffic sewer that Peachtree, Atlanta’s “Main Street,” had become. The CID was behind the transformation of Peachtree from Maple Drive, just west of Piedmont, up to Peachtree Dunwoody Road. This month, we will kick off the construction of the third phase of Peachtree’s transformation from Maple Drive to Shadowlawn. This project should be complete by September of 2021. Travel a block north on Peachtree and you arrive at the intersection with Piedmont. We have almost finished redesigning the Piedmont corridor between Peachtree and Lenox roads to improve traffic flow while better accommodating people on foot and on bicycles. Construction of this project is projected to begin in the summer of 2021. I will be writing more about this project in a few weeks to give you a view into how complicated and complex a project of this magnitude can be. Lenox Road is a major artery into Buckhead from the south and from GA 400. We are in the process of redesigning Lenox Road, from the Lenox MARTA station, on East Paces Ferry Road, all the way up to and across Peachtree. I am very excited about this project because of a particular element that we are incorporating: a generous bicycle and pedestrian facility on the west side of Lenox Road right next to Lenox Square (see the rendering). In the coming years, we will carry the effort further north, but for now, the project’s design is 60% complete with construction targeted for late 2021 or early 2022. Head toward Brookhaven on Peachtree, past Phipps Plaza, and you come to the Wieuca Road intersection. Turn left on Wieuca and you come to a confusing and unsafe intersection where Wieuca splits off to the right and Phipps Boulevard bends to the left. We are partnering with the City of Atlanta to design and build a multi-lane roundabout at this location. We spent nearly two years determining that a roundabout was the best alternative here and we are now close to completing the preliminary design. Construction could begin as early as the end of 2021. When all of these projects are completed in just a few more years, Buckhead will be more walkable, accessible and safe for people on foot, on bicycles and in vehicles. To deliver these seven vital projects, from initial studies through construction, we will have spent $52 million in local, state and federal tax and bond dollars with $32 million coming from the CID, resulting in a better built environment for the people of Atlanta and those who come to visit us here in Buckhead.
We spoke with Atkinson about how a stint at a tech startup led her to starting Atlanta’s only female-led structural engineering firm, her love for all things ULI and how she serves her neighbors in unexpected ways. Malory Atkinson isn’t afraid to stand out in a crowd. Maybe it’s her penchant for vintage style. Or, maybe it’s her unique backgrounds in both construction and engineering operations. Either way, she has learned to embrace what makes her different — and how to leverage these to her advantage. As a co-founder and managing partner at Shear Structural, Atkinson blends her experience in technical, marketing, business development plus a stint at a tech startup to carve her own niche in Atlanta’s real estate industry. From even a quick glance at Shear Structural’s website, the first impression is clear: this isn’t your stereotypical engineering firm — and that is by design. There’s a well-populated Instagram page that illustrates the diverse employees and vibrant company culture. And the brightest beacon of change? The C-suite is all female. STRENGTH IN NUMBERS In fact, Shear is the only 100% women-owned and women-managed structural engineering firm in the state of Georgia. In 2017, Atkinson co-founded the company alongside fellow managing partners, Karen Jenkins and Holly Jeffreys. “We made a conscious effort to not have the name of the company be our last names,” Atkinson said. “We felt that was a little too traditional for us and could be something that makes employees not feel quite as much of a level of ownership with the firm. Shear isn’t just the three of us, it’s our whole team.” They also made the conscious effort to be as diverse as possible. “We have an opportunity to show that a structural engineering firm, from the leadership down, can look very different than people think — and prove we can be successful,” she said. “To some people, it’s just refreshing to be different and to look different.” They’re proud to hold a Minority/Female Business Enterprise (“M/FBE”) certification with Fulton County, a Female Business Enterprise (FBE) with the City of Atlanta, and a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification with the Small Business Administration. While they may be small, they are certainly mighty. The firm’s leaders have been around the block for years, focused solely on providing dedicated structural engineering services to architects, contractors, institutions, developers, and communities throughout the Southeast. Odds are you would recognize their past work for and at major Atlanta institutions including Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Westside Provisions District, Ponce City Market, Krog Street Market and 1375 Peachtree, among others. Since launching Shear fewer than three years ago, the firm has grown from three employees to 12 employees, is licensed in 11 states and engineered more than 22,000,000 square feet of buildings, including 12 award-winning projects. Atkinson is responsible for making all the operations run smoothly — from finance and accounting to HR and marketing and sales. Following its first full year, the company was added to PSMJ’s 2019 Circle of Excellence, representing the top 20% of Architecture and Engineering firms in the country in terms of profitability, overhead management, cash flow, productivity, business development, staff growth and turnover. “That was really exciting, right off the gate to be recognized as an extremely high-performing company,” she said. And the list of accolades goes on. Atkinson personally was named “Small Business Person of the Year” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2018, one of Georgia State University’s 40 under 40 in 2019 and one of “100 Influential Women in Engineering” by Engineering Georgia in February 2020. BUILT TO ADAPT Of course, starting a new business doesn’t come without its challenges — navigating through a global pandemic among them. But Atkinson approaches every obstacle with an open mind to find creative solutions. That sense of fluidity is reflected on her resume as well. When the Roswell native graduated from Georgia Tech in 2008 with a BS in Building Construction, she had been working for a small general contractor as a site superintendent and a project manager. “I enjoyed it and learned a lot, but didn’t love being out in the field,” she said. So, she looked for a job in pre-construction and found an opportunity with an engineering company that focused on marketing and development. “It was a whole new world that I hadn’t been exposed to, one that was more big picture and higher level,” she said. During this time, she also received her Master of Business Administration from Georgia State. Then in 2015, she decided to pivot again into a new field and accepted a role as Head of Sales and Marketing for 1Q, an Atlanta-based market research tech startup that created a customer engagement platform for big brands to interact directly with customers. “Typically, our industry has been behind the times and behind the trends, so I wanted to test my chops,” Atkinson said. “I knew I wanted to own a business in the future, so I’ve always taken positions to help me advance to the next level.” The startup presented the opportunity to build something new from scratch that nobody had ever heard of, and then bring it to market. They also offered her equity, and a chance to experience how her relationship with work and work habits might change if she had ownership in that company. “It was a good challenge for me to see how that worked, and it was an awesome experience. I got to fly around the country and work with the CMO at companies like Delta and Procter & Gamble,” she said. “The startup community is extremely high energy and very fast paced, with decisions made by the minute and things changing constantly. It was really cool to see.” Before long, Atkinson was figuring out how she could bring those skills back to the construction industry. She wondered: how could I set up a company in the real estate world to act with the benefits of a startup? “It’s all about being lean,” she said. “Culturally, …
Deron Davis, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in Georgia Georgia’s iconic forestlands are vital to the state’s economy and quality of life. These forests benefit us all by filtering air and water, harboring wildlife, and boosting local economies through the creation of jobs and domestically produced forest products. They also play a role in fighting climate change by storing carbon, the most commonly produced greenhouse gas. The business community is increasingly taking action to address its climate impact, with a clear eye on the potential long-term benefits to corporate reputations, financial bottom lines, and social responsibility. Corporate change is often driven by investors, employees, and customers advocating for corporations to reduce their carbon footprints. For example, Amazon’s $100 million commitment to restore and protect forests, wetlands, and grasslands in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, is part of the company’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2040 —10 years ahead of the 2050 target outlined in the Paris climate agreement. Many corporations are already relying on carbon credits— tradeable permits created by projects that store, capture or eliminate carbon emissions—to offset the carbon dioxide they create in the course of business and many more are looking to those credits to help them balance their carbon footprint. The forest industry’s economic impact on Georgia is significant. In 2018, it supported 148,414 jobs and contributed approximately $36.3 billion in economic impact, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission. With more than 22 million acres of privately-owned forestland across the state, The Nature Conservancy in Georgia plans to launch a Working Woodlands program to provide corporations based here the opportunity to purchase carbon offsets and support local forest economies at the same time. Begun several years ago as a pilot project in Pennsylvania, Working Woodlands offers participating landowners a number of benefits, including quantifying and increasing the carbon-capturing capacity of their trees. The goal is to help landowners generate sustainable income from their properties so the land can remain forested and continue to capture carbon into the future. Working with a global consulting firm and a steering committee of partners, including the Georgia Forestry Association and the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Conservancy set out to understand the forest landscape and the landowner perspective. Although Working Woodlands has been successful in other states, it is critically important to understand and work within Georgia’s unique ecological, culture and political conditions. The consulting firm also conducted detailed mapping analyses to identify potentially suitable properties. With support from key donors, the program will launch in 2020 on a limited scale with a couple of landowners while The Nature Conservancy continues to secure support to manage and grow the program. This process has shown us a way forward to use Georgia’s existing resources to help address climate change. The longstanding relationships and extensive infrastructure that already exist to connect, inform and support forest landowners will be instrumental in building and sustaining the Working Woodlands program. In the face of urgent climate conditions and a challenging economic environment, Working Woodlands has the potential to be a win-win for businesses, private landowners, and the people and wildlife of Georgia for generations to come.
By Operation HOPE For many Americans, navigating the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming. We are proud to serve as a financial advocate and intermediary for these affected homeowners, renters, and small business owners in facilitating financial recovery. Since our HOPE Inside Disaster COVID-19 response began five weeks ago, we have provided over 14,500 virtual financial recovery services, including credit and money management coaching, small business counseling and loan application assistance, and mortgage and student loan deferment. Many thanks to our corporate and alliance partners for their ongoing support! Organizations that wish to provide financial or in-kind support to HOPE Inside Disaster may contact Mary Ehrsam, President of HOPE Partnerships, at [email protected] Last week, our response efforts were featured by several mainstream news outlets. On Wednesday, Chairman John Hope Bryant joined host Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” to discuss the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on the financial health of minority communities. Click the video below to watch Chairman Bryant speak on the ongoing work of Operation HOPE and our response to the coronavirus pandemic. Find more resources at www.hopeinsidecovid19.org
Featured Image: Field epidemiologists conduct contact tracing in Uganda during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy of Aggrey Byaruhanga. By The Task Force for Global Health It has been more than two months since the World Health Organization’s declaration of the coronavirus pandemic and, since the crisis began, more than 5.5 million people have contracted the virus, nearly 350,000 have died, and people worldwide are suffering from the economic impact. Despite the challenges of “pandemic fatigue” as people tire of isolation, uncertainty, and information overload, The Task Force for Global Health is encouraged by progress in a number of areas as we continue to leverage our global partnerships and capabilities and pivot existing programs for COVID-19 response. In a Q&A with our public health informatics expert, Vivian Singletary, JM, MBA, Director of The Task Force’s Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII), Singletary shares about our work with the CDC Foundation, Google, Apple and other technology leaders on new and existing digital tools for contact tracing. Tell us about the partnership with the CDC Foundation to convene public health and technology organizations on digital contact tracing tools. Rapid contact tracing and notification of people exposed to infected persons is critically important to stop further spread of the disease. Several digital tools have been developed to support various parts of the contact tracing process, such as an exposure notification application program interface (API) – a cell phone application that can notify users if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 via text notifications – co-developed by Apple and Google. However, there has been no national-level opportunity for local and state health officials to jointly assess these digital tools and how they might best support contact tracing, so our partnership with the CDC Foundation seeks to create this opportunity by convening a series of virtual forums. What are the goals of these forums? The aim is to provide guidance to state and local public health officials to assist their understanding of the marketplace of digital tools in support of contact tracing and to provide guidance to technology companies to ensure that the technology meets the functional and privacy needs and standards required by state and local public health officials for contact tracing. As one of our first tasks, the group will consider the technology being developed by Google and Apple to support the development of cell phone notifications. With technologies like these, many worry about privacy implications. How do we ensure that this type of contact tracing is done ethically and does not infringe on privacy rights? Privacy is an important issue, and as part of this forum, we will explore those concerns as they relate to tools such as the Google/Apple API for contact tracing. Those discussions will help inform functional requirements that technology companies need to consider as they develop digital contact tracing tools to ensure they meet the needs of state and public health departments. We would also make sure to effectively communicate how the solutions being developed address those privacy concerns as well. Are tools like the Google/Apple API the only way we can do effective contact tracing? The Google/Apple API is an exposure notification tool, which is just one aspect of contact tracing. The technology can be used to identify individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and alert those who may have been exposed as a result of any interaction, which can potentially help speed up and enhance contact tracing and slow the spread of disease. However, it does not replace the important role that public health practitioners play in obtaining details from a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, as well as the details associated with their contacts and addressing the concerns and questions of people affected. With or without digital contact tracing tools, a public health workforce will still be essential to filling this role. Related Could We Have Been More Prepared for the Coronavirus Pandemic? Improving Quality of Care at the Core of Health System Strengthening Also See Public Health Informatics Institute The Task Force for Global Health’s COVID-19 Response
By Kate Sweeney During the COVID-19 pandemic, many once-mundane tasks — like dropping by the grocery store or pharmacy — represent a newfound degree of difficulty, and even risk. This is especially true for folks 65 and up, who are more endangered than others by the highly contagious coronavirus. In these times, many service agencies have stepped up or completely transformed the way they do their work. Read on.
Faris Albakheet, left, of Busboys and Poets, and Robert Laster of Saval Foodservice, distribute free food to restaurant industry workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic at Fourteenth and V Streets Northwest in Washington, D.C., on April 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo) By AnnMaura Connolly and Eric Tanenblatt, Dentons Ed. note: This article was originally published in Roll Call on May 6, 2020. We can’t spend our way out of our problems, but we can serve our way out of them together. The crises the United States knows best — fires and floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, school shootings and mass violence — have all been proximate to individual communities or states. Government and civil society are prepared for this backyard disaster paradigm because we’ve been called to respond to so many before. But the coronavirus pandemic is a uniquely national crisis affecting every nook and cranny of the country, and policymakers have struggled to develop a “whole of America” response. Predictably, the gut reaction in Washington has been to spend money — lots. But even as Congress writes trillion-dollar checks to stabilize the economy, the unprecedented strain on our health systems, schools and essential public services is so acute that stimulus alone won’t be enough. America will need to tap a well far deeper than its treasury if it’s going to pull itself out of this hole. We’re not going to spend our way out of these problems, but we can serve our way out of them together. Even in isolation, Americans are united and hungry to serve and help their communities recover, but few know how. New legislation introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers would connect this profound desire to serve with concrete opportunities to get the country back to normal by increasing our investment in civilian national service. National service programs, which augment the enormous contributions of community and faith-based nonprofits by mobilizing Americans in sustained service, are among the least funded in the constellation of federal agencies even though they generate some of the highest returns on investment for government and society. AmeriCorps is already on the ground working in hard-hit communities, just as it’s done in every local natural disaster for the last 25 years. All across the country, AmeriCorps members are supporting testing and contact tracing efforts at the direction of governors; assisting with intake at drive-thru COVID-19 testing centers to support the CDC; organizing blood drives; setting up temporary isolation sites; delivering emergency food and supplies to vulnerable populations; making support calls to elderly and medically fragile community members; and supporting students to mitigate the tremendous learning loss resulting from school closures. In schools, where students and teachers are making the bumpy transition to distance learning, AmeriCorps members’ work will be felt for a generation as they address the twin challenges of prolonged classroom absences and historic state and local revenue shortfalls. The longer students are out of conventional classroom settings, the more likely they are to slip through the cracks as already stressed parents step into the void as unprepared educators. As if the distance learning paradigm wasn’t challenging enough, research from the last recession showed that forced cuts in education spending tracked with poorer student performance and that downturns in families’ personal economies negatively affected students. AmeriCorps members are addressing those challenges in real time by providing meaningful virtual and academic support as students navigate this “new normal.” The limited funding currently available has allowed AmeriCorps to deploy 75,000 national service members to help address core weaknesses in education, the economy and public health exposed by this pandemic. But by leaning into the robust national service infrastructure that supports AmeriCorps, as Sen. Chris Coons and other House and Senate lawmakers have proposed, the country could deploy around a quarter of a million civilian national service members annually to help us respond to and recover from this pandemic. That’s a quarter of a million service members helping to teach and tutor America’s students, testing and treating our work force, and doing the hard work of pulling us out of this. The road to normal is a long and uncertain one, but one thing is clear: National service is delivering meaningful results in communities across the country, and Congress needs to support its vital response and recovery work. AnnMaura Connolly is the president of Voices for National Service and the chief strategy officer of City Year Inc., an education nonprofit funded partly by AmeriCorps and dedicated to helping public schools. Eric Tanenblatt is a former Republican board member of the Corporation for National & Community Service, the independent federal agency that administers AmeriCorps. He serves as the global public policy chair of the international law firm Dentons.
By Alicia Philipp, president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta Edgar Degas said “art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” As I read through the list of grants announced last week from our Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, we are at war with a virus we cannot see. While many nonprofits are struggling, the arts sector faces a particularly brutal crisis with performances canceled, exhibits shuttered and event educational offerings eliminated. It’s a sector that takes its lifeblood from the gathering of people, so even as businesses are starting to reopen, arts organizations are facing months with no earned revenue and an uncertain future. And yet – Atlanta’s arts sector is innovating to not only survive, but to remind us of humanity’s breathtaking beauty. The sheer creative ingenuity of these amazing artists – and all of the staff, board members and volunteers that are the sector’s oxygen – to ramp up and rally to keep creating in the COVID-19 age is astounding. Many of them have even banded together to create ArtBeatsATL.com, a free online platform for arts programming for those sheltering at home. A survey of 55 Atlanta arts organizations conducted by Dad’s Garage — about a third of the region’s organizations — showed a loss thus far of more than $10 million in income because of canceled performances. You can read more information about that survey and the impact of COVID-19 on our region’s arts organizations in this article in Arts ATL. Last week, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta announced $580,000 in grants for arts organizations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis through our Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund. Since its genesis in 1993 the Arts Fund has focused on small to midsize arts organizations with annual operating budgets under $2 million. The twelve organizations listed below were selected for grants during an open application and rolling award process. Future grants will be awarded every two weeks as response to the COVID-19 crisis continues. You can read the full press release here. We’ve also pivoted our A Place to Perform program to provide COVID-19 support, and grants are forthcoming. These grant applications were reviewed by Community Foundation staff who looked at how organizations have adapted in the current environment and their plans for the remainder of the year in an uncertain environment. Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund grants were then decided with the counsel of a panel of arts industry veterans. After the panel’s review of the applications, I thought donor Virginia Hepner said it best, “With these grants we’re investing in leadership from both organization staff and their boards of directors, recognizing that strong vision, leadership and innovation are essential to keeping our arts sector exhibiting and performing in new ways through this crisis.” While those grants and the ones that our organization will make in the coming weeks will help, Atlanta’s arts organizations are still suffering. They need your help, my help, help from all of us now, more than ever. It’s a crucial time that will dictate the survival of these organizations that are an economic driver in Atlanta and an essential component of our collective regional character and spirit. So, I urge you to give. You can reach out to the Community Foundation to learn more about giving a gift to our Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund. You might also consider a gift to your favorite arts organization in recognition of the joy they have brought to you through shared experiences. If you purchased tickets to an exhibit or performance that was canceled, consider the cost a contribution to the organization in lieu of a refund. Or, buy a membership or subscription to use later. Now is the time to support Atlanta’s arts sector. The show must go on – so let’s applaud through taking an action today, and together. Feature photo courtesy of Moving in the Spirit Photography: JD Scott Dancer: Briana Heath
By Dr. Victoria Seals, President – Atlanta Technical College In a moment of brilliance, famed NCAA Division I basketball coach Pat Summit once declared that “life is what it is, but it will be what you make it.” In the weeks and months that we all have been dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, those words have resonated deeply with me as I consider what to say to our students; my colleagues in higher education and the high school graduating class of 2020. Indeed, there have been moments of personal and professional frustration for everyone. No one enjoys having their routine totally and irreparably disrupted, but as leaders, we are called to move, think and plan beyond the current situation so that we are positioned for success on the other side of this pandemic. To the Class of 2020, know that your perseverance has prepared each of you as leaders in your own right, and now is the time to move, think, and plan for your future. At Atlanta Technical College (ATC), I am fortunate to lead a campus that has been laser-focused on producing top-notch, career-ready professionals for a global workforce. Our graduates are thriving in some of the most competitive fields in our region, and are making a significant contribution to the metro Atlanta economy. We educate and train many of Atlanta’s chefs, nurses, barbers, accountants, HVAC technicians, cybersecurity technicians, hoteliers, truck drivers, and our curriculum covers over 150 other academic concentrations. In this our 53rd year, we are proud of the thousands of lives we have impacted and the opportunities we have been able to create for so many individuals and families. And as we contend with the ramifications of the pandemic, I believe that ATC is uniquely positioned and prepared to have an even greater impact on our community and the economy by offering individuals a path toward being a productive and competitive force in tomorrow’s job market. Again, success, from my scholastic perspective, represents the sum of academic preparation and the ambitious pursuit of opportunities. ATC is that place where those equations become reality as 99% our graduates land careers after graduation – ranging from our essential heroes keeping the nation moving during our current health crisis to successful entrepreneurs who have boldly blazed their own professional paths. What does life look like as we emerge from COVID-19? Undoubtedly, there will be a greater focus on competently trained service and technical workers. At ATC, we are embracing our role in training and retooling displaced workers as an integral step towards rebuilding the workforce and stabilizing the economy as businesses rebound from the pandemic. Higher education is a business, and while institutions of higher education have taken a major financial blow as a result of the pandemic, our community and technical colleges are in a strong position to lead the conversation about what’s next and being instructive and prescriptive in providing recovery strategies for people and businesses alike. To the Class of 2020, I challenge you to think boldly as we emerge from this pandemic and pursue your goals with relentless zeal and unwavering persistence. In the words of LeBron James, recently shared during the nationally televised “Graduate Together” event, “After all this, you guys are prepared for anything.” I could not agree more. At ATC, we understand that educating future leaders and an essential workforce is an all-encompassing, ever-changing journey. Our comprehensive technical training programs are an incomparable asset in strengthening the network of the workforce and economic ecosystems, not just in Georgia but across the nation. ATC is prepared to offer the high school graduating class of 2020 with a proven path towards career acceleration and economic stability – a path that rivals many 4-year degree programs for a fraction of the cost. The opportunities for success have never been greater for ATC or for individuals ready to flourish on the other side of this global pandemic and economic crisis. The door for your future is wide open and ATC is ready to receive you with open arms. -Dr. Victoria Seals, President – Atlanta Technical College ABOUT ATLANTA TECHNICAL COLLEGE Atlanta Technical College is a vibrant part of the Technical College System of Georgia and was named its College of the Year in 2012. Prior to that, the college was selected as America’s Best Community College by Washington Monthly magazine. Most recently, Atlanta Technical College has been ranked as one of the best in the nation for online courses and programs. In 2017, Atlanta Technical College celebrated 50 years of serving the City of Atlanta along with Fulton and Clayton Counties. For more information on Atlanta Technical College and its 150 programs, visit www.atlantatech.edu. ABOUT DR. VICTORIA SEALS Dr. Victoria Seals is the sixth president of Atlanta Technical College and came to the College after serving several years as Vice President of Academic Affairs. Named among the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Who’s Who in Education” in May 2017, Dr. Seals serves as a board member with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Horizons Atlanta, and Work Source Atlanta. In addition to Board service with the Clayton Chamber of Commerce, she also chaired the Chamber’s 2019 Economic Development Committee. Dr. Seals received a B. S. in mathematics from Spelman College. She continued her studies at the University of Georgia where she received an M.A. in mathematics, an Ed.S. in mathematics education, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership.
By Frank Brown, Esq It’s no secret the past couple of months have been challenging for students, parents, and educators. Even so, at CIS of Atlanta, there are stories of hope amidst the chaos. Our site coordinators have been diligent in ensuring children have access to online learning tools and other resources to finish the year strong. From delivering fresh groceries to bridging the gap for rent payments, the CIS of Atlanta team continues to go the distance to provide for the basic needs of the students we serve. We recognize graduating from high school as low-income minority students with diplomas will not be enough to ensure they are full participants in the American dream like you and I. Therefore, the standard for CIS of Atlanta’s real impact has changed at this time in our almost 50-year history. It’s imperative that our students graduate from high school with a clear plan for the future. College, a technical or vocational school, the military, or entrepreneurship are the paths we help them choose. What makes our approach unique is we provide 360-degree student support. Adrianna, a student in Clayton County Public Schools, was referred to us last year. A young mother, she struggled to balance between work and completing her high school diploma. Oftentimes, putting food on the table left little time for studying. CIS of Atlanta Site Coordinator Renika Robinson connected Adrianna to financial resources for daycare assistance. No longer having to choose between the needs of today and the desire for a better tomorrow, Adrianna just earned her high school diploma. We are proud to announce she will attend Georgia State University this fall. Our dropout prevention program in Clayton County schools made the difference for Adrianna. This is how we break the cycle of poverty and address metro Atlanta’s crippling income inequality. I’ve written before of the impact guardians had throughout my educational journey, including undergraduate and in law school. Their support and guidance undoubtedly made the difference in my higher education success and in helping me identify a career path. That’s why our CIS of Atlanta students know that our doors don’t close once they receive a college acceptance letter. Student-athlete Christian is a proud member of the University of Missouri’s class of 2020. A first-generation college student, Christian received financial and emotional support from the CIS of Atlanta family throughout his four-year degree. It gets even better. Christian has been accepted into graduate school at Oklahoma State University where he will pursue a Master’s of Business Administration while completing his final season of eligibility in football. Again, we are witnessing generational transformation take place in front of our eyes. Adrianna and Christian have a community of support that calls them to be the difference for those of shared backgrounds and experiences. So many have supported CIS of Atlanta’s mission as we work tirelessly to provide education and wraparound services for our students and their families, particularly in light of a global pandemic and unprecedented unemployment filings. Last month, Black Entertainment Television, the NAACP, and the United Way hosted a benefit concert to raise funds for nonprofit organizations – including CIS of Atlanta – serving minority communities. Mercedes-Benz USA provided us three Sprinter vans so we could more smoothly deliver clothes, groceries, and other essentials to students and families. CIS of Atlanta is dedicated to surrounding children with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Our student support services will continue through the summer, especially as we help boost morale for those who were anticipating internships, early admission into universities, and much-needed summer jobs. If you are a metro Atlanta business in need of young talent this summer, or if you have another way you’d like to help our mission, I urge you to contact us at [email protected]