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The MARTA Board of Directors has appointed Deputy General Manager of Operations Collie Greenwood to the newly formed Fulton Technology & Energy Enhancement Authority. Georgia House Bill 762 created the Authority to identify, target, and alleviate specific elements related to the underdevelopment of technological resources and energy burdens which result in poverty, then develop programs to address them. The bill acknowledges that these deficiencies hinder the development and redevelopment of impoverished pockets of Fulton County, and deny residents the opportunity for prosperity. “While Fulton County does have agencies and programs that work to eliminate blight, improve education and workforce resources, and alleviate poverty, none of these are designed to provide specific assistance in improving technological and energy resources and reducing the energy burden on residents of these pockets,” said sponsor of HB 762 State Representative Mesha Mainor. The Authority is governed by a board of seven members, serving four-year terms, who are appointed by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and agencies that serve Fulton County, including the Development Authority of Fulton County, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and MARTA. “MARTA plays an important role providing access to jobs and education for those living at the poverty line, and we take seriously our commitment to energy conservation and technological advancement,” said MARTA Board Chair Rita Scott. “Collie Greenwood oversees operations at MARTA and his involvement in zero emission technology required to launch our new electric buses demonstrates to the board that he is the right fit for this new Authority.” Added Greenwood, “I believe technology and energy enhancement play important roles in city building and improvement and I am honored to join this talented, multi-faceted group in pursuit of such an important, shared mandate.” Greenwood joined MARTA in July 2019 as Chief of Bus Operations and was promoted to Deputy General Manager of Operations in January of this year. This is sponsored content.
By Grant T. Michelle, Families First Summer Intern Growing up can be hard. The world seems so big and there is an endless list of options and directions your life can go, making the journey to adulthood a turbulent endeavor. Thankfully, there are other people who have previously or are currently going through those very same transitions who can share their own insights and experiences. In a segment from the June 9, 2021 event by Families First, Unity for a Difference, viewers heard directly from five young adults about how the pandemic affected them. The participants spoke on a range of topics, from academic successes to societal observations. These five young adults, all in various stages of academia and life, each offered a unique perspective in how they all built resilience and persevered past obstacles in their way. Hosted by Shan Cooper, Executive Director for the Atlanta Committee for Progress, and sponsored by Georgia Power, this was a truly unique moment from Unity for a Difference. One of these insights from the roundtable members relating to accountability, unity, resilience, and investment in education was when Makilia M., 19, spoke about resilience through this past year of socially distant life. “I had to realize that I’m at the end, that I have to keep pushing forward to make my goals into realities.” Makilia M. and Joshua P, are both current students in Atlanta Public Schools and participants in Raising Expectations which is currently housed at Families First. Raising Expectations has positively impacted the lives of children and youth throughout the city of Atlanta with extensive services designed to develop their academic, social and civic abilities. Joshua P., 13, shared another important experience with us when he talked about the struggles he faced in school when classes transitioned to online. He then also reflected on the time and effort put in at improving his academic standing and performance after those initial struggles. Ultimately illustrating an early-life concentration and emphasis on investing in one’s own education for a better future. “When I got the chance to come back to Raising Expectations at Families First, I got all of my assignments done, grades up, I have good grades now, and I’m better with communication.” As for Timothy C.,16, he discussed a very prevalent and vital topic to the health and foundation of our youth in the building of good mental health. He went on to talk about the necessity of having elders and peers who listen to what you’re going through and help you decipher what some of what you are feeling/have experienced means. “I think listening to the younger generation and how they feel about trauma that may have affected them mentally and then having the older generation sharing how they dealt with those things is important.” For Alex S21, accountability was what he saw as the most valuable and important trait people can have when trying to make a better future for themselves as well as for everyone else, including our institutions. “Accountability for our past mistakes, change isn’t overnight, it happens over time. And when policies have been in place for 10, 20, 30 years, some of them need to be looked at and changed to where they’ll help promote our future instead of taking away from it.” College student Vlada W., 23, also spoke about how the best way to collectively facilitate change is to invest in education and support systems that are open and available to all people. It is important to note that these young adults are our future. They are the future leaders of this country, frontline healthcare workers, doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, and somewhere out there is our future president, probably riding their bike on the way to the pool for swim practice. Our entire world is going to be shaped by the younger generation, just as it was 100 years before us and countless centuries before that. It is vital to impart to these younger generations our own life lessons when they ask for them or need them because we have all been in their shoes at one time or another. We should care not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because we were all once trying to figure out who we wanted to be when we grew up. For some of us, that will be a lifelong question we ask ourselves, and that’s okay. What’s important at the end of the day is that we, like Vlada, Joshua, Alex, Timothy, and Makilia, look within ourselves and to each other in both times of struggle and of splendor. To invest in both our own and others’ education, to listen and be listened to by our peers and elders while also seeking the help we need, and to be accountable for our and our institutions’ actions and policies. Our goal is to seek a purpose and meaning that is bigger than ourselves, to find strength in shared experiences and in the people around us. That is how we build a resilient future. ** Grant T. Mitchell is a Knoxville based writer with experience contributing to The Daily Beacon with a weekly column since Spring of 2020. He has been a co-host on WUTK 90.3 FM since Fall of 2020. Grant attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and has experience writing for film review articles as well as non-profit and public relations professional writings. 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 Jim Durrett, president of Buckhead Coalition and executive director of the Buckhead CID In 2020, responding to increasing concerns about crime and its impacts in Buckhead, the Buckhead Coalition took a leadership role in working with many partners in the development and implementation of what has become the Buckhead Security Plan. We continue to promote investment in this plan and urge you to take a look at it if you are wondering what you can do to help. Beyond the care and feeding of the Security Plan, we have developed a Public Safety Platform to clearly communicate what we support as immediate, actionable steps that should be taken by the City of Atlanta to effectively address crime in Buckhead and across our city. Our six-point platform is grounded in the consideration of not only the ordinances that have recently been adopted by the City of Atlanta in response to recent criminal activity and announcements from the City’s administration related to public safety, but also consideration of what we have learned from others as we have deliberated about our role as advocates for the Buckhead community. The platform is not a list of everything that needs to be done, but we believe them to be necessary and of greatest priority. Buckhead Coalition – Public Safety Platform As recruitment of police officers advances with due urgency, achieve proportionately fair staffing levels within Zone 2 of the Atlanta Police Department. Conduct more rigorous policing, criminal prosecution and sentencing of individuals illegally possessing firearms and/or committing gun-related crimes. Begin rigorous policing of nuisance properties using the tools that the city already has in the alcohol code to enforce the law. Work with Fulton County to ensure that their courts are open and effectively prosecuting offenders who too often return to repeat their offences. Resolve the impasse with Fulton County regarding the Fulton County Jail and the Atlanta City Detention Center. Eliminate aggressive water/beverage sales and street racing by using new tactics. Ultimately, we must all work together to address the root causes of criminal activity. The Buckhead Coalition will continue to explore how we may play a productive role in such an effort, as do many of our individual members already. This is sponsored content.
By Sara Haas, Director, Southeast Market, Enterprise Community Partners Columbia at Capitol View in Adair Park has ample green space, sits along the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail, and provides quality, affordable housing to the residents of all its units. But until quite recently, it didn’t look like this. Not too long ago, Capitol View, a 120-unit apartment complex built in 1948, was in disrepair, and though it remained affordable to people with lower incomes, things were changing fast. Adair Park was gentrifying, and residents worried that their rents would soon balloon to unaffordable levels. But developer Columbia Residential stepped in, partnering with public, private, and philanthropic entities and utilizing federal tax credits to renovate the property and ensure it remained affordable. Capitol View, before it was preserved, was a microcosm of what is happening all over Atlanta. The housing market is booming, and the Atlanta metro is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. With that influx of new people comes the need for housing, and rents are steadily rising. According to federal guidelines, an affordable home should cost no more than 30 percent of a household’s income. The 2019 American Community Survey reported that the median household income in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro area was $71,000. An Enterprise analysis of this data found that there are an estimated 560,000 rental units in the metro area that are affordable to households earning no more than 60% of the median, meaning monthly rents are $1,065 or below. This housing stock is affordable to Atlanta’s service industry, teachers, retirees and more. Of these, 495,000 – 88% – are unsubsidized, which means there are no resources or regulations that keep them affordable as neighborhoods change. Atlanta can and should continue to build more affordable housing, but the region must act quickly to protect and preserve the subsidized and unsubsidized affordable housing we already have. On the policy front, Atlanta can start with property tax relief. As neighborhoods gentrify, property values, and thus property taxes, increase, making it difficult for landlords and developers to keep costs down without raising rents. Creative solutions to rising property taxes could prevent them from having to make that choice. It is also important to ensure affordable rentals that are up for sale fall into the right hands. Atlanta can consider a “right of first refusal,” as several other regions have adopted, which gives mission-driven companies and nonprofits intending to keep units affordable the opportunity to purchase properties without competing against predatory developers and investment firms. On the financial side, Atlanta should work to increase the amount of preservation capital and level of organizational support flowing to mission-driven developers so they can keep their units affordable and have the resources to acquire properties with expiring restrictions, particularly when affordable regulatory restrictions through the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program—the most successful creator of affordable housing in history—end after 15 or 30 years. Preservation capital can come from a range of sources: Enterprise’s Conventional Equity program is one example of how private funds can support preservation. Philanthropic funding helps to fill the gap between government subsidy and private investment. And emerging public, private, and philanthropic coordination efforts like the HouseATL Funders Collective can also help direct resources toward affordable housing preservation. Our region has recognized the value of partnership: the Metro Atlanta Housing Strategy includes a Metro Atlanta Preservation Collaborative in which representatives from the 10-county metro area meet quarterly to strategize around proactive preservation efforts. This type of collaboration is essential to saving—and growing—Atlanta’s affordable housing stock. Finally, Atlanta’s housing preservation strategy must involve property owners every step of the way. We must continue to educate housing owners on the many resources available to help them maintain their properties and keep costs down, from the federal Section 8 housing choice voucher program to local training programs on how to minimize operating costs. Bringing in new public and private partners can lead to innovative programs that support landlords in new ways; for example, in Los Angeles, Enterprise partnered with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, Avail, and local nonprofit the Coalition for Responsible Community Development to launch the Local Rental Owners Collaborative (LROC), which utilized philanthropic funding to address rent arrears that accumulated as a result of Covid-19. LROC provides relief for tenants while ensuring small landlords have the funds to maintain their buildings and keep them affordable. As Atlanta continues to expand and the need for housing grows, preservation must remain a central part of the strategy to ensure that housing can remain affordable for everyone. By combining new policies with resources and support from across sectors, we can get there. This is sponsored content.
“Financial Literacy for All” Initiative Includes Walmart, Disney, Bank of America, Walgreens, Delta Air Lines, NFL and NBA, Khan Academy, Operation HOPE and Ares Management Recently, a prominent group of business, sports, entertainment, and nonprofit leaders are coming together today to launch “Financial Literacy for All,” a national initiative to support embedding financial literacy into American culture. This 10-year commitment will reach millions of youth and working adults enabling them to achieve greater financial success for themselves and their families. The group of leaders initially engaged in this effort include Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart; Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Company; Brian Moynihan, Chairman and CEO of Bank of America; Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens; Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines; Roger Goodell, Commissioner of NFL; Adam Silver, Commissioner of NBA; Sal Khan, Founder and CEO of the Khan Academy; Tony Ressler, Executive Chair of Ares Management and Principal Owner of the Atlanta Hawks; and John Hope Bryant, Chair and CEO of Operation HOPE. Messrs, McMillon and Bryant will serve as Co-Chairs of “Financial Literacy for All,” with expectation that the initiative will expand as additional organizations sign-on. “I believe we are in a moment in history, where the public and private sector can join together to help every American reach their potential and fully participate in the greatest economy on earth,” said John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE. “With this initiative, we are not just seeking to change America’s relationship with their finances, but to change their mindset on what they can accomplish. I began Operation HOPE 29 years ago with a vision that financial literacy can change the fortunes of those who are less fortunate. I am excited to launch this initiative and build on that vision – to embed financial literacy back into our culture, while truly engaging all of America where they learn, work and celebrate.” “Financial well-being begins with good pay and benefits, but it also includes real opportunity for career growth and access to tools and resources that help manage daily financial needs, build greater financial resiliency and plan for retirement.” said Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO. “We’ve been raising wages for years and that will continue. In February, we announced raises for our 425,000 digital and stocking associates in our U.S. stores, and by the end of the fiscal year two-thirds of our U.S. store-level roles will be full-time with consistent schedules. We are providing innovative digital tools that help associates, at all income levels, manage their daily cash flow and build savings. Through our 401(k) and Associate Stock Purchase Program, both with company match, we’re helping associates plan and save for their future. All these efforts are supported by robust learning resources to help associates with effective money management, financial planning and protection, savings and investment strategies. We are inspired by Operation Hope’s vision and look forward to collaborating with other major employers to discover new and better ways to support and engage our associates along their individual financial well-being journey.” Underscoring the need for financial literacy, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s current Investor Education Foundation survey found that only one-third of U.S. residents surveyed could answer basic questions about interest rates, financial risk and mortgage rates—down by nearly one-quarter from 2009. In addition, the cost of financial illiteracy to U.S. citizens is estimated to be $415 billion for 2020, according to a recent study by National Financial Educators Council. Given the importance and societal impact of financial literacy and with a goal to expand people’s access to opportunities, these organizations are acting now—leveraging their collective innovative and creative expertise as well as their daily interaction with millions of employees, clients, customers and suppliers to spur a national movement of financial capability. This alignment of vision and mission is supported by: Making financial literacy easier to understand and generating public awareness of its importance by directly connecting with working adults. Providing targeted outreach to middle and high school students as well as those attending community college and 4-year universities with innovative outreach and existing “Best Practices.” Specific steps include promotion of a recently launched educational video series from Walmart that will reach more than a million of its associates; all 80,000 Delta people in the US will have access to in-person and/or virtual Operation HOPE coaches and curriculum starting July 12; and Bank of America will expand access to its award-winning Better Money Habits® platform. Additionally, the following have or will occur in the near future: On June 3rd, The Disney Institute convened a group of leaders from each of the Founding Partners for a virtual conference to examine historical approaches to financial literacy, share their experiences and outline an actionable vision for the future. Announce the first wave of partnering organizations joining as signatories. Provide a Resource Directory of nonprofits and agencies currently offering best-in-class resources in the financial literacy space. To follow the progress and expansion of “Financial Literacy for All,” please visit FL4A.org. This is sponsored content.
By Dr. Kashef Ijaz, Vice President-Health, The Carter Center Following on my commentary last month regarding health care capacity building at the community level, it’s fitting now to acknowledge our government partners’ eagerness and ability to exercise ownership of programs taking place within their borders. A prime example is the Carter Center’s Public Health Training Initiative. PHTI is a joint effort between The Carter Center and the federal ministries of health in partner countries to increase the number of health professionals who will focus on improving maternal and child health — a significant need in many countries. The initiative focuses on: Enhancing the learning environment of adult students enrolled in state health science training institutions. Improving the competency of health science educators and health professionals by training them how to employ effective teaching methods. Producing learning materials tailored to each country’s context and health needs. The goal is a better-trained health workforce that has been educated in a system that is self-sustaining. Some of the graduates will become tomorrow’s instructors, so the improvements are perpetuated through succeeding cohorts of learners and care generally advances. Since 2017, The Carter Center has worked with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health to fortify the health care workforce in six states in Nigeria, enhancing the skills of community health workers to improve maternal and child health. Recently, the Nigeria Public Health Training Initiative transitioned from a Carter Center-assisted project to state-level ownership in each state. “Nigeria has a great need to train and keep healthcare professionals in the country,” said Alhaji Abubakar Tambuwal, provost of the College of Nursing Science, Sokoto state. “The Carter Center worked with us to help strengthen this training so our health workers can provide essential life-saving care, such as safe pregnancy and delivery services for mothers and child immunizations. “With tools, training, and resources from The Carter Center, the project advanced to the point where it could be fully absorbed by Sokoto state. The Center has done its job here, and so have we!” In addition to training in didactic methods, The Carter Center provided classroom furniture, desktop computers, office furniture, laboratory equipment, textbooks, teaching and learning aids, computer training, internet service, and equipment demonstrations. The impact is evident in academic performance, Tambuwal said. The pass rate at his school on both the nursing and midwifery certification exams increased from 65% in 2016 to 100% in 2019, he said. A public health training initiative also was completed in Ethiopia from 1997-2010. The Ethiopian Public Health Training Initiative worked successfully in partnership with seven Ethiopian universities and the Ethiopia Ministries of Health and Education to address the dangerous void in rural health services for 75 million Ethiopians. In addition, we intend to continue public health training in Sudan, which aims to enhance the skills of 10,000 midwives and community health workers, as well as 9,000 medical assistants, sanitary overseers, anesthesia technicians, and surgical attendants. Sudan is focused on reducing infant and maternal mortality, and The Carter Center hopes to facilitate as much as possible to help reach that goal in a real and sustainable way. This is sponsored content.
By Aixa Pascual Last year, Mamie Rogers and her husband, Star Lee, patched their leaky roof. The leak wouldn’t stop, and they had to add fresh patches earlier this year. Even then, water continued to seep through the roof of their southwest Atlanta home. The retired couple couldn’t afford a new roof, which they estimated would cost about $7,000. The pandemic, unexpectedly, provided a permanent fix for Mamie and Star Lee. This past year, COVID-19 federal relief funds went to provide a range of services for home-bound older adults. This freed up monies for Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), metro Atlanta’s Area Agency on Aging, to provide one-time funding for home repairs to allow older adults to age in place. So this spring, Mamie and Star Lee, a Navy veteran, were able to replace their roof, which was 18 years old. Thanks to an ARC grant given to Meals on Wheels Atlanta that funds home modifications for adults age 60 and over, their house got a new roof. Read on, at What’s Next ATL. This is sponsored content.
Our Public Policy team has been following every twist and turn of President Biden’s first 100 days in office, captured in this primer that examines the landscape in Washington, DC, currently, and also assesses Congressional and Administration priorities through the remainder of 2021. Features of this report include: Biden Administration: Status of First 100 Days Priorities President Trump Executive Orders Revoked by President Biden Biden Administration Nominations Tracker Assessment of the Next 100 Days 117th Congress Departures American Jobs Act vs. GOP Infrastructure Framework View Report This is sponsored content.
40-plus projects, more than 1,000 volunteers work to bring exponential impact to community By Bradley Roberts, Content Manager at United Way of Greater Atlanta Mona Sabeti wanted to volunteer in Atlanta during Pride Month. Sabeti’s new to Atlanta—she’s pre-COVID-19 pandemic “new,” but still, not too long before that. So, it hasn’t been the easiest time to connect with volunteer opportunities in Greater Atlanta over the past year. “I wanted to find some time to step away from my day-to-day work and give my time to people who need it more than I do, or my [job] does,” she says. She was scrolling through her LinkedIn feed one day when she saw a friend post about United Way of Greater Atlanta’s “Unite for Service Week.” This was a massive community-wide undertaking for United Way. It was a coordination of 40-plus service projects and more than 1,000 volunteers across 13 counties. All just in one week. Volunteering is important work, though. Work that’s never over or finished. Sabeti wanted to do more for her community—for families and children like her own. This brought her to an in-person—masked up and in conjunction with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines—volunteer opportunity at the Lost-N-Found Youth Thrift Store in Atlanta. “This was the first time I’ve heard about Lost-N-Found and what they do for the community, but this definitely wasn’t the first time I’ve seen the United Way logo around the world,” Sabeti says. “I figured it would be a great opportunity to do something with [United Way] and give an extra set of hands.” Lost-N-Found Youth’s mission is to end homelessness for all LGBTQ+ youth by providing them skills and support needed to live independently—LGBTQ+ youth are at a much greater risk of becoming homeless. Lost-N-Found provides emergency and transitional housing, food and hygiene supplies and jobs skills training among other things. Sabeti and a team of volunteers including Stayce Michelle sorted and tagged clothing donations before they were rolled out onto the thrift store floor. Michelle is “always down” to volunteer with United Way. She loves to participate anytime there’s a Day of Action or service week like this. “One of the reasons why I like service week is because I get to learn about so many organizations that are partnered with United Way,” says Michelle. “I always like coming back to United Way because they make it easy for volunteers to access opportunities. The hours are convenient, and you get to meet people and become aware of organizations that have a need.” Volunteering in-person has long been built into MUST Ministries in Marietta’s operation as a nonprofit. MUST provides food, clothing, housing, workforce development training and more for its community. “Several times a year we have groups from United Way come in and help us,” Volunteer Coordinator for MUST Ministries Kristy Steely says. “Before COVID, we were about 80-85 percent volunteer run and now that has drastically reduced. A lot of our locations are small, so that forced us to work mostly with our employees. “We’re getting back to where we were, though.” United Way had a group of about eight volunteers on site. They were each working through large pallets of winter clothing that had been donated months prior. The organization began the process of inventorying items before shipping to one of three clothing shelters in neighboring counties. The items on this day were going down the road to a clothing closet and thrift store. “It serves as a clothing closet for our clients,” Steely says. “It also serves as a normal thrift store in the community where people who don’t qualify for services necessarily but still need clothing for an inexpensive price can come and shop for their families.” Unite for Service Week took a lot of time and commitment from volunteers, nonprofit agencies and United Way staff. But the payoff comes with the connections we make to the community, new friends and ultimately the lives we change when we can unite for more in Greater Atlanta. “This is something that’s been close to my heart,” Sabeti says. “I’m a little new to the Atlanta community, and this has been a great opportunity to learn about new volunteer opportunities that are easily accessible.” The hundreds of hours logged over the past week will go further than you can imagine, and the impact you all have made on your community is exponential. Want to further that impact? Volunteer with us today. Can children, families and Greater Atlanta communities count on you? Let’s do more, together. This is sponsored content.
For Mikail Albritton, it comes down to three words: “visible, tangible and lasting.” He is describing the impact that he wants to have serving Atlanta’s Edgewood community this summer as an Emory Community Building and Social Change (CBSC) fellow. Albritton, a junior in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, hopes to pursue a career in research-based epidemiology. In the Edgewood community, Emory joined a coalition consisting of the Zeist Foundation, Moving in the Spirit, the Wylde Center Edgewood Learning Garden and the Mayson Avenue Cooperative. With a seed gift from the Kenneth Cole Foundation in 2002, Emory launched the CBSC program, which soon became a national model for integrating research and classroom learning with community engagement. In this 10-week summer program for upper-level undergraduates, students commit 30 hours per week to a project and are paid for their time The program gives students a leg up on careers in the nonprofit sector, education, politics, public interest law, medicine, public health and socially minded business. Emory also offers a Community Building and Social Change minor. Since the program launch, approximately 200 fellows have helped spearhead more than 35 collaborative projects, most of them arising from four areas of concentration: housing/neighborhoods, social policy and schools, health and environment/sustainability. Founder Michael Rich, professor of political and environmental science, designed the program based on the reality that, for the difficult issues communities face, government, business and the nonprofit sector must come together. The other key? Careful listening. “We have to follow the lead of community residents as well as organizations and businesses within the community. And that requires a new style of education — one that focuses on how we craft partnerships across sectors with the community,” says Rich. Kate Grace, the CBSC program director, notes: “Emory is most effective when it helps to maximize existing infrastructure in the various neighborhoods.” The CBSC and DeKalb County launched the DeKalb Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative, which in turn enabled partnerships with neighborhood groups such as the Towers Action Group (TAG). Says Victoria Anglin, a TAG leader, “Given the fellows’ ideas and technical experience, they helped us push for sidewalks along Glenwood Road. That area has seen the loss of life due to the lack of sidewalks. We owe our start in this important endeavor to the Emory CBSC fellows.” Helena Zeleke is a fellow whose primary focus is on the Clarkston community. She grew up in this part of Atlanta, her church is there, and many Ethiopian businesses that she and her family support are in the city. When asked what she was hoping to get out of the program, Zeleke, a rising junior in Emory College, politely but emphatically signaled that it was not about her. “I’m pursuing this to give back,” she noted. “Usually volunteering or service is seen as an opportunity to get experience or a fun day somewhere new, but the fellowship really focuses on organizing for a community and making sure that you’re doing service for the right reasons,” she added. “Life-changing” is a word many students, partners and community members reach for to describe the impact of the program’s projects. Rich appreciates the acknowledgment of the program’s value but is perhaps more thankful for the realism the program imparts. “There is sometimes disappointment that change doesn’t come more rapidly or that it doesn’t become transformative. But, in a sense, that helps us better understand that this work takes time, patience and persistence. In the end, we’re in it for the long haul,” he says. This is sponsored content.
Americans, especially Black Americans will come together this week for the annual festivities recognizing Juneteenth. For anyone who may not know by now, Juneteenth is an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States and has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s. On June 19, 1865, enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free—a full two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued. Like many others in this moment in time when it is so clear that racism is engrained into the very fabric of this country, I wonder do we need to declare Emancipation again? This time, not just on pen and paper or with our voices, but with action. The mission of YWCA of Greater Atlanta is “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” The fact that we still have a mission this bold indicates we are not emancipated. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King resonate as loud today as they did when he said them, “No one is free until all of us are free.” So, how can we find true freedom—freedom that SHOULD be celebrated and embraced? It starts with you as an individual. Let’s root out the cause of racism and become an anti-racist society. YWCA invites you to take a stand. Join us in this pledge. STAND AGAINST RACISM: TAKE THE PLEDGE We take a Stand Against Racism every day by raising awareness about the impact of institutional and structural racism and by building community among those who work for racial justice. STAND AGAINST RACISM PLEDGE Mindful of the continuing affliction of institutional and structural racism as well as the daily realities of all forms of bias, prejudice and bigotry in my own life, my family, my circle of friends, my co-workers and the society in which I live, with conviction and hope: I take this pledge, fully aware that the struggle to eliminate racism will not end with a mere pledge but calls for an ongoing transformation within myself and the institutions and structures of our society. I pledge to look deeply and continuously in my heart and in my mind to identify all signs and vestiges of racism; to rebuke the use of racist language and behavior towards others; to root out such racism in my daily life and in my encounters with persons I know and with strangers I do not know; and to expand my consciousness to be more aware and sensitive to my use of overt and subtle expressions of racism and racial stereotypes; I pledge to educate myself on racial justice issues and share what I learn in my own communities even if it means challenging my family, my partner, my children, my friends, my co-workers and those I encounter on a daily basis I pledge, within my means, to actively work to support public policy solutions that prominently, openly and enthusiastically promote racial equity in all aspects of human affairs; and to actively support and devote my time to YWCA, as well as other organizations working to eradicate racism from our society. YWCA USA is on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women. I join YWCA in taking a stand against racism today and every day. After you take the pledge, take a moment to tag us and tell us: @ywcaatlanta FaceBook | Instagram *This pledge has been adapted by YWCA USA from the Pledge to Eliminate Racism in My Life, YWCA Bergen County which is an adaptation of the Pledge to Heal Racism in My Life, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, April 10, 2006. Sharmen May Gowens CEO/YWCA of Greater Atlanta [email protected] www.ywcaatlanta.org This is sponsored content.
By Wendy Stewart, President of Bank of America Atlanta Successful entrepreneurs are a signal of a healthy economy, and by definition take on financial risks in the hope of profit. But the role of an entrepreneur comes with many challenges – from financing, logistics and competition, to the many unknowns associated with running an enterprise. As we have seen in the past year, out-of-the-box thinking and responsible growth are necessary for creating sustainable and meaningful change in communities. Bank of America works with many Atlanta entrepreneurs to help increase access to capital, consulting and mentorship to build businesses that drive economic growth. Building upon our commitment to create more economic opportunity, generate jobs and advance racial equity in Atlanta, we are partnering with Sweet Auburn Works (SAW) to enhance resiliency and sustainability in a region of Atlanta that is both historically significant and historically underserved. SAW is a nonprofit dedicated to the revitalization of the Sweet Auburn Historic District, a two-mile corridor of Auburn Avenue known as “the cradle of civil rights.” The District was the commercial, cultural and spiritual center for Black communities in Atlanta prior to the Civil Rights Movement, housing the city’s first Black-owned office and first Black-owned daily newspaper, and is most commonly known as the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. SAW’s new Walking with Heroes campaign accelerates the community’s vision for investments in real estate, infrastructure and business development in the Sweet Auburn area, paving the way for a renewed spirit of economic vibrancy. The plans include the “Hero Walk,” which will create a lasting impact for residents and visitors and strengthen the District’s revitalization. The one-mile Hero Walk connects the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail and John Lewis Freedom Parkway with Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park and Historic Oakland Cemetery. Our partnership with SAW’s Retail Accelerator Fund will provide $500,000 in grant funding for local entrepreneurs of color and equitable economic revitalization, as part of Bank of America’s $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, which includes support to minority entrepreneurs. Specifically, the Retail Accelerator Fund will provide: Critical business improvements, including architectural and design buildouts Access to consulting and design professionals to implement forward-thinking retail concepts SAW staff to assist with selecting real estate, leveraging city resources, and providing programmatic support Networking, mentorships, technical assistance and education to ensure their businesses remain sustainable throughout their entrepreneurship journey Diversification of retail offerings Create a more vibrant ecosystem throughout the district With over 100 years of history in Atlanta, Bank of America’s community-centered approach remains the same, as our partnership and support of revitalization in Sweet Auburn began in the 1990s with single-family homes. Today, we look at continuing our legacy addressing critical issues like entrepreneurship that ensure opportunities for our community are within reach. This is sponsored content.