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Column: Achieve Atlanta gets $600,000 boost from Kaiser Permanente

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Oct. 28, 2016

Achieve Atlanta, a nonprofit helping graduating high school seniors attend and stay in college, has received an unsolicited three-year grant of $600,000 from Kaiser Permanente of Georgia.

The grant will enable Achieve Atlanta to add a college counselor in four high schools in distressed areas of Atlanta to help students apply and pay for college.

“We really wanted to focus on areas where there were poor health outcomes,” said Madelyn Adams, director of community benefit for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. “Better education leads to better health outcomes. Achieve Atlanta was the right place for us to be. I really admire how transparent they are and how they know where they want to go. It really appealed to us.”

Achieve Atlanta

Tina Fernandez recognizes one of the Achieve Atlanta scholars at South Atlanta’s Vision ceremonies earlier this year (Special: Achieve Atlanta)

Achieve Atlanta was launched in 2015 as a partnership between the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the Atlanta Public Schools – made possible by a $20 million grant from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, one of the Robert W. Woodruff family of foundations.

The Whitehead gift meant the organization could focus on launching the initiative without having to focus on fundraising.

“The fact that we didn’t have to do fundraising was incredibly helpful in being able to get so far so fast,” said Tina Fernandez, executive director of Achieve Atlanta. “There was an urgency behind it. My board really encouraged me to do the work and show results. If we make some fast gains, then the feeling is that support will follow.”

Adams said she was impressed when she attended a program where Fernandez discussed the nonprofit’s first year in business. Kaiser reached out to Achieve Atlanta to see how they could support the initiative.

“The money is amazing and it will help us do more,” Fernandez said. “But we see it more as a show of support for what we are doing. It gives us momentum as well.”

Starting in January, the Kaiser grant will support new college counselors in four high schools – Benjamin E. Mays, Booker T. Washington, Carver and Frederick Douglass.

Atlanta Symphony and Delta

The Delta Air Lines Foundation will contribute $2.5 million to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Musicians’ Endowment Fund, helping ASO reach its ambitious $25 million goal to permanently endow 11 musician positions. The gift completes the Musicians’ Endowment Campaign nearly two years ahead of schedule.

As a result of the gift, the Principal Tuba Chair, held by Michael Moore, will be endowed and named the Delta Air Lines Chair. Moore is celebrating his 49th year with the ASO.

“Congratulations to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on completing their campaign, which will help ensure that this important cultural institution continues its work for many years to come,” Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines and trustee of the Delta Air Lines Foundation, said in a statement. “Reaching this goal demonstrates the momentum of the arts community in Atlanta, and Delta is proud to be part of that effort.”

Jennifer Barlament, ASO’s executive director, said she was “profoundly grateful” to Delta for its gift, which will “help lift the Orchestra into a new era of artistic vitality and service to the community.”

The Musicians’ Endowment Fund was launched in December 2014, as a key component of the Woodruff Arts Center’s $100 million Transformation Campaign.

“Restoring 11 critical positions to the Orchestra is the first milestone in guaranteeing that this great Orchestra will continue to provide the city of Atlanta and our state an internationally renowned level of musical artistry,” said Danny Laufer, president of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Players Association.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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