Column: Big new grant will help Atlanta’s low-income women

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Jan. 23, 2015

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation is getting a great start to the new year.

Kaiser Permanente of Georgia has awarded the Atlanta Women’s Foundation a $500,000 grant for its Promoting Women’s Mental Health & Wellbeing project to support programs in Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties.

The project provides mental health services to low-income women in the five largest counties in the Atlanta region.

“We are delighted to continue our long-standing partnership with Kaiser Permanente of Georgia in such a significant way,” said Kelly Dolan, executive director of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation. “There is a paucity of resources in this area for women impacted by poverty, and this funding will provide mental and behavioral health services that will make substantial change in our community.”

The funds will be granted to nonprofit organizations with proven track records of measurably improving the mental health and well-being of low- income, under-served women in metro Atlanta.

“This grant is a unique opportunity to address a significant health issue faced by low-income women in metro Atlanta,” said Madelyn R. Adams, director of community benefit for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia.

One of the most consistently replicated findings in social science research has been the relationship between health and socioeconomic status and mental illness.

The foundation’s own research findings in the study “Breaking the Cycle of Generational Poverty in Metro Atlanta,” identified health care as one of the foundational issues impacting poor women.

The research revealed that women living in poverty often neglected their own health, in particular mental and emotional health, because of the barriers they had to contend with in their daily lives.

These women experienced stress, grief, and depression without the resources or networks in place to support their mental health needs.

As the only funder in Georgia dedicated exclusively to women and girls, it is foundation’s role to support women and girl-serving organizations at all levels, Dolan said.

The foundation will launch the grant process at the end of February. It will convene interested nonprofits with a goal of encouraging dialogue, cross-functional partnerships and strategic alliances among service providers providing mental health services and counseling programs to women and girls.

Ronald McDonald House

The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities also have a reason to celebrate.

The organization has just completed its $18.5 million capital campaign to fund the construction of a new Atlanta Ronald McDonald House on Peachtree Dunwoody Road near Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. The new expanded facility will replace the former Atlanta Ronald McDonald House at the same location, which opened 20 years ago with only 11 bedrooms.

“We are extremely grateful for the many generous foundations, corporations, and individuals throughout the Atlanta community who opened their hearts to ensure families of sick and injured children will have a place to stay together and heal together,” said Beth Howell, president and CEO of ARMHC, in a statement.

The campaign received two lead gifts of $2.5 million – one from the Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Operators Association and the other from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.

The new 52,636 square foot facility will open in early 2016 with 31 guest rooms with private baths; full Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, including roll-in showers; energy-efficient, sustainable design built to LEED standards and an innovative, indoor tree house to aid in healing through play.

The larger facility is crucial to ARMHC fulfilling its mission of keeping families together by providing temporary housing and support services to families of sick and injured children receiving life-saving medical care at nearby hospitals. Since 2011, the former Atlanta Ronald McDonald House on Peachtree Dunwoody Road turned away more than 650 families because no rooms were available. The new House will enable ARMHC to meet the increased demand for its services.

The two Atlanta Houses have provided a home away from home to more than 45,000 families since the first Atlanta House opened in 1979.

Year Up opening new Atlanta hub

Atlanta has become the third regional hub for the innovative workforce development program Year Up.

Belinda Stubblefield, who has served as executive director of Year Up Atlanta since July 2013, will serve as the national site director of the new regional Atlanta hub. She will oversee the growth of the organization in Atlanta, Baltimore, Jacksonville and Miami.

“Belinda has played a key role in increasing Year Up Atlanta’s impact, positioning the site for the addition of a new Learning Community in March that will increase the number of students it serves by 50 percent” said Gerald Chertavian, Year Up founder and CEO. “As we continue to add new sites and expand existing ones, her leadership in the Southeast will help us reach 10,000 young adults annually by 2021.”

In 2014, Year Up served more than 2,100 young adults at sites in Atlanta, Baltimore, the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Puget Sound, Providence, R.I., and Washington, D.C. This year, the organization will grow by more than 30 percent and launch new sites in Phoenix, Ariz., and Jacksonville, Fla.

“As executive director of Year Up Atlanta, I’ve seen firsthand just how motivated and talented our young adults are, and how much value they bring to businesses in need of entry-level talent,” said Stubblefield in a statement. “I’m excited to continue building on our success in helping underserved young people reach their full potential through professional careers and higher education, while also providing a pipeline of talent for our nation’s leading companies.”

Stubblefield has more than 20 years of leadership experience in large corporations as well as in entrepreneurial firms. In 2014, the Atlanta Business League recognized Stubblefield as its “Woman of the Year.”

Year Up Atlanta is one of 13 Year Up sites in the United States, and it has served nearly 700 young adults in the metro area. It will serve 250 young adults in 2015. Launched in 2009, the program provides young adults, ages 18-24, with technical, professional and communication skills in areas including information technology and financial operations. Students earn up to 21 college credits at Atlanta Metropolitan State College for completing their coursework during the first six months of the program,

Then they go on to participate in a six-month internship at one of more than 75 corporate partner firms, including AT&T, Kaiser Permanente, Rollins and Bank of America. Ninety-two percent of Year Up Atlanta alumni are attending college full-time or employed within four months of graduating from the program. The average starting salary of 2014 graduates was more than $32,000 a year.

Stubblefield will continue to lead the Atlanta operation until a new executive director is found.

New app helps the homeless

Atlanta entrepreneur Bridgette Morris, and her son, Davis, created a new, free social- and cause-inspired mobile app to link sponsors and users to a network of charities, causes and other entities of social good. LUV4wrd launched Dec. 2 with an inaugural campaign for the homeless.

The #LUV4HomelessATL campaign was a social media challenge designed to give warmth to the 7,000 homeless people in Atlanta by providing them with coats, hats, socks and other articles of clothing.

LUV4wrd user posts equaled dollars to Mercy Care, who operates Atlanta’s only health care for the homeless program.

Atlanta publicist Meg Reggie said that in 44 days LUV was able to show results thanks to its partnerships with the Arby’s Foundation, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, FLIP burger boutique, Sysco and Mercy Care.

It provided 7,000 gifts of warmth to Atlanta people living in homelessness, in the form of coats, socks, hats and blankets.

It raised more than $20,000 for meals and warmth for 12,000 Atlanta people living in poverty and homelessness.

And it received more than 10 million views on LUV4wrd and more than 20,000 posts LUVed.

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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