Column: Junior Achievement of Georgia spinoff raises $27 million to transform high school education
By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 28, 2019
Although it’s only a year old, 3DE – a sister spinoff of Junior Achievement of Georgia – is making inroads in its goal to transform high school education nationally.
Jack Harris, president and CEO of 3DE, announced the launch of the new initiative last year – with the ambitious goal of $55 million so it could be in 55 schools across the country within five years.
In just one year, 3DE has raised $27.6 million with 90 percent of funding coming from the Atlanta region.
“The response from the Atlanta funding community has been tremendous,” Harris said in a telephone interview. “Roughly $25 million came from Atlanta funding sources.”
The Marcus Foundation and Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation have both committed $5 million to the 3DE expansion. Other partners that have committed between $1 million to $2 million include Arby’s, AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, the Goizueta Foundation, the Home Depot, Jackson Healthcare, ReliaQuest, Sara Blakely Foundation, Spanx, SunTrust, and UPS.
Those dollars will go towards the development of 20 new 3DE schools in Georgia. There already are six 3DE schools in Georgia that were part of the JA of Georgia pilot program to launch the national model.
The 3DE model creates a school within a school, usually in a separate wing of a high school. The program has six dedicated teachers per grade level teaching from a specifically-designed curriculum. 3DE provides two professionals at each school – one to work with the school administration to select and train the teachers and the other to work on partnerships with the business community.
A 3DE school starts with 150 students in 9th grade, and a new class is added each year. After four years, a 3DE school would have 600 students, 24 dedicated teachers and two professionals on the 3DE payroll. Once a school has been established, it costs about $250,000 in private investment per school each year.
The first school to adopt the model was Fulton County’s Banneker High School, which had its first 3DE graduating class in 2019. The class had a 91 percent graduation rate, representing a 46 percent increase from Banneker’s 2015 graduation rate.
In addition to Banneker, 3DE is operating in Norcross High School in Gwinnett; Douglas High School in Atlanta; Osborne High School in Cobb; Parkview High School in Gwinnett and Northview High School in Fulton.
3DE will be opening in seven new schools in August: South Atlanta High School in Atlanta, Martin Luther King Jr. High School in DeKalb; McNair High School also in DeKalb; and Savannah High School in Chatham County. It also will have its three schools in Florida – the first ones outside of Georgia: Oak Ridge High School in Orange County, Osceola High School in Osceola County; and Lake Worth High School in Palm Beach County.
“The bulk of the next wave of funding will come from those markets where we are expanding,” Harris said. “We are pretty far along identifying those markets.”
In addition to Georgia and Florida, 3DE is targeting schools in Washington, D.C./Baltimore, Md., Texas, California and Kentucky. The goal is to have 3DE in many of the nation’s largest urban school districts.
“There’s a real opportunity to make a difference at a national scale,” said Harris, who proudly talked about the success at Banneker, historically one of the lowest-performing schools in Fulton County. “I think it’s replicable. A high majority of our schools would be categorized as needing some sort of catalyst.”
3DE attempts to create a strong link between education and economic opportunity with its curriculum.
“We want to highlight high growth industry and high growth careers and help line up the opportunities,” Harris said. “One of our goals is to make sure that all of our graduates are four-year college eligible.”
Even though 3DE now is a stand-alone nonprofit, Harris said it continues to have a strong relationship with JA of Georgia.
“We are affiliated sister organizations,” Harris said, adding that it will have a similar relationship with JA organizations in other states. “Any launch of a 3DE, we will be in lock-step with each other. We are always working with the local JA.”
David Moody and Atlanta Rotary
Builder David Moody presided over his meeting of the Rotary Club of Atlanta as its president on June 24, saying his theme for the year will be “hope.” He also promised that “we are going to have a lot of fun” during his year as president.
Moody then went on to talk about his parents, who recently passed away, and of his grandfather – James Moody – who worked his way from the British Honduras (now Belize) on a banana boat to come to New Orleans.
“He left everything he knew because he wanted an education so bad,” Moody said, explaining that blacks in British Honduras could only get a 6th grade education. “He would say: ‘Knowledge is one thing nobody can take away from you.’ ”
Another story Moody shared was of his father, who was serving as the only black officer in Panama when his mother got pregnant with him. She ended up flying back to the United States to give birth to Moody because she “wanted to be sure I could be anything I wanted to be including president of the United States.”
Moody also stepped in to lead the program with Olympic athlete Edwin Moses, a fellow classmate at Morehouse College, who went on to win two gold medals and collect 122 consecutive wins in track-and-field.
Moses accepted an academic scholarship at Morehouse, and while the school had a track team, it didn’t have a track. Moses talked about having to sneak into other stadiums to train.
“Edwin and I met 43 years ago at Morehouse,” Moody said. “Ed used to jump over garbage cans in the dorm” to practice jumping over hurdles.
Moses told a story of going to see the late Hugh Gloster, then-president of Morehouse.
“I told him I was going to the Olympics,” Moses told him. “I told him I was going to win a gold medal.”
The problem was that there was no travel and expenses budget for Moses to go compete. “He wrote a check to me for $3,000,” Moses said, showing “his faith in one of his students.”
After graduating from Morehouse with a degree in physics, Moses went on to receive his MBA from Pepperdine University.
Moses lives in Atlanta and is chair of the Laureus World Sports Academy and the Laureus Foundation. He also is chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Education Committee.
Development firm Columbia Residential has announced that Laurel Hart has joined its executive team as vice president of asset management and preservation.
Hart will be responsible for the leadership, strategy and implementation of Columbia Residential’s portfolio, which includes more than 7,500 affordable and mixed-income, multifamily housing units in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas.
Prior to joining Columbia Residential, Hart served as the director of Housing Finance and Development for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, where she oversaw the administration of Georgia’s Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.
“Given her proven expertise in working with owners and partners, as well as her passion for addressing the complex needs surrounding the future of affordable housing, we are thrilled to welcome Laurel to our leadership team,” said Noel Khalil, chairman and CEO of Columbia Residential. “Her appointment reinforces Columbia’s commitment to not only increasing and preserving the inventory of affordable housing units available, but also protecting our high standards for creating communities where people are proud to live.”
Working with the executive team, Hart’s focus will be on the long-term sustainability and improvement of Columbia’s current portfolio as well as the critical recapitalization and acquisition of properties that have completed their initial compliance period. She will also lead Columbia’s expanding efforts to broaden its impact by creating mechanisms to add and restructure and recapitalize additional affordable housing assets with Columbia’s partners in communities Columbia serves.
“The preservation of affordability of high-quality housing is one of the most critical issues we are facing in today’s economic climate, here in Atlanta and across the country,” Hart said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to advance and expand Columbia Residential’s mission and continue its work to protect and strengthen affordable communities across the Southeast.”