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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

Passport Atlanta provides students curated journeys, access and adventure during summer months

By Llewellyn Dixon, VP operations and founding board member, Passport Atlanta

School is out for the summer in metro Atlanta. While many students look forward to summer camp or trips away with the family, thousands more lack the resources for adventure. Fortunately, what started many years ago as a conversation between three friends – Courtney English, Jay Bailey and (now Mayor) Andre Dickens on a rooftop in Washington, D.C. has turned into a tool that hands Atlanta youth the keys to the city. 

It’s called Passport Atlanta, and it’s a free app that grants access, exposure and opportunity to all students. Imagine a high school sophomore growing up on the West Side. She loves animals and is always glued to the screen watching footage of whales and other fish. But for any number of reasons, she’s never seen any up close. She discovers an app that is able to get her a free ride and free access to the Georgia Aquarium on multiple occasions. Her reward for going? She gets to have a personal experience with any wildlife of her choosing. Her diligence grants her an internship and other opportunities over the years. Fast forward to after college: She now works at the Georgia Aquarium as a marine biologist.

That’s Passport Atlanta.

Our app is designed to send students out on journeys to any number of places throughout the city. Once there, they are given tasks to complete. After completion, they are given a stamp (just as you would get with your real passport) and points. Those points can be redeemed for anything as small as a lunch all the way up to scholarships for college, an actual passport and a trip outside the country—the sky is the limit. Our goal is to destroy any barrier that prevents a student from experiencing something that may change their life forever. We want to give them hope to dream beyond what they already know. We believe that they will be what they see, so we want them to see everything good that this city has to offer. Thanks to a recent operating grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, more students will get that opportunity.

C.J. Stewart beta tested the Passport app in 2021. “In one day, I visited the High Museum, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home, [the] Rep. John Lewis Mural, and the South-View Cemetery to visit the burial site of Rep. John Lewis,” he said, “It was a full day of education, inspiration and I was energized. The app was user friendly and I loved how I was able to document what I learned with photos and notes. And with the press of a button, I was able to use a navigation map to direct me to my next destination.”

See what Stewart experienced on his tour here, and to learn more about Passport Atlanta, visit our website at passportatlanta.com.


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