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Reporter’s Notebook: Kanye West has … not left the building

Yesterday, July 28, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms implemented a city-wide mask mandate for people in public places and private businesses. The decision was made based on recent CDC recommendations that folks, vaccinated or not, wear a mask in areas of substantial or high transmission. CDC data shows that Fulton and DeKalb County are designated as areas of high transmission. 

On to other city news:

Kanye West preformed with a minimal white background at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Credit: Hannah E. Jones)

Kanye West has … not left the building

On July 22, Kanye West came to Atlanta for an album debut party and hasn’t left since.

He played his 10th album, named “DONDA” after his late mother, for an ecstatic crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

West had planned to release the album last week but has continued to tweak the music and pull at fans’ heartstrings. The release is now slated for early August.

The billionaire rapper hasn’t left the stadium since the concert, a representative told the Associated Press, and he posted a photo of his new digs on Instagram — a locker room. 

It’s wacky, but it’s Kanye. 

After the show, he was given a certificate marking July 22 as “Kanye Day” in the City of Atlanta, according to TMZ

Morris Brown College President Kevin James also presented “Dr. Donda West Meritorious Service to Morris Brown College” for West’s mother, who taught at the HBCU.

He’s showing Atlanta some love, and we’re giving it back — But we’ll see how long he can stay in the locker room until Atlanta United gets mad.

– Hannah E. Jones

A piece of Amelia Earhart’s legacy found in Atlanta

A Georgia State University Library staff member has recently uncovered unknown photos of pilot Amelia Earhart’s 1934 trip to Atlanta. 

The photos were discovered in an envelope labeled “Women pilots, old” and were located just days before Earhart’s birthday on July 24.

The recovered photos capture Earhart showing her plane to visitors, and posing with members of the Ninety Nines, an international women’s pilot group, according to the Georgia State University Library.

Click here to marvel at the recently-discovered images of the iconic Amelia Earhart.

– Hannah E. Jones

CAU clears and cancels student account balances last year, this year

Last week Clark Atlanta University announced that the student account balances for this year and last year will be cleared and canceled by the HBCU. 

“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. George French, president of Clark Atlanta said in a statement.

French said that the funds for the accounts had been provided by the federal CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

He added that “we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education.”

The institution says this crucial relief to students is part of the “momentum” they have experienced in the past 16 months.

French continued, “we care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals.”

In addition to clearing the accounts, the HEERF funds have provided students with emergency financial aid, 4,000 laptops from Dell Computers, and pro-rated housing and meal charges during the spring 2020 semester. 

– Allison Joyner

More than one in five parents reported food insecurity in their household, according to the Urban Institute. (Credit: Unsplash)

YMCA of Greater Atlanta helps fight childhood hunger

To help feed hungry children under 6 years old in metro Atlanta, the YMCA of Greater Atlanta this summer is using a portion of a new grant to provide about 150 families with weekly provisions of non-perishable food, fresh fruits and vegetables.

The families that receive the food participate in the YMCA’s Early Learning Readiness program, which is a bilingual mobile program to help children in Hispanic families engage in preschool programs.

The grant was provided by the No Kid Hungry campaign that’s sponsored by the Share Our Strength, a national organization working to decrease food insecurity among children.

“The support we’ve received from Share Our Strength is allowing the Y to expand our hunger relief programs,” Lauren Koontz, president and CEO of YMCA of Metro Atlanta, said in a statement. “We are so appreciative for the assistance we are receiving to help our organization continue to meet the critical needs of our communities.”

– David Pendered

Duluth-based domestic violence foundation rebrands

The Alma Domestic Violence Foundation is the new name, paired with a new look, for an organization that’s keeping its same core mission — to support survivors of domestic violence. 

The Buckhead-based organization, previously known as the Alma G. Davis Foundation, rebranded to become more accessible for marginalized communities and to strengthen its identity.

“The decision to rebrand was made to further establish a connection between our staff and our clients. In a time of crisis where our services are needed now more than ever, we want to make sure that those in need of help know they always have someone to call,” Founder and CEO Alma G. Davis said in a press release.

The transition will take place on Aug. 2.

The group provides essential services like counseling and legal help and assists with job placement, financial literacy and advocacy for survivors. 

The objective is to help victims of domestic abuse become self-sufficient, have financial stability and ensure that they don’t feel alone.

If you or someone you know needs help getting out of a domestic abuse situation, click here to visit the Alma Domestic Violence Foundation’s website. Their 24/7 helpline is 678-957-9464.

– Hannah E. Jones

Spelman resets tuition, cleared outstanding balances for students

Due to students’ and families’ financial hardships this past year, Spelman College announced they would clear outstanding balances for the 2020-2021 semesters and reset tuition and fees back to 2017-2018 rates. 

Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of the all-women college, said in a statement that this reset to rates from four years ago will have a long-term impact on affordability.

“Spelman’s in-depth study into financial aid needs of our students several years ago reinforces our understanding of one of the country’s fundamental inequities: high performing and high need students are drastically underfunded,” said Campbell.

The adjusted tuition and fees reset is a 14 percent discount from the 2020-2021 rates.

The HBCU said this is made possible by funds from the federal government.

The statement added that the federal funds have contributed to the college providing partial refunds to students during the spring 2020 semester, emergency student financial aid grants for this year and a forthcoming partnership with ride-share company Lyft to offer subsidized rides to 500 students living off-campus and without their own transportation. 

– Allison Joyner

$100,000 will go to the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Food as Medicine program, a food pharmacy program in collaboration with Grady Health System. (Credit: David Pendered)

$500,000 grant to bolster health outcomes for uninsured, underserved

Health insurance provider UnitedHealthcare has awarded a total of $500,000 to six community-based organizations in Georgia. The Empowering Health grants are intended to expand access to care and address social determinants of health for uninsured individuals and underserved communities.

The grantees include:

  • National Birth Equity Collaborative  – $125,000 to implement the Birth Equity Practice Center for ongoing training and promotion of healthier birth experiences and health outcomes for Black birthing people and their babies statewide. 
  • Atlanta Community Food Bank – $100,000 to support the Food as Medicine program, a food pharmacy program in collaboration with Grady Health System that helps patients with certain chronic conditions improve their health with nutritious food prescriptions and more.  
  • Wellspring Living – $100,000 to expand behavioral health programming through the addition of an enrichment coordinator and a nutritionist, and the provision of equine-assisted therapy (activities with horses and members of the horse family to promote physical and mental health) for participants recovery at the Receiving Hope Center. 
  • Emory University – $75,000 to improve health outcomes in Black mothers and their babies by supporting culturally responsive outreach and engagement in a mindfulness-based intervention addressing previous trauma, mental health needs and adverse childhood experiences. 
  • Open Hand Atlanta – $75,000 to expand its six-week Cooking Matters for Healthcare Partners nutrition and cooking education class. 
  • Hope Center – $25,000 to purchase a refrigerated vehicle for distributing fresh produce and boxed meals to homebound senior adults and families living in the Albany area.”

– David Pendered

Header image: A mural by George F. Baker III on Ponce de Leon Ave (Credit: Hannah E. Jones)

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native who recently graduated from Georgia State University, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah is excited about the opportunity to serve the City of Atlanta and its people. Hannah can be reached at [email protected]

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