By Guest Columnist DAN REUTER, CEO of Reuter Strategy, an urban and regional planning firm Georgia and most states have a history of pandemic influenza planning. President George W. Bush signed the first national Pandemic Influenza ...
By Teri Nye, Project Manager, Park Visioning Program at Park Pride If you’ve ever watched a bunch of ants working out how to reach the sugar water dripping from a hummingbird feeder suspended high above their heads, you were probably amazed by their ingenuity and tireless pursuit of their goal. How will they ever attain something so far out of their individual reach? They do it (faster than you’d imagine) with a network of fellow ants—with their community. There’s a similar energy of determination bubbling up in our local neighborhoods too. People are looking at their communities, identifying needs, and pulling together to address them. What’s more, in response to the compounding challenges of urban life in 2022—such as climate change, rising costs of living, and ballooning population growth—these activated neighborhood groups are demanding that public spaces—like parks, libraries, and streets—play multiple roles in community enrichment. Streets are being modified to prioritize pedestrians and accommodate cyclists (and other users of active transportation); libraries have gone virtual, offering free access to learning platforms and information for all ages; and our expectations for parks are changing too. Parks are serving far more than just our recreational needs. They offer public health benefits, climate resilience, and cultural enrichment. For our part, Park Pride is committed to helping communities co-create parks that meet their multiple and unique needs. Each year, communities from across Atlanta turn to our Park Visioning team of landscape architects (of which I’m honored to be a part!) with the goal of designing a park that prioritizes multiple community desires. While we conduct dozens of consultations annually focused on smaller specific issues, two parks in Atlanta (and two in DeKalb) are selected to receive comprehensive park visioning, a community-led approach to park planning that delivers an aspirational, achievable plan for the entire park. This year, the selection process in Atlanta was challenging as all the applicants showed a passionate commitment to positive change in their local parks. Two parks, however, rose above and have been awarded Park Visioning. They stood out because each park has the potential to play a multifunctional role in the future of their neighborhood. Each is at the heart of a neighborhood demonstrating an innovative, self-initiated, and unified focus on community improvement. These parks are Four Corners Park in the Peoplestown neighborhood of Southeast Atlanta and Falling Water Park in the Southwest neighborhood of Atlanta. An example of a park vision plan, co-created by Park Pride and the South River Gardens Community for a brand new park in the neighborhood. Four Corners Park, due south of the State Capital and a stone’s throw from the Atlanta BeltLine, is situated in a Community Development Impact Area (CDIA), where at least 51% of the households earn less than 80% of the City’s median income. Residential development is exploding around it and the area is prone to the worst aspect of gentrification: displacement. The Friends of Four Corners Park, however, have envisioned a different outcome. The group is a blend of legacy and new residents who have all embraced a DIY-attitude of community improvement. Over many years, they’ve maintained a much-loved community garden and offered vital community programming at the modest but mighty Rick McDevitt Youth Center via Community Care, a non-profit organization. Also based at the park’s community center, a pair of young men run the self-funded youth program, Dream Builders of Atlanta, with a “leave the ladder down” philosophy. Area youth learn financial literacy, skilled trades such as welding and heavy equipment operation, as well as first aid and CPR. We were humbled and inspired by this community’s forward-thinking initiatives that encompass all generations. Despite many challenges, the Peoplestown community is looking toward a brighter (and greener!) future with a vision for a park that will reflect their spirit and serve as a foundation for future community advancement. On the west side of town, just inside the lower curve of the perimeter, lies Falling Water Park, a 25-acre greenspace that has yet to be improved or officially opened (in fact, it’s been a “park-in-holding” since 2004). Despite the available land, there are no public parks within a 2-mile radius. For neighbors, that would be a 40-minute walk. Residential development is surging in the area, driving density and increasing the need for public greenspace. This need was recognized and, thanks to the leadership of The Trust for Public Land (with local partner support from Park Pride and the Urban Land Institute), the Atlanta Community Schoolyards pilot program was launched to make schoolyards available to the public after hours in areas that lack parks. But this only offers a sliver of space for a neighborhood that needs much more greenspace and different types of greenspaces for a range of users. The community around Falling Waters Park is done waiting. They’ve already rolled-up their sleeves for multiple clean-up initiatives and have more in the works. They are ready to enjoy the peaceful, natural beauty of this park, its abundant flora and fauna, and especially its relaxing fishing hole. The cooperation and collective determination they’ve shown is their own force of nature. We are honored to help turn this into a “real” park that will serve and sustain this community. People across the Atlanta area and the world are already contending with economic challenges, more frequent and severe weather events, and unprecedented health crises. Quality of life in our future is dependent on highly multifunctional, community-serving public spaces. Like the ants reaching for the sugar water in the hummingbird feeder, we can achieve this goal that seems so far out of our individual reach—with community. And Park Pride’s Visioning Program, Community Building Program, and Grantmaking Program are here to help. If we can channel a neighborhood’s energy, determination, and spirit into parks that are ready to take on the future, we have achieved our goal.
MARTA and Soccer in the Streets, along with the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta United Foundation held a community celebration and soccer tournament to mark the official opening of StationSoccer at Lindbergh Center rail station. The soccer pitch, which is adjacent to MARTA headquarters on Piedmont Rd. in Atlanta opened in 2020 and the celebration delayed due to COVID-19. “We are excited to officially celebrate StationSoccer at Lindbergh with our valued partners at Soccer in the Streets, the City of Atlanta, and the Atlanta United Foundation,” said MARTA Interim General Manager & CEO Collie Greenwood. “This is a meaningful location for us as it sits right across from our headquarters, and we wanted to ensure the players, stakeholders, community members, and MARTA employees had an opportunity to celebrate the soccer pitch and the entire StationSoccer program.” The brainchild of Soccer in the Streets, StationSoccer is a citywide project to create a network of soccer fields connected by MARTA, eventually forming a ten-station league that’s affordable and easily accessible by transit. StationSoccer was launched at Five Points Station in 2016, resulting in the first soccer field in the world built inside a transit station, and has since expanded to West End in 2018, East Point in 2019, and most recently Kensington Station this June. “Atlanta is a soccer town, whether it’s played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium where we’ll host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, or at our MARTA stations across the city,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. “StationSoccer is a unique and innovative collaboration to bring recreational opportunities to every part of our great city. I am excited we are officially opening StationSoccer at Lindbergh Center Station, adding to our four existing pitches and many more to come.” “This was the moment we have waited for, StationSoccer Lindbergh was built during the pandemic and while COVID limited us in our capacity to fully program like we would have desired, we are so happy to be able to officially launch the fields in such a unique way with new program partners in addition to our original founding partners. Most importantly, we hope the communities in and around Lindbergh will have enjoyed this day and look forward to many more at their new StationSoccer fields,” said Sanjay Patel, Director of Strategic Projects, Soccer in the Streets. “Lack of access should not be a factor for youth wishing to play soccer,” said Marissa Ahrens, Atlanta United Director of Community Engagement. “Station Soccer makes the game accessible to youth across the city of Atlanta, and the Atlanta United Foundation is delighted to support the program as a Founding Partner.” MARTA and Soccer in the Streets, along with founding partners the City of Atlanta and Atlanta United Foundation (the Atlanta United Foundation is a grantmaking program of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation) received additional support for StationSoccer at Lindbergh Center from partners American Family Insurance, Georgia Power, Jacobs, HNTB, MBoB, HKS, Rubenstein Partners, CHOA, and MUSCO. The StationSoccer program will continue to expand over the next few years, with plans for fields at Doraville, East Lake, Bankhead, H.E. Holmes, and Civic Center rail stations, completing the “League of Stations.” To learn more visit StationSoccer™ – The Story — Soccer in the Streets (soccerstreets.org) Photos credits: MARTA, City of Atlanta This is sponsored content.
Moody, who has served as Interim CEO since May 2022, to lead nonprofit building resilient families so children can thrive. Families First, Inc. today announced that Paula Moody, LCSW, MS, will lead the organization as Chief Executive Officer, effective Sept. 20, 2022. Moody has over 25 years of experience in non-profit program services and leadership. She has worked with Families First for nearly a decade, joining in 2013 as Director of Child and Youth Permanency. In 2017, she was promoted to Sr. Director of Programs; in 2020, she assumed the role of Chief Program Officer, where she oversaw all program operations at Families First. Most recently, she was appointed Interim CEO of the organization in May 2022. Prior to joining Families First, Moody served for eight years as Executive Director of a small non-profit agency serving children and families in New Haven, CT. Having devoted her career to non-profits serving children, youth and families, Moody’s expertise includes program areas such as child welfare, behavioral health as well as administrative areas including strategic planning, fiscal management, quality assurance, HR and fund development. Moody is a proud graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, where she earned a BA in Political Science. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Moody is a governing board member of Ethos Classical School and an advisory board member of Project Healthy Grandparents. “My vision for Families First is that we are always prepared to respond to everyone who seeks out our services,” says Moody. “By offering comprehensive, sustainable solutions for children and families, we will continue to improve child well-being, promote family self-sufficiency and strengthen resiliency.” Courtney Showell, Chair of the Board of Directors, noted, “Our board has full confidence in Paula’s ability to lead this organization. Her leadership, as well as the hard work of our talented and dedicated team members and partners, will ensure we continue to make progress toward our mission of building resilient families so all children can thrive.” Media Inquiries: Cindy Chapman, Director of Fund Development Families First 404.541.3080 | firstname.lastname@example.org About Families First: Families First was founded in 1890 as the Leonard Street Orphanage on what is today the Spellman College campus. For more than 130 years, Families First has been providing empowering solutions for Atlanta’s most vulnerable populations. With a mission to build resilient families so all children can thrive, Families First leads a portfolio of programs and services across three impact areas, Parenting & Permanency Services; Navigator Services; and Behavioral Health Services that help improve individual outcomes while strengthening and stabilizing families.
By Madgie Robinson With the world’s busiest airport in our backyard coupled with our diversity of talent, higher education institutions and quality of life, Atlanta has become a top contender for foreign-owned enterprises or FOEs to expand and target new opportunities in diverse global markets. However, it wasn’t until the 1996 Summer Olympics when the world noticed how much the region had to offer which created pathways for international trade and economic development that transformed the region into what it is today. As a result, business growth throughout the state of Georgia and city of Atlanta has welcomed thousands of companies such as Porsche AG, Adidas, Hyundai Motor Group and more. Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Vice President of Global Commerce John Woodward described the critical role global commerce has played in growing the economic, cultural and political spheres in the metro Atlanta region. Woodward, a 25-year economic development professional, has assisted hundreds of international and domestic enterprises exploring expansion across borders. His role at the Metro Atlanta Chamber involves consulting with foreign-owned enterprises considering U.S. market entry or expansion, and connecting them with relevant corporate, government and academic parties. The global commerce team is one of three elements of the economic development division at Metro Atlanta Chamber involved with all business activity that is cross-border. “With a global perspective, we make the business case for Metro Atlanta to foreign-owned enterprises,” said Woodward. The team also assists a range of locally based companies considering expanding their businesses internationally, principally via export growth. “The objective, in this case, is to help our local companies grow their operations in the metro area by broadening their business for a new global market.” said Woodward. “The Rolodex of the global commerce team is one of our most valuable assets. The capacity to make relevant connections is paramount. This applies to both FOEs entering the market, and to local companies exploring overseas.” When doing business with foreign countries, the global commerce team has expertise on what geographical areas and companies to focus on and what would be mutually beneficial for both parties. They also focus on countries whose businesses traditionally perform well when coming to Atlanta, predicting how each company would thrive in the market. “And to continue with this archaic analogy, the most well-worn cards in our Rolodex are those of our partners – other economic development organizations, governments, academics, professional service providers, binational chambers, trade offices and consulates – because they are integral to our collective success in growing international trade and investment in this region,” according to Woodward. “This collaboration across all groups is what sets metro Atlanta apart from other regions in the U.S.” Countries that have traditionally invested often in metro Atlanta include the U.K., Germany, Japan, France, South Korea, and Canada. “We strategically focus on geographic areas that are strong investors and whose ecosystem strengths generally match ours,” stated Woodward. “For example, Fintech is strong in London and Amsterdam; technical manufacturing is strong in Japan and South Korea.” Belgium is also one of the largest trading partners with Georgia, investing in the region since 1834. Ties between the two continue to develop, with 54 Belgium companies present in the state of Georgia. In June, metro Atlanta hosted the Belgian Economic Mission to the U.S., the largest international business delegation to visit Atlanta since the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The delegation included more than 250 companies and 400 representatives led by Her Royal Highness, Princess Astrid of Belgium. When asked about the Belgian mission, “[it] was a huge success as Belgian companies and officials were given a topflight introduction to the region,” said Woodward. Beyond the access to the world from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, headquartered in Atlanta are 15 fortune 500 companies and 11 fortune 1000 companies with top businesses such as Chick-Fil-a, Home Depot and Coca-Cola originating from the metro area. “Atlanta is a major U.S. metropolitan area with all the assets one expects to find in a major metropolitan area, – deep corporate bench strength, culture and culinary prowess, multifaceted diversity, professional sports – [yet] a cost of living and business that is more like a secondary or tertiary market,” Woodward described. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport – the busiest airport in the world, brings international people from all over the world to Atlanta. In Atlanta, passengers are able to connect to the rest of the U.S. being one of the first stops for those traveling from overseas. “A key driver of Atlanta is the international and domestic connectivity of the Hartsfield Jackson airport with nonstop flights to many of our target markets,” highlighted Woodward. The business culture and community within metro Atlanta make up a talented workforce of 2.9 million as of June 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The educated and talented workforce in Metro Atlanta is a core element of any economic development plan project,” said Woodward. Adding to the business culture, the overall diversity of Atlanta attracts foreign businesses to the region, making it easier to adapt and build connections. “It’s just like the strong international community within metro Atlanta where travelers can come and fit in with our systems, connect with others and immediately grow in this market,” said Woodward. For more information on Metro Atlanta Chamber events and announcements, visit: https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/ This is sponsored content.
By Kevin Bacon, Director of Design for the Southeastern U.S., Toole Design Recently, MARTA announced the awarding of a $25 million RAISE grant for the Five Points station and publicly shared a first peek at concepts for its busiest transit station located in the heart of Downtown Atlanta. The additional funding, bringing the total project budget to $200 million, gives us an opportunity to do something truly transformative where it’s needed the most. While early design concepts are focused on rebuilding the plaza and canopy and cementing the presence of a major hub for bus parking, the redesign of Five Points is about so much more than a transit station or transportation hub. It is about transforming our Downtown as a place. Our aspirations for Five Points should embrace the following goals: Improve Customer Experience: changes to the Five Points station should dramatically improve the overall experience of MARTA customers and attract new riders. Customer experience extends beyond transit vehicles, transfer times, and the station within the fare gates: it encompasses the entire journey. In this case, customer experience and city experience are synonymous, and this project is an opportunity to redefine the relationship between Five Points and the wider Downtown experience. Reconnect Downtown: Five Points sits at the nexus of Downtown and South Downtown. When the station was built in the 1980s it effectively severed these two areas by closing a segment of Broad Street. South Downtown went into decline, and the Downtown market has struggled to compete with similar areas elsewhere in Atlanta and in her peer cities. Reconnecting Broad Street will support the economic success of planned developments in the area and produce new, sustained ridership for the transit system by increasing station visibility and improving the overall customer experience. A reconnected Broad Street will also improve a vital link between existing transit at Five Points and the new Summerhill BRT route, another major transit investment, two blocks south. Create an Exceptional Public Realm: Downtown already has a lot of plazas; many in need of their own transformations. Five Points can set a new standard and show how great streets are the key to creating an exceptional public realm. The reconnection of Broad Street and redesign of surrounding streets is vital to restoring the functionality and experience of Downtown’s street grid. These streets can be rebuilt as great urban streets that accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, and buses and support more activity and interaction. The architecture of new buildings should put front doors and active frontages along primary streets. Better streets bring more transit riders. Maximize Development Potential: the two acres on which the Five Points Station currently sits has tremendous development potential: approximately 3 million square feet at 60-70 stories. Downtown has plenty of plazas and parking lots already. What it needs is the activity and vibrancy that comes from people and density. That may require patience and interim site strategies until the market is ready to take full advantage of the site’s development potential, but the site plan should, from the outset, anticipate high-density vertical development in the future as the most desirable outcome. Improve Bus Operations: Five Points is the most important transportation hub in Atlanta, and the efficient connection between buses and trains is critical to serving riders. However, this cannot come at the expense of everything else. Downtown is already challenged by the impact of parking and staging buses, and the transformation of Five Points is an opportunity for MARTA to reexamine bus parking and staging on valuable, urban sites. Bus stops are still essential in and around the Five Points station, but they can be designed and operated as an integral part of the street environment, not the sole proprietors of it. The most successful and memorable cities across the globe are putting people first in the physical design of streets and public spaces. They understand it’s the key ingredient of a vibrant, thriving city. Closer to home, cities such as Washington DC and San Francisco, both with transit systems that are contemporaries of MARTA, are weaving transit stations seamlessly into the urban fabric of the cities they serve. Most recently, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation reconfigured the former superblock of the World Trade Center site by reconnecting key streets to accommodate private redevelopment, memorialization of 9/11, and improved transit infrastructure. The redesign has improved not only the walkability and access of the site itself; it has drastically transformed the experience of Lower Manhattan for the better. Downtown Atlanta is going to change dramatically in the next 5-10 years as long envisioned development projects such as Centennial Yards, South Downtown, and Atlanta Underground finally move forward. Five Points is the centerpiece to making sure all of these are successful and intertwined in a way that creates a cohesive and successful Downtown. This is the moment for us to prioritize the physical design of our city to achieve the best possible urban experience. Our transportation investments have always been our single, greatest means to take on the act of city-building. These investments should always be designed from that starting point: at Five Points and anywhere transportation dollars are being spent. About the Author Kevin Bacon recently joined the planning and design firm of Toole Design as Director of Urban Design for the Southeast Region. Mostly recently he was employed by the City of Atlanta’s Department of City Planning. During his six-year tenure with the City he served as the Director for the Atlanta City Studio, Director for the Office of Design, and Deputy Commissioner for Strategy. He has over 14 years combined private and public sector experience as an urban designer. Kevin is a graduate of Georgia Tech’s Architecture and City and Regional Planning programs and has lived in Atlanta for over 20 years. This is sponsored content.
ULI Atlanta Center for Leadership has entered its 14th year and is a powerful local resource to help guide the responsible development of the Atlanta region by strengthening connections and understanding among area organizations that guide and influence real estate development. During the course of the nine-month program, participants meet each month with a specific thematic focus on the built environment, outlined below: The class also has the opportunity to provide leadership on a critical real estate development issue through an mini Technical Assistance Panel (mTAP). This year, the mTAP program will be chaired by Shirlynn Fortson at Amazon and co-chaired by Amy Granelli at Eberly & Associates. The class of 2023 kicked off in person on September 15th under the leadership of CFL Chair Alex Demestihas at JLL and co-chair Katherine Bowen at Shelton McNally. Congratulations to the Class of 2023: Shauna Achey, TVS Anson Adams, Truist Bank Ryan Akin, Columbia Ventures Ronnie Belizaire, Jones Lang Lasalle Kenneth Budd II, Novare Group Brad Chambers, MAPP Built Alice Chang, Rockefeller Group Kate Culver, Portman Residential Katie Delp, Purpose Built Communities Jason Finley, St Clair Holdings Philip Gilman, Sugar Creek Capital Reeti Gupta, HKS Patrick Kassin, Woodfield Development Danielle Katz, ASD|SKY Jenna Lee, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP Lauren Leyrer, Eberly & Associates Daniel Maloon, Spectra Holdings Christopher Manzer, Seyfarth Shaw LLP Randi Mason, Decide DeKalb Dev. Authority Emily Mastropiero, Square Feet Studio Javier Morales, Patterson R.E. Advisory Group Jay Perlmutter, ANDP Dipo Popoola, Cygnus Capital Jordan Richardson, GID Danna Richey, Newcomb & Boyd Vickey Roberts, Invest Atlanta Shar’ron Russell, Georgia Power Company Shas Saintiague, Columbia Residential Sam Sampson, Ironwood Design Group Pierangeli Simonpietri Rodriguez, Dwell Design Studio Michael Varner, Atkins North America Ross Wallace, WorkingBuildings, LLC Douglas Webster, Cooper Carry *** ULI Atlanta’s CFL program cultivates leadership and life-strategy skills by teaching emerging leaders in the real estate and land use industries how the Atlanta region gets built and how their decisions shape the future of the built environment. Information on CFL can be found here.
By Jared Teutsch, Executive Director This week marks the last week of Georgia Grows Native for Birds Month as Georgia Audubon wraps up a month-long celebration of the important connection between birds and native plants. Why are native plants so important for birds, you ask? Without native plants and healthy habitats, we would have no birds. In order for Georgia Audubon to fulfill our mission of building places where birds and people thrive, it is critical that we create bird-friendly habitats and encourage others to do so as well. Birds and native plants go together thanks to millions of years of coevolution. Native plants produce fruits and flowers on which birds feed, and, in return, birds spread the plant’s seeds and pollen far and wide, supporting an entire ecosystem. It’s a win-win. The most effective way to improve landscapes for birds is to remove exotic, invasive species and replace them with native plants. A recently released study published in the journal Science revealed that nearly three billion birds —or one in four birds— have disappeared from our landscape in the past 50 years. Habitat loss and degradation are two of the leading causes for this decline. Nowhere is this more evident than in metro Atlanta. Not only are we losing habitat and tree canopy at an alarming rate, but the habitat that we still have is being rapidly degraded making it less able to support the full life cycle of many bird species. The decline of even common species, including our state bird, the Brown Thrasher, indicates a general shift in our ecosystems’ ability to support basic bird life. We must do better if we hope to maintain healthy ecosystems and healthy bird populations. Native plants are also important hosts for protein-rich native insects, like caterpillars, which nesting birds need to feed their growing chicks. More than 96 percent of land birds feed insects and spiders to their chicks. In fact, a single nest of Carolina Chickadee babies will need as many as 9,000 caterpillars in order to fledge. Native tree species are better for birds because they host many more caterpillars. For example, a native oak supports more than 550 kinds of butterflies and moths, whereas a non-native Ginkgo tree supports only five. Timing is important, too. The fruits and flowers of most native plants ripen at the same time migratory birds are passing through, providing a high-fat, nutritional food source to help birds complete their migratory journeys. In addition to providing food for pollinators and birds, gardens and habitats filled with native plants instead of turf grass help reduce storm water run-off and mitigate the effects of climate change. Recognizing the inherent connection between native plants and birds, Georgia Audubon has been restoring bird-friendly habitat across the metro area and beyond, at places like Blue Heron Nature Preserve, Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, Piedmont Park, Historic Washington Park, Jekyll Island, and others. Through partnerships with friends’ groups and other volunteer organizations, we’ve removed acres and acres of privet, English ivy, kudzu, and other invasive plants and replaced them with native plants that provide food and habitat for resident and migratory birds. Through habitat restoration work and bi-annual native plant sales, Georgia Audubon has added more than 30,000 native plants to Georgia landscapes. On the home front, Georgia Audubon’s Wildlife Sanctuary Program has certified nearly 800 homes and greenspaces. Our goal is to create a web of high-quality habitat for birds and other wildlife across Georgia. Learn more about our work and how you can get involved at www.georgiaaudubon.org. This is sponsored content.
By Debbie Fiddyment Among Latest Top-Tier Organizations to Join the Financial Literacy for All (FL4A) Movement.. Iconic companies commit to join 10-year initiative seeking to engage American families where they live, work and learn. Financial Literacy for All, a national initiative to support embedding financial literacy into American culture, today announced the next wave of prominent private sector companies who are committing their organizations to the movement. General Motors (NYSE: GM), The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) and Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) join other top-tier organizations including founding members Walmart, Disney, NFL, NBA, Delta Air Lines, Walgreens, Bank of America, Khan Academy, PayPal and Ares Management, and key members BlackRock, Edward Jones, FICO, First Horizon Bank, iHeart Media, Mastercard, NASCAR, Nasdaq, Nextdoor, NIKE, Santander, Shopify, TIME for Kids, Truist, Uber, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo as part of this first-of-its-kind coalition. “We are honored to have these iconic companies, who represent the best of American ingenuity, lend their influential voice to this movement,” said John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE. “We look forward to collaborating with the innovative leadership at General Motors, The Hershey Company and Tyson Foods to grow our impact as we work to help everyone build a better future.” Launched May 20, 2021, this 10-year commitment Co-Chaired by Walmart CEO Doug McMillion and Bryant, will reach millions of youth and working adults enabling them to achieve greater financial success for themselves and their families. Underscoring the need for financial capability, the National Financial Educators Council estimates that financial illiteracy costs American families an estimated $352 billion in 2021. To follow the progress of Financial Literacy for All, please visit FL4A.org. General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at https://www.gm.com. About The Hershey Company: The Hershey Company is headquartered in Hershey, Pa., and is an industry-leading snacks company known for bringing goodness to the world through its iconic brands, remarkable people and enduring commitment to help children succeed. Hershey has approximately 19,000 employees around the world who work every day to deliver delicious, quality products. The company has more than 100 brand names in approximately 80 countries around the world that drive more than $8.9 billion in annual revenues, including such iconic brand names as Hershey’s, Reese’s, Kit Kat®, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers, and fast-growing salty snacks including SkinnyPop, Pirate’s Booty and Dot’s Pretzels. For more than 125 years, Hershey has been committed to operating fairly, ethically and sustainably. Hershey founder, Milton Hershey, created the Milton Hershey School in 1909 and since then the company has focused on helping children succeed. About Tyson Foods: Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN) is one of the world’s largest food companies and a recognized leader in protein. Founded in 1935 by John W. Tyson and grown under four generations of family leadership, the Company has a broad portfolio of products and brands like Tyson®, Jimmy Dean®, Hillshire Farm®, Ball Park®, Wright®, Aidells®, ibp® and State Fair®. Tyson Foods innovates continually to make protein more sustainable, tailor food for everywhere it’s available and raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do. Headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, the Company had approximately 137,000 team members on October 2, 2021. Through its Core Values, Tyson Foods strives to operate with integrity, create value for its shareholders, customers, communities and team members and serve as a steward of the animals, land and environment entrusted to it. Visit www.tysonfoods.com. This is sponsored content.
By Charles Redding, CEO & President In 2021, the Emergency Event Database (EM-DAT) recorded 432 disastrous events related to natural hazards worldwide. Overall, these accounted for 10,492 deaths, affected 101.8 million people, and caused approximately $252.1 billion in economic losses. Asia was the most severely impacted continent, suffering 40% of all disaster events and accounting for 49% of the total number of deaths and 66% of the total number of people affected. During this time, as COVID surged once again in India and Nepal, MedShare supplied critical respiratory equipment, thousands of pieces of PPE and other essential hospital supplies and equipment. When natural or man-made disasters strike vulnerable areas around the world, MedShare stands prepared to respond quickly and effectively. We are in a unique position to equip first responders in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and partner with local institutions and government agencies to rebuild capacity and support long-term recovery. As we continue to strengthen our preparedness through key partnership agreements with the Global Crisis Coordination Center, Henry Schein, and Amazon, we work collaboratively to preposition medical supplies for rapid response. Of course, many areas affected by natural disasters already have extreme difficulty reaching populations in rural locations. Typically, the limited infrastructure that was once in place no longer functions properly and creates bottlenecks for humanitarian aid delivery. MedShare is adept at overcoming those obstacles. The Opportunity: In the moments following a disaster, food, shelter, medical care and clothing are all high on the list of priorities. MedShare’s Disaster Relief Program focuses on: Communicating directly with our in-country partner hospitals and clinics to determine their needs Sourcing immediate needs from our product donor partners per established agreements Coordinating and expediting shipments of critical supplies with our logistics partners Provisioning medical mission team volunteers as they travel to the region to provide aid Continuing support after the initial response to aid in rebuilding health systems in areas devastated by disaster Although most of our disaster response efforts since 2020 has been focused on COVID-19, where we have delivered 72 million pieces of PPE globally to date to 103 partner organizations in 29 countries, MedShare’s most active response was in 2017, when we experienced some of the most devastating natural disasters in recorded history. Hurricane Maria was the deadliest Atlantic hurricane in over a decade, leaving thousands dead and millions without clean water and power for months. Hurricane Harvey is tied with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, having displaced 30,000 people across Texas, Louisiana, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Hurricane Irma caused unprecedented damage to Caribbean islands and many are stealing dealing with the afthermath of these storms today. On August 14, 2021, a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck western Haiti causing over 1400 casualties, 6900 injuries and widespread damage. MedShare, along with other humanitarian aid organizations, responded to this disaster to once again provide critical medical aid to victims and health workers. Unfortunately, it is not a question of if, but when the next disaster will strike. Currently, we are actively responding to the crisis in Ukraine, where over 4 million people have fled the country in the fastest and largest displacement crisis this century. Millions are still in danger and in urgent need of aid as attacks on Ukrainian cities continue. It has been over 6 months now since MedShare initiated our disaster relief response to provide critical, life-saving medical supplies and equipment to those impacted by this crisis, and to date we have provided over $2 million in humanitarian aid to countless individuals and communities in need of quality medical care, with plans to do more with your support. In the past 12 years alone, MedShare has responded to over 27 disasters across 37 countries, serving over 8 million people with over $50 million dollars in aid, thanks to the generous support of our partners and donors. Please visit www.medshare.org for more information on our disaster relief and other programs to supply humanitarian aid to resource challenged areas in the U.S. and abroad. This is sponsored content.
Westside Future Fund (WFF) is excited to be supporting thought leadership in the SaportaReport on Atlanta’s Historic Westside. At the October 15 Transform Westside Summit we announced the Westside Future Fund (WFF) PRI Program! A program-related investment (PRI) is low-cost capital that not-for-profit organizations can use to spur community development. Thanks to charitable support from Truist and PNC banks, WFF will provide low-cost loans to small, minority-owned businesses based in or serving the Historic Westside. This program builds on a pilot initially funded by AT&T and the Beloved Benefit. Our goal is to mobilize people with current, historical, or aspirational ties to the community to organically support the Westside’s economic development. The October 15 Transform Westside Summit highlighted the importance of economic empowerment of African American entrepreneurs with three special guest panelists – Courtney Smith from PNC Bank, Paul Wilson, Jr. from the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE), and Keitra Bates of Marddy’s Shared Kitchen and Marketplace. A common theme from the panelists was the need for equity in access to capital for Black business owners. Keitra Bates noted that white startups have access to $100,000 from family, on average, while for black startups, it’s only $11,000. In June 2020, PNC Bank announced its bold $1 billion commitment to playing a role in combatting racism and discrimination. During the Summit, Courtney elaborated on PNC’s commitment to the Westside by helping end systemic racism by donating to WFF for program-related investments. Keitra Bates is a recipient of a WFF PRI that she used to renovate and expand her shared kitchen. Marddy’s focus is on economic inclusion, business development, and growth opportunities for local food entrepreneurs with their primary service groups of people of color, women, and other marginalized populations. With the help of RICE, the PRI recipients will have access to resources to innovate, grow, create jobs, and build wealth. Part business generator, innovation lab, and museum, RICE invests in African American entrepreneurs, strengthens businesses, and creates community. We have many miles to eliminate the wealth gap between white and black startups. Thanks to our panelists and the organization they represent, we are making progress and hopefully serving as models for others! Check out our newsletter to learn more about the October 15 Summit. This is sponsored content.
United Way of Greater Atlanta is proud to partner with The Atlanta Falcons for Yards for Youth, a fundraising campaign giving children and their families the tools they need for a successful future. Did you know that nearly 500,000 children live in communities lacking equitable opportunities, sufficient resources and social supports to reach their full potential? Yards for Youth will help ensure that all students are strong learners, have the resources they need, and set them up for success. Donate and help us: Expand early learning opportunities and increase support outside of school Help more kids stay in school by providing access to healthcare support for families that face chronic illness and mental health challenges Ensure that more families can access stable housing, meals, transportation, technology and other basic needs that are fundamental to helping kids thrive in school and beyond We kicked off Yards for Youth with the Atlanta Falcons and our Young Professional Engagement Groups (YPL &LINC) by volunteering to create a fully stocked resource center to one of our partner schools, KIPP WAYS, on our beloved Westside of Atlanta. More than 800 students and their families were provided with school supplies, hygiene items, meals, and home goods. And it doesn’t stop there. Help us continue this work by giving to “Yards for Youth” today! Help us continue this work by giving to Yards for Youth today! Learn More about Strong Learners Today in Greater Atlanta nearly 500,000 children live in communities with low child well-being scores – lacking equitable opportunities, sufficient resources and social supports creating roadblocks from the child to reach his or her full potential. Together we can ensure more young children have quality learning experiences at home, at quality early childhood providers, and in the community from the start for a successful and sustainable future. Strong Learners works to: Build educational outcomes for children by expanding early learning opportunities, increasing support outside of school. Help increase healthcare navigation for families that face chronic illnesses, mental and family health challenges interfering with school attendance. Secure housing and basic needs for children and families lacking meals, stable shelter, transportation and technology that are fundamental to achieving educational outcomes, healthy lives and reaching economic stability. Learn more about YPE! United Way of Greater Atlanta Young Professional Leaders (YPL) and LINC (Lead, Impact, Network, Change) is a compassionate, committed group of individuals (ages 40 and under) on a mission to encourage the spirit of philanthropy. Chosen as one of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s five professional organizations for millennials, YPL members represent a new wave of philanthropists in Greater Atlanta and are champions of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being Agenda with a focus on the Investment Priority Area of Strong Learners. MEMBERSHIP CRITERIA: YPL is exclusive to individuals, ages 40 and under, donating at least $500 or more annually to United Way of Greater Atlanta. FOR MORE INFORMATION: email@example.com unitedwayatlanta.org/group/young-professional-leaders firstname.lastname@example.org unitedwayatlanta.org/group/linc This is sponsored content.
A scientist and a comedian walk into a classroom. They start a discussion about how art can influence social justice. You’ll have to wait for the punchlines. Emory first-year students will create them as part of a new fall seminar “Human Flourishing: Imagine a Just City.” “Humans cannot flourish without true justice,” says Micaela Martinez, Emory assistant professor of biology, who developed the class. “We have so many huge societal problems that need creativity, imagination, hope and optimism to solve.” The class is among the new First-Year Flourishing Seminars, aimed at deepening what students know but also who they aspire to be. It is also part of the Emory Arts and Social Justice Fellows program, which pairs Emory faculty with Atlanta artists to explore how creative thinking and artistic expression can inspire change. Martinez is co-teaching with Arts and Social Justice Fellow David Perdue, an Atlanta comedian. “You can’t save the world with jokes,” Perdue says. “But humor can be a good way to raise awareness of what’s going on. It’s a first step.” Martinez, who joined the Emory faculty last year, is an infectious disease ecologist. Her lab studies how ecology, social determinants of health, immunology, climate change and demography intersect to shape health and disease. She comes to Atlanta from New York, where she was on the faculty of Columbia University. “During the pandemic we saw Black and Brown New Yorkers dying at two times the rate as white New Yorkers. It was quite stark,” Martinez says. “It really shined a light on the social inequities of the city.” Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegal tapped Martinez to serve on a commission tasked with making social justice recommendations to the newly elected mayor of New York, Eric Adams, to improve the lives of all New Yorkers. “We were asked to imagine New York being a just city and what we would have to do to get there,” Martinez says. “We came up with a set of policies covering everything from health, policing, climate change, food systems, housing and education.” Her idea for the Emory seminar grew out of that experience. “Emory undergraduates are eager to get a diverse, wide-ranging education,” Martinez says. “That gives faculty the freedom to develop seminars like ‘Imagine a Just City.’” Co-teaching with a comedian puts an interesting twist on the class. One way David Perdue has honed his sense of humor is coping with sharing a name with a former U.S. senator, who also recently sought the Republican nomination in the race for governor of Georgia. “When he lost I was like, ‘Oh, thank God!’” Perdue recalls. “I’ve been dealing with requests to fix potholes and other annoying remarks for years.” A native of Georgia, Perdue graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in sociology and leadership studies. “A leadership studies professor, Dr. Walter Fluker, had a heavy influence on how I think about using comedy to reach people and talk about difficult things,” Perdue says. “He opened my eyes to how to build community. Sharing laughter with someone from an opposing view can add a little depth to humanity. Good comedy threads the needle and connects people across divides.” A prolific entertainer, Perdue co-produces the free 1AM Secret Show for stand-up comedy on Saturdays at Smith’s Olde Bar. He has appeared at comedy festivals throughout the country and on Comedy Central. He co-hosts two comedy podcasts, “Forth and Ten” and “The Confused Caucus.” And he co-produced and co-created the stage show “Double Consciousness” with poet Adan Bean, which uses humor to process the social traumas of the Black community while also celebrating hope. Becoming an Emory Arts and Social Justice Fellow was one more way for Perdue to apply his talent in meaningful ways. Martinez and Perdue hit it off immediately through their shared commitment to social justice and building community. “I feel a moral imperative to use my scientific training to help address the injustices I see around me,” Martinez says. Too often, she adds, scientists, activists and artists act in silos when complex social problems require a holistic approach. A sense of hopefulness is also vital, she stresses. “It can be quite wearing on the spirit to keep going over the statistics for Black infant mortality, or the fact that if you’re Black in this country you’re so much more likely to die at the hands of a police officer,” Martinez says. “We want to foster a sense of optimism and stewardship in the students. We’re giving them the freedom to imagine a better world.” In addition to scientific reports and articles, the seminar syllabus includes visual media, such as the documentary “John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky”; creative writing, including the poetry of Ono and the essays of James Baldwin; and podcasts like the History Channel’s “Tulsa Burning.” Joint classes will be held with the “Fairy Tales and Flourishing” seminar led by Vincent Bruyere, associate professor of French and scholar of fairy tales, and “Nonhuman Flourishing” led by Sean Meighoo, associate professor of comparative literature and a founding member of the Animal Studies Society. Each week, the students discuss a different justice topic, such as food insecurity, sexual and reproductive health, incarceration and policing, climate change, environmental justice as well as chronic health disparities and infectious diseases. They are then challenged with questions such as, “If you had executive power and limitless resources to create one policy to address this issue, what would it be?” Workshops will help the students hone group class projects on their chosen topic, some of which will be presented in December at an Emory Arts and Social Justice Project Showcase and Community Conversation. “We’re learning from the students as well when it comes to the form the final projects may take,” Perdue says. “My generation got a lot of its news from the comedy of ‘The Daily Show.’ Today, TikTok and Instagram are big sources of information.” “When students leave Emory we want them to not only have a solid grounding in critical issues of social justice but also make sure …
By Rebecca Parshall, PhD It’s becoming an all too familiar story: teachers are leaving the profession at high rates, entering at low rates, and many school districts are struggling to fill open positions. And it’s no surprise as to why. A recent RAND study found that, nationally, teachers experience two times as much “frequent, job-related stress” as the overall workforce. A similar pattern of teacher burnout holds true in Georgia, and it bears consequences: a recent Professional Association of Georgia’s Educators’ survey found that only about half of Georgia’s teachers plan to remain in the profession for five more years. Regardless of whether that many teachers leave Georgia’s classrooms over the next several years, their discontent with current working conditions sends a urgent message to those of us who depend on the success of our education systems (that is, all of us). Here’s why – teachers have the single largest in-school effect on students’ academic outcomes, and play a significant role in students’ development in other areas, such as growth mindset. Teacher turnover negatively affects students and schools. Supporting teachers so they feel good about staying in classrooms is critical to our recovery from the pandemic and is our collective responsibility. Learn4Life’s middle grade math network is working to support teacher retention as a critical lever to improve math proficiency. This summer, Learn4Life’s team learned from school district HR leaders about our region’s challenges and ongoing district initiatives. Here is a sample of what we heard… Math, science, special education, and English Language Learner teachers remain hardest to staff. Over the last several years, early career teachers have been leaving at the highest rates. The top reason metro Atlanta teachers are leaving is because they feel the workload is not doable. There’s great variation in vacancies across metro Atlanta’s districts. Metro Atlanta school districts are responding to teacher voices by working to build strategies in the following areas: Reducing workload and offering flexibility – this includes hiring additional support staff to cover non-instructional time and developing innovative schedules that give teachers more time. Developing career and leadership pathways – transparency about growth and advancement opportunities is common in most sectors, and only emerging within education. Wellness initiatives – honoring teachers as whole people who benefit from support structures and celebration is one component of retention. School-based plans – conducting frequent “pulse-check” surveys provide data for school administrators to respond to proactively. In the coming months, L4L will partner with districts to select one of these strategies for regional collaboration. As an asset-based organization, we believe we can accomplish more by working together and by amplifying strategies that are already showing promise. In this critical moment in public education, we need to show up and support our teachers like they do each day for our students. If you are interested in joining L4L’s conversation around teacher retention, please email email@example.com. All are welcome to join L4L’s Change Action Networks. We’d love to have your voice at the table. Rebecca Parshall is the Director of Strategy at Learn4Life, metro Atlanta’s educational collective impact initiative. This is sponsored content.