Testing Available at Brookhaven Station in DeKalb County, State Farm Arena in Fulton County By MARTA MARTA has joined partner jurisdictions in DeKalb and Fulton Counties to provide access to COVID-19 testing at convenient locations near Brookhaven Station on the Gold Line and GWCC/CNN Station on the Blue/Green Lines. “As COVID cases continue to rise in Georgia, we want to make sure MARTA customers and residents who live near our rail stations have access to quick, free testing,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “We are grateful to the City of Brookhaven and Mayor Ernst and Fulton County and Chairman Pitts for their leadership and for including MARTA in order to make these sites easily accessible for everyone.” Beginning Thursday, Oct. 29, COVID-19 testing will be available in the long-term parking lot at Brookhaven Station located at 4047 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, 30319. The testing site, run by COVID Care Georgia, is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays, except Wednesday, and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on weekends. “The City of Brookhaven is proud to come together with COVID Care Georgia, LabCorp, and MARTA to make testing available near public transit,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst. “This site ensures those residents without cars or those who don’t want to travel too far outside their community are able to get tested.” The Brookhaven testing site can accommodate drive-up and walk-up customers and medical professionals on site can administer tests to people ages six months and older. Customers are asked to bring their insurance information and identification, although the uninsured will not be turned away. Free COVID-19 testing, along with flu shots, are available at State Farm Arena, easily accessed by taking MARTA to GWCC/CNN rail station. The testing and vaccination areas are located at the south end of the arena, near MARTA, on the walkway between Centennial Park Drive and the Georgia World Congress Center. The testing and shots are being offered through a partnership with Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), Fulton County Board of Health, the Atlanta Hawks, and State Farm Arena. “I went to State Farm Arena Friday to receive my annual flu shot and another COVID-19 test, the process was very quick and easy,” said Fulton County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robb Pitts. “We have seen so many Fulton County residents travel to the arena on MARTA to vote early that it made sense to provide these important health checks at this convenient location as well.” COVID-19 testing and flu shots are available at State Farm Arena from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily until the end of early voting on Friday, October 30. This is sponsored content.
By Metro Atlanta Chamber The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC) announced today that the city has won the bid to host the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Regional, including the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, at State Farm Arena in 2025. The winning proposal was submitted in February and crafted by the ASC in partnership with the Atlanta Visitors Convention Bureau, Georgia Tech and State Farm Arena. Georgia Tech will serve as the host institution for the games. “We are thrilled to work with the NCAA and the city of Atlanta again to bring the Men’s Division I Regional Basketball games back in 2025,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council. “After the unfortunate cancellation of this year’s Final Four, we are thrilled to bring a key part of the NCAA Tournament back to metro Atlanta. We are thankful for our partners at the Atlanta Visitors Convention Bureau, Georgia Tech and State Farm Arena for assisting us in creating another successful bid to bring a premier sporting event here.” The ASC plans to oversee the execution of the 2025 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Regional under the organization’s Championship Hosting Division which has been utilized for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl LIII and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four. The ASC has partnered with the NCAA on several events in recent years. In 2018, Atlanta hosted the Division I Regional, where basketball fans watched a Cinderella story unfold as No. 11 seed Loyola (Chicago) advanced to the Final Four®. The city was also set to host its fourth NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2020, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event would have been the first basketball game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Atlanta Sports Council hopes to bring another NCAA Men’s Final Four event to the city in the near future and is turning its focus to baseball as the city hosts the 2021 MLB All-Star Game at Truist Park. Additional information about the Men’s Division I Basketball Regional and the MLB All-Star Game will be released as available. About the Atlanta Sports Council The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC), a division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, facilitates the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sports events. The organization plays an important role in improving the quality of life for residents in the region through sports, working to drive economic growth and visibility and acting as an advocate for area teams and annual sports events. For more information, visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/councils/atlanta-sports-council. This is sponsored content.
By Jim Durrett, President and CEO, The Buckhead Coalition This morning, a Saturday, I took my electric bike out for a ride to enjoy the beautiful fall weather. I had one hour before my brother and his wife would be over to meet our new puppy. On my return home I stopped at a red light, preparing to turn right, with a “No Turn on Red” sign prominently displayed ahead. I waited patiently and then a car pulled up next to me in the left-turn-only lane, paused, and then gunned it, turning right in front of me to get to where the driver needed to go. In my head I said a few choice words not to be repeated here, but I kept thinking about what had just happened during the rest of my ride home. Now my brother and his wife have come and gone, my wife is out for a bike ride, the puppy is napping, and I have decided what to write about for this column: selfishness. Lately, the view from Peachtree has been one, at night, of dozens and dozens of loud, souped-up vehicles being driven recklessly and brazenly by selfish people. Dubbed “street racing,” this activity seems to be ubiquitous, not confined to Buckhead, and not even confined to Atlanta or Georgia. It appears to me to be a reaction to being cooped up during the earlier days of COVID, to a belief that police won’t or can’t do anything about it, and to a strong desire to draw attention to oneself in real life and online. Early this morning I read a story online about our Atlanta Police Department and its efforts to address street racing in Atlanta. A commenter lamented that the City should not prioritize this “to score political points with Buckhead” and should instead focus on “real challenges, like housing, health and employment.” Our city government does focus on those challenges, and this isn’t about Buckhead. This is about public safety and how the selfish acts of a relative few are disrupting the lives of many thousands of people throughout the City of Atlanta. This week, The Buckhead Coalition, along with the Buckhead Community Improvement District, Livable Buckhead, the Buckhead Business Association, representatives of Atlanta City Council and the Fulton County Commission, the Atlanta Police Department, the Atlanta Police Foundation, and citizens representing Buckhead’s Neighborhood Planning Units and all of our neighborhoods, will come together. We will kick off a thorough examination of our public safety issues in order to develop and implement a strategic plan to address brazen, unlawful behavior in a collaborative way. We won’t be focusing on street racing – others are already working on this issue. We will focus on other selfish acts that are adversely affecting the lives and livelihoods of many people who live and work in Buckhead, and those who enjoy coming here to dine and to shop. I look forward to the outcomes from this process and the results to follow. This is sponsored content.
By Kelsi Eccles and Stacia Turner, The Conservation Fund 2020 has been a rainy year in Atlanta, and it’s on track to be one of the city’s top five wettest years on record. More water more often—with 2018 being the second wettest year on record—heightens the need to address aging or inadequate infrastructure, manage increased demands on transportation and stormwater management systems, and plan for climate related impacts. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted these pressures and their impacts on public health. Neighborhoods facing the greatest adverse environmental and health outcomes are frequently those that have historically been plagued with economic and social inequities and are often communities of color. In the last decade, growing cities like Atlanta have recognized that urban conservation efforts must be inclusive of these challenged communities and focus on increasing accountability and transparency that ensures conservation outcomes address the needs of both current and future residents. The Conservation Fund’s Parks with Purpose initiative has demonstrated innovative and inclusive urban conservation by partnering with government and grassroots organizations to create new parks and greenspaces that address environmental justice and climate-related issues at a neighborhood level. While these park projects take time to develop, along the way we have learned some valuable lessons that help to ensure long-term community benefits that honor our diverse neighbors, partners, and planet. Lesson 1: Get back to nature – replicate natural systems to increase climate and community resilience. Climate science is pointing to increased frequency of intense weather events and conditions including heavy precipitation, prolonged drought, and higher temperatures. Urban parks can address multiple climate change challenges through ecosystem services, such as mitigating urban heat island effects, filtering stormwater runoff, and allowing more natural cycling of water with green infrastructure investments. By restoring natural systems that help to cool our concrete jungles, we can reduce the current impacts of sewer overflows and stormwater flooding in these communities. The Fund is working with numerous private and public partners in Atlanta to reconnect economically distressed urban communities with their natural waterways. Atlanta’s Proctor Creek Watershed is identified in the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, (something is missing here) working to amend the legacy of water pollution from sewer overflows and stormwater runoff from streets, buildings and parking lots that disproportionately impact lower income neighborhoods. Green infrastructure investments, like tree planter boxes and bioswales, are adding stormwater infrastructure capacity and helping manage urban flooding. In addition to supporting more resilient municipal systems, green infrastructure in the form of new parks also provides access to healthy, nature-based recreational opportunities, providing safe places for kids to play, families to gather, and neighbors to build social bonds. Residents in many of Atlanta’s most challenged neighborhoods lack access to quality parks, and COVID-19 has further emphasized the impact of these community inequities. Urban parks provide a significant opportunity to work alongside communities to increase access to nature-based programming, park planning, and natural resource decision making. “Almost every Thursday I collect samples of the [Proctor Creek] water at Lindsay Street Park and take it to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. They test it for E. coli and post it on their website. The creek was healthy when I was a kid and that’s what I want to see again,” said Juanita Wallace, Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Clean-up and Community Science Committee Chair. Lesson 2: Invest in people – foster community-centered environmental stewardship Traditional environmentalism is focused on protecting and preserving pristine landscapes for wildlife and biodiversity. These lands area often managed by state and federal partners as National Parks and Wildlife Refuges and supporters are outdoor enthusiasts with a love of nature. Urban conservation is different. Parks with Purpose projects are in communities that have been historically impacted by environmental, social, and racial injustices and the properties are often degraded and polluted. Residents have been subjected to greenspaces that are often overgrown, trash-filled, and dangerous. The Parks with Purpose model not only restores degraded urban landscapes, but also invests in growing the capacity of community leaders and grassroots organizations who champion environmental stewardship. The Conservation Fund recognizes that supporting environmental resiliency in urban neighborhoods means providing resources to communities that face underinvestment but hold expertise in land stewardship and community organizing. This includes supporting environmental education, community science, workforce training, and resident based planning and visioning activities that build an inclusive network of community leaders who are passionate about urban conservation and who will champion the activation and stewardship of these new parks and greenspaces. “When the pandemic hit, our community lost a lot of the large group volunteer days that we usually have in the spring. But we were able to get resources to help hire our neighbors that are trained to clean up parks and green infrastructure to fill that gap,” said Vanessa Booker, Park Ambassador Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park. Another innovative approach that The Conservation Fund has taken to overcome barriers in engaging urban communities in the decision-making and stewardship of parks and natural resources has been to create space for community voices at the decision-making table. They become partners in planning and developing the projects instead of responding to solutions proposed by municipal partners. By engaging community partners in the early stages of a project, local knowledge and expertise become a prominent feature of the park design. This type of community involvement builds connections between residents and their local parks as well as a sense of ownership and pride, which enhances the place keeping impact of these neighborhood hubs. Thanks to partnerships in Atlanta with Park Pride, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and Eco-Action, we are helping communities shape visions of new parks, stream corridors, and greenspaces. We rely on the expertise of community-led organizations to help educate and engage residents in green infrastructure, watershed stewardship and local natural resources. Through nature-based learning programs, grassroots partners help reconnect residents with outdoor spaces. Once residents are engaged with the project, The Conservation Fund partners with Park Pride’s community park visioning team to conceptualize how a park can make an impact on …
By: John Hope Bryant Disasters are unpredictable. Even with prior warning, we are rarely, if ever, prepared for the mental and emotional tax excised on us individually and collectively as a community. Right now, we find ourselves in the middle of a global health crisis, an economic shift felt by millions, and in the throes of battling a series of back-to-back natural disasters. Amidst these trying times, we must remember – disasters do not stop, and we cannot sit by idly, becoming victims of circumstance. The best way to fight back against the unknown is by being prepared. Devastation strikes without discrimination and it is never clear when it will impact you and your community. It is often said that the best offense is a good defense, preparedness is just that. Financial preparation for emergencies can save you and your family tremendous heartache and stress after disaster strikes. The simple actions you take, or do not take, today can greatly affect your future and way of life. Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recorded that more than 25 million Americans were impacted by a natural disaster in 2017; and, in the past three years alone, natural disasters have accounted for nearly $500 billion in damage and losses. While it is not possible to control the disruptions that nature can sometimes bring into our lives, we can control our response to them through financial literacy. Financial literacy is the cornerstone of preparedness; the two go together. When you understand the mechanics of money and resources – and how it can be leveraged to bring you to your desired future – you attain a sense of control and empowerment you may not have had before. Many times, individuals can tend to focus on what they do not have as a reason for delaying emergency preparations. Rather than focusing on what you do not have, think about shifting your focus on what you do have and maximizing its output and potential. Remember, consistently taking small actions yields big results over time. Here are a few things that you can do to be prepared for any kind of financial emergency you may find yourself in: Make saving a priority. It is important to understand that federal disaster assistance will not make you whole after disaster strikes – you must make saving and proper insurance a priority. For your savings, consider creating an additional “cash-on-demand” savings account that you add to periodically that you can take with you in case you are required to evacuate in a hurry. Maintain insurance. After Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the average flood insurance payout to homeowners who flooded was $120,000. Conversely, homeowners who took on water and applied for FEMA for federal financial assistance through FEMA received $4,000 to 7,000 on average. Therefore, it is important to understand your risks and ensure your assets have the proper level of coverage. Review your policy options, policies, and other relevant paperwork consistently to ensure that information is up to date. Have a written plan. A comprehensive financial plan serves as your road map reminding you of your desired destination and the actions required to get there. Make copies of all important financial and legal documents. Many times, when disasters strike, property is severely damaged or destroyed. Unfortunately, for many, they lose access to important documents like mortgage information and birth certificates which are helpful in applying for recovery assistance. Additionally, in today’s technological environment, make sure your important documents are available digitally by storing them in the cloud, email, or mobile device. If you need assistance in this process, Operation HOPE may be able to help. For nearly three decades, Operation HOPE has been empowering Americans through financial literacy with a standing commitment to prepare individuals and families for financial disasters, of any kind, and seeing them through to recovery. Through HOPE Coalition America (HCA), the organization provides preparation coaching, at no cost to clients, to help them get back on their feet should they be adversely affected by disaster – be it natural or manmade. Additionally, their financial wellbeing coaches are trained to walk alongside clients in their most vulnerable times to help them regain a sense of dignity and normalcy in their lives. They can help clients build emergency financial plans, negotiate their mortgage payments, apply for eligible post-disaster FEMA assistance, speak to lenders concerning the terms and condition of their loans, and more. Life is an adventure, plan for it and be ready for the unexpected. September is National Preparedness Month and it is the perfect time to make a commitment to ensure you and your family are financially prepared – by doing so, you are investing in your future. For more resources, visit the Ready Campaign and the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.
By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President I cannot recall a time when so much focus has been placed on primary health care, or the lack thereof, as it is now. The global Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the ongoing struggle in many communities to address underlying health conditions before they lead to catastrophic outcomes. This is especially true in low-income and marginalized communities. The concept of primary health care has been repeatedly reinterpreted and redefined. In some contexts, it is referred to as the provision of ambulatory or first-level personal health care services. In other contexts, primary health care is understood as a set of priority health interventions for low-income populations. Others consider primary health care to be an essential component of human development, focusing on the economic, social and political aspects. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a cohesive definition based on three components: Meeting people’s health needs through comprehensive promotive, protective, preventive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care throughout the life course, strategically prioritizing key health care services aimed at individuals and families through primary care and the population through public health functions as the central elements of integrated health services; Systematically addressing the broader determinants of health (including social, economic, environmental, as well as people’s characteristics and behaviors) through evidence-informed public policies and actions across all sectors; and Empowering individuals, families, and communities to optimize their health, as advocates for policies that promote and protect health and well-being, as co-developers of health and social services, and as self-carers and care-givers to others. All too often, primary health care is a weak link in health systems. Over 400 million people worldwide lack access to essential health services typically delivered through primary health care. According to WHO, over 10 million children under the age of five who live in developing nations die annually due to inadequate medical care. In some instances, potentially life-saving surgeries have to be cancelled due to the lack of basic supplies like sutures, clean needles, gauze and alcohol wipes. Often, people living in medically underserved communities are sicker and live shorter lives due to lack of access to basic services, including health care. Closing the gap in quality primary health care is essential to improving global health outcomes. Active primary care health systems are where people go in their communities to stay healthy and to receive care when they become ill. When quality primary care is available, it fosters healthier communities. For these reasons and more, MedShare’s Primary Care Program focuses on: Decreasing global health disparities by improving access to quality medical supplies and equipment Increasing the capacity to effectively treat and care for patients in local health care systems Strengthening global health systems so they are prepared to treat patients during future health crises Improving health outcomes for patients by improving the standard of care MedShare partners with hospitals, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and in-country health ministers to fulfill our mission. By working with these health partners, we help them reach more patients and perform more routine and life-saving medical procedures. Since 1998, through our Primary Care Program, we have been able to help strengthen health systems and improve the standard of care in 117 countries and territories by: Delivering nearly 1,900 shipments of quality medical supplies & equipment valued at $238 million. Provisioning almost 4,000 medical mission teams to provide care in resource-challenged communities Providing over $3.2 million of medical supplies to local safety-net clinics via our on-site Primary Care Supply Centers Quality health care should not be a choice. Rather, it should be provided as economically as possible to all those in need. Without it, the rate of disease and chronic illness affecting people around the world will continue to increase, and pandemics and other health crises will continue to disproportionally impact those living in underserved communities. This is sponsored content.
By Paul Donsky Better traffic signals. Enhanced bus service. Improved roads. These are a some of the projects included in this year’s list of transportation projects slated to receive federal funding. In all, $44 million from Uncle Sam was recently allocated by the Atlanta Regional Commission toward a range of projects. Here are some highlights: Widening Lee Road in Douglas County, from Fairburn Road to Monier Avenue, to create a four-lane roadway divided by a 20-foot raised grass median, sidewalks and a multi-use trail on the east side of Lee. MARTA improvements, including: Arterial Rapid Transit on Metropolitan Parkway, from the West End MARTA Station in the City of Atlanta to the City of Hapeville; and enhanced bus service in Clayton County. Bill Gardner Parkway Widening, scoping activities, from SR 155 to I-75 South in Henry County. When construction, Bill Gardner will be four lanes from SR 155 to Lester Mill Road and six lanes from Lester Mill to I-75. Other projects in line for funding include: Phase 1 of a traffic enhancement signal program in the City of Atlanta; the Global Gateway Connector in the City of College Park; and vehicle expansion on bus route 50 in Gwinnett County. The region’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) allocates federal funds to be used in the construction of the highest-priority projects in the long-range Regional Transportation Plan, which includes $173 billion in funding through 2050. The TIP is updated several times a year. This is sponsored content.
By By John Russell, Eric Tanenblatt, Thurbert Baker, David Quam, Polly Lawrence, Ceasar Mitchell, Rob Vescio and William Kaneko, Dentons Dentons’ Public Policy group has provided a synopsis of the political landscape for each state prepared by members of our Dentons 50 network — experts from all 50 state capitols with a pulse on federal, state and local races in their respective states. We also highlight the states with governors races, attorneys general races and the 22 state chambers considered “battle grounds” with their current majorities. Click here to view report (PDF) This is sponsored content.
By Nikonie Brown, marketing administrative assistant, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta The shift to virtual school because of COVID-19 has caused a myriad of accessibility issues for students and their families. Schools are more than learning centers – they are hubs for food, technology and mental and physical health. Georgia currently has 52 comprehensive school-based health centers – 22 in the Community Foundation’s 23-county service area – that have increased access to physical, mental and oral health for over 30,000 students and an equal number of family members and school staff. The coronavirus pandemic has presented these centers with crippling challenges. 85% of centers report having some or all locations closed due to school building closures and 66% predict a revenue loss over 50%. While 94% have shifted to telehealth, that requires patients to have access to a device and connectivity, which is difficult for many of the most vulnerable patients that need the services the most. As schools reopen, 100% predict the need to expand mental health services to students in the face of stressors and trauma associated with the pandemic and civil unrest.* PARTNERs for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health has launched the Georgia School Based Health Center (SBHC) COVID-19 Reopening Fund, which will provide payroll support to restore, maintain or expand center staffing. The Fund will support critical services throughout the pandemic and ensure that when schools are ready to open their doors, the centers are ready and available to focus on student well-being. *Data gleaned from focus groups and surveys of center administrators conducted by PARTNERs. This is sponsored content. Photo Credit: Whitefoord, Inc.
By Emory University Science Gallery Atlanta at Emory University will explore the twin themes of addiction and recovery in its inaugural exhibition, topics of particular relevance as mental health concerns climb because of the pandemic. The exhibition titled “Hooked,” is made possible by a $126,500 grant from Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation. Science Gallery Atlanta will launch the exhibition in early 2022. It also plans to organize some smaller events on the same theme in the run-up to the opening. Emory joined the Science Gallery Network earlier this year as its eighth member. The global university-led collaborative is dedicated to public engagement with science and art with a focus on reaching young people between 15 and 25 years of age. “Hooked” will feature immersive experiences using a mix of curated pieces from the Science Gallery exhibition in London and specially commissioned projects by Emory faculty, students and Atlanta artists who will collaborate to create interactive artworks for the exhibition. To that end, Science Gallery Atlanta is now inviting creative minds from the sciences and arts to contribute proposals for “Hooked.” Proposals can be a new or existing artwork, performance, workshop, digital intervention, research project or other activity. Interested participants can visit the Science Gallery Atlanta Open Call site to learn more. “I am delighted that Science Gallery Atlanta will be open to our community,” says Emory President Gregory L. Fenves. “This dynamic space for and by young people, focused on science, has never been more relevant. As an example, when we launch Science Gallery one of the themes will be addiction, and it will draw upon the arts and sciences to educate and enlighten about this critical problem facing so many families.” Young people, apart from being the primary audience, play a key role in the ideation of themes and displays at these galleries; they are also recruited as mediator docents responsible for explaining exhibits and the underlying science to visitors. Deborah Bruner, senior vice president of research at Emory, says the university’s entry into Science Gallery offers a new dimension to the collaborative. “Emory is leading the development of a research consortium to facilitate, coordinate and support research and scholarship through our learnings from Science Gallery,” Bruner says. “The knowledge created at the intersection of academic disciplines and youth engagement will undoubtedly advance our understanding of how creativity and discovery are ignited where science and art collide.” “Hooked” will offer audiences a multi-dimensional, nuanced understanding of the challenges associated with a variety of common addictions, from drugs to use of social media, and the many roads to recovery. It will also examine addiction as a fundamental risk of being human in a world where drugs are criminalized and social media and other digital platforms can trigger unhealthy dependencies. John Tracey, Science Sandbox’s program and media officer, says the Science Gallery model is “a powerful way to bring meaningful experiences with science to everyone. We couldn’t be more thrilled to support this initiative for the people of Atlanta.” Part experiment, part exhibition, Science Gallery is a living laboratory for ideas. Its programs connect, engage and showcase the work of artists, scientists, researchers, industry and a global network of collaborators. Some Science Galleries are housed in permanent spaces while others curate pop-ups exhibitions and traveling exhibits. About The Science Gallery Network The Science Gallery Network consists of leading universities united around a singular mission: to ignite creativity and discovery where science and art collide. Science Gallery International is the non-profit, charitable organization catalyzing the growth of the network, providing services, tools and resources required to power and expand this unique global collaboration, which now has eight members across four continents: the pioneering member Trinity College Dublin (Ireland); King’s College London (The United Kingdom); The University of Melbourne (Australia); the Indian Institute of Science, Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, The National Centre for Biological Sciences (India); Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy); Michigan State University (United States); Erasmus University Medical Center (The Netherlands); and Emory University (United States). This is sponsored content.
By Blythe Keeler Robinson, President and CEO, Sheltering Arms Earlier this month, early learning centers and organizations across the state participated in the 10th annual celebration of Georgia Pre-K, a lottery-funded program available to four-year-olds. This special week-long event highlights the important work that goes on in Pre-K classrooms to get children ready for future school success. Georgia legislators and community leaders are invited to visit and learn first-hand what happens in a quality early learning classroom. At Sheltering Arms, we have seen many elected officials take time out of their busy schedules to come to our centers and sit in kid-sized chairs to read some of our students’ favorite books and participate in classroom activities. This year, we welcomed visitors who read books and engaged with students virtually. Not only is this a fun time for our children and special guests, but their presence and involvement help emphasize the importance of early literacy. Georgia Pre-K Week is a prime opportunity for visitors to bring books to life for children and inspire a love of reading, which is critical in helping children get on a path to reading proficiency by the time they get to third grade. As a child’s interest in learning to read is nurtured and grows, it benefits the child and the community in ways that cannot be measured. We have seen students come through the Georgia Pre-K program at our centers, develop a love of reading and learning, and then go on to become teen leaders – speakers, community servants and even entrepreneurs. They become an inspiration to their peers. The Georgia Pre-K program is a national model. We stand strong with the Voices for Georgia’s Children and the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), along with other partners who want to see this program continue and be fully supported for the success of future generations. This is sponsored content.
By Wendy Stewart, Atlanta Market President for Bank of America Each year, in celebration of National Hispanic American Heritage Month, we at Bank of America express great support and gratitude for our Hispanic-Latino communities and their many contributions to our society and culture. Unity has been especially important this year as we continue to see many underserved communities, including communities of color, disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. We continue to uplift our Hispanic-Latino communities by supporting our clients, being a great place to work for our teammates and being proactive partners in the neighborhoods in which we live and work. Partnerships with organizations like the Latin American Association (LAA), La Amistad and Cristo Rey connect Hispanic-Latino youth to first-time jobs, offer young adults alternative pathways to employment, and provide second chances to individuals rebuilding their careers and lives, services that are all much-needed at this time. Our partners have risen to meet this unprecedented moment and adapted their approaches accordingly: LAA is working with families to address basic needs and provide education and job resource assistance, as well as COVID-19 testing for students and families. La Amistad has made use of its new bus to deliver more than 27,000 meals since the onset of the pandemic to students and families throughout Atlanta. Cristo Rey is navigating its school year virtually and preparing for the Corporate Work Study Program to begin Oct. 13. And Ser Familia, a longtime partner of our Hispanic-Latino employee network, has provided more than 100,000 pounds of food and offered emergency financial assistance to families in need over the past few months. At Bank of America, we believe we’re stronger when we connect our diverse backgrounds and perspectives to better meet the needs of our teammates, clients and communities. History and culture matter, and I am so grateful for our city’s diverse and colorful heritage. I hope that we learn to value all our perspectives and different viewpoints to foster a culture of greater inclusion and understanding — not just during National Hispanic American Heritage Month, but also in our daily lives. This is sponsored content.