Much like Atlanta, the City of Decatur is witnessing its population swell and, subsequently, its cost of living follow suit.
Andre Dickens is the Post-3 At-Large, Atlanta City Councilman, who has been in office since 2013. Andre Dickens has been one of the few councilmen to be outspoken on issues of gentrification and housing affordability.
The city's planning commission bumped up a policy to set aside 10 percent of new apartment units to include the whole city.
Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, a candidate for mayor, said Wednesday he supports inclusionary zoning, a regulation to require future residential developments to be mixed-income communities.
Artwork to be Featured at East Lake, Decatur & Avondale Rail Stations By MARTA MARTA’s public art program Artbound and the Decatur Arts Alliance in partnership with the City of Decatur announce a request for qualifications for three public art works by Black artists. The temporary artwork will be installed at East Lake, Decatur, and Avondale rail stations this fall. The project is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the call for racial justice and equity, though the subject matter is not limited to these topics. The work should be original, site-specific, and durable enough to remain at each rail station for at least six months. Each accepted proposal will be allocated an $8,000 budget so the artist can realize their work and a jury comprised of community and arts stakeholders will select three works for completion, one for each rail station. Black artists, artist teams, and creatives are encouraged to fill out this form by July 31. https://tinyurl.com/y4tuf8rv Project Timeline Application deadline: July 31 Jurying: August 5 Final jurying round (if needed): August 12 Artists notified: August 14 Project development: August – September Installation date: end of September/beginning of October For more information or if you have questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. One percent of MARTA’s annual budget is allocated to enhance the ridership experience through visual and performance art. MARTA Artbound provides opportunities for artists year-round with a range of projects encompassing many modes of art. To learn more visit https://itsmarta.com/artbound.aspx. This is sponsored content.
Grant Funds Awarded to 24 Local Businesses to Promote Atlanta’s Economic Recovery By Metro Atlanta Chamber The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) today announced 24 recipients of the RESTORE ATL Fund, in partnership with the CareSource Foundation. The Fund, totaling $180,000, will support Black-owned, small and medium-sized businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The recipient companies represent a number of industry sectors adversely impacted during the pandemic, including accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment and recreation; and healthcare and social assistance. Approximately 70% of recipient companies are woman-owned, three companies are veteran-owned, and more than 300 were employed by recipient companies as of March 2020. “The strong interest in the Fund, with applications submitted from 17 counties in the region, clearly indicates the need for initiatives such as RESTORE. We should not forget that every one of the hundreds of applications received represents a company that has been adversely impacted by the pandemic,” said Metro Atlanta Chamber President and CEO Katie Kirkpatrick. “Thank you to the CareSource Foundation for their partnership, and congratulations to our grant recipients. While the grant will certainly have a great impact for the recipients, there is much left to do. I’m certain that this community will continue to come together around those in need.” In June, the CareSource Foundation generously donated $180,000 to jump-start the RESTORE ATL Fund. The Dayton-based health plan pivoted their charitable resources to support both frontline health care providers, to meet the variable community needs around social determinants of health and, most recently, to support small businesses in their local markets. The RESTORE ATL Fund will provide immediate gap assistance to the recipient companies and grants can be used for operating expenses including rent, utilities, payroll and other business-related needs. Grant recipients were selected by a diverse volunteer review panel representing members of metro Atlanta’s business community across industries. The review panel included leaders from EY, The Gathering Spot, The Kendeda Fund and Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, Collab Capital and other organizations. Grant applications were assessed based on need and potential impact. The Fund builds on the work of MAC’s RESTORE task force, a diverse group of business leaders which aims to provide a blueprint for how metro Atlanta and Georgia might accelerate economic recovery. The group took on this important task while prioritizing the health of Georgia’s families and neighbors and considering the state’s most vulnerable populations. Metro Atlanta is home to top HBCUs in the nation, with a strong Black middle class. MAC honors this history while acknowledging the inequity and immobility challenges faced by the region. With input from diverse leaders, MAC has recently worked to pass Hate Crimes Legislation in Georgia and in 2019 formed Project Plato, a multicultural, multigenerational voice to envision Atlanta’s next phase and drive inclusive innovation. MAC is committed to holding up and preserving Atlanta’s legacy and creating a more equitable region for all. A full list of recipients can be found below, with ‘*’ denoting women-owned businesses: Abstract Elements Management Agency, LLC* – DeKalb Abstract Elements Management Agency is a global meeting and event planning agency producing corporate conferences, fundraising events and social soirees for Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, nonprofit organizations and private entities. BlackLight Productions Inc. – Douglas BlackLight Productions is a full-scale production services company for live events, film and corporate presentations. Buckley Dental Care* – Fulton Buckley Dental Care is a general dentistry practice providing comprehensive and affordable care for all age groups. Cafe Dionne* – Coweta Café Dionne is a restaurant and catering company featuring New Age American cooking specializing in Southern cuisine. Caterpillar Clubhouse Academy & Daycare* – Cobb The Caterpillar Clubhouse is a stimulating early care and educational experience environment for preschool children ages 18 months to five years old. Chez Montier, Inc. – DeKalb Chez Montier is a chef-driven, boutique catering company offering full-service catering and event décor. Chez Montier is owned by husband and wife team Judith Service Montier and Juan Montier. Cool Moms Dance Too* – Fulton Cool Moms Dance Too is a health and wellness provider of family fitness and mental health programs. Divine Personal Chef Svs. – Fulton Divine Personal Chef Svs is a multifaceted meal preparation company providing restaurant-quality, in-home meal service, private cooking classes, meal delivery and other special occasion culinary services. DJ MAGA Enterprises, LLC – DeKalb DJ MAGA Enterprises produces live music events and retail clothing centered around pan-Africanism and Black empowerment. Fitly Spoken, LLC* – DeKalb Fitly Spoken, LLC provides specialized medically prescribed speech, language, feeding and AAC services to patients from birth to 21 years of age. Fruity Ice & Treats* – Fulton Fruity Ice Treats is a store and mobile dessert catering company offering Italian Ice and customized sweet treats. H&T Art Partners, LLC – Fulton Zucot Gallery (Operated by H&T Art Partners) is the largest Black-owned art gallery in the Southeast with a mission to promote original works of art by living African American artists and enhance the collecting experience for both novice and seasoned collector. The gallery also serves as an event space for corporate and private events in Atlanta. Harlem Zen – Fulton Harlem Zen is a boutique medspa franchise with a global aim to provide access to safe and effective esthetic treatments for people of all skin tones. Insights Marketing & Promotions Inc.* – Fulton Insights Marketing is a global marketing and promotions agency. iwi fresh* – Fulton Iwi fresh partners with local urban farms to produce handcrafted home remedy skincare recipes for their sustainable spa products and services. iwi fresh is the first raw skincare line in WholeFoods Market and is expanding regionally. Juice Me Too* – Cobb Juice Me Too is a health/juice bar offering nutritional cold-pressed juices, smoothies, salads, wraps and other specialty items. just add honey tea company* – Fulton Just add honey tea company is a loose-leaf tea company offering specialty blends in store, online and wholesale. Lifestyle Dentistry* – Cobb Lifestyle Dentistry is a provider of quality dental services in Smyrna and the surrounding areas. M L King Dental Center* – Fulton M. …
Featured Image: Sidewalk Improvements on East Andrews Drive Tony Peters, Director of Capital Projects and Programs, Buckhead CID In 2015, the Buckhead Community Improvement District’s (BCID) board of directors wanted to explore the idea of expanding its boundary into the “West Village,” which encompasses the superblock west of Peachtree Road around West Paces Ferry Road, Early Street, Cains Hill, East Andrews Drive, Roswell Road, Paces Ferry Place and Irby Avenue. To expand a CID boundary, the organization must collect consent from more than 50% of the total property owners in the proposed expanded area and those property owners must represent 75% of the total appraised value of ALL the properties in the proposed expansion. Expansion efforts require meticulous attention to detail that includes going door to door to find and then meet with each property owner to discuss what a CID does, how it can benefit their business, then gain their consent and execute the required documentation. In our case, that process took about a year. When BCID approached the West Village property owners in 2016, we developed a presentation focused on the benefits of joining one of the largest CIDs in terms of tax digest in the state. With an economic impact over $27 billion, Buckhead is a strong business corridor and property owners have benefitted from the CID’s improvement projects over the past 20 years, increasing their property values. Ultimately, our message was simple. When you join the CID, you gain a partner focused on creating and maintaining a safe, accessible and livable urban environment. We worked to showcase that a boundary expansion would ultimately benefit the owners with improved infrastructure, beautification, increased security and green space and that their added property tax dollars would be re-invested in projects to improve the expanded boundary. which was met with enthusiasm by a majority of owners. After gaining consent and executing the proper documentation, the BCID hired an engineering firm to develop a vision for improvements specifically designed to implement in the West Village and focused on making the expanded boundary walkable. Prior to joining the CID, the West Village had a limited number of sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly areas. The design would add sidewalks and streetscapes that not only improved walkability but also made the area ADA compliant. In addition, the design included the addition of lighting, curbing and much needed milling and repaving of roadways. Following the official announcement of the expansion, the Buckhead CID hired Kimley Horn in 2017 to develop engineering plans. Based on the plans, BCID issued a request for proposal to construction firms for implementation, and in 2019 selected ASTRA Group. The CID provided the official Notice to Proceed to begin work in January 2020, which will be substantially complete by the end of 2020. The Buckhead CID prides itself on being a catalyst for economic development through transportation mobility improvements we identity, invest in and ultimately implement. The West Village expansion and area improvements all occurred within a four-year timeframe, which is a proud achievement on behalf of the Buckhead CID’s board of directors along with the implementation team of Kimley Horn and ASTRA Group. We deliver! By Tony Peters, Director of Capital Projects and Programs, Buckhead CID In 2015, the Buckhead Community Improvement District’s (BCID) board of directors wanted to explore the idea of expanding its boundary into the “West Village,” which encompasses the superblock west of Peachtree Road around West Paces Ferry Road, Early Street, Cains Hill, East Andrews Drive, Roswell Road, Paces Ferry Place and Irby Avenue. To expand a CID boundary, the organization must collect consent from more than 50% of the total property owners in the proposed expanded area and those property owners must represent 75% of the total appraised value of ALL the properties in the proposed expansion. Expansion efforts require meticulous attention to detail that includes going door to door to find and then meet with each property owner to discuss what a CID does, how it can benefit their business, then gain their consent and execute the required documentation. In our case, that process took about a year. When BCID approached the West Village property owners in 2016, we developed a presentation focused on the benefits of joining one of the largest CIDs in terms of tax digest in the state. With an economic impact over $27 billion, Buckhead is a strong business corridor and property owners have benefitted from the CID’s improvement projects over the past 20 years, increasing their property values. Ultimately, our message was simple. When you join the CID, you gain a partner focused on creating and maintaining a safe, accessible and livable urban environment. We worked to showcase that a boundary expansion would ultimately benefit the owners with improved infrastructure, beautification, increased security and green space and that their added property tax dollars would be re-invested in projects to improve the expanded boundary. which was met with enthusiasm by a majority of owners. After gaining consent and executing the proper documentation, the BCID hired an engineering firm to develop a vision for improvements specifically designed to implement in the West Village and focused on making the expanded boundary walkable. Prior to joining the CID, the West Village had a limited number of sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly areas. The design would add sidewalks and streetscapes that not only improved walkability but also made the area ADA compliant. In addition, the design included the addition of lighting, curbing and much needed milling and repaving of roadways. Following the official announcement of the expansion, the Buckhead CID hired Kimley Horn in 2017 to develop engineering plans. Based on the plans, BCID issued a request for proposal to construction firms for implementation, and in 2019 selected ASTRA Group. The CID provided the official Notice to Proceed to begin work in January 2020, which will be substantially complete by the end of 2020. The Buckhead CID prides itself on being a catalyst for economic development through transportation mobility improvements we identity, invest in and ultimately implement. The West Village expansion and area improvements all occurred …
Featured Image: Farmers Joe Reynolds and Demetrius Milling, next-generation, entrepreneurial farmers who are actively working to own farmland in Georgia and supply the growing demand for sustainably produced, locally sourced foods. Photo by Robin McKinney. By The Conservation Fund To learn more about Working Farms Fund, watch the video below and read Nicolas Donck’s story to get a first-hand account of his success as a Georgia farmer. Farmers—the folks who spend their days in the dirt and bring fresh food to our tables—have always been some of the most resilient and critical members of American society. This was true long before the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of access to fresh food. Nicolas Donck is one of those people. He’s a farmer, and one of the many unsung American heroes helping to provide heathy produce to residents in the Atlanta area during these uncertain times. Nicolas owns and operates Crystal Organic Farm, one of the very first USDA certified organic farms in the state of Georgia, conveniently located an hour east of downtown Atlanta. He has always been forward-thinking about the evolving needs for farms and farmers—setting a precedent for how other small and mid-size farms can run profitable businesses, create new markets, and grow the local food needed to sustain communities. Q: What inspired you to farm? Nicolas: I moved to America from Antwerp, Belgium when I was 16 years old to join my mother, Helen Dumba. She had already moved here, bought the piece of property and started a small garden which eventually became what is now Crystal Organic Farm. I fell in love with the land itself—the vast open space and the creek that runs through it. My brother and I worked at a local Christmas tree farm, and I always remembered that nice feeling at the end of a hard day’s work, sitting on the fence with the sun fading. That feeling was stored in my subconscious somewhere, and I certainly didn’t feel it when I was trying to use my international business degree and working in an export/import business. I was 24 years old at the time, also waiting tables, and trying to figure out what to do with my life. It was like something woke up in my consciousness and clicked—I want to farm and I already have a piece of land that my mom owns. Farming has been my passion ever since. Q: How has your business evolved over time and why? Nicolas: Very early on we were selling to local health food stores and a co-op, so it was just really small sales of about $200 or $300 a week. I was still waiting tables at night and putting seeds in the ground during the day. That slowly evolved as I broke more land and learned what I was doing, and within a year or so I realized that I could do this fulltime. In 1995 we started the Morningside Farmer’s Market, which was one of the very first neighborhood markets in Atlanta and still the only certified organic market in the city. I got up at 4:30 a.m. every Saturday for all those years and we always sold out of what we brought. The community has supported Crystal Organic Farm so well that our farm has been able to grow and be self-financed. We expanded to grow enough to sell at the market and to local restaurants. In the last two or three years we started working with a home delivery company called Fresh Harvest, and they’re buying everything I could possibly grow for them. And now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, our business has evolved again. We’ve made the decision not to go back to sell at Morningside Market, which we’ve been going to year-round for over 20 years. Along with my partner Jeni Jarrard we’ve developed an online store and have seen a huge jump in our local business. We can also help other small farms around us by creating a kind of a food hub for sales at the farm. Having the chance to stay at home on a Saturday morning and actually go do the farming work and also connect with people in our community coming to pick up their orders is a nice change for me, and we’re busier than ever. Q: Your online store is one change that came about due to recent circumstances. Are there other changes you’ve noticed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? Nicolas: So even though it is a terrible time right now for many people, I feel like it has been a wake up call. I feel like this pandemic has really woken people up about how they live and to understand where their food comes from. It is vitally important to create a web of small farms, like ours, around major cities, where a farmer can make money. If people have farms like ours close by, where they can actually go feel and taste and see it for themselves, they may be more willing to take the extra steps to buy local and organic and spend money for the value they are getting. This kind of farming is quality farming. It’s the best you can get and it’s worth the money for the products and I think that’s what people are slowly waking up to. Q: Most food in the U.S. travels about 1,500 miles before it reaches the table, and transportation accounts for 70-80% of total food costs to the consumer. What can people do right now that could help change the system or how they think about fresh food? Nicolas: Support farmers, get to know them and help them financially with buying their food. Continue to go to farmer’s markets and always support the restaurants and the companies that truly support local farms. People should also try to grow their own vegetables at home and create some kind of connection with the food they eat, even if it’s just basil or parsley on your kitchen windowsill. You don’t know how many times we hear, …
By Sara Gottlieb, Director of Freshwater Science & Strategy, The Nature Conservancy Georgia is home to an incredibly diverse community of aquatic life – we have more species of fish, crayfish, mussels, and salamanders in our rivers than almost anywhere else on the North American continent. Georgia also has more barriers that prevent fish and other aquatic organisms from accessing critical habitat—such as thousands of obsolete dams—than any other state in the southeastern US. Dams serve a variety of important purposes such as waterway navigation, hydropower generation, flood control, irrigation and recreation. Obsolete dams are those that no longer serve their intended (or any) purpose. These barriers disrupt the natural life cycles of aquatic organisms, degrade water quality and pose a serious hazard to people. The Nature Conservancy and the Southeastern Aquatic Resources Partnership built a comprehensive database of previously undocumented dams in the southeast and prioritized them based on the benefit to aquatic biodiversity that could accrue from their removal. While many other US states have made enormous strides in removing high priority barriers, Georgia lags behind, but though the work of the Georgia Aquatic Connectivity Team (GA-ACT), we have built momentum and a community of practice for speeding the pace of dam removal in the state. One of the hurdles for anyone interested in removing an obsolete dam is a lack of basic information about the process and the GA-ACT decided we needed to compile that information in one place that is easily accessible to all. Over the past year, a team of contributors sponsored by the GA-ACT collaborated to write the Handbook for the Removal or Modification of Obsolete Dams in Georgia. Developing this handbook brought together experts from a variety of agencies, regulatory authorities, academic institutions, engineering firms and other conservation organizations toward a shared goal – this process helped built trust between entities with varied perspectives and missions. As co-lead of the Georgia Aquatic Connectivity Team, I am proud of this significant accomplishment, grateful to all of those who contributed, and hopeful that many people will use this resource to guide them through the process of freeing Georgia’s rivers and streams to benefit people and nature. Protecting Georgia’s Waterways The Nature Conservancy works with partners across Georgia to restore and protect the health of rivers, lakes and streams. Get an up-close look at our approaches freshwater conservation by viewing the recording of our recent webinar and at nature.org. Photo caption: TNC worked with Columbus State University to remove three dams on TNC-owned property near Fort Benning. Images: © Henry Jacobs This is sponsored content.
By Operation HOPE For many Americans, navigating the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming. We are proud to serve as a financial advocate and intermediary for these affected homeowners, renters, and small business owners in facilitating financial recovery. Since our HOPE Inside Disaster COVID-19 response began five weeks ago, we have provided over 14,500 virtual financial recovery services, including credit and money management coaching, small business counseling and loan application assistance, and mortgage and student loan deferment. Many thanks to our corporate and alliance partners for their ongoing support! Organizations that wish to provide financial or in-kind support to HOPE Inside Disaster may contact Mary Ehrsam, President of HOPE Partnerships, at email@example.com Last week, our response efforts were featured by several mainstream news outlets. On Wednesday, Chairman John Hope Bryant joined host Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” to discuss the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on the financial health of minority communities. Click the video below to watch Chairman Bryant speak on the ongoing work of Operation HOPE and our response to the coronavirus pandemic. Find more resources at www.hopeinsidecovid19.org
Featured Image: A “Chakma” student holding a “Find the Missing Millions” board to support the initiative. The Chakma tribe is the largest indigenous tribe in Bangladesh. They live in Rangamati, Chittagong hills which is in the South-East Bangladesh. A “Find the Missing Millions” free hepatitis B and C screening and awareness program organized by the National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh among the people of the Chakma tribe at Rangamati. Courtesy of Zunaid Murshed Paiker, National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh By The Task Force for Global Health Tuesday, July 28, marks World Hepatitis Day as a call to action against a preventable and curable disease that kills more than 1.3 million people each year. We spoke with John Ward, MD, Director of The Task Force’s Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination, about the disease, the role of the Coalition in hepatitis elimination, and what can be done for the more than 300 million people living with viral hepatitis and the millions of people at risk of new infections each year. Why is it important to have this global World Hepatitis Day? World Hepatitis Day is particularly important as the enormity of this global health threat is underappreciated due to the silent nature of the disease. People with hepatitis have few symptoms until they develop liver disease that can progress to severe scarring (cirrhosis) or liver cancer. While both hepatitis B and C infections can be prevented with safe healthcare and injection practices, and can be detected and treated with reliable tests and medications, hepatitis C prevention has yet to benefit from an effective vaccine like hepatitis B. So World Hepatitis Day calls for action to seize these opportunities to protect people from infection and to test and treat to prevent premature mortality so we can eliminate hepatitis in the near future. Looking back on the first year of the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination, what have been some of the main highlights? The Coalition fills a key role in the global effort to eliminate hepatitis, which all countries committed to in 2015, by bringing partners together to share information and challenges and to leverage those partnerships to develop solutions and resources. For example, access to credible data sources to inform program and policy development has long been a challenge in the hepatitis community. Now for the first time, we have what I like to call the “Wikipedia for Hepatitis Elimination.” We bring together data for over 190 countries regarding their burden of disease, the status of hepatitis policy and program development, and the status of implementing key interventions that make elimination possible. Bringing this data together has helped everyone monitor progress toward elimination and identify gaps, and also motivates countries to develop and implement their own programs by observing the success of others. We have also overseen two systematic reviews to bring together evidence to guide timely hepatitis B immunization of newborns to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus and to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of hepatitis action plans, which are often the main strategy documents guiding program implementation. Other highlights include launching an operational research study with partners across four countries and a technical assistance project to support country planning for hepatitis testing scale-up. How successful do you think the Coalition has been in bringing together the hepatitis community? We have a unique vantage point by being part of The Task Force. The Task Force has a long legacy of supporting disease elimination around the world. Because of our access to global partners and our expertise of management in disease elimination, we’ve built relationships and worked with various programs, ministries of health and others on the national and global levels. A lot of the work on our website reflects these collaborations; we have over 100 partners globally that have signed on to be part of the Coalition, and we are seeking to build a community of practice for hepatitis elimination. Each of these partners has a program profile listing their goals and activities, which brings visibility to the work in their respective countries. We want to continue engaging stakeholders, industry partners, technical assistance providers and civil societies to reach our global elimination goals. COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind and it has affected efforts to fight other diseases like hepatitis. Tell us about some of the hepatitis-related challenges and lessons learned during this pandemic and how the Coalition is addressing them. The pandemic has sent a shockwave around the world that has impacted many facets of society. Hepatitis elimination is no exception. Our first concern was that people with chronic liver disease had more severe outcomes from coronavirus infections than others. So, in the first few months of the pandemic, we compiled all the evidence from previous coronavirus epidemics [like SARS and MERS] and observations from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, mapping the clinical progression of people with chronic liver disease to share with our partners and others working on hepatitis. The shift in medical care priorities toward COVID-19 has implications for the management of patients with hepatitis. We compiled and shared recommendations both on particular COVID-19 response strategies and to identify areas that may need more research. Lastly, current global efforts to increase diagnostic capacity to test and care for people with COVID-19 can eventually be shifted toward testing for hepatitis and other diseases, which have historically suffered from limited resources. Leveraging expanded national testing capacity would greatly increase our reach to care for people with liver disease. We look forward to working with our partners to realize these opportunities. The Coalition recently honored some “hepatitis elimination champions.” Why is it important to highlight key people in the hepatitis community? When we launched the Coalition last year, we recognized the many individuals that have made remarkable contributions to improving hepatitis political commitment, policies, and programs and who are helping to make global hepatitis elimination possible. This year we selected six people who through their passion and ingenuity have greatly advanced progress toward hepatitis elimination. These remarkable individuals …
By Kate Sweeney We’ve heard a lot about teleworking lately: how COVID-19 has revved up the pace on adaptations for working at home, about the equity divide between those who can work online and those who can’t, and, of course, all those tutorials about how to look TV-newscaster-perfect during your weekly team Zoom call. One big upshot? It may be that teleworking is the only part of the pandemic that many of us actually like — a conclusion backed up recently by a poll from Georgia Commute Options (GCO). Read on for more. This is sponsored content.
By Eric Tanenblatt, Edward Lindsey, Elmer Stancil, Dan Baskerville, Samuel Olens, Sharon Gay and Crawford G. Schneider, Dentons After a COVID-19 induced hiatus the General Assembly returned to Atlanta for a two week sprint to Sine Die. While the main focus was passing a budget under significant revenue shortfalls the General Assembly was able to pass several other pieces of legislation including a historic hate crimes bill, surprise billing restrictions and two constitutional amendments among others. Now that the 2020 session has officially ended legislators will start ramping up for what is sure to be a contentious election season. 1. Budget The Georgia General Assembly temporarily adjourned in March without fulfilling its one constitutional obligation — passing a budget. They completed that task as the 2020 special session closed, a day before the start of the new fiscal year. Gov. Brian Kemp promptly signed the budget for Fiscal Year 2021 on Tuesday June 30th finalizing the state’s $26 billion spending plan which includes about $2.2 billion in cuts. Some highlights of the updated budget include: K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION $950 million cut from the Quality Basic Education program, the formula used to calculate state spending for K-12 public education $142 million added for enrollment growth and teacher training $8.8 million added to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement HIGHER EDUCATION $242 million cut to schools in the University System of Georgia and $36 million cut to schools in the Technical College System of Georgia 12 percent cut to Adult Education 11 percent cut to agricultural programs including the Cooperative Extension Service $11 million in cuts to Dual Enrollment expected from the 30-hour cap and limits on courses students can take created in HB 444 $1 million added to the REACH Georgia scholarship program, a needs-based mentoring and scholarship program; all other state-funded scholarships will see a 10 percent cut BEHAVIORAL HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES $91 million cut to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities budget $22.7 million cut to child and adolescent mental health services, including prevention programs and supported education and employment services $7.2 million cut to adult mental health services, including cuts to core behavioral health services, reductions in peer workforce training and services and cuts to housing vouchers for people with mental illnesses $5.7 million cut to adult substance abuse services, mostly for funds that would expand residential treatment services COMMUNITY HEALTH Total state funding increased by $178 million, mostly to account for higher projected growth for Medicaid $19.7 million added to provide six months of Medicaid coverage for new mothers; this coverage extension must still receive federal approval $12 million added to increase funding available for Rural Hospital Stabilization grants PUBLIC HEALTH $8.2 million in cuts to the Department of Public Health budget Funding restored for grants to local health departments $2.3 million reduction in funding for trauma center readiness and uncompensated care HUMAN SERVICES $34 million cut to the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget $46 million cut in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds $3.7 million in cuts to vacant positions in child welfare $3 million in cuts to vacant positions at the state office for DHS 2. Hate Crimes Bill On Friday June 26th, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a hate-crimes measure into law. As such, Georgia is no longer on the ever-shrinking list of states without hate crime legislation. The law allows for enhanced criminal penalties to be levied against those who target their victims on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, sex, national origin, religion, or physical or mental disability. The bill cleared the final hurdle after Senate leaders abandoned efforts to treat police officers as a protected class. The Hate Crimes Bill passed the legislature on a wave of public support led by Georgia’s most significant businesses and political leaders. The Dentons Public Policy team played a leading role in the effort as lobbyists for the Anti-Defamation League. 3. Safe Harbor Bill Georgia will join a short list of states that are proactively protecting businesses from civil liability related to the COVID-19 virus. Senate Bill 359 passed both houses of the state legislature and now awaits the signature of the Governor. The liability legislation would let Georgia businesses and hospitals waive liability for coronavirus-related claims so long as they post certain warning signs except in cases where the entity is found to have committed “gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.” 4. Fee Dedication This November, Georgia voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers the power to require fees be spent for the purpose that they were originally dedicated. This issue is often referred to in the context of tire fees. If you buy a new tire in Georgia, there’s a $1 fee that gets tacked onto the bill, called the Scrap Tire Management Fee. It’s supposed to go toward cleaning up illegal tire dumps in the state and other recycling and trash programs. But often, lawmakers have directed more than $50 million from the scrap tire fee to Georgia’s general fund, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), which is Georgia’s county association. The same can be said about the fee that the state collects at landfills. The money is intended for hazardous waste site cleanup, but according to the ACCG, about $100 million from that fund has ended up in the general fund in the past 10 years. The constitutional amendment, if approved by voters, would give lawmakers the power to specifically dedicate certain tax dollars to specific uses. 5. Sovereign Immunity In addition to the constitutional amendment on fee dedication, Georgians will also vote on whether to make it easier to sue the state and local governments under a proposed constitutional amendment given final passage Tuesday by the state House. The lawmakers were reacting, in part, to a state Supreme Court decision that state and local governments can only be sued if they have waived a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity. The amendment would allow Georgians to sue in state court to protect their …
Community Foundation has opened grant applications for next round of funding By Clare S. Richie, public policy specialist, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta In June, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced Vote Your Voice, a partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to invest up to $30 million through 2022 from the SPLC’s endowment to engage voters and increase voter registration, education, and participation; support Black- and brown-led organizations often ignored by traditional funders; support and prototype effective voter engagement strategies; and re-enfranchise returning citizens despite intentional bureaucratic challenges. SPLC recently announced a total of nearly $5.5 million in a first round of grants to 12 voter outreach organizations across the Deep South, four of those organizations are in Georgia. The 12 organizations have proven track records empowering voters of color and presented innovative proposals to boost voter registration, education and mobilization in Vote Your Voice’s five targeted states — Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. The grants will help the organizations continue their efforts to turn out low-propensity voters amid voter suppression schemes and other barriers, including the pandemic, in advance of upcoming elections. Organizations working to boost voter engagement in Georgia are: Black Voters Matter increases civic engagement and power building in predominantly Black communities. The organization works in nine southern states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. In 2019, it expanded into two northern states — Michigan and Pennsylvania. Through the $500,000 grant the organization will register, educate and mobilize Black voters in 17 Alabama counties and 24 Georgia counties through mini grants to grassroots groups and conduct outreach via texting and other digital and social media strategies. The Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda’s mission is to improve the quality of governance through a more informed and active electorate who will hold elected officials accountable. The organization operates seven offices – metro Atlanta, Athens-Clarke County, Bibb County, Chatham County, Dougherty County, Richmond County and Troup County – and conducts civic engagement activities, registers thousands of voters, holds educational forums and mobilizes volunteers to participate through phone banks, texting and providing rides to the polls, focusing primarily on African American women and men in 57 counties across the state. Through the $75,000 grant, the organization will continue their work focusing on people of color, young people, single women and low-income Georgians. Their tactics include phone banking, texting and relational organizing. The New Georgia Project (NGP) is focused on voter registration, engagement and power building for the large and growing population of African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans in Georgia. NGP is part of a movement – not a moment – to meet the changing demographics of Georgia, to harness the unheard voices of the New American Majority and to position Georgia for leadership in the South and across the country, identify local policy priorities, demystify the political process, and move their families and neighbors to action. Through the $750,000 grant, the organization will engage in voter registration, education and mobilization among low-propensity communities of color, women of color and young people. Additionally, it will counter online voter suppression with videos, songs, social listening and tech tools. ProGeorgia is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. The organization supports and coordinates the civic engagement programs of its diverse partners. ProGeorgia develops the infrastructure, executes the joint strategies, and employs new tools and technology to assure a government that is more responsive to the needs of its constituencies. Through the $750,000 grant, the organization will continue its work to register, educate, mobilize and protect voters in low-propensity communities of color as well as women of color and young people, focusing on 33 counties for voter engagement and 70 counties for election protection. SPLC and Community Foundation have started to accept applications for grants in a second round of distribution across the target states. The initiative is seeking a broad cross-section of nonprofit organizations with deep roots within communities prioritized; experience in nonpartisan voter registration, education and mobilization; and a commitment to working with the initiative’s data partner to track progress and impact. Together with the first cohort, organizations participating in the Vote Your Voice initiative will use grants to amplify their ongoing work to engage millions of voters across the South this election cycle to exercise their basic right to vote and ensure their voices are heard. Applications for the second round of grants are due by August 14, 2020. Organizations can apply here. Additional application information may be found here. Click here for more details including a full list of organizations that received first-round grants. This is sponsored content.
By Emory University For the ninth year in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Emory University Hospital the No. 1 hospital in Georgia and metro Atlanta in its 2020-2021 Best Hospitals guide. (Emory University Hospital includes Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital and Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods.) Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital ranked No. 2 in Georgia and metro Atlanta, while Emory University Hospital Midtown ranked No. 5 in Georgia and metro Atlanta. Emory University Hospital ranked nationally in the following specialties: Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery and Urology. Emory University Hospital was considered high performing in Ophthalmology, Orthopaedics and Pulmonary & Lung Surgery. Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital ranked nationally in Cardiology & Heart Surgery, and high performing in Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopaedics, Pulmonary & Lung Surgery and Urology. Emory University Hospital Midtown ranked nationally in Ear, Nose & Throat for the second year in a row since that program moved to the hospital, and high performing in Neurology & Neurosurgery. Emory Johns Creek Hospital was high performing in Geriatrics, Nephrology and Neurology & Neurosurgery. This is the first year Emory Johns Creek Hospital has been highlighted in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals analysis. “In what has been a challenging year as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Georgia and metro Atlanta, we are honored to receive this recognition in hospital rankings from U.S. News & World Report,” says Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, president and CEO of Emory Healthcare. “We thank our dedicated health care teams for the exceptional care they provide to our patients, with a mission of improving lives and providing hope.” U.S. News & World Report began publishing hospital rankings in 1990, as “America’s Best Hospitals,” to identify medical centers in various specialties that were best suited for patients whose illnesses pose unusual challenges because of underlying conditions, procedure difficulty, advanced age or other medical issues that add risk. Hospitals are assessed in 16 specialty areas for the rankings. In 12 of the 16 specialties, ranking is determined by an extensive data-driven analysis combining performance measures in three primary dimensions of health care: structure, process and outcomes. In the four other specialties, ranking relies solely on expert opinion. U.S. News & World Report first published Best Regional Hospitals in 2011. Within a state or major metropolitan area, regional hospital rank is determined by a hospital’s performance in the national adult specialty rankings analysis and by its scores across 10 procedure and condition areas evaluated. A hospital with more national rankings in the 12 data-driven specialties outranks a hospital with fewer national rankings. To see the complete list of 2020-2021 Best Hospitals’ rankings, visit:https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals. Featured Image: Top left: Emory University Hospital Bottom left: Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital Right: Emory University Hospital Midtown This is sponsored content.
By GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students Normally at this time of year, parents of young children would be preparing for the start of the school year. They might be shopping to the back-to-school sales, or simply easing their young ones out of their summer routines to prepare to meet their new teachers and classmates. But these are anything but normal times, and preschools through twelfth grade programs throughout the state of Georgia are either working out how best to provide in-person teaching safely or figuring out how to provide a more robust and equitable virtual program. What hasn’t changed is the need for all children to visit their pediatrician for routine vaccinations, whether they are entering school or a child care program. Maintaining herd immunity against diseases like the measles or whopping cough still requires most children to receive their vaccinations. However, according to studies from the Centers for Disease Control, vaccinations dropped during the spring months when many states were under lockdown orders. The CDC found that from mid-March to mid-April, doctors in the Vaccines for Children program ordered 2.5 million fewer doses of vaccines, and 250,000 fewer doses of measles-containing vaccines, compared the previous year. Other reports have found the vaccination numbers have remained below normal during the early summer. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called on parents to schedule vaccines, as well as check-ups for physical exams and developmental screenings, for children of all ages. “Parents have a lot on their minds right now. We want them to know pediatricians are open for business, and we are ready to schedule visits to make sure their children are fully immunized,” said AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP. “These visits are so important for other reasons, too, including making sure children’s development is on track and checking on other health concerns while families have been social distancing. Pediatricians want to see children now, and make sure they are healthy and ok.” The GEEARS team is focused on ensuring young children throughout Georgia have access to consistent preventative health services and screenings, as well as early interventions for developmental and social-emotional delays. The first five years of life are the most important for a child’s future health, and children with access to these early childhood medical visits are less likely to have chronic conditions later in life. As part of the PAACT: Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive initiative, we have teamed up with Atlanta community partners to bring free school-required immunizations to Atlanta’s Westside. McDonald Care Mobile®, a program of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities, is bringing immunizations to kids and teens ages 4 and up in the Westside from July 27 to August 8. The goal is to make sure Atlanta families stay on top their regular school-required immunizations to prevent the outbreak of another disease. The immunizations are free. More info on the program dates and locations can be found here. Our mission to ensure every child in Atlanta, and throughout the state of Georgia, has access to the health care they need is more important than ever. The time is now to reduce preventable disease outbreaks through immunizations, especially as the fight against COVID-19 continues and the flu season fast approaches.
By Wendy Stewart, Bank of America Atlanta Market President “Community” is a word that tends to get a bit overused. Communities transcend a geographic location or coordinates on a map; they are united by proximity and bound together by what they share. And I believe every Atlantan⎯whether native or transplant⎯can agree that the pursuit of a diverse and inclusive culture is at the heart of everything we do. In Atlanta’s case, there is no better way to describe Bank of America’s relationship with the people who live in and around this great city than the word “community.” Since 1919, when Mills B. Lane brought the company to the corner of Marietta and Broad Streets, Bank of America (formerly C&S) has served Atlanta’s needs in business, banking and beyond. Our longstanding history in the city, including the boundless opportunities we’ve had to support the growth and wellness of customers and fellow citizens over the past 100 years, is a privilege we hold with the highest regard. At Bank of America, we have long recognized that a diverse and inclusive culture is essential to achieving our mission. This need has become even more urgent amid the current health crisis, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Underlying economic and social disparities that have existed for centuries are evident during the global pandemic, and recent racial injustices have highlighted an unprecedented need to do more, and do better, in our communities. We have been and are continuing to address systemic issues of race and place in Atlanta by investing in basic needs, community development, workforce development, and education. So far in 2020, we have deployed nearly $1.6 million to 28 Atlanta-area organizations that faced unparalleled challenges from the coronavirus, including Atlanta Community Food Bank, Grady Health System, Grove Park Foundation, and Latin American Association. Additionally Bank of America is reinforcing its commitment to create opportunity for people and communities of color in the areas of health, job training, support to small businesses, and housing, all through a lens of racial equity with a recently announced $1 billion, four-year commitment of additional support across the country. Why? Because we are committed to Atlanta and are hopeful that, together, the next 100 years will be better and even more prosperous for all of us. This is sponsored content.