By Guest Columnist BOB WILLIS, CEO, Willis Investment Counsel The last 20 years may not be the best representation of U.S. economic history. Likewise, it may or may not be a reliable predictor of the future. ...
By GEEARS We know a lot of data wonks who sit down to a pile of numbers, graphs, charts, and maps, as giddy as a foodie embarking upon a six-course meal. As for the rest of us, who can think of many things more fun than digging into all that fact- and number-crunching, there is an easier way. You can now find the data you need and make their disparate sources play nicely together. The Readiness Radar, a decade-old GEEARS tool that we’ve rebooted through a collaboration with Get Georgia Reading, takes care of that problem. Truly a one-stop-shop, the new Readiness Radar pools early childhood data that once existed in several different places and layers them together in a single, easy-to-use online platform. The Readiness Radar houses a range of education, health, housing, economic, and demographic data across the neighborhood, county, and state levels, helping to answer questions related to family and child well-being in Georgia. The tool can be used as a simple search engine. If you, say, want to know how many children under 5 live in a particular county, useful in projecting school enrollment numbers, you can find that. If you need to know what percentage of children in a particular geographic area have achieved reading proficiency by third grade—a figure that might be requested by a grant application or overseeing body—you can find that, too. But the Readiness Radar can also add a wealth of detail and nuance to such data by layering various functions. Let’s say you’re interested in what child care access looks like in areas with high concentrations of families living in poverty. The Readiness Radar can home in on a specific geographic area and show gaps in access relative to income level. Show is the operative word here. One of the most exciting features of Readiness Radar is its visual component. The Readiness Radar uses maps with different colors (and even different shades of those colors) to communicate demographic, health, education, housing, and other information at the neighborhood, county, and state level. Layered upon that map might be color-coded dots that depict points of service such as Quality Rated child care providers, elementary schools, and more. “The beauty of a mapping tool is you can see data in a different way than you might on a spreadsheet,” notes GEEARS’ Director of Research and Policy, Hanah Goldberg. “The Readiness Radar allows users to see both the demographic landscape of an area and the locations of specific assets, such as early learning programs, in those same areas.” The list of users who could benefit from such a versatile tool is almost as long as its functions. Goldberg can spontaneously rattle off a number of them. “School system leaders and non-profit leaders, including funders,” she says. “Policymakers at the local and state levels. Child care providers and prospective child care providers who are interested in opening in an area of need. Journalists who need data to tell their stories. Researchers and higher education leaders. The health community. Basically, anyone who’s trying to better understand and answer questions about a community and what resources exist or might be needed there.” Such breadth is one of things that motivated Get Georgia Reading Director Arianne Weldon to partner with GEEARS to refashion the Readiness Radar. “At Get Georgia Reading, we’ve set out to increase the number of Georgia children reading proficiently by third grade,” Weldon says. “Multiple factors like maternal level of education, preterm birth, and lack of access to quality early care and learning cut off a child’s path to literacy. It’s tremendously helpful to have a data tool that leads us to where all these complex factors intersect so that together we can pave the way to improved outcomes—starting before birth—for every child in Georgia throughout school and life.” It speaks to Readiness Radar’s range that its most popular features are its “Early Childhood Profiles” and an important feature called the ATL Access Map. The profiles are simply straightforward. Each one contains key education, health, program enrollment, and other census-collected data for a specific county, city, or legislative district. The other most-used feature, the ATL ACCESS Map focuses with laser precision on all the overlapping indicators that affect child care supply and demand in five metro Atlanta counties—Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett. The mapping feature makes it particularly easy to spot child care gaps and where within a community’s demographics they land. While the Readiness Radar is user-friendly to both deep-diving professionals and average Googlers, we do recommend that you learn your way around the tool with this video tutorial from Readiness Radar builder Neighborhood Nexus. Then let us know how you’re using the Readiness Radar—and how much time it’s saving you! This is sponsored content.
Today’s the Last Day! Please RSVP by clicking here. The gala will be held at the Atlanta History Center at 6pm on Thursday, March 30, 2023, and includes a cocktail reception, live entertainment – with a special performance by the Atlanta Women’s Chorus, dinner, live auction and more. Please join us and Honorary Chair Ambassador Andrew Young as we celebrate Lucy C. Vance. Former Families First board member Monica Kaufman Pearson will serve as emcee! There are a few sponsorships and tickets still available, but the deadline is today! Click here or the above flyer for more details and to make your purchase. You may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Warmly, Paula M. Moody Paula M. Moody, LCSW, MS Chief Executive Officer Families First
Representatives from the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently joined Fiserv, a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology with a significant presence in the Atlanta area, to present three Atlanta-area small businesses with $10,000 grants in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. The business owners who received grants included: Joel Ferrer of Chef Joel Coco Cabana LLC, a restaurant delighting guests with unique cuisine, showcasing Chef Joel’s classically trained background and Cuban heritage. Vanessa Higgins of Clean Tu Casa, a cleaning, organizing and personal errand service company serving homes, small offices and short-term rentals in Metro Atlanta. Alejandra “Luz” Pelaez of UP Advertising, a multicultural advertising and digital marketing agency specializing in reaching the Hispanic market, ensuring companies communicate authentically. In interviews following the grant presentations, the recipients discussed the impact the grants will have on their businesses. Chef Ferrer highlighted plans to invest in upgraded technology, while Vanessa Higgins underscored that the grants will enable her to create jobs and Sebastian Uribe of UP Advertising noted an anticipated increase in sales. The grants were awarded as part of the Fiserv Back2Business program, a $50 million commitment to support minority-owned small businesses. In addition to grants, Back2Business connects diverse small businesses with critical resources, including complimentary small business coaching, leading technology solutions such as Clover and community partners. “We’re proud to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by supporting these inspiring businesses and all the small businesses that play a crucial role in Atlanta’s economy,” said Vivian Greentree, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Corporate Citizenship at Fiserv. “Providing funding and resources to help small, diverse businesses thrive is a key tenet of the Back2Business program and it’s wonderful to see the impact this program has made in cities all over the country, and especially here in our own backyard in Atlanta.” “It is an honor to partner with Fiserv and the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to celebrate and support entrepreneurs in the Hispanic community during Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Alex Gonzalez, Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “Through the Back2Business grants, Fiserv is providing access to capital and resources to help these three Hispanic-owned businesses grow and thrive.” In addition to facing difficult business conditions such as rising costs, supply chain challenges and labor shortages, Hispanic-owned small businesses have their own unique set of challenges. “Fiserv recognition and support of the Hispanic community, providing valuable grants and services at a critical time for small businesses through Back2Business, is key to assuring equitable opportunities for our community and to being seen as the vital force that we are for the economy and the great state of Georgia,” said Verónica Maldonado-Torres, President and CEO, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “When one group thrives, we all thrive as a society, and that is our goal at the GHCC – to match businesses with the resources, tools and opportunities to inspire them and help them reimagine the next for their company.” In addition to Atlanta, Fiserv has sponsored the Back2Business program in cities including New York, Milwaukee, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Tulsa, Oakland, Washington. D.C. and Omaha. To date, Fiserv has presented nearly 1,500 grants to small businesses through the program. This is sponsored content.
It’s one of Atlanta’s most significant neighborhoods. And now, historic Sweet Auburn will be getting a new community event dedicated to honoring its rich history while envisioning its future. The inaugural SAGE Fest takes place Saturday, April 1st from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the John Lewis *HERO mural. The festival invites neighborhood residents and the wider Atlanta community to honor Sweet Auburn’s legacy, support local businesses, and contribute their voices to how this important part of Atlanta will evolve. SAGE Fest is free and open to all ages. Activities include: Yoga and mindful meditation sessions Food from local vendors and businesses Urban farming guidance from local growers Walking tours to learn about historic sites and new developments Discussions on community planning, programs, policies Giveaways to local attractions and other prizes Attendees can also visit the SPARK Innovation Lab located in the Odd Fellows Building at 228 Auburn Avenue to learn more about efforts to preserve and promote retail businesses in the neighborhood. The Lab is a collaboration between Sweet Auburn Works, Bank of America, and the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). It helps business owners in the district as well as entrepreneurs who would like to set up shop there through target technical assistance, funding, and support. The event also marks the launch of the Sweet Auburn Green & Equitable District. SAGE is a community-led initiative created by Historical Development Corporation, Central Atlanta Progress, and Sweet Auburn Works dedicated to promoting an equitable and sustainable future for the neighborhood. With a focus on the pillars of “people, place, and planet,” SAGE puts residents and local stakeholders at the center of Sweet Auburn’s revitalization. Named for its concentration of black wealth and political prominence during the first half of the twentieth century, Sweet Auburn was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The district is most notable as the home for many of the city’s first black-owned businesses and the bedrock of civil rights organizing decades later. However, desegregation, the construction of the Downtown Connector (I-75/85) and a lack of access to capital due to redlining ushered in an era of stark decline for Sweet Auburn through the 1970s and 80s. By 2005, it was named a “Place in Peril” by the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. Thanks, however, to the tireless work of many community organizations over the years, new developments have given fresh life to the celebrated neighborhood in the form of new businesses, more affordable housing, and improved streetscapes. As redevelopment continues, it is increasingly important to ensure the anticipated investment works to rise all tides, with community wellness and economic inclusion as core outcomes. SAGE will build a bold new model for this type of neighborhood-led development. So, what does the future look like for Sweet Auburn? There’s no doubt that it is bright, and with collaborations like SAGE bringing local voices into the conversation, Sweet Auburn is sure to continue its revitalization while remaining true to its historic roots. Join us on Saturday, April 1st for SAGE Fest to lend your voice to this future. To learn more about SAGE, visit www.sageatlanta.org This is sponsored content.
By ULI Atlanta During the month of March, ULI joins the nation in celebrating the achievements women have made over the course of history — by amplifying women’s profound impact in the real estate and land use industries. ULI has made a global mission commitment to pursuing unrelenting efforts to shape the built environment toward diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities and by acknowledging the historical importance and influence of women in the industry, we are building a foundation for the next generation of women leaders in real estate to stand higher on. The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) is an important forum within ULI launched 10 years ago. In those 10 years, it has done some amazing work – and Atlanta has been at the forefront of pioneering programs like The Leaders. In 2020, ULI Atlanta’s WLI set out to launch “The Leaders” with the goal to increase the presence of women in the real estate and land use industry in leadership positions, board rooms and as speakers at industry conferences. The intention was to celebrate women who make extraordinary contributions to the built environment throughout the Atlanta region. The Leaders has grown to a list of women that are 70 strong, and we are now looking for nominations for our 2023 cohort. Please consider supporting a female colleague, peer, or friend by nominating her for this accolade today! Nominations and Selection Process: Nominations will be open between March 8 and April 10, 2023. The process is described below: Anyone can submit a nomination. Nominees will be asked to submit an official application for The Leaders between April – June. The Leaders will be selected by a committee of ULI member leaders who will meet to consider nominations and make final selections; and The final selection of nominees will be by the beginning of September. Strong Nominees will meet the following criteria: Minimum 15 years of work experience. Be located within the ULI Atlanta District Council, which serves Georgia and Eastern Tennessee. Have a dedication and commitment to the success of the Atlanta region. Contributed significant impacts and influence on the built environment through both personal and professional accomplishments. Contributed to positive community impact through volunteer service outside of work responsibilities. Demonstrated leadership in inspiring others in the real estate and land use industry. NOMINATE HERE About ULI Atlanta: ULI Atlanta is a District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI). As the preeminent, multidisciplinary real estate forum, ULI is a nonprofit education and research group supported by its diverse, expert membership base. Our mission is to “Shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide.” ULI Atlanta has over 1,400 members throughout the Atlanta region and our broader geography which includes the entire state of Georgia and eastern Tennessee. ULI Atlanta is one of the largest and most active District Councils in the United States. This is sponsored content.
By Jared Teutsch, Executive Director Spring is here and across Georgia we are seeing signs of life in our gardens and landscapes. Those who pay attention to the sounds of the seasons will have also noticed a huge uptick in the amount of bird song each morning. There’s a cacophony of songs as our resident birds gear up for nesting season. Migratory birds are also on the move from their winter homes in Central and South America back to Georgia and other states where they will build their nests and rear their young. Bird migration is one of the most amazing feats in the natural world. Each fall and spring, billions of birds take to the skies, avoiding predators, and dodging turbulent weather as they travel between breeding grounds in the north and wintering grounds in the Caribbean or Central and South America. Some of these migration routes are epic, like the Red Knot that travels more than 9,300 miles one-way each fall and spring, pausing along Georgia’s coast to refuel. Or, the tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird, weighing about the same as a penny, that spends summers in Georgia and then, in a stunning migratory feat, crosses the Gulf of Mexico, a 500-mile trip, in a single 18- to 22-hour flight. Birds passing through Atlanta and other cities face an additional threat—glass-covered, brightly-lit buildings. Large, brightly lit cities wreak havoc on migratory birds as the ever-present glow of artificial light turns the normally safe nighttime sky into a perilous pathway. Bright lights both attract and disorient birds, causing them to flock to our illuminated spaces where they often collide with structures or become trapped in beams of light where they circle until they are exhausted. Current research estimates that between 365 million and 1 billion birds perish each year after colliding with buildings in the U.S. Atlanta is a particularly challenging place for migrating birds, ranking as the fourth most dangerous city during fall migration and ninth in spring for light exposure to migratory birds, according to a 2019 study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. With an estimated 250 million birds passing over Georgia during spring and 675 million birds migrating over in the fall, it is vital to learn about migration over our state and make our cities safer. While there are several pre- and post-construction solutions to reduce bird collisions, one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep birds from striking windows is to simply turn out the lights, particularly on the 20 or so nights of peak migration each year. In 2017, Georgia Audubon launched the Lights Out Georgia program to encourage people to turn out or reduce night time lighting during fall and spring migration and more than 1,000 people have enrolled. But while turning out the lights is relatively simple at residences, it can be more challenging for commercial properties where outdoor lighting is both decorative and functional. Thanks to a collaborative venture between Georgia Audubon and Dr. Kyle Horton, at Colorado State University, and a generous grant from the Disney Conservation Fund, Georgia Audubon has launched a new tool that predicts nights of high bird migration enabling Georgia Audubon to issue Lights Out Alerts via email on peak migratory evenings. While it may not be feasible to dim the lights every single night during migration, reducing or eliminating nighttime lights on the ten or fewer peak migratory nights each season is a much easier request and makes the program more palatable to commercial properties. To learn more about Georgia Audubon’s work to prevent bird-building collisions or to sign up to receive Lights Out Alerts on nights of peak migration, please visit https://www.georgiaaudubon.org/lights-out-georgia.html. Together we can make Georgia a safer place for migrating birds. This is sponsored content.
This week is very special because it’s the week we celebrate the 91st birthday of a truly remarkable human being, my dear friend and mentor, Ambassador Andrew Young. Words cannot adequately express my admiration and gratitude for this great man, who has played such an integral role in shaping our country’s history and inspiring future generations. Ambassador Young has lived a life of service to others, from his work as a civil rights leader and lieutenant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to his tenure as a mayor of the city of Atlanta, to his time as a congressman, and a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He has been a tireless advocate for justice and equality, and his legacy continues to inspire people around the world. On a personal note, Ambassador Young has been a mentor, a friend, and a true hero. He has always been there to offer guidance and support, and I am constantly amazed by his wisdom, his kindness, and his unwavering commitment to making the world a better place. His legacy of leadership and service is a constant source of inspiration for me and for everyone at Operation HOPE. Ambassador Young has been a true blessing to our organization, and we are proud and honored to be in his social justice, moral, and spiritual lineage. His leadership and vision have helped shape our mission to empower underserved communities and promote financial dignity for all. We are grateful that he has lent us his voice to amplify our message, his shoulders on which we stand, and his giant heart to help us achieve our goals. For that, we are forever grateful. To our hero, we pray that your day was filled with love, joy, and happiness. May you continue to inspire us all with your leadership, your vision, and your unwavering commitment to justice and equality. And may you continue to be a beacon of hope for future generations. Happy birthday, Ambassador Young. We are all blessed to know you, and we look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you in the years to come.
By Lily Samuel When it comes to health, it’s important to recognize how interconnected the world is. No nation, including the United States, can be truly safe until all countries have core public health capabilities and reliable health systems to protect all communities regardless of their social, political, economic or environmental circumstances. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s newly released Global Health Annual Report, “CDC Advances Health Equity Around the World,” emphasizes the importance of promoting health equity and minimizing health disparities across the globe. Global health inequities arise from many factors, including lack of access to healthcare, the rise of drug-resistant pathogens, gaps in immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases and the impacts of the changing climate. To address these inequities, CDC’s Global Health Equity Strategy takes a human rights approach focused on improving the availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of global health programs. The strategy recognizes that there are multiple ways to pursue the right to health, and it sets specific goals to help countries eliminate health disparities. The CDC Foundation has worked with CDC for more than 25 years, building public-private partnerships to identify and resolve common health priorities and advance health equity worldwide. Through these partnerships, we strive to advance health equity by focusing on changing the systems, both formal and informal, that have created and perpetuated global disparities in health outcomes and catalyzing cross-sector collaboration for sustained impact. As highlighted in CDC’s report, the CDC Foundation partners with CDC on a variety of key priority areas that include building the capacity to detect, respond to and prevent the spread of diseases like malaria and expanding access to critical public health services and infrastructure in countries like Haiti and Ukraine during times of crisis. The report also features our partnership with CDC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen the capacity of malaria laboratories and experts on the African continent focused on monitoring malaria drug resistance, equipping a laboratory in Senegal to offer the same trainings and services as CDC’s Malaria Lab. This partnership supports global efforts to ensure that malaria therapies retain their efficacy and demonstrates who we work to ensure that the systems for addressing infectious diseases like malaria are in place in the countries facing the greatest burden of those diseases. The report also features CDC and CDC Foundation’s research, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on the efficacy of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in Mozambique and Burkina Faso. This research will inform future vaccine policy that may help these countries achieve higher and more equitable PCV coverage and save the lives of thousands of children. The global health community has renewed its commitment to lessening the burden of these and other diseases on vulnerable populations all over the world, and we believe that our greatest impact will be made through collaboration. Together with CDC, we aim to create a healthier and safer world that is better prepared to equitably address the next global health challenge and help people achieve their healthiest potential. Read the full report here. This is sponsored content.
Born in 1908, Dr. Irene Dobbs Jackson was the first of six daughters born to Irene and John Wesley Dobbs. In her early years, Irene, known as “Renie,” and her family resided in Auburn Avenue, a thriving neighborhood in Atlanta known as an epicenter of Black culture and excellence in the South. She was a brilliant academic, graduating valedictorian of her high school and 1929 Spelman College classes, and a talented pianist, a skill that ultimately led her to her future husband. In 1932, while playing piano at a party in her Auburn Avenue neighborhood, Renie met Maynard Jackson Sr., her husband-to-be. Before tying the knot, she moved to France to study for a Master’s degree in French at the University of Toulouse. During this same time, her father John Wesley Dobbs embarked on a mission to secure voting rights for Black Americans. Believing that enfranchisement was the key to overcoming segregation, Dobbs started a voter registration drive in 1936 with a goal of registering 10,000 Black voters in Georgia. That year, Dobbs founded the Atlanta Civic and Political League, and over the next decade more than 20,000 Black citizens were registered to vote. In 1946, following this decade of success, Dobbs founded the Atlanta Negro Voters League and, using his found influence and leadership, convinced then-Mayor Hartsfield Jackson to integrate the Atlanta Police force. By then, Renie had returned from France and married Jackson Sr., a preacher at Friendship Baptist Church. In 1949, the couple built and moved into their new home at 220 Sunset Avenue in the Vine City neighborhood on the Westside. They chose the location for their family’s home because of the neighborhood’s reputation as a nice, middle-class Black neighborhood. The couple and their six children lived in apartment three on the second floor. Maynard used the third floor apartment as his office and they rented out the two first-floor units to generate additional income. During this time, Jackson Sr. became increasingly involved in the local push for civil rights for Black Atlantans, using his position as a leader in his prominent Black church to encourage increased political involvement in the Black community. A few years later in 1953, Jackson Sr. passed away and Renie decided to further pursue her education, returning again to the University of Toulouse for a doctorate in French. In 1959, she returned home to both her Sunset Avenue home and alma mater Spelman College, where she assumed a post as a professor. As a scholar in a constant pursuit of new knowledge, she headed to her local Atlanta Public Library. While in France, she had been free to join any library she chose and check out any books-–but that was not the case at home. Segregation restricted Black people from full participation in the library system. Black Atlantans were permitted to read books, but only in the basement of a segregated branch of the library system. Additionally, they couldn’t hold an official library card to the main branches of the Atlanta Public Library system. Determined to be the difference, Dr. Jackson walked into the main branch of the Atlanta Public Library and demanded equal treatment, applying for a library card. Within a few days, her application was approved, and Dr. Irene Jackson was the first Black person in the city’s history to be issued a public library card. Today, she’s credited with integrating the Atlanta Public Library system. Her leadership in the fight for equality went on to inspire her children, including her son Maynard Jackson Jr. From his earliest days on Sunset Avenue into his adulthood, Maynard Jr. was a champion for the Black community. After years of community leadership, he was elected as Atlanta’s first Black mayor in 1973. The Jackson family sold their home in 1969, but its historical significance grew. In 1970, the home was purchased by Southern Rural Action Incorporated and was used to house visiting scholars who came to see The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, an organization founded by Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 2020, Westside Future Fund purchased the Sunset Avenue home to restore and apply for historic designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Renovations are currently underway. Once completed, the reimagined property will serve as affordable housing for researchers and graduate students affiliated with the Atlanta University Center, and it will stand as a landmark for years to come. This is sponsored content.
By United Way of Greater Atlanta United Way of Greater Atlanta recently unveiled a new partnership with the artist community amplifying the importance of equity to improve child well-being. At United Way of Greater Atlanta, our North Star is to improve the well-being of children and families in the community, and central to that vision is ensuring that everyone, regardless of race, identity or circumstances, has the opportunity achieve their potential and gain economic stability. According to The Public Library of Science, 85% of the works in the collections of all major US museums belong to white men. African Americans have the lowest share – just 1%. And a report based on data from the US Census and the American Community Survey found that 78% of artists earning their primary income from their work are white. That’s why United Way of Greater Atlanta partnered with ComfiArt, an Atlanta company founded by Dionna Collins that empowers Black artists and artists of colors to create art while monetizing their work. Despite artists of color garnering more attention from the industry, only a small percentage of them can sustainably earn income from their artwork. Through this mutually beneficial partnership, both United Way of Greater Atlanta and ComfiArt are expanding their reach in the Greater Atlanta community. Both organizations share similar values, so teaming up to create something new and exciting was a natural next step. “[The partnership is] connected to our work around economic stability, which is focused on building wealth for children and families in the Greater Atlanta region,” said Kim Addie, United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Associate Vice President of Place-Based Initiatives. One featured artist, Marryam Moma is a Tanzanian-Nigerian collage artist who is currently creating in Atlanta. With her craft blade and through layers of paper and other mediums, Marryam created a cityscape outlining the 13 counties of Greater Atlanta, sharing her vision of a better future. “My collage is really centered around this Eden of community – how many hands can we get to contribute to this vision?” Marryam said. Another featured artist, Yuzly Mathurin is a Haitian American mural artist whose work can be seen in the Poncey-Highland neighborhood. Yuzly has utilized United Way’s 2-1-1 services before, so being involved in this partnership was extra special for her. “I have a big place in my heart for United Way, and that’s why I’m so excited to create work, to really get the messaging out, to get people to be more aware of what [United Way] offers,” she said. Yuzly’s digital mural for the partnership depicts two women in Piedmont Park, celebrating the vibrancy of the city and the promise it holds for a more equitable future. We launched the partnership with Artfully United, a lively event hosted at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Small business owners and members of the city’s creative community came together to see the unveiling of Marryam’s and Yuzly’s artwork, hear from guest speakers, and buy merchandise from the collaboration. Guest speakers included Mayor Andre Dickens, Milton Little, and Atlanta Influences Everything founder Bem Joiner. In addition to highlighting the artists and partnership, the speakers emphasized how important the arts are to Atlanta and communities everywhere. “Atlanta is a group project. Everyone has to put in on this group project – something is required of every last one of us. Our artists and small business owners are definitely putting in by making this place beautiful,” Mayor Andre Dickens said. Click here to view the event photo album on Facebook Click here to watch the video of the event The two art pieces that came from this partnership were born out of a shared vision for greater equity and brighter future for Greater Atlanta. You can support this vision, these artists, and our mission by wearing the art! “I think it’s so powerful because as wearable art, it can move, right? So, there’s information that’s traveling. That for me is what art and activism do together. It gives us this bigger story of a solution that we dream of, that we hope for,” Marryam said. T-shirts, totes, fanny packs, and more are available for purchase, and you can explore the collections here. Sale proceeds go to ComfiArt, the artists, and the Child Well-Being Mission Fund.
The Mellon Foundation has awarded Emory University a multi-year, $526,000 grant to develop a new center to advance civic engagement and democratic participation through interdisciplinary humanistic research, experiential education and partnerships between Emory and Georgia-based organizations in and around Atlanta. The Imagining Democracy Lab will be led by historian Carol Anderson, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies and an internationally recognized expert and public scholar on voting and civil rights, and Bernard L. Fraga, associate professor of Political Science and specialist in race, elections, and voter behavior. Central to the project is building empowerment and civic engagement by asking citizens to imagine what a viable, functioning democracy could mean for enhancing the quality of their lives and, then, providing the information and pathways to make that kind of democracy real. “This outstanding award will support innovative models for collaborative research and teaching and will forge enduring relationships between Emory and our surrounding communities. I am grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its recognition and support for this vital initiative that will greatly expand our work around civic engagement and social justice, and actively advance our democratic future,” says Carla Freeman, interim Dean of Emory College of Arts & Sciences. The Imagining Democracy Lab builds upon Anderson’s award-winning scholarship on the history of racial inequality and voter suppression in the U.S. and the work of Fraga, whose award-winning book The Turnout Gap documents the causes and consequences of racial/ethnic disparities in who turns out to vote. Other faculty in political science, African American studies, law and history will be involved as well. The lab also will use additional institutional strengths with the resources of Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference and Emory Law’s Center for Civil Rights and Social Justice. “The grant from the Mellon Foundation is a recognition of how important an engaged citizenry is to a healthy, vibrant democracy. We are honored to have the Imagining Democracy Lab be a contributor to that vision,” says Anderson. Leveraging Emory’s location in Atlanta as an historic and contemporary center for civil rights, the lab will engage students and faculty in the humanities and social sciences, as well as local, state and national organizations to develop multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research strategies that can foster civic participation in Georgia and beyond. Representatives from community organizations will join the lab as fellows and full partners in research, scholarship, teaching, and action. A major goal of the research lab is to connect academic and real-world understandings of barriers to democratic enfranchisement and responsiveness, and gain access to information that helps participants take action, from local to national levels. The Imagining Democracy Lab also plans to launch an open access digital “Democracy Hub” to widely disseminate its scholarship and educational resources to individuals and community organizations. Content for the Democracy Hub, including platforms for participatory exchange with citizens, will include the work and research results of the students, faculty, and community organizations involved in the lab. The Democracy Hub will be designed and supported by experts within the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship who are trained to optimize digital scholarly resources. This is sponsored content.
By Damian Ramsey While student exploration in college is generally considered a good thing, there is a hidden cost to students changing their majors after their first year. Changing majors after sophomore year has been linked to declines in college graduation, extended time to degree, and increased student debt. Students change majors for many reasons. Understanding one’s aptitudes (natural abilities) and interests prior to enrolling in college, may reduce the likelihood of doing so. Students sometimes lack visibility into the types of careers that would be both personally and financially rewarding. YouScience is a talent discovery platform that uncovers students’ aptitudes and interests, and aligns them with best-fit, high-demand careers. Using a series of short, game-like exercises to measure various types of aptitude (e.g., spatial visualization, sequential reasoning, numerical reasoning, inductive reasoning, etc.), and a career interest survey to assess students’ knowledge of, and interest in high-demand careers, YouScience matches students to fields in which they are uniquely fit to succeed. The report that is generated provides the first step in bridging the gap between students’ aptitude and interests. What if YouScience was leveraged to match students to college majors that lead to high-demand careers? Would exploring a student’s talents, desired lifestyle, and understanding of specific career pathways prior to college, result in better outcomes during and after college? Learn4Life’s Postsecondary Success Network is exploring these and other questions as we consider YouScience as a tool to reduce major-changing and improve the region’s 27% postsecondary completion rate. Currently, Georgia pays for all middle and high school students across the state to have access to YouScience. In 2019, almost 22,000 students across the 5 county 8 school district metro Atlanta region used the platform. Administration of this assessment, however, is completely voluntary, so usage varies from district to district, and the analysis of results for college and career advising, and experiential opportunities, vary from school to school. By raising awareness of YouScience as a state-funded tool to unlock students’ interests and aptitudes, Learn4Life hopes to not only increase usage, but also encourage cross-sector partners to leverage the platform in ways that expose students to high-demand careers so they enter college with more clarity and focus. By helping high school students understand their unique skills that map to rewarding careers, we hope to mitigate the pressures that compel many of them to change majors in college. Doing so can set them on a path toward postsecondary success, and propel them toward future careers that directly align with their interests and natural abilities. If you’re a parent, or from a school, nonprofit, community organization, or business, and you’d like to support Learn4Life’s cradle to career approach, you can join our early literacy, math, and postsecondary success networks here. All are welcome, and we’d love to have your voice at the table.