The Lord works in mysterious ways, as the saying goes, and, were he here today, the Reverend Frank Quarels would, no doubt, offer his personal testament to that adage.
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 email@example.com 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 Charles Redding On February 6, at 4:17am, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria. This is the region’s most powerful earthquake recorded since 1939, with at least 78 aftershocks and a second 7.5 magnitude earthquake reported. In Syria, the earthquake affected a region where 4.1 million people were already dependent on humanitarian assistance, the majority of whom are women and children. These same Syrian communities have been struggling with an on-going cholera outbreak and harsh winter conditions. In addition to the 48,000 lives that have been lost, millions of people have been injured and/or displaced, thousands of buildings damaged, and entire communities leveled. Needless to say, there is both an immediate and long-term need for medical aid to support damaged and overwhelmed hospitals now, and to help them reconstitute healthcare services in the future. Due to the ongoing conflict in Syria and the subsequent refugee crisis, there are a number of existing international NGOs with permanent operations in the region. Charity Navigator currently lists MedShare among 43 high-performing organizations providing relief and recovery in the wake of the earthquakes, and there are hundreds of small organizations based in Turkey, Syria and elsewhere who are responding with medical aid, food, sanitation and water, psycho-social and other material support. MedShare has a longstanding history of providing humanitarian aid to these communities in times of crises. Since 2009 MedShare has delivered over $4.7 million in humanitarian aid to provide care for over 175,000 patients and healthcare workers in the Turkey/Syria region. Key partner organizations have included: Orient for Human Relief Syrian American Medical Society Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM) LEAP Global Missions After the Government of Turkey issued the call for international assistance last month, MedShare once again answered the call. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, MedShare: Activated our disaster response protocol to guide our relief efforts and maximize our impact with a focus on marginalized communities Opened our primary care supply center to groups traveling to the region to collect critical medical supplies to be hand-carried to the reach to provide treatment of those in need Immediately began to collaborate with many of our existing partners that are providing emergency aid in Turkey and Syria Initiated the process of carefully selecting quality medical supplies to match the established needs list generated by our partner organizations such as the Turkish Embassy, the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM), Islamic Relief USA, Islamic Relief Canada, Syrian American Medical Society MedShare is also partnering with longstanding healthcare partner, Northwell Health, to transport 22 pallets of critical medical supplies to the region to treat the millions of people that have been impacted during this disaster. “We are all part of one global family,” Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health said in a statement. “And when there’s one part of the family in severe distress, we as a healthcare organization have to be concerned about people in other parts of the world.” If you would like to learn more about our relief efforts, please visit www.medshare.org or donate here.
While exploring the historic Westside, you’ll find Black history that made American history on nearly every block — including the streets you’re driving on. There are several streets in the community named after nationally prominent Black leaders from Atlanta, each of whom contributed to advancing civil rights and democracy for all Americans. While some names are more well known than others, each of them have made history worth knowing. In honor of Black History Month, we are taking a trip down some of these iconic streets to learn more about their namesakes. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard Today, almost every major city in the United States has a street named after the icon of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968). His role guiding the movement cannot be overstated — Dr. King was the face of the fight for equality for Black Americans. He was a scholar, having first graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Westside Atlanta, and then earning degrees from Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University. Dr. King moved to Alabama after meeting Corretta Scott, a native of Alabama also studying in the city. They got married and moved closer to her family in Alabama in 1953. He first worked as a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, one of the most influential churches in the local Black community. During the following year, a series of segregated seating incidents on public buses led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956. King was a key leader in the movement, and by the end had gained national recognition. Over the next decade, Dr. King led marches, sit-ins and protests across the country in the name of civil rights and equality. Alongside fellow luminaries, Dr. King co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group that led the charge against racial segregation in the South. His leadership in the Civil Rights Movement led to tremendous achievements and pivotal legislative gains including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. On October 14, 1964, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day honoring his pivotal role in securing equal rights for Black Americans — and his legacy continues to inspire people to this day. In 1976, Hunter Street would be renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Atlanta to honor the Civil Rights legend. The street ran directly through the area where Dr. King lived and learned, being home to landmarks where he ate, learned, prayed and planned his movements including Pascal’s restaurant, West Hunter Street Baptist Church and more. Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard Though only three years older, Reverend Ralph David Abernathy (1926-1990) is often referred to as a mentor of Dr. King. More importantly, he was Dr. King’s closest friend. Abernathy was a Baptist minister at First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, the largest Black church in the city. He collaborated with Dr. King to form the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization that went on to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rev. Abernathy later co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) alongside Dr. King and other civil rights leaders. Rev. Abernathy assumed the role of president of the organization following Dr. King’s assassination. Over the next two decades, Rev. Abernathy served as an advisory committee member of the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), addressed the United Nations (UN) on the matter of world peace, brokered a deal between the FBI and American Indian Movement protestors during the Wounded Knee incident of 1973, and testified before the U.S. Congress in support of extending the Voting Rights Act in 1982. Today, West Hunter Street Baptist Church, where Rev. Abernathy preached during his time in Atlanta, is under renovation. Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard Known as the “Dean of the Civil Rights Movement,” Reverend Joseph E. Lowery (1921-2020) started as a minister at the Warren Street Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, and later joined Dr. King in the fight for equality. Rev. Lowery spearheaded the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, an organization dedicated to desegregation, and took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Lowery, like Rev. Abernathy, was one of the co-founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Rev. Lowery succeeded Rev. Abernathy as president in 1977. In addition to his involvement with the SCLC, Rev. Lowery also co-founded the Black Leadership Forum, a consortium of Black advocacy groups. Following the end of the Civil Rights Movement, Rev. Lowery was a leading advocate for the end of apartheid in South Africa and he served as pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta from 1986 through 1992. Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway Formerly Bankhead Highway, this thoroughfare is named after famed civil rights attorney and activist Donald Lee Hollowell (1917-2004). Hollowell was pivotal in the effort to desegregate schools throughout the state of Georgia, leading lawsuits that would ultimately integrate Atlanta Public Schools and the state public universities including the University of Georgia in 1961. Hollowell also acted as one of Dr. King’s personal attorneys, freeing him from prison in 1960. His work in Georgia garnered national recognition, and in 1966, he was appointed regional director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by President Lyndon B. Johnson, becoming the first Black regional director of a major federal agency. Joseph E. Boone Boulevard Reverend Joseph E. Boone (1922-2006) was the head pastor of the Rush Memorial Congregational Church of the Atlanta University Center and a key figure of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta. Boone is best known for his leadership in launching the Atlanta Student Movement and working to integrate stores, restaurants and schools in the city. Dr. King named Rev. Boone the chief negotiator of Operation Breadbasket, a program that encouraged businesses to employ Black Americans. Boone led a team of more than 200 ministers in more than …
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.