By Jeff Romig Earlier this year, the Center for Civic Innovation and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta partnered on the Ideas Challenge, an effort to generate and fund ideas to boost voter turnout for local ...
Board Members Cite Parker’s Excellent Leadership and Accomplishments By MARTA The MARTA Board of Directors have voted unanimously to extend the contract of General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker for three years, through 2026. “Jeff has earned this extension, especially for his steady leadership during the pandemic and all its challenges,” said MARTA Board Chair Freda Hardage. “His work negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement and the passage of the 15th amendment in our four jurisdictions are among several accomplishments during his tenure.” Parker joined MARTA as General Manager and CEO in March 2018 with a contract that expired in 2023. The board’s decision extends the contract to June 2026. “I am grateful to the Board for their continued support and faith in my ability,” said Parker. “We have accomplished a lot together in two years and I am excited to improve upon that record with our expansion plans and our renewed focus on the customer experience, as well as navigating the post-pandemic world of public transit.” Under Parker’s leadership, MARTA balanced its budget for a ninth consecutive year, and unlike many peer agencies, has been able to provide essential transit service during the pandemic without any layoffs or fare hikes. Parker has also worked closely with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 732 to negotiate a new contract that includes raises for bus and rail operators and to ensure front line workers are receiving additional support, financial and otherwise, during the pandemic. Parker was also at the helm for a successful Super Bowl LIII, when MARTA transported a half-million football fans. His steady leadership was instrumental in the extension of the penny sales tax through 2057 in the City of Atlanta, Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties. Under his contract, Parker was eligible for a raise and bonus of up to 10 percent of his base salary but expressed to the board that both seemed inappropriate this year. This is sponsored content.
By Metro Atlanta Chamber The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC) announced today that the city has won the bid to host the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Regional, including the Sweet 16 and Elite 8, at State Farm Arena in 2025. The winning proposal was submitted in February and crafted by the ASC in partnership with the Atlanta Visitors Convention Bureau, Georgia Tech and State Farm Arena. Georgia Tech will serve as the host institution for the games. “We are thrilled to work with the NCAA and the city of Atlanta again to bring the Men’s Division I Regional Basketball games back in 2025,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council. “After the unfortunate cancellation of this year’s Final Four, we are thrilled to bring a key part of the NCAA Tournament back to metro Atlanta. We are thankful for our partners at the Atlanta Visitors Convention Bureau, Georgia Tech and State Farm Arena for assisting us in creating another successful bid to bring a premier sporting event here.” The ASC plans to oversee the execution of the 2025 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Regional under the organization’s Championship Hosting Division which has been utilized for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship, Super Bowl LIII and the 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four. The ASC has partnered with the NCAA on several events in recent years. In 2018, Atlanta hosted the Division I Regional, where basketball fans watched a Cinderella story unfold as No. 11 seed Loyola (Chicago) advanced to the Final Four®. The city was also set to host its fourth NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2020, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event would have been the first basketball game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Atlanta Sports Council hopes to bring another NCAA Men’s Final Four event to the city in the near future and is turning its focus to baseball as the city hosts the 2021 MLB All-Star Game at Truist Park. Additional information about the Men’s Division I Basketball Regional and the MLB All-Star Game will be released as available. About the Atlanta Sports Council The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC), a division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, facilitates the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sports events. The organization plays an important role in improving the quality of life for residents in the region through sports, working to drive economic growth and visibility and acting as an advocate for area teams and annual sports events. For more information, visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/councils/atlanta-sports-council. This is sponsored content.
By Rev. Tony Sundermeier, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta My regular run takes me from my home in Ansley Park to Piedmont Park, and then up 12th Street to Peachtree. Once I reach the Woodruff Arts Center and First Presbyterian Church, I head back home. The other day I was running on Peachtree between 12th and 13h Street when a Midtown Alliance banner hanging from a light post caught my eye. It read, “Turn Over a New Leaf.” As I ran by, the wind picked up and blew some freshly fallen leaves right into my face. That got my attention. Perhaps it was a sign: what “new leaf” might I need to turn over? As I was finishing my run, my focus was fixed on gratitude and thanksgiving: I was thankful for my city, my church community, my neighborhood, my family and my friends. At that moment I was “feeling” my gratitude. Still in these feelings, I came to the corner of 16th and Peachtree Street and saw a line of people in front of the church. This was not at all unexpected. First Presbyterian has “stayed open” throughout the pandemic, serving over 1,000 of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors every month. For over three decades, FPC Atlanta’s Community Ministries has been serving in North Midtown in a variety of ways. Through a dedicated staff and over one hundred volunteers our mail service, Meals on Wheels, Redemption After Prison, document procurement, food pantry, clothing closet, tax preparation, shower ministry, foot care ministry, bathroom trailer, free counseling services through the Samaritan Counseling Center of Atlanta, regular meals including a Sunday prayer breakfast, and our Transformation Center that houses up to a dozen women on our campus at any one time for up to twelve months. These ministries have pressed on during the pandemic. I was talking with one of our volunteers the other day, and she shared the reason why she gives so much of her time and energy to these ministries. She said, “It’s a way I can live out my gratitude to God for all the blessings of my life.” You know, it is one thing to feel grateful but it is another thing to act on one’s gratitude. And that is the new leaf I am turning over: I want to practice my gratitude more. I want my feelings of thankfulness to translate into action. In this Thanksgiving season, perhaps it is time to turn over a new leaf. Perhaps it’s time not only to feel grateful but also to act on your gratitude. To invest some of your time, or your money, or your talents for the good of someone else. Perhaps it’s time to express your gratitude in a concrete and tangible way. Perhaps its time to steward the blessings and gifts and privileges of your life in a way that gives a “hand-up” to someone on their road to self-sufficiency. There are many organizations within the Midtown Atlanta community that I am familiar with that are serving our most vulnerable neighbors and friends. If you are looking to get connected and/or support communities who are serving those experiencing homelessness and/or food insecurity, check out Covenant Community of All Saints Episcopal Church, Atlanta Children’s Shelter, First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta Community Ministries, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, North Avenue Presbyterian Church, Peachtree Christian Church, and St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. If you are interested in supporting the work of keeping people in their homes through rental assistance, check out Midtown Assistance Center. Finally, if you are interested in supporting excellent subsidized mental healthcare for the working poor and those living in poverty who otherwise couldn’t afford it, visit Samaritan Counseling Center of Atlanta. This is sponsored content.
By ULI’s Atlanta Community Schoolyards Project Team When Atlanta Community Schoolyards launched its pilot project with ULI Atlanta, the Trust for Public Land, Park Pride, and Atlanta Public Schools in early 2019, the idea of a global pandemic halting daily activity and life was not in our national vernacular. Since the shutdown of March 2020, the importance of parks and greenspace has skyrocketed as families living in urban environments seek reprieve from the daily monotony of virtual work and school. This is a significant opportunity for projects like the 10-Minute Walk Campaign – which seeks to ensure a park within a ten-minute walk of every person in every neighborhood in cities across the United States. In Atlanta, this campaign has taken the form of an initiative called the Atlanta Community Schoolyards project, demonstrating the feasibility of using schoolyards as shared public space and enhancing our communities by making a close-to-home park within a 10-minute walk a reality for all Atlantans. ULI Atlanta’s primary goal for participation in this project is to advance inclusive, welcoming, and sustainable communities. Walkability adds value to a community, allowing children to walk safely to school and provides families with options to more easily access transportation alternatives. ULI has long advocated for the fact that a walkable community is key to a healthy community. What we have learned in 2020 is that the opportunity to walk and safely gather outdoors is inextricably linked to our individual and community health. During the 2019 pilot year, ULI Atlanta conducted walk analyses within a half-mile radius of each school, generally representing the distance that an average adult can walk in ten minutes. The first two schools to participant were Dobbs Elementary and Kimberly Elementary. In 2020, four more schools were added to the project’s cohort, including: Centennial Academy. See recent CBS46 feature here. Harper-Archer Elementary School Miles Elementary School Sarah Smith Elementary School. See ULI’s report here. Each school selected represents a broad cross-section of APS school clusters and geographic diversity within the city (with schools in the north, south, east, and west). The information collected and related analysis by the ULI Atlanta team are intended to serve as the foundation for the improvements needed to achieve the goals of the 10-Minute Walk Campaign in each school community – a walk that Jeff Speck author of Walkable City describes as useful, safe, comfortable, and interesting. The challenge for the Atlanta region is to find ways to create more walkable environments that incorporate these four key principles, which are simple in concept but challenging in execution. ULI Atlanta completed the walk assessments of the four schools over the Summer of 2020 with a small, dedicated group of member volunteers. Following ULI’s walkability assessments, TPL and Park Pride are virtually engaging schoolchildren and residents from the surrounding communities to give input on design improvements to their communities’ schoolyard. Construction will soon follow, bringing those designs to life, creating inviting, accessible, and safe spaces for school-day play, after-hours recreation, and much needed community greenspace, the importance underscored now by a global pandemic. We all seek to imagine a world that is better, stronger, more resilient when we can be back together. Community Schoolyards is one small but meaningful way we can make our communities better for today and when we come out on the other side. *** The Urban Land Institute would like to thank the ULI Atlanta member volunteers who have spent countless hours leading this project to advance the goals of the 10-Minute Walk Campaign in Atlanta. This project could not have been completed without them. A special thank you goes to: Janet Bozeman, Hyatt & Stubblefileld Steve Foster, Georgia Power Alex Heaton, Morris, Manning, & Martin Lauren Standish, HGOR Daphne Bond-Godfrey, ULI Atlanta (project staff) Finally, a special thank you to Georgia Power for the data and technology partnership in producing this report. This is sponsored content.
By: John Hope Bryant Disasters are unpredictable. Even with prior warning, we are rarely, if ever, prepared for the mental and emotional tax excised on us individually and collectively as a community. Right now, we find ourselves in the middle of a global health crisis, an economic shift felt by millions, and in the throes of battling a series of back-to-back natural disasters. Amidst these trying times, we must remember – disasters do not stop, and we cannot sit by idly, becoming victims of circumstance. The best way to fight back against the unknown is by being prepared. Devastation strikes without discrimination and it is never clear when it will impact you and your community. It is often said that the best offense is a good defense, preparedness is just that. Financial preparation for emergencies can save you and your family tremendous heartache and stress after disaster strikes. The simple actions you take, or do not take, today can greatly affect your future and way of life. Recently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recorded that more than 25 million Americans were impacted by a natural disaster in 2017; and, in the past three years alone, natural disasters have accounted for nearly $500 billion in damage and losses. While it is not possible to control the disruptions that nature can sometimes bring into our lives, we can control our response to them through financial literacy. Financial literacy is the cornerstone of preparedness; the two go together. When you understand the mechanics of money and resources – and how it can be leveraged to bring you to your desired future – you attain a sense of control and empowerment you may not have had before. Many times, individuals can tend to focus on what they do not have as a reason for delaying emergency preparations. Rather than focusing on what you do not have, think about shifting your focus on what you do have and maximizing its output and potential. Remember, consistently taking small actions yields big results over time. Here are a few things that you can do to be prepared for any kind of financial emergency you may find yourself in: Make saving a priority. It is important to understand that federal disaster assistance will not make you whole after disaster strikes – you must make saving and proper insurance a priority. For your savings, consider creating an additional “cash-on-demand” savings account that you add to periodically that you can take with you in case you are required to evacuate in a hurry. Maintain insurance. After Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the average flood insurance payout to homeowners who flooded was $120,000. Conversely, homeowners who took on water and applied for FEMA for federal financial assistance through FEMA received $4,000 to 7,000 on average. Therefore, it is important to understand your risks and ensure your assets have the proper level of coverage. Review your policy options, policies, and other relevant paperwork consistently to ensure that information is up to date. Have a written plan. A comprehensive financial plan serves as your road map reminding you of your desired destination and the actions required to get there. Make copies of all important financial and legal documents. Many times, when disasters strike, property is severely damaged or destroyed. Unfortunately, for many, they lose access to important documents like mortgage information and birth certificates which are helpful in applying for recovery assistance. Additionally, in today’s technological environment, make sure your important documents are available digitally by storing them in the cloud, email, or mobile device. If you need assistance in this process, Operation HOPE may be able to help. For nearly three decades, Operation HOPE has been empowering Americans through financial literacy with a standing commitment to prepare individuals and families for financial disasters, of any kind, and seeing them through to recovery. Through HOPE Coalition America (HCA), the organization provides preparation coaching, at no cost to clients, to help them get back on their feet should they be adversely affected by disaster – be it natural or manmade. Additionally, their financial wellbeing coaches are trained to walk alongside clients in their most vulnerable times to help them regain a sense of dignity and normalcy in their lives. They can help clients build emergency financial plans, negotiate their mortgage payments, apply for eligible post-disaster FEMA assistance, speak to lenders concerning the terms and condition of their loans, and more. Life is an adventure, plan for it and be ready for the unexpected. September is National Preparedness Month and it is the perfect time to make a commitment to ensure you and your family are financially prepared – by doing so, you are investing in your future. For more resources, visit the Ready Campaign and the Financial Literacy and Education Commission.
By The Task Force for Global Health The Task Force for Global Health and the Lab for Social Machines (LSM) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Media Lab are collaborating to develop and test a health campaign against COVID-19 in Atlanta, GA, where The Task Force is based. The Task Force and LSM are also working closely with Susan Blumenthal, MD, Director of the Health Innovations Lab at New America; Cortico, a non-profit affiliated with the MIT Media Lab whose work fosters constructive public conversations; and the Institute for Local Innovations, Inc. (Atlanta office), which helps community development organizations build economically and socially healthier communities. The MIT Media Lab is one of the world’s leading research and academic organizations where designers, engineers, artists, and scientists strive to create technologies and experiences that enable people to understand and transform their lives, communities, and environments. Researchers from across the Media Lab have tapped into their creativity and expertise to find ways to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, LSM researchers and Blumenthal developed a national #BeatTheVirus campaign to raise awareness of the behaviors that would help defeat COVID-19. Seeking the support of public health experts and wanting to focus geographically, they are now collaborating with The Task Force to pilot a local COVID-19 effort, based in Atlanta. The campaign is focused on a predominantly African-American area in south Atlanta, as people of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19; nationally, African Americans get infected and die from COVID-19 at rates more than 1.5 times their share of the population. The initiative is being co-designed and carried out with trusted local influencers with a deep understanding of the population’s experience and context and is also informed by four additional methods: monitoring Twitter, listening to local radio, conducting polls, and facilitating deep local conversations. Together, this information will help researchers to better understand and respond to areas of concern and help protect the public, particularly African-Americans, initially in the pilot area of south Atlanta. “We are applying state-of-the-art social media practices and media analytics to target essential information to specific populations,” explains MIT Professor Deb Roy, PhD, who heads LSM. “Working closely with The Task Force’s dedicated team of experts, our goal is to set a precedent and build a model for future health campaigns that facilitate our connection with, and understanding of, underserved populations.” Also See Adapting Public Health Efforts to a COVID-19 World Using Cell Phones for Contact Tracing: Partnering with Google, Apple and CDC Foundation, Q&A with Task Force Public Health Informatics Expert This is sponsored content.
*Originally published on November 7, 2020 By Dentons While the states of Alaska, Georgia and North Carolina have not yet been called, and President Trump has not conceded the election’s outcome, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., is expected to be the next President of the United States and Senator Kamala Harris the Vice President-elect, and the first woman and person of color to serve in that role. After being declared the winner in Pennsylvania by many media organizations, President-elect Biden has won states with 290 Electoral College votes, more than the 270 votes required to be elected, while President Trump has won states with 213 Electoral College votes. With over 13 million votes nationwide still to be counted, Biden holds a majority of the national popular vote, with a lead of about 4.1 million votes (about 2.8%) that is anticipated to expand as more votes from the West Coast, especially California, are counted. This is the seventh time in the last eight presidential elections that the Democratic candidate has won the popular vote. President Trump and his supporters have initiated multiple lawsuits seeking to dispute and overturn these election results. However, unless these legal actions ultimately persuade the courts to disqualify sufficient ballots in states that have been called for Biden in a manner that would alter the Electoral College result, an outcome that appears highly unlikely, the presidential race is over. Control of the Senate Will Be Determined by Two Georgia Runoff Elections on January 5, 2021 In the Senate, at this writing Republicans and Democrats each have secured 48 seats. Democrats have achieved a net gain of only one seat to date, with 4 races uncalled: two of which are expected to remain Republican (Alaska and North Carolina) and two seats in Georgia. With a Democratic White House, Democrats need to pick up two more seats in order to capture the Senate. Under Georgia law, US Senate candidates must receive 50% of the total votes cast or face a runoff election. As none of the candidates reached the 50% threshold, there will be two runoff Senate elections in Georgia on January 5, 2021. If Republicans win at least one of these two races, Senator Mitch McConnell will remain the Majority Leader, while Democrats will control the chamber if they win both runoffs. Democrats will continue to have the majority in the House of Representatives, but with a narrowed margin, to the surprise of many Democrats who were expecting at least modest gains to their House majority. Thus far, Republicans have achieved a net pick-up of about five seats. Click here to see our Election Results on One Page, our preview of the Biden Transition Team members and a look ahead to potential Biden Cabinet members. This is sponsored content.
By Guest Editors representing Latinos for Democracy It has been a historic election with more than 145 million voters casting their ballots. Among them, millions of Hispanic/Latinos/Latinx(*) voters turned out to say, “Presente, Estamos Aquí.” Latinos, the largest minority group in the United States, have a growing influence on American politics. Approximately every 30 seconds, a Latino in the U.S. turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. Georgia’s Latinx civic and political voice is unique, young, powerful, and increasingly influential. Hispanic/Latinx participation soared by 72% in the recent Presidential election with over 160,000 voters turning out across the state. (**) Early voting numbers show that 48% of advance voters, either in person or via absentee ballot, had not participated in the 2016 election, and 50% of those Latino early, in-person voters were under 40 years old as compared to 29.9% of non-Latino voters in the state. Georgia’s over one million Latinos, many of them immigrants, play a vital role in building and strengthening the state’s social, economic, and political fabric. From 2000 to 2019, the Hispanic population in Georgia grew from 435,000 to over one million-plus residents, a 132% increase in population. Today, we comprise nearly 10% of the total state population. As one of the fastest-growing states, Georgia draws Latinos from all over the U.S. and world, with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans leading as the largest communities. The 2020 Census results will provide us with an updated picture; however, this growth expands eligible Latino voter representation in Georgia, particularly in the counties of Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, Clarke, Whitfield, Hall, Rockdale and Newton. Historically, it has been local Latinx leaders, volunteers, and organizations who have concentrated their efforts to engage, inform, register, translate, advocate for language access, mobilize and ensure our communities do not go another election unnoticed or unheard. Like other multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural communities, we promoted early voting, provided voter assistance, trained volunteers to navigate the electoral process, provided outreach in various languages, and ran voter protection efforts. Our numbers show our strategies and campaigns worked. Even with these Herculean efforts, there is still much work to be done as challenges remain. Unlike states or cities with dense population areas, Georgia has a dispersed population outside of the Atlanta metro area with critical pockets of Latinos residing in rural areas. A scarcity of resources, conflicting voter information, and voter suppression tactics create real obstacles to participating in elections. Through statewide grassroots engagement and the strengthening of Latino networks, the Latino community is exercising their fundamental right to vote and be heard in this country. Today, thanks to thousands of community voters and volunteers, and local Latinx leadership, Georgia will play a critical role in elections for years to come. We hope that this time, as we prepare for runoffs and a new cycle of elections and redistricting, input from local Latinx grassroots leaders is sought and integrated into strategies and tactics that reach our unique and diverse community in Georgia. The South has something to say, and our voice as a diverse Latinx community gets stronger every year. Our vote will impact future federal, state, and local elections, bolstering the power of communities of color and multicultural groups, which without a doubt, will re-shape the political narrative in our country and Georgia. We are ready to continue to do this work. Latinos for Democracy includes: Gigi Pedraza, Executive Director, Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia) http://www.LCFGeorgia.org Jerry Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer, GALEO and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund http://www.galeo.org America Gruner, President, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA) http://www.clila.org Marco Palma, President, Los Vecinos de Buford Highway http://www.vecinosbh.org Rebeca Gibbons, Executive Director, Unidos Latino Association, Inc https://www.facebook.com/unilatinos/ David Araya, CEO & Co-Founder, HoPe (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education), Inc https://www.hopestrong.org (*) Latinx is new gender-neutral term often times used to include individuals of Latin American descent and cultural identity without prioritizing a binary narrative. We use it in this document interchangeably with Latinos and Hispanic. (**) Sources: Latino Decisions and TargetSmart This is sponsored content.
By Emory University The Emory Healthcare Veterans Program (EHVP), which is celebrating its five-year anniversary during November’s National Veterans & Military Families Month, is expanding its virtual telemedicine services to include 13 states across the country. EHVP psychologists are now credentialed through the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), allowing them to provide telemedicine services to warriors (post-9/11 veterans and active duty service members) living in states that have joined PSYPACT. The PSYPACT was developed by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards to allow approved professionals from a PSYPACT state to legally practice over state lines in any one of the other member states. In addition to Georgia, EHVP psychologists can practice via telemedicine in Texas, Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Pennsylvania. EHVP psychologists will be able to practice in additional PSYPACT states in the near future. As one of four academic medical centers in the United States supported by Wounded Warrior Project’s Warrior Care Network, the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program provides expert, collaborative care for post-9/11 veterans and service members at no cost to the warrior. Since EHVP launched in 2015, it has treated more than 2,300 warriors with a variety of mental health concerns, including post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, depression and anxiety. Treatment options include outpatient and intensive outpatient programs which integrate care in multiple areas including psychiatry, neurology, sleep, rehabilitative medicine, wellness and family support. EHVP is part of the Emory Brain Health Center. “Veterans are strong and resilient members of our society, but even the strongest need support. We are incredibly grateful to celebrate the five-year anniversary of our program and continue our work to help even more veterans across the country heal and move forward,” says EHVP executive director Barbara O. Rothbaum, PhD, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine. A major component of EHVP’s treatment efforts includes its two-week intensive outpatient program (IOP), offering customizable, results- and evidence-based treatment and wellness guidance for warriors to optimize their chances for success. Results show the program is highly effective and leads to large reductions in PTSD and depression symptoms, including suicidal thoughts and actions. During the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, EHVP leaders pivoted to meet the needs of the warriors it serves by developing a remote IOP that delivers care in the comfort and privacy of the warrior’s home. The PSYPACT telemedicine expansion covers warriors participating in the IOP. “Our veterans and active service members struggling with invisible wounds have seen transformative improvements in their emotional health and well-being through treatment provided via our telemedicine services,” says Sheila Rauch, PhD, deputy director of the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and the Mark and Barbara Klein Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Emory University School of Medicine. “Joining PSYPACT is an incredible opportunity for us to reach even more of America’s warriors and reinforce our commitment to finding new and innovative ways to help them on their journey to recovery,” says Rauch. “We hope to expand telemedicine care even further to more states in the future. Access is key.” Rauch, who also serves as director of research and program evaluation at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is working with colleagues to develop and test telemedicine and primary care treatment models for PTSD so that warriors can receive quality, evidence-based care without having to seek out a specialty mental health office. Current telemedicine services offered through EHVP include: daily individual and group therapy, wellness coaching such as yoga and physical fitness training, family services to enhance relationships, care management to connect warriors to local resources, medication education, and the opportunity to connect with other warriors. For more information or if you are a post-9/11 warrior struggling with invisible wounds, call 888-514-5345 to speak with a veteran care coordinator. This is sponsored content.
By Nicole Bush Turkeys, hams, and yams. Those were just some of the items we distributed this past weekend to families at our inaugural fall festival for the Carver cluster, in partnership with Purpose Built Schools Atlanta. This five-year and counting partnership with Communities in Schools of Atlanta and Purpose Built Schools Atlanta continues to change the trajectory of students and families in some of the city’s poorest zip codes. Many of the students at Carver STEAM Academy, where I work as a school coordinator, live in public housing at a property across the street from a federal penitentiary. During this time of distanced-learning, we have been laser-focused on getting kids to log in and stay focused despite the challenges of the pandemic. As you’ve seen us write before, there’s no special equation to what we do – just hard work, patience, and showing up every single day for our students and their families. We all know the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s hard to consider a particular school or career if you’ve never been exposed to it or have never seen people who look like you excel in that field. I’m reminded of India, a curious, bright student I worked with from freshman to senior year at Carver. Oftentimes, people treat students as data points, numbers on a spreadsheet. Through our partnership, we treat them like family. Before the pandemic, we regularly took our students on exploration trips to expose them to new possibilities. One of our final trips was to Los Angeles where the students visited the FBI, among other places. For India, this was a trip of many firsts. In preparation for the trip, I took India to Lenox Mall to shop for business attire. Visiting the mall and the innocent teenage joy of a shopping spree – a first. Arriving at the airport and boarding the plane – another first. After the trip, I asked her what was the big takeaway or seminal moment. She replied, “seeing so many Black people in a professional setting.” Perhaps the most powerful first. It showed her she belongs anywhere she wants to be. That there’s an entire world outside of her neighborhood. India graduated this past school year and is enrolled at Albany State University where she’s considering a nursing degree. Over the past four years, this is the type of attention to detail and the environment we’re creating in our schools with the Purpose Built Schools team. Together, we have reduced transiency by one-fifth across all students, reduced suspensions, and increased parent-caregiver engagement. I asked Greg Giornelli, CEO of Purpose Built Schools Atlanta to share a few thoughts for today’s column. He remarked, “People should care whether their schools are serving kids and families well, especially in the highest-need neighborhoods. The biggest challenge we face isn’t what happens in the school building. It’s life outside the classroom.” Having worked in city government, business, and the not-for-profit space, Greg has seen firsthand the importance of having schools completely integrated into the community. That’s how we make sure our kids are presented with every opportunity possible. It’s how we make sure the schools are effective for the kids but also for the families. Through events such as the fall festival, we’ve been able to experience the highest participation in parent-caregiver attendance in school events this year. As we take a few days to relax and count our blessings, I know I’ll be giving thanks for our partnership with Purpose Built Schools Atlanta and the families and students who have entrusted us to help them achieve a brighter future. Nicole Bush is a site coordinator at Carver STEAM Academy in South Atlanta. This is sponsored content.
By Wendy Stewart, Atlanta Market President for Bank of America The gap between the richest and poorest U.S. households is the largest it has been in 50 years, and wealth challenges have compounded for Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino populations- especially during the pandemic- renewing an urgency to bridge the gap for racial equity and economic prosperity. As we look for solutions, education is a crucial component of our nation’s recovery strategy for lower-income families. However, coronavirus-related challenges have caused many students and young people to rethink pursuing higher education due to lack of funds. At Bank of America, we are launching a jobs initiative to support the educational needs and career goals of Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino students. This program will support community colleges, public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to connect institutions with employers and provide clear and defined career pathways to employment. This $1 million initiative in Atlanta builds on Bank of America’s ongoing work here to address the underlying issues facing individuals and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis. Locally we are partnering with Atlanta Technical College (ATC) to help students successfully complete the education and training necessary to enter the workforce. These careers in aviation, information technology and skilled trades will help students embark on a path to success in Atlanta. Community colleges like ATC offer unique opportunities and alternatives to four-year universities; and although there is great potential to provide students with viable pathways to sustainable jobs and careers, more work can be done to improve student outcomes. While there is a considerable need for creating jobs, we cannot ignore the importance of taking action to train and prepare the workforce of tomorrow, especially individuals from underserved communities. With this approach, we can accelerate the closing of the wealth gap by seizing the opportunity to link skills training to business demand via public-private partnerships. This is sponsored content.