Here we go again. The Georgia Department of Transportation on Oct. 22 hosted a public presentation to present three possible corridors for high-speed rail service between Atlanta and Charlotte.
Transit Agency Hosts Three Pop-up Events This Week (MARTA is expanding its outreach efforts to ensure residents, stakeholders and business owners in the Campbellton Road area have an opportunity to weigh in on historic transit investment planned for the corridor. In addition to ongoing canvassing activities taking place at area rail stations and on key bus routes, MARTA will host three pop-up meetings at Fort McPherson LRA located at 1794 Walker Avenue in Atlanta, on Tuesday, July 27 and Wednesday, July 28 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and on Saturday, July 31 from 9 a.m. until noon. At the scheduled events, participants will be able to learn more about the proposed transit options, take a survey to weigh in on the preferred high-capacity transit modes and speak directly with the project management team. “Campbellton Corridor represents the heart of a thriving, growing and evolving part of Atlanta that includes one of MARTA’s busiest bus routes,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “This investment will continue to transform this area by offering a high-capacity transit option that will improve connectivity, accessibility, and travel time while promoting transit-supportive development. It’s critical for us to share information and receive important feedback from those who live, work, and spend time in this corridor as we continue to advance this dynamic project.” Event Details Tuesday, July 27 Wednesday, July 28 Saturday, July 31 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 9 a.m. – noon Fort McPherson LRA Fort McPherson LRA Fort McPherson LRA 1794 Walker Avenue SW 1794 Walker Avenue SW 1794 Walker Avenue SW Atlanta, GA 30310 Atlanta, GA 30310 Atlanta, GA 30310 Refreshments will be served, and masks are strongly encouraged. Visit the Campbellton Virtual Meeting Room and Take the Survey www.Tinyurl.com/campbelltoncorridor About the Campbellton Corridor Transit Project MARTA, in collaboration with the City of Atlanta, is investing in high-capacity transit in the Campbellton Corridor to improve connectivity, accessibility, and mobility in southwest Atlanta. The corridor, which links the Greenbriar Mall area to the Oakland City MARTA Station, is home to established neighborhoods and businesses and is currently served by one of MARTA’s busiest bus routes – 83 Campbellton Road. This historic multimodal investment will greatly enhance the service area and transform how residents travel to points of interests while supporting the community’s growth and development for years to come. Contact the Campbellton Project Team For project related questions, please email Marcus Arnold at [email protected] For general customer service questions, please call 404-848-5000. To request this information in another language other than English or in an accessible format, please call 404-848-4037. This is sponsored content.
The Back-to-School Bash on Saturday, July 24 brought together Families First, Starbucks, Kroger and Target to provide families with many of the essential resources needed to head back to the classroom safely and prepared including school supplies, groceries, and COVID-19 vaccinations. The community celebration focused on family health and education resources, and food accessibility for all families in the Atlanta community. “The partnership between Families First, Starbucks, Target and Kroger is a powerful example of the positive change that can happen when nonprofits and corporations work together to improve our communities. More than 600 neighbors benefited from the 500 backpacks and 300 bags of groceries distributed. We are so thankful for Starbucks’ dedication to education, health, and community and to helping Families First promote our mission to build resilient families so all children can thrive,” shared DePriest Waddy, CEO of Families First. “Target helped us make sure our students have the supplies and resources needed to help them succeed this school year and Kroger provided generous food donations for our neighbors.” The Back-to-School Bash included family experiences and connections to nonprofits focused on health, education and community including: Health CORE Atlanta Youth Rugby JLA Kids in the Kitchen Moving in the Spirit Metro YMCA Humana Education Raising Expectations NELA JLA Journey to Literacy MODA TechBridge Atlanta CareerRise First Step Staffing Community Partners in Change PAL Parents Prosper Atlanta CareerRise Metro YMCA “At Starbucks, we are about inspiring and nurturing the human spirit – one cup of coffee and one neighborhood at a time. We gave away more than one cup of coffee today via gift cards that were going out earlier, but this is event represents the neighborhood aspect of what we do. At the Black Partner Network, our motto is, ‘Keep it brewing.’ So, we are keeping the spirit and inspiration of Starbucks brewing in every community that we impact, and this is what it’s all about,” shared Wayne Martin, Starbucks, Senior Manager of Government & Community Affairs. In addition, more than 100 attendees completed the Families First Resiliency Needs Screening to gauge their resilience and how prepared they are to bounce back from life’s challenges. The Families First program teams were also on hand to help neighbors and families navigate how Families First services can help them. One of the students in attendance shared with the crowd, “Thank you everybody for the care and love you have for kids.” This is sponsored content.
Last week, the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) announced ATL Action for Racial Equity, a multi-year, multi-step action plan designed to help address the ongoing effects of systemic racism impacting the Black community. In just a few days since launch, 30 additional metro Atlanta-based companies ranging in size and industry joined the initiative – to-date totaling more than 180 participating organizations. These companies and leaders will leverage the size, scale and expertise of the region’s business community to advance racial equity. Invitations to the initiative remain open, and MAC is inviting all businesses across metro Atlanta to sign on. ATL Action for Racial Equity focuses on measurable actions across corporate policies, inclusive economic development, education and workforce development – critical areas in addressing the region’s immobility and inequity challenges. See quotes below from the region’s business leaders on why they chose to participate and why this initiative is important, now more than ever. Reach out to [email protected] to learn more. Ed Bastian, CEO Delta Air Lines and 2021 Board Chair, Metro Atlanta Chamber: “In metro Atlanta, our differences are our strength. We work together to make our community and the world better. We are not perfect, but we are committed to preserving and holding up this region’s legacy, especially now. As we tackle economic recovery, public health and the disproportionate impacts on our Black community, our business community must do its part. This is a moral and economic imperative as we work to grow our region’s competitiveness today and into the future.” Jimmy Etheredge, CEO North America, Accenture: “Accenture is proud to collaborate with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and business leaders across Atlanta to take action on building a more equitable future for our community. Together, we are acting, we are leading, and we are driving change.” Steve Koonin, CEO, Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena: “We proudly support ATL Action for Racial Equity and promise that our franchise will continue taking the steps and supporting the causes that lead to equity for all in our city.” Rohit Malhotra, Founder and Executive Director, Center for Civic Innovation: “The Center for Civic Innovation mission and day to day operations are designed to fight for an equity-centered Atlanta. The business community in Atlanta has a long and complicated history with equity in our city— we’re glad to see the Metro Atlanta Chamber call on companies and institutions to take measurable actions that align with their publicly stated values and sentiments. It is in this city’s best interest for this effort to succeed.” Jenna Kelly, President, Truist Northern Georgia Region, Truist Bank: “At Truist, we firmly believe in building more just, inclusive, and equitable communities by standing for social justice, denouncing racism in all forms, and partnering with people and organizations who are as committed to equity we are. As we continue to have intentional dialogue around the role we can play in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, we’re excited to join the ATL Action for Racial Equity to do our part in making a positive difference throughout Atlanta.” Mary Schmidt Campbell, President, Spelman College: “If metro Atlanta is to close the region’s stark wealth gap, we all have to commit to bold innovative solutions. Spelman College, committed to the educational excellence of the 2000 Black women who attend the College, is also committed to the educational excellence of students in our neighborhood schools. For the past three years, our students have enjoyed major success in improving the reading scores of students in our neighborhood Washington Cluster Schools. We intend to launch a program that will accomplish improvements in math proficiency. This commitment to the improvement of K-12 education is aligned with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s business and community imperative to advance racial inclusion. We are proud to partner with MAC in their strategic approach to advocating for equity.” Kyle Porter, CEO, SalesLoft: “The social justice and equity issues facing our companies, city, and nation are complex and intense. At SalesLoft we are committed to the necessary introspection, self-reflection, and action to be a more inclusive company because we believe it’s the right thing to do for our team, customers, and marketplace. SalesLoft is joining the ATL Action for Racial Equity because our internal efforts will be magnified and our progress accelerated through collaborative community work. Our community will become our ally and accountability partner providing the space to heed best practices, share wisdom, and generate ideas that will positively impact us all. Russ Torres, President, Kimberly-Clark Professional: “At Kimberly-Clark, we believe racial equity and justice are moral issues that must be addressed through comprehensive actions to enact meaningful and sustainable change. We are moving with urgency. Therefore, we are proud to partner with ATL Action for Racial Equity in this mission. Their disciplined, multi-year plan leverages the collective strength of metro Atlanta employers to support focused corporate policies that foster inclusive workforce and community development. With more than 1,500 Kimberly-Clark employees in the metro Atlanta area, this initiative is uniquely personal to us. We believe the success of our company depends on creating workplaces, communities, and experiences where inclusion and diversity are evident and thriving. Together with ATL Action for Racial Equity, we look forward to creating a vibrant and more inclusive region that offers opportunity, growth, and long-term value for all.” Elie Maalouf, CEO, Americas, InterContinental Hotel Group: “We applaud the Metro Atlanta Chamber on this initiative and stand with our peers in the Atlanta business community to advance diversity and inclusion. This commitment and collaboration reflect IHG’s values and inclusive culture, and builds on our own efforts to bring lasting, sustainable progress for the region and our colleagues.” Paul Bowers (Chairman and CEO) and Chris Womack (President), Georgia Power: “At Georgia Power, we deeply value the diversity of our team and the communities we serve. That’s why we are committed to creating an environment where employees and customers feel a sense of belonging and can be their true authentic selves. We’re proud to be a part of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s ATL Action for Racial Equity efforts to do the same here in Atlanta. We believe businesses working together to ensure equality is how we can make a collective impact, and we’re …
In 2019, the Buckhead Community Improvement District and Livable Buckhead created a program to help more Atlanta Police Department officers call Buckhead home. The Buckhead officer housing subsidy program is rooted in the idea that police officers can be more effective in their jobs when they live in the communities they serve. However, it’s no secret that housing in Buckhead is expensive and might be beyond the reach of a public safety officer’s salary. A monthly subsidy of $650 can help make Buckhead rent be within reach. To get a first-person perspective on what it’s like to be an APD officer living in Buckhead, we spoke with two of the program’s participants, Briana Butler and Terrence Abner. How did the subsidy play a role in your decision to live in Buckhead? Briana: I have always wanted to live In Buckhead since I moved to Atlanta two years ago. Once my lease was up for my previous apartment, I told myself that I would start looking in the Buckhead area. After I graduated the academy and was placed in Zone 2, I knew it was a matter of time until I would be a Buckhead resident. I love Buckhead even more because I spent most of my time here. The subsidy is one of the main reasons I was able to move to Buckhead so quickly and still be able to have a quality of life. Buckhead is so expensive, but with this program, I can be a part of this wonderful community but also not have to worry about working intensively or falling behind in my rent. Terrence: The subsidy played a significant role in my decision to move into Buckhead, due to the high cost of living in this affluent area. Another factor was the distance to my current workplace. Now I’m less than five minutes away. It’s incredible! Yes, the subsidy was the main factor. What are the benefits of living and working in Buckhead? Briana: This is the most exciting combination. I love the fact that I live in the community that I work in. It gives me the opportunity to be a part of this community in both aspects of my life. By living in the community, I understand many of the citizens’ emotions towards the issues and concerns that they have for themselves and their families. It also allows me to do my job better because I see firsthand what’s going on when we are not at work. It also allows me to help my colleagues and guide them to the issues as a resident and citizen and not just a police officer. Terrence: My favorite benefit is that I am extremely close to work, so I save expenses on gas and maintenance on my vehicle. My second benefit is there’s an abundance of shopping and events to attend all the time. Based on your perspective, what are the benefits of having an officer or first responder as a neighbor in an apartment complex or community? Briana: I believe that the community loves having a police officer in their building, especially the security and the concierge. I have developed a great relationship with the concierges as they are working 24 hours and so am I. It also allows the community to see police in a different light. It makes them feel as though they matter and that they have another set of eyes for protection to assure they are safe. Officers receiving the housing subsidy are asked to support the Buckhead community by providing two hours each week. How have you contributed service hours in the community? Briana: I spend a lot of my time bridging the gap between police and the community. I like to walk my dog, go to the park or the grocery store in half-uniform and ask someone how their day is going. I like helping the elderly with their groceries or just be their listening ear because all they want is a friend. In my short time here, I did realize that the elderly are the ones who support police officers and will do anything to make sure we stay safe. They give me positive reinforcement back and let me know constantly how proud and how happy to have us in the community. Is there anything else about this program or Buckhead that you’d like to share? Briana: I do believe this program is VERY needed and a great way to start shaping Buckhead back. I think that every police officer who is granted this opportunity should take it. Most of us became a police officer for the right reasons and if you want to make a difference in the community, this is the perfect way to start. I like this program because it’s not as structured as many programs and allow you the freedom to put your two hours anywhere in Buckhead serving the community. In my past month, I have served over two hours a week because I like what I do. People in my building stop me all the time, just to say hello and that right there will forever keep me going. This is sponsored content.
Expanding Housing Choice: How residential zoning reform can improve equitable access to affordable housing and economic opportunity Single-family residential zoning first began in 1916 as an effort to keep minorities out of white neighborhoods. The US Supreme Court’s 1917 ruling declared explicit race-based zoning statutes unconstitutional. But the same court ruled less than a decade later that zoning to prevent apartment buildings from being built in single-family neighborhoods was a legitimate prohibition. Over time, widely used single-family zoning restricted the development of accessory dwelling units, duplexes, townhomes and apartments, thereby inhibiting housing supply; and it has been an instrument for more than a century of both widening income inequality and racial segregation. A recent report from the University of California Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute finds that 81% of large metropolitan areas are more segregated now than they were 30 years ago. In many of these cities, townhomes, duplexes and apartments are effectively banned. In Sandy Springs, 85% of land zoned for residential is zoned single-family only (for comparison: 75% for Los Angeles, 79% in Chicago, and 84% in Charlotte). Given the growing disparities in access to affordable housing, wealth, and economic opportunity, metro Atlanta is facing a crisis. Ranked as one of the ten largest metro regions of the United States, we rank 316th in population density. The region’s population is expected to grow dramatically in the next couple of decades. How will we meet the growing demand for affordable housing – and the need for a more equitable city and region? As the Atlanta Regional Housing Forum continues to examine issues of racial equity and systemic racism in the housing sector, our next Forum will explore single-family zoning and address several key questions: What changes to zoning are being proposed? How will zoning changes result in more affordable housing? What will be the fiscal and environmental impacts of such changes? Do proposed changes to zoning provide a market-based solution to our housing shortage? How effective are zoning policy changes in Portland, Minneapolis, Berkley, and Charlotte? Lastly, we will talk with developers and others in the YIMBY movement about how best to move the dialogue forward to produce more affordable housing by the private sector, right historic injustices, and preserve the beloved community. Join us Wednesday, August 4 at 9:30 a.m. for our virtual Atlanta Regional Housing Forum as we discuss these important issues. Register Now at www.AtlantaRegionalHousingForum.org This is sponsored content.
HBCU becomes first to officially commit to $130M initiative funded by Shopify Clark Atlanta University (CAU) today announced a groundbreaking partnership as the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to officially partner with Operation HOPE’s national One Million Black Business Initiative (1MBB). CAU’s commitment includes impacting the creation of 1000 Black entrepreneurs and business owners by 2030. Through 1MBB, CAU will engage students, alumni, faculty and staff to ensure they have access to resources and capital to successfully start and sustain their entrepreneurial endeavors. 1MBB launched in February 2021 and is largely funded through Shopify, the world’s second largest e-commerce platform. The movement is part of Operation HOPE’s broader mission to promote financial inclusion and dignity, aimed at empowering the underserved of America. CAU’s 1MBB partnership with Operation HOPE is a natural extension of the entrepreneurial spirit being cultivated among Black students. The Atlanta-based HBCU was among the first to establish an entrepreneurial-driven curriculum and boasts a distinguished list of alumni across multiple industries. Recently, the CAU School of Business Administration’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development (CIED) was recognized for nurturing Black-owned businesses in the Atlanta Startup Ecosystem Guide. “CAU students—and alumni— are ambitious, creative and filled with innovative ideas. It is the CAU way,” said president George T. French Jr., Ph.D. “We are proud to be the first university to join in this partnership formed to make a difference in the world of business for African-American entrepreneurs.” French added, “Joining this effort to create one million black businesses while helping entrepreneurs in the CAU community aligns with our business school’s mission to produce alumni and entrepreneurs who are competitive in the business world. The 1MBB program provides opportunities for Black entrepreneurs to thrive.” According to the US Census Bureau, there are over 2.6 Million Black-owned businesses in the US, with Atlanta landing in the top 5 cities for Black entrepreneurs. This initiative will continue to amplify the work of aspiring Black business-owners, providing them with top-of-the-line coaching and educational resources and a 120-day free trial, courtesy of Shopify. iHeartMedia Atlanta will also provide social media support and advertising to a select group of entrepreneurs in the future, with additional activations to come. “HBCU’s matter and the future of Black entrepreneurship matters. This is why we started 1MBB,” said John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE. “Through this partnership with CAU, we are accelerating the success of our future leaders. I’m looking forward to ringing the bell at NASDAQ for the first Clark Atlanta graduate who has benefited from 1MBB.” CAU is encouraging students, alumni, faculty and staff to take advantage of the program. Interested participants can sign up on the 1MBB website using “Clark Atlanta” as the registration code. There is no fee to register. About Clark Atlanta University Established in 1988 by the historic consolidation of Atlanta University (1865) and Clark College (1869). Clark Atlanta University continues a more than 150-year legacy rooted in African-American tradition and focused on the future. Through global innovation, transformative educational experiences, and high-value engagement. CAU cultivates lifted lives that transform the world. Notable alumni include: James Weldon Johnson; American civil rights activist, poet, and songwriter (Lift Every Voice and Sing “The Black National Anthem”; Ralph David Abernathy Sr., American civil rights activist; Congressman Hank Johnson, Georgia District 4; Kenya Barris, American award-winning television and movie producer; Kenny Leon, Tony Award-winning Broadway Director; Jacque Reid, Emmy Award-winning Television Personality and Journalist; Brandon Thompson, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for NASCAR; Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Recording Academy. To learn more about Clark Atlanta University, visit www.cau.edu. About 1MBB Launched in October 2020 with founding partner Shopify, 1MBB aims to remove traditional hurdles to Black entrepreneurship and encourage more aspiring Black business owners to start – and scale – by providing them with the tools, resources, and education needed to succeed. To level the playing field, 1MBB will focus on critical tools for business growth such as technology and resources, educational programs, and the opportunity to access capital. Through this program, Black business owners can sign up for Operation HOPE’s award-winning model of community uplift, financial literacy and education, with access to tailored tools and resources upon graduation. To learn more about 1MBB or to get your business started, visit, https://operationhope.org/1mbb/ or buildingblackbizATL.com. About Operation HOPE, Inc. Since 1992, Operation HOPE has been moving America from civil rights to “silver rights” with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved—disrupting poverty for millions of low and moderate-income youth and adults across the nation. Through our community uplift model, HOPE Inside, which received the 2016 Innovator of the Year recognition by American Banker magazine, Operation HOPE has served more than 4 million individuals and directed more than $3.2 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities—turning check-cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners, minimum wage workers into living wage consumers, and uncertain disaster victims into financially empowered disaster survivors. For more information: www.OperationHOPE.org. Follow the HOPE conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Media Contacts Jolene Butts Freeman, for CAU Lalohni Campbell, for Operation HOPE Jbutts-freem[email protected] [email protected] (404) 456-8371 (404) 593-7145
In the past 15 months, the world has gained an entirely new vocabulary: one that includes new or previously little-known terms like “COVID” and “coronavirus,” as well as phrases like “monoclonal antibodies,” “mRNA,” “variants” and even “Zoom fatigue.” Keeping up to date with these phrases and their meanings, as well as the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is essential for health departments to be able to educate and inform their communities around the country—especially those who may be hard to reach or are at greater risk due to longstanding health inequities. That’s why the CDC Foundation’s health communications specialists are essential to the response. Assigned to a variety of state, territorial, local and tribal jurisdictions, these pros provide written and graphic material, as well as video and social media assets, designed to keep their hard-hit areas up to date with the very latest information on the fast-moving coronavirus crisis. Alicia Edwards recently graduated with her master’s in public health and is now stationed with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board (GPTCHB). Lyanne Melendez spent eight years as a health journalist in her native Puerto Rico before joining the island’s health department as a CDC Foundation COVID-19 Corps member. Shannon Kuhn had been working in local government on health equity issues in Alaska, where she was raised. “I was brought onto the COVID-19 Corps specifically to help the State with outreach to communities that were being disproportionately impacted by COVID,” she says. One of Kuhn’s first projects for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services was to produce a short video and posters featuring members of the Pacific Islander community, reminding everyone to mask up in their native languages. She also partnered with a Samoan church on education efforts, which later offered to host a vaccine clinic to increase access. Alaska is home to a diverse immigrant and refugee population with many languages spoken, and Kuhn worked with community-based organizations (CBOs) to make health education videos in Amharic, Arabic, Dinka, Korean, Nuer, Russian and Somali, and to organize a Spanish Q&A with public health leaders. Kuhn still wasn’t done. She also recently spearheaded a successful drive to have local Indigenous speakers create culturally-relevant materials in seven Alaska Native languages, including Denaakk’e, Central and Hooper Bay Yup’ik, and more. She estimates the state will be able to reach roughly 81 percent of Alaskan villages through this innovative program. All three of the communication specialists rely on CDC, as well as their departments’ medical staffs, for guidance in creating their impactful written and graphic material. “The reference site I always use is CDC,” Melendez says. “And they have information in Spanish so this is perfect for us in Puerto Rico.” But it’s not just about language. These communications professionals also take cultural sensitivities into account when creating messaging for their communities. An enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington State, Edwards works remotely with GPTCHB and their Tribal Epidemiology Center, which represents 18 different tribes across four different states, including the Standing Rock Sioux of North and South Dakota. Some of her material is translated into Lakota, but her own native upbringing gives her great insight into what might be most effective for a tribal audience. “It’s all about protecting your circle. So it’s shifting it to, ‘Your community is what matters and your connections and family.’” It’s also important to know your audience, and where and how they prefer to get their news. Facebook’s broad reach is helping several local health departments connect with their diverse populations. Melendez notes, “Our people really like Facebook, and they’re able to share the questions they have.” Edwards agrees, “Hopefully, we can get all the aunties and uncles scrolling on Facebook to watch a two-minute video.” In fact, Edwards and her COVID-19 Corps colleague, physician and medical epidemiologist Dr. Meghan O’Connell, teamed up to create a special video series called “Empowering Indigenous Health.” Their first episode garnered more than 15,000 views, and now they’ve posted a dozen more short videos on a variety of coronavirus-related topics, from variants to mental health. But old-school media is effective as well, especially in rural or outlying areas. “I make a lot of materials that we just print off and give out to people,” says Edwards. Kuhn notes, “Sometimes the best way of getting the word out is just a poster at the grocery store.” However their message is delivered, their skill and knowledge have been invaluable in spreading the word about how not to spread COVID. And these non-clinicians are heartened to be able to help the cause. “My mom served as a nurse with our tribe for more than 30 years, and it’s always been my goal to serve in Indian country,” Edwards says. “I’m definitely blessed and thankful for the opportunity to help the Foundation and health board.” And their states and jurisdictions are happy to have them as well. As Communications Manager Elizabeth Manning of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services affirms, “We’re very proud to have had Shannon working with us this past year and feel indebted and grateful to the CDC Foundation. She has accomplished so much and been an invaluable member of our team.” Melendez feels the same. “I feel proud, because I’m having the opportunity to contribute during the pandemic and give information to the people. I think maybe we are making history with this job.” This article is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $68,939,536 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government. This is sponsored content.
Peachtree Demonstration Project Creates Shared Space on Atlanta’s Signature Street By Kate Sweeney In this 9-minute listen, the What’s Next ATL podcast spent a morning out at the Peachtree Street Demonstration Project, which is testing how a three-block span of shared space for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists works for all those groups. Listen here or wherever you get podcasts. __________________________________________________________________________________________ A quiet murmur ripples through the crowd when the paint rollers first hit ground — and begin to define the long, white stripes that will make up the brand-new crosswalk on Peachtree Street between Harris and International. “Yeah, this is the jaywalk zone,” says Glenn Alexander, who works at Hotel Indigo. “Everybody jaywalks here because nobody wants to walk up to either corner to use the crosswalk.” Alexander says that the new mid-block crosswalk is probably his favorite thing about the Peachtree Street Demonstration Project, which, this summer and fall, transforms this stretch of Atlanta’s signature street from four vehicular lanes, to two. Planters and wheel stops also mark the new boundary — and the new space created by these boundaries is dotted with small, colorful tables. Read more at What’s Next ATL from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). This is sponsored content.
On July 1, 2021 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in a highly anticipated voting rights case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case arrived at the Court as a result of past litigation filed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and certain affiliates challenging the validity of two provisions in the State of Arizona’s voting framework under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). While VRA Section 2 cases have previously come before the Court for consideration in matters involving redistricting challenges and vote-dilution claims, Brnovich represents the Court’s attempt at answering the important question of how to answer a Section 2 challenge to state laws governing the time, place and manner of an election. As summarized below, the impact of the Court’s ruling will have a profound effect on how courts interpret VRA Section 2 challenges going forward, and the ability of plaintiffs to challenge facially-neutral state election laws based purely upon allegations of disparate impact on certain groups of voters. The first election regulation under review in the Brnovich case requires that Arizona state residents who live in counties using an electoral precinct system vote in their assigned registration precinct if they choose to vote in person on Election Day. The second state regulation under review in the case makes it a felony for anyone other than an election official, postal worker, or designated caregiver, family, or household member to collect another voter’s early ballot prior to or after completion. In the underlying litigation associated with the case, the DNC and its affiliates challenged both regulations as in violation of VRA Section 2 under the theory that they caused a purported “adverse and disparate effect” on Arizona’s American Indian, Hispanic, and African-American voters. The District Court in the case rejected these claims, as did a divided panel of the Ninth Circuit. Those findings were reversed, however, in an en banc decision by the Ninth Circuit, which was subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court. Following review and oral argument earlier this spring, a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court reversed the en banc decision of the Ninth Circuit and upheld the legality of both Arizona regulations. In its decision, the Court held that neither regulation violated the VRA’s requirement that the voting process be “equally open” to all voters based upon a review of the challenged regulations under the totality of circumstances required by Section 2. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, noted that Brnovich was a case of first impression as it relates to the Court analysis of state laws governing the time, place, and manner of voting under VRA Section 2. While the Court refused to announce a formal rubric for analyzing Section 2 challenges to time, place, and manner voting rules going forward, the majority did compile a list of guideposts by which to conduct the mandated totality of circumstances analysis. Factors identified by the Court for this analysis included: the size of the burden imposed by a challenged voting rule; the degree to which a voting rule departs from what was standard practice when Section 2 was last amended by Congress in 1982; the size of any disparities in a rule’s impact on members of different racial or ethnic groups; the opportunities provided by a state’s entire system of voting; and the strength of a state’s interests served by a challenged voting rule. Since Arizona’s system generally makes it easy to vote (through a combination of early voting, permanent no-excuse mail voting, and vote centers), and because Arizona has a “strong and entirely legitimate state interest in preventing election fraud,” the Court found that the challenged regulations did not burden voters in a manner that kept the state’s voting process from being equally open to all. According to the majority, both requiring Election Day voters to cast their ballots at their assigned precincts, and requiring voters to cast their own paper ballots or use statutorily authorized proxies for such activities, were examples of “the usual burdens of voting.” The Court also rejected the DNC’s argument that Arizona’s second regulation was racially-motivated, finding no evidence that the legislature’s restriction on early ballot collection was “imbued with racial motives”. Writing for the dissent, Justice Elena Kagan argued that the majority interpreted Section 2 of the VRA too narrowly, and created a set of extra-textual factors by which to apply the totality of circumstances analysis mandated by the statute. Rejecting this approach, the dissent noted that following a Supreme Court decision in 1980 requiring a showing of discriminatory purpose to support a Section 2 claim, Congress amended the law in 1982 to “make clear that ‘results’ alone” could establish a violation of the VRA. The majority, however, took issue with this analysis, highlighting Justice Kagan’s focus on adopting a disparate-impact standard for legality under Section 2 and placing a least-restrictive means requirement on the facially-neutral regulation of voting by state legislatures. Given the substantial number of states that have enacted new voting legislation in the wake of the 2020 election and the assortment of legal challenges pending across the country regarding these nascent laws, the legal standards announced in the Brnovich decision will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the implementation and interpretation of state election law in many jurisdictions leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. Much remains to be seen in the wake of this consequential decision, but at the very least the Court’s opinion signals that neutral time, place, and manner rules governing voting will likely withstand Section 2 scrutiny provided that a state’s election processes remain equally open to all voters. The Court’s ruling also likely strengthens the viability of efforts around the country to implement and strengthen state laws restricting third-party ballot collection, sometimes referred to as “ballot harvesting” activities. Looking ahead to the important 2022 election cycle, Dentons Political Law team will continue to monitor key election litigation, legislation and policy developments nationwide and provide updates as appropriate. This is sponsored content.
By Ebony Johnson, Director of Place-based Initiatives at United Way of Greater Atlanta When United Way of Greater Atlanta was asked to lead a COVID-19 testing (and now vaccine) strategy as part of a national effort, there was little known of how the community would respond. We certainly knew to do this work, we would need the help of trusted partners to assist with engagement and outreach – and ultimately to be a bridge to access. Across Greater Atlanta, more than 45 percent (2,721,291 individuals) have received at least one dose, and approximately 41 percent (2,448,248) are fully vaccinated. And although progress is steady, hesitancy and disinterest are common themes we encounter – we are seeing that beliefs, historical distrust in the healthcare system, and economic circumstances are leading factors to vaccine resistance. In predominately African American, Latin X, and other underserved communities, we are seeing that COVID-19 test positive rates are nearly double that of affluent communities. These are also communities where vaccination rates are low. Additionally, we are seeing the health disparity gap widen, particularly for those managing chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and heart disease. There are other contributing factors: technology has played a significant role in how communities access information. For many underserved areas, access to reliable internet service is a challenge. Also, a large percentage of residents in communities of color are front-line or shift workers, which presents a barrier to access – if vaccine sites are operating during traditional work hours. The Choose Health Life Initiative centers partnerships with faith leaders, Black and Latin-X led community-based agencies, and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to advance equitable access to testing and vaccines within the City of Atlanta, and communities in Clayton, South DeKalb, and South Fulton counties. The initiative utilizes a community health worker (CHW) model to deliver health education and supports in hopes to reverse opinions about seeking out health care, as the nature of the pandemic is ever-changing. To date, the Choose Healthy Life Initiative in Atlanta has helped more than 4,000 individuals receive COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. In the coming months, we will continue to expand our partnerships in communities to promote education, outreach, and access to health services. We are so grateful for the work of partners like Black Child Development Institute in Atlanta have done to recruit, train and support faith partners throughout this initiative. We are also very proud of the work our health navigators are doing to help improve the lives of people of color in underserved communities. Together, we are tackling the vaccine hurdle in Greater Atlanta – one Brighter Future community at a time. For more information on the Choose Healthy Life Initiative, go to https://www.choosehealthylifeatl.org. This is sponsored content.
Next Generation Classrooms Elevate Student Experiences and Extend GlobalReach Emory University’s Goizueta Business School is celebrating the opening of three next generation global classrooms that deliver a truly immersive, dynamic experience to students from anywhere in the world. The fully renovated spaces and innovative technology will connect students with each other and faculty in new ways, elevate classroom experiences, extend global reach, and eliminate the limitations of geography. The initiative was made possible by a transformational gift from The Goizueta Foundation. “The goal is not to use digital learning to replace all of our traditional classrooms but to reach a different audience and provide a top-notch educational experience,” said Jaclyn Conner, associate dean for Executive MBA. Conner has been spearheading the teaching innovation efforts. This summer, Goizueta’s Executive Education and Executive MBA students will be the first to experience The Roberto C. Goizueta Global Classrooms, which create online and hybrid learning opportunities without sacrificing one-to-one connection. Goizueta has partnered with X2O Media—a third-party vendor—to power the digital learning platform that drives each of the three global classrooms. With multiple camera angles and state-of-the-art audio, faculty and students will be able to see and hear each other through a wall of 20 to 40 high-definition monitors positioned with each student’s video feed assigned to a monitor, all in a familiar format. The new facilities combine the best of digital learning and teaching technology enabling faculty to be highly responsive and flexible with students — through real-time polls that gauge the “temperature of the room,” breakout room options for small group discussion, whiteboard technology, and engagement analytics. “The ability to not only adapt but to innovate is critical,” said Nicola Barrett,chief corporate learning officer at Goizueta Business School. “As with other sectors, higher education and executive development is undergoing significant change from new entrants, new technologies, and changing expectations of professionals and organizations.” In addition to upgrades to its physical space, Goizueta Business School is further innovating by incorporating hologram-like technology that will allow professors to bring in guest speakers from all over the world – connecting students to the best and brightest experts. The university is launching “pop-up” classrooms that will allow virtual visits to cities like Shanghai and Rome where faculty can deliver “in-person” instruction without the carbon footprint and expense of travel. Further, the institution is harnessing the power of virtual reality to immerse students and leading business professionals in real-world experiences- like crisis management and negotiations – allowing professors to insert unexpected challenges throughout the training and test business decisions, leadership behaviors, change management, and communication strategies. “Goizueta will continue to deliver world-class educational experiences and opportunities for our students, said Karen Sedatole, Interim Dean for Goizueta Business School. “Through this new technology and our overall teaching innovations, we are preparing principled leaders to have a positive impact on business and society.” To find out more about The Roberto C. Goizueta Global Classrooms, visit https://www.emorybusiness.com/2021/04/28/the-future-is-now-goizuetas-digital-learning-innovations-to-enhance-student-experience-strengthen-global-reach/. This is sponsored content.
Blythe Keeler Robinson, President and CEO, Sheltering Arms It has been a year and a few months since the pandemic hit, and families with little to no resources, including here in Atlanta and the state of Georgia, are still trying to recover. Some of the most vulnerable Sheltering Arms families continue to rely on us for food, diapers and personal hygiene products, along with resources for bill and rent assistance and mental health support. Sheltering Arms had the pleasure of hosting Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia) at our Educare Atlanta Center to help spread awareness about the new Child Tax Credit – critical relief for families in Georgia that could make a big difference. Starting July 15 and through the end of the year, eligible families will receive advance monthly payments of up to $300 per child. They will receive the balance of the full amount when they file their 2021 taxes. This program is part of the Biden administration’s economic aid package, the American Rescue Plan, which increases the existing tax benefit from $2,000 up to $3,600. Imagine how this could benefit families living in poverty. A family that has three children under the age of 18 could receive an extra $750-$900 per month for the balance of this year. As a childcare provider, we see parents who have to make hard financial choices just to provide diapers for their babies, a necessity that is not provided through any form of government assistance. This tax relief could make a big difference in helping them rebuild from negative financial impacts and get back on track. Imagine the impact on our communities if Congress passes the Plan to ensure that families continue to get this relief for years to come. Some of the most under-resourced areas will become more revitalized as families continue to move forward on the road to economic recovery. And we will see children who are stronger, healthier and more successful in school and life. This is sponsored content.
By Tony Hilliard, Global Commercial Banking market executive, Bank of America Atlanta Increased awareness around climate change, racial and social equity issues and COVID-19 has changed the way that many companies think about environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Recent events have exposed vulnerabilities in our economic, political and social systems as well as the need for resilience in our businesses, including our supply chains and larger ecosystems. This convergence of factors has made ESG a focal point for companies of all sizes. Well-integrated ESG strategies provide real value in helping businesses stay successful in the face of disruption while delivering for the common good of all company stakeholders. Consumer pressures also drive companies to focus on ESG. Younger consumers are especially more likely to consider ESG issues when making purchasing decisions. According to PwC, over half of all consumers (59%) say that a company’s purpose and values play an important role in its decision-making. ESG for midsize companies Regardless of a company’s size and budget, there are ways to develop and implement an informed ESG strategy that addresses stakeholder expectations and delivers meaningful outcomes. Here are six steps for developing and integrating a successful ESG strategy. 1. Identify ESG issues significant to your stakeholders. The most critical component of any ESG strategy is understanding stakeholder perspectives. Businesses should assess and rank issues that are important to employees, customers, supplies, investors and other stakeholders. As you identify core priorities, keep in mind that some issues—for example, COVID-19, racial equality and climate change—transcend a specific business or industry and apply to all companies committed to systemic change. 2. Develop a reporting and measurement framework. What gets measured gets managed, so it’s essential to build a measurement framework around priority issues. Consider consulting popular ESG frameworks and tools to set goals and measure progress. For example, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), CDP, Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) or the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council (IBC) metrics are all valuable tools that can help companies track performance against benchmarks and communicate progress to stakeholders. 3. Take an intersectional approach. As you build an ESG strategy, you’ll notice that many issues are related. Ensure that your strategy recognizes the complexity and intersectionality of these issues and addresses root causes. For example, lack of access to housing correlates to intergenerational poverty and racial inequality. If your goal is to drive greater racial equality, affordable housing may be a key pillar of your strategy. 4. Look across your supply chain. Capitalize on opportunities to work with third-party partners on initiatives that create a broader industry impact. Consider how you can empower, and hold accountable, partners along your supply chain. Depending on the results of your stakeholder assessment, you may consider setting goals in the following areas: Energy: Reduce GHG emissions and work toward net-zero by submitting a science-based target (SBTi). Look across your operations to identify achievable goals, set a timeline and action plan, and report on progress. Stakeholder relationships: Select vendors, partners and, where possible, customers based on fair labor practices and responsible environmental impact. Diversity, equity & inclusion: Ensure diverse populations have a seat at the table and feel empowered to contribute their experience and perspective. Bank of America research found that more than 75% of Nasdaq companies don’t have a woman, under-represented minority or LGBTQ+ member on their board. Companies can take meaningful action to address underrepresentation in the workplace by doubling down on transparency and reporting, setting company and supplier diversity goals, enhancing trainings, and rethinking approaches to recruiting. 5. Integrate your ESG strategy across the business. ESG initiatives should be deeply integrated across the company to deliver meaningful results. ESG goals empower executives to think about the longer-term viability of the company. Every business unit can support ESG initiatives, whether it’s making a fair labor supplier strategy, investing in sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure, sourcing sustainable energy, or revamping HR policies to increase diverse recruiting, hiring and retention. 6. Look to the power of your people. Even without a large budget for ESG initiatives, you have the power of your people. Empowering your employees to drive grassroots change in your community, with the support of your organization, can help inspire meaningful change. Every organization has something to contribute; it’s not about the dollar amount, but it is always about action. Businesses with well-articulated ESG goals and purposeful strategies are more likely to be resilient and create long-term value for stakeholders. Middle market companies have a critical role to play not only in the future viability of their business but in delivering on the promise of stakeholder capitalism. This is sponsored content.