Artwork to be Featured at East Lake, Decatur & Avondale Rail Stations By MARTA MARTA’s public art program Artbound and the Decatur Arts Alliance in partnership with the City of Decatur announce a request for qualifications for three public art works by Black artists. The temporary artwork will be installed at East Lake, Decatur, and Avondale rail stations this fall. The project is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the call for racial justice and equity, though the subject matter is not limited to these topics. The work should be original, site-specific, and durable enough to remain at each rail station for at least six months. Each accepted proposal will be allocated an $8,000 budget so the artist can realize their work and a jury comprised of community and arts stakeholders will select three works for completion, one for each rail station. Black artists, artist teams, and creatives are encouraged to fill out this form by July 31. https://tinyurl.com/y4tuf8rv Project Timeline Application deadline: July 31 Jurying: August 5 Final jurying round (if needed): August 12 Artists notified: August 14 Project development: August – September Installation date: end of September/beginning of October For more information or if you have questions, contact email@example.com. One percent of MARTA’s annual budget is allocated to enhance the ridership experience through visual and performance art. MARTA Artbound provides opportunities for artists year-round with a range of projects encompassing many modes of art. To learn more visit https://itsmarta.com/artbound.aspx. This is sponsored content.
Insurance Provider Donates $180,000 to Promote Atlanta’s Economic Stabilization By Metro Atlanta Chamber CareSource, a leading multi-state managed care plan, announced Monday a donation of $180,000 from the CareSource Foundation for the RESTORE ATL Fund, created by the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC). The Fund will support black-owned small and medium-sized businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement was made by Bobby Jones, Georgia market president at CareSource. The RESTORE ATL Fund will provide immediate gap assistance to affected businesses in metro Atlanta through the distribution of grants in the amounts of $5,000-$10,000. The funds can be used for operating expenses including rent, utilities, payroll and other business-related needed. The grants will be reviewed and awarded within two to three weeks of the application deadline of July 6. The Fund builds on the work of MAC’s RESTORE task force, a diverse group of business leaders which aims to provide a blueprint for how metro Atlanta and Georgia might accelerate economic recovery. Applications for the Fund open on Monday, June 22 and will close on Monday, July 6. “While we recognize that this fund will be a small step to restoring our region’s economy, we are proud to build on the work of RESTORE, as well as our understanding of the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on our region’s black community,” said Metro Atlanta Chamber president and CEO Katie Kirkpatrick. “Atlanta has long been known as a place where black entrepreneurs have had success. We want to honor this important part of our legacy and support black-owned businesses. We appreciate the CareSource Foundation for its generous donation as we position our region for the future.” “CareSource’s history of supporting both the health of our members and the surrounding communities made our choice to support small businesses with the RESTORE ATL Fund an obvious decision,” added Jones. “We are proud to support our fellow Georgians through these unprecedented times as a partner of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.” MAC established the RESTORE task force in April to deliver a comprehensive list of policy solutions that federal, state and/or local governments in Georgia can apply to rapidly recover from the economic recession. The group took on this important task while prioritizing the health of Georgia’s families and neighbors, and taking into account the state’s most vulnerable populations. The Dayton-based health plan has pivoted their charitable resources to support both front line health care providers, to meet the variable community needs around social determinants of health and, most recently, to support small businesses in their local markets. Last month, CareSource, in collaboration with the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, announced a program to support Dayton local businesses affected by the economic disruption amid the pandemic. This economic program is being replicated in CareSource’s four additional markets. For more information on the RESTORE ATL Fund please visit: https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/restore-atl-fund About CareSource CareSource is a leading nonprofit multi-state health plan serving government sponsored programs and is nationally recognized as an industry leader in providing member-centric health care coverage. Founded in 1989, CareSource administers one of the nation’s largest Medicaid managed care plans. Today, CareSource offers individuals and families comprehensive health and life services including Marketplace and Medicare Advantage plans. Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, CareSource serves over 1.8 million members in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Georgia. CareSource understands the challenges consumers face navigating the health system and works to put health care in reach for those it serves. For more, visit caresource.com, follow @caresource on Twitter, or like CareSource on Facebook. About the Metro Atlanta Chamber The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) serves as a catalyst for a more prosperous and vibrant region. To advance economic growth and improve metro Atlanta’s quality of place, MAC is focused on starting, growing and recruiting companies to the 29-county metro Atlanta region. The Chamber is also focused on growing the region’s innovation economy by promoting and strengthening connections to drive Atlanta’s innovation and entrepreneurial culture. MAC is committed to being an active voice for the business community, serving as an advocate for a competitive business climate and telling Atlanta’s story. For more information, visit www.metroatlantachamber.com Media Contacts: Natalie Jones Senior Manager of Marketing, Brand Communications NJones@macoc.com ; 404-586-8458 Joseph Kelley Manager, Media Relations Joseph.Kelley@CareSource.com ; 513-509-8466 This is sponsored content provided by Metro Atlanta Chamber.
Featured Image: Sarah Price, Separate Together – at 235 Peachtree (Peachtree Center), Photo by Erin Sintos By Fredalyn M. Frasier, Project Director, Planning and Urban Design Central Atlanta Progress/Atlanta Downtown Improvement District To pivot: until recently, this term was traditionally used in basketball or in the business world, when a fundamental change in strategy or operation was necessary. Five months ago, the idea that ‘pivoting’ would become part of our daily vocabulary and have a more personal bearing in our everyday lives was a foreign concept. When established by Atlanta City Council legislation in 2017, the Arts & Entertainment Atlanta district (A&E Atlanta) was envisioned as a neighborhood activation and economic development project for Downtown Atlanta, created in partnership with media companies and property owners. The concept centers on the idea that managed outdoor media can support Downtown activity and bring exciting, unique cultural and public space programming to the city’s core. Further, revenue from digital and static signs (limited to twenty-five locations within the district’s geography) supports art partnerships and artistic endeavors with a specific focus toward elevating local artists. While Downtown is well-known for being a hub of commercial and civic activity, programs like Arts & Entertainment Atlanta provide new opportunities for the neighborhood to serve as a nexus of creative activity, too. Signs started coming online late 2019, and we began promoting 2020 as the program’s inaugural year for activations and programming. Currently, there are seven active sign locations—at sites that include 101 Marietta, Peachtree Center, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, and others—and several more installations under review. Who knew, when we kicked off the program’s inaugural year, that our reality would shift so dramatically? And so, we pivoted. The signs have taken on a whole new community benefit, thanks to the support of involved media partners Orange Barrel Media and BIG Outdoor. Arts & Entertainment Atlanta is providing timely public service announcements related to COVID-19 testing, showcasing and supporting the work of local artists—such as Sarah Price’s Separate Together—and serving as a platform to our current social justice movement. In addition to leveraging the signs to respond to current events, we’ve been able to sustain planned arts programming. The current outdoor exhibition, In Light…, explores themes of connection in uncertain times. Curated by DASH and Mint Galley, In Light… features thirteen Atlanta artists on three of the digital signs in the district: 101 Marietta, 235 Peachtree Street (at Peachtree Center), and 89 Centennial Olympic Park Drive (at the Reverb Hotel by Hard Rock). Explore the exhibit guide at: http://www.dashboard.us/in-light In a time when we yearn for connection and understanding, the opportunity to experience art outdoors resonates more than ever. ‘The beauty of art is that it allows you to slow down, and for a moment, things that once seemed unfamiliar become precious to you.’ – Kehinde Wiley In the coming days and months ahead, Arts & Entertainment Atlanta, yet a year old, will seek new partnerships to explore the unfamiliar and find innovative ways to remain responsive and timely, while also amplifying the work within Atlanta’s remarkable arts community. This is sponsored content.
Featured Image: Farmers Joe Reynolds and Demetrius Milling, next-generation, entrepreneurial farmers who are actively working to own farmland in Georgia and supply the growing demand for sustainably produced, locally sourced foods. Photo by Robin McKinney. By The Conservation Fund To learn more about Working Farms Fund, watch the video below and read Nicolas Donck’s story to get a first-hand account of his success as a Georgia farmer. Farmers—the folks who spend their days in the dirt and bring fresh food to our tables—have always been some of the most resilient and critical members of American society. This was true long before the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of access to fresh food. Nicolas Donck is one of those people. He’s a farmer, and one of the many unsung American heroes helping to provide heathy produce to residents in the Atlanta area during these uncertain times. Nicolas owns and operates Crystal Organic Farm, one of the very first USDA certified organic farms in the state of Georgia, conveniently located an hour east of downtown Atlanta. He has always been forward-thinking about the evolving needs for farms and farmers—setting a precedent for how other small and mid-size farms can run profitable businesses, create new markets, and grow the local food needed to sustain communities. Q: What inspired you to farm? Nicolas: I moved to America from Antwerp, Belgium when I was 16 years old to join my mother, Helen Dumba. She had already moved here, bought the piece of property and started a small garden which eventually became what is now Crystal Organic Farm. I fell in love with the land itself—the vast open space and the creek that runs through it. My brother and I worked at a local Christmas tree farm, and I always remembered that nice feeling at the end of a hard day’s work, sitting on the fence with the sun fading. That feeling was stored in my subconscious somewhere, and I certainly didn’t feel it when I was trying to use my international business degree and working in an export/import business. I was 24 years old at the time, also waiting tables, and trying to figure out what to do with my life. It was like something woke up in my consciousness and clicked—I want to farm and I already have a piece of land that my mom owns. Farming has been my passion ever since. Q: How has your business evolved over time and why? Nicolas: Very early on we were selling to local health food stores and a co-op, so it was just really small sales of about $200 or $300 a week. I was still waiting tables at night and putting seeds in the ground during the day. That slowly evolved as I broke more land and learned what I was doing, and within a year or so I realized that I could do this fulltime. In 1995 we started the Morningside Farmer’s Market, which was one of the very first neighborhood markets in Atlanta and still the only certified organic market in the city. I got up at 4:30 a.m. every Saturday for all those years and we always sold out of what we brought. The community has supported Crystal Organic Farm so well that our farm has been able to grow and be self-financed. We expanded to grow enough to sell at the market and to local restaurants. In the last two or three years we started working with a home delivery company called Fresh Harvest, and they’re buying everything I could possibly grow for them. And now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, our business has evolved again. We’ve made the decision not to go back to sell at Morningside Market, which we’ve been going to year-round for over 20 years. Along with my partner Jeni Jarrard we’ve developed an online store and have seen a huge jump in our local business. We can also help other small farms around us by creating a kind of a food hub for sales at the farm. Having the chance to stay at home on a Saturday morning and actually go do the farming work and also connect with people in our community coming to pick up their orders is a nice change for me, and we’re busier than ever. Q: Your online store is one change that came about due to recent circumstances. Are there other changes you’ve noticed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic? Nicolas: So even though it is a terrible time right now for many people, I feel like it has been a wake up call. I feel like this pandemic has really woken people up about how they live and to understand where their food comes from. It is vitally important to create a web of small farms, like ours, around major cities, where a farmer can make money. If people have farms like ours close by, where they can actually go feel and taste and see it for themselves, they may be more willing to take the extra steps to buy local and organic and spend money for the value they are getting. This kind of farming is quality farming. It’s the best you can get and it’s worth the money for the products and I think that’s what people are slowly waking up to. Q: Most food in the U.S. travels about 1,500 miles before it reaches the table, and transportation accounts for 70-80% of total food costs to the consumer. What can people do right now that could help change the system or how they think about fresh food? Nicolas: Support farmers, get to know them and help them financially with buying their food. Continue to go to farmer’s markets and always support the restaurants and the companies that truly support local farms. People should also try to grow their own vegetables at home and create some kind of connection with the food they eat, even if it’s just basil or parsley on your kitchen windowsill. You don’t know how many times we hear, …
By Sara Gottlieb, Director of Freshwater Science & Strategy, The Nature Conservancy Georgia is home to an incredibly diverse community of aquatic life – we have more species of fish, crayfish, mussels, and salamanders in our rivers than almost anywhere else on the North American continent. Georgia also has more barriers that prevent fish and other aquatic organisms from accessing critical habitat—such as thousands of obsolete dams—than any other state in the southeastern US. Dams serve a variety of important purposes such as waterway navigation, hydropower generation, flood control, irrigation and recreation. Obsolete dams are those that no longer serve their intended (or any) purpose. These barriers disrupt the natural life cycles of aquatic organisms, degrade water quality and pose a serious hazard to people. The Nature Conservancy and the Southeastern Aquatic Resources Partnership built a comprehensive database of previously undocumented dams in the southeast and prioritized them based on the benefit to aquatic biodiversity that could accrue from their removal. While many other US states have made enormous strides in removing high priority barriers, Georgia lags behind, but though the work of the Georgia Aquatic Connectivity Team (GA-ACT), we have built momentum and a community of practice for speeding the pace of dam removal in the state. One of the hurdles for anyone interested in removing an obsolete dam is a lack of basic information about the process and the GA-ACT decided we needed to compile that information in one place that is easily accessible to all. Over the past year, a team of contributors sponsored by the GA-ACT collaborated to write the Handbook for the Removal or Modification of Obsolete Dams in Georgia. Developing this handbook brought together experts from a variety of agencies, regulatory authorities, academic institutions, engineering firms and other conservation organizations toward a shared goal – this process helped built trust between entities with varied perspectives and missions. As co-lead of the Georgia Aquatic Connectivity Team, I am proud of this significant accomplishment, grateful to all of those who contributed, and hopeful that many people will use this resource to guide them through the process of freeing Georgia’s rivers and streams to benefit people and nature. Protecting Georgia’s Waterways The Nature Conservancy works with partners across Georgia to restore and protect the health of rivers, lakes and streams. Get an up-close look at our approaches freshwater conservation by viewing the recording of our recent webinar and at nature.org. Photo caption: TNC worked with Columbus State University to remove three dams on TNC-owned property near Fort Benning. Images: © Henry Jacobs This is sponsored content.
By Operation HOPE For many Americans, navigating the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming. We are proud to serve as a financial advocate and intermediary for these affected homeowners, renters, and small business owners in facilitating financial recovery. Since our HOPE Inside Disaster COVID-19 response began five weeks ago, we have provided over 14,500 virtual financial recovery services, including credit and money management coaching, small business counseling and loan application assistance, and mortgage and student loan deferment. Many thanks to our corporate and alliance partners for their ongoing support! Organizations that wish to provide financial or in-kind support to HOPE Inside Disaster may contact Mary Ehrsam, President of HOPE Partnerships, at firstname.lastname@example.org Last week, our response efforts were featured by several mainstream news outlets. On Wednesday, Chairman John Hope Bryant joined host Gayle King on “CBS This Morning” to discuss the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on the financial health of minority communities. Click the video below to watch Chairman Bryant speak on the ongoing work of Operation HOPE and our response to the coronavirus pandemic. Find more resources at www.hopeinsidecovid19.org
Featured Image: A “Chakma” student holding a “Find the Missing Millions” board to support the initiative. The Chakma tribe is the largest indigenous tribe in Bangladesh. They live in Rangamati, Chittagong hills which is in the South-East Bangladesh. A “Find the Missing Millions” free hepatitis B and C screening and awareness program organized by the National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh among the people of the Chakma tribe at Rangamati. Courtesy of Zunaid Murshed Paiker, National Liver Foundation of Bangladesh By The Task Force for Global Health Tuesday, July 28, marks World Hepatitis Day as a call to action against a preventable and curable disease that kills more than 1.3 million people each year. We spoke with John Ward, MD, Director of The Task Force’s Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination, about the disease, the role of the Coalition in hepatitis elimination, and what can be done for the more than 300 million people living with viral hepatitis and the millions of people at risk of new infections each year. Why is it important to have this global World Hepatitis Day? World Hepatitis Day is particularly important as the enormity of this global health threat is underappreciated due to the silent nature of the disease. People with hepatitis have few symptoms until they develop liver disease that can progress to severe scarring (cirrhosis) or liver cancer. While both hepatitis B and C infections can be prevented with safe healthcare and injection practices, and can be detected and treated with reliable tests and medications, hepatitis C prevention has yet to benefit from an effective vaccine like hepatitis B. So World Hepatitis Day calls for action to seize these opportunities to protect people from infection and to test and treat to prevent premature mortality so we can eliminate hepatitis in the near future. Looking back on the first year of the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination, what have been some of the main highlights? The Coalition fills a key role in the global effort to eliminate hepatitis, which all countries committed to in 2015, by bringing partners together to share information and challenges and to leverage those partnerships to develop solutions and resources. For example, access to credible data sources to inform program and policy development has long been a challenge in the hepatitis community. Now for the first time, we have what I like to call the “Wikipedia for Hepatitis Elimination.” We bring together data for over 190 countries regarding their burden of disease, the status of hepatitis policy and program development, and the status of implementing key interventions that make elimination possible. Bringing this data together has helped everyone monitor progress toward elimination and identify gaps, and also motivates countries to develop and implement their own programs by observing the success of others. We have also overseen two systematic reviews to bring together evidence to guide timely hepatitis B immunization of newborns to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus and to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of hepatitis action plans, which are often the main strategy documents guiding program implementation. Other highlights include launching an operational research study with partners across four countries and a technical assistance project to support country planning for hepatitis testing scale-up. How successful do you think the Coalition has been in bringing together the hepatitis community? We have a unique vantage point by being part of The Task Force. The Task Force has a long legacy of supporting disease elimination around the world. Because of our access to global partners and our expertise of management in disease elimination, we’ve built relationships and worked with various programs, ministries of health and others on the national and global levels. A lot of the work on our website reflects these collaborations; we have over 100 partners globally that have signed on to be part of the Coalition, and we are seeking to build a community of practice for hepatitis elimination. Each of these partners has a program profile listing their goals and activities, which brings visibility to the work in their respective countries. We want to continue engaging stakeholders, industry partners, technical assistance providers and civil societies to reach our global elimination goals. COVID-19 is on everyone’s mind and it has affected efforts to fight other diseases like hepatitis. Tell us about some of the hepatitis-related challenges and lessons learned during this pandemic and how the Coalition is addressing them. The pandemic has sent a shockwave around the world that has impacted many facets of society. Hepatitis elimination is no exception. Our first concern was that people with chronic liver disease had more severe outcomes from coronavirus infections than others. So, in the first few months of the pandemic, we compiled all the evidence from previous coronavirus epidemics [like SARS and MERS] and observations from the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, mapping the clinical progression of people with chronic liver disease to share with our partners and others working on hepatitis. The shift in medical care priorities toward COVID-19 has implications for the management of patients with hepatitis. We compiled and shared recommendations both on particular COVID-19 response strategies and to identify areas that may need more research. Lastly, current global efforts to increase diagnostic capacity to test and care for people with COVID-19 can eventually be shifted toward testing for hepatitis and other diseases, which have historically suffered from limited resources. Leveraging expanded national testing capacity would greatly increase our reach to care for people with liver disease. We look forward to working with our partners to realize these opportunities. The Coalition recently honored some “hepatitis elimination champions.” Why is it important to highlight key people in the hepatitis community? When we launched the Coalition last year, we recognized the many individuals that have made remarkable contributions to improving hepatitis political commitment, policies, and programs and who are helping to make global hepatitis elimination possible. This year we selected six people who through their passion and ingenuity have greatly advanced progress toward hepatitis elimination. These remarkable individuals …
By Eric Tanenblatt, Edward Lindsey, Elmer Stancil, Dan Baskerville, Samuel Olens, Sharon Gay and Crawford G. Schneider, Dentons After a COVID-19 induced hiatus the General Assembly returned to Atlanta for a two week sprint to Sine Die. While the main focus was passing a budget under significant revenue shortfalls the General Assembly was able to pass several other pieces of legislation including a historic hate crimes bill, surprise billing restrictions and two constitutional amendments among others. Now that the 2020 session has officially ended legislators will start ramping up for what is sure to be a contentious election season. 1. Budget The Georgia General Assembly temporarily adjourned in March without fulfilling its one constitutional obligation — passing a budget. They completed that task as the 2020 special session closed, a day before the start of the new fiscal year. Gov. Brian Kemp promptly signed the budget for Fiscal Year 2021 on Tuesday June 30th finalizing the state’s $26 billion spending plan which includes about $2.2 billion in cuts. Some highlights of the updated budget include: K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION $950 million cut from the Quality Basic Education program, the formula used to calculate state spending for K-12 public education $142 million added for enrollment growth and teacher training $8.8 million added to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement HIGHER EDUCATION $242 million cut to schools in the University System of Georgia and $36 million cut to schools in the Technical College System of Georgia 12 percent cut to Adult Education 11 percent cut to agricultural programs including the Cooperative Extension Service $11 million in cuts to Dual Enrollment expected from the 30-hour cap and limits on courses students can take created in HB 444 $1 million added to the REACH Georgia scholarship program, a needs-based mentoring and scholarship program; all other state-funded scholarships will see a 10 percent cut BEHAVIORAL HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES $91 million cut to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities budget $22.7 million cut to child and adolescent mental health services, including prevention programs and supported education and employment services $7.2 million cut to adult mental health services, including cuts to core behavioral health services, reductions in peer workforce training and services and cuts to housing vouchers for people with mental illnesses $5.7 million cut to adult substance abuse services, mostly for funds that would expand residential treatment services COMMUNITY HEALTH Total state funding increased by $178 million, mostly to account for higher projected growth for Medicaid $19.7 million added to provide six months of Medicaid coverage for new mothers; this coverage extension must still receive federal approval $12 million added to increase funding available for Rural Hospital Stabilization grants PUBLIC HEALTH $8.2 million in cuts to the Department of Public Health budget Funding restored for grants to local health departments $2.3 million reduction in funding for trauma center readiness and uncompensated care HUMAN SERVICES $34 million cut to the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget $46 million cut in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds $3.7 million in cuts to vacant positions in child welfare $3 million in cuts to vacant positions at the state office for DHS 2. Hate Crimes Bill On Friday June 26th, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a hate-crimes measure into law. As such, Georgia is no longer on the ever-shrinking list of states without hate crime legislation. The law allows for enhanced criminal penalties to be levied against those who target their victims on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, sex, national origin, religion, or physical or mental disability. The bill cleared the final hurdle after Senate leaders abandoned efforts to treat police officers as a protected class. The Hate Crimes Bill passed the legislature on a wave of public support led by Georgia’s most significant businesses and political leaders. The Dentons Public Policy team played a leading role in the effort as lobbyists for the Anti-Defamation League. 3. Safe Harbor Bill Georgia will join a short list of states that are proactively protecting businesses from civil liability related to the COVID-19 virus. Senate Bill 359 passed both houses of the state legislature and now awaits the signature of the Governor. The liability legislation would let Georgia businesses and hospitals waive liability for coronavirus-related claims so long as they post certain warning signs except in cases where the entity is found to have committed “gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.” 4. Fee Dedication This November, Georgia voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers the power to require fees be spent for the purpose that they were originally dedicated. This issue is often referred to in the context of tire fees. If you buy a new tire in Georgia, there’s a $1 fee that gets tacked onto the bill, called the Scrap Tire Management Fee. It’s supposed to go toward cleaning up illegal tire dumps in the state and other recycling and trash programs. But often, lawmakers have directed more than $50 million from the scrap tire fee to Georgia’s general fund, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), which is Georgia’s county association. The same can be said about the fee that the state collects at landfills. The money is intended for hazardous waste site cleanup, but according to the ACCG, about $100 million from that fund has ended up in the general fund in the past 10 years. The constitutional amendment, if approved by voters, would give lawmakers the power to specifically dedicate certain tax dollars to specific uses. 5. Sovereign Immunity In addition to the constitutional amendment on fee dedication, Georgians will also vote on whether to make it easier to sue the state and local governments under a proposed constitutional amendment given final passage Tuesday by the state House. The lawmakers were reacting, in part, to a state Supreme Court decision that state and local governments can only be sued if they have waived a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity. The amendment would allow Georgians to sue in state court to protect their …
Community Foundation has opened grant applications for next round of funding By Clare S. Richie, public policy specialist, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta In June, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced Vote Your Voice, a partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to invest up to $30 million through 2022 from the SPLC’s endowment to engage voters and increase voter registration, education, and participation; support Black- and brown-led organizations often ignored by traditional funders; support and prototype effective voter engagement strategies; and re-enfranchise returning citizens despite intentional bureaucratic challenges. SPLC recently announced a total of nearly $5.5 million in a first round of grants to 12 voter outreach organizations across the Deep South, four of those organizations are in Georgia. The 12 organizations have proven track records empowering voters of color and presented innovative proposals to boost voter registration, education and mobilization in Vote Your Voice’s five targeted states — Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. The grants will help the organizations continue their efforts to turn out low-propensity voters amid voter suppression schemes and other barriers, including the pandemic, in advance of upcoming elections. Organizations working to boost voter engagement in Georgia are: Black Voters Matter increases civic engagement and power building in predominantly Black communities. The organization works in nine southern states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. In 2019, it expanded into two northern states — Michigan and Pennsylvania. Through the $500,000 grant the organization will register, educate and mobilize Black voters in 17 Alabama counties and 24 Georgia counties through mini grants to grassroots groups and conduct outreach via texting and other digital and social media strategies. The Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda’s mission is to improve the quality of governance through a more informed and active electorate who will hold elected officials accountable. The organization operates seven offices – metro Atlanta, Athens-Clarke County, Bibb County, Chatham County, Dougherty County, Richmond County and Troup County – and conducts civic engagement activities, registers thousands of voters, holds educational forums and mobilizes volunteers to participate through phone banks, texting and providing rides to the polls, focusing primarily on African American women and men in 57 counties across the state. Through the $75,000 grant, the organization will continue their work focusing on people of color, young people, single women and low-income Georgians. Their tactics include phone banking, texting and relational organizing. The New Georgia Project (NGP) is focused on voter registration, engagement and power building for the large and growing population of African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans in Georgia. NGP is part of a movement – not a moment – to meet the changing demographics of Georgia, to harness the unheard voices of the New American Majority and to position Georgia for leadership in the South and across the country, identify local policy priorities, demystify the political process, and move their families and neighbors to action. Through the $750,000 grant, the organization will engage in voter registration, education and mobilization among low-propensity communities of color, women of color and young people. Additionally, it will counter online voter suppression with videos, songs, social listening and tech tools. ProGeorgia is a bold, trusted, and diverse collaborative that champions an equitable and inclusive democracy, for and with traditionally underrepresented communities. The organization supports and coordinates the civic engagement programs of its diverse partners. ProGeorgia develops the infrastructure, executes the joint strategies, and employs new tools and technology to assure a government that is more responsive to the needs of its constituencies. Through the $750,000 grant, the organization will continue its work to register, educate, mobilize and protect voters in low-propensity communities of color as well as women of color and young people, focusing on 33 counties for voter engagement and 70 counties for election protection. SPLC and Community Foundation have started to accept applications for grants in a second round of distribution across the target states. The initiative is seeking a broad cross-section of nonprofit organizations with deep roots within communities prioritized; experience in nonpartisan voter registration, education and mobilization; and a commitment to working with the initiative’s data partner to track progress and impact. Together with the first cohort, organizations participating in the Vote Your Voice initiative will use grants to amplify their ongoing work to engage millions of voters across the South this election cycle to exercise their basic right to vote and ensure their voices are heard. Applications for the second round of grants are due by August 14, 2020. Organizations can apply here. Additional application information may be found here. Click here for more details including a full list of organizations that received first-round grants.
Featured Image: ATC Alumnus Chef Das Continues Entrepreneurial Spirit with Grand Opening of All-Star Cafe By Atlanta Technical College From Henry Ford to Eli Whitney and Madame C.J. Walker to Herman J. Russell, the American entrepreneurial spirit has defined centuries of problem solvers and solution seekers. Simply stated, entrepreneurship is an American tradition that has shaped the very fabric of our nation and empowered the United States to remain a dominant global economic force. Many people consider Atlanta Technical College (ATC) as the training ground for essential careers and technical trades, which is, indeed, true. But for many of our current and past students, ATC represents an avenue towards business ownership that spurs a pathway to economic mobility and a break from more traditional corporate constraints. However, business ownership is often a road less-traveled due to the unforeseen twists and turns that come with entrepreneurship. And while national statistics reflect that approximately 20% of businesses fail in the first year, ATC is working to buck that trend through an entrepreneurial-based curriculum that promotes business ownership preparation and success. According to the Small Business Administration, domestic small businesses account for more than two- thirds of the net new jobs being created, representing 44% of national economic activities and employing nearly 59 million Americans. Now more than ever, entrepreneurs symbolize the backbone of our economy and embody the hope for our nation’s financial recovery. “For decades, ATC has been a guiding force in providing the blueprint for our students, not only to obtain life-changing technical skills and careers, but also to become job creators and business leaders,” said ATC President Dr. Victoria Seals. “We want our students to explore the professional possibilities and the realities of business ownership and prepare them to go from a start-up company to a thriving enterprise.” A Proven Track Record of Success After graduating from ATC in 1973, Steven Howard started his career in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) but would later branch off into launching his Arizona-based company, The ACT Group, Inc. The ACT Group was created in 1985 to help HVAC service technicians improve their technical and communication skills, teaching contractors and their team members how to improve marketing, sales, accounting, customer service, and installation skills. “Atlanta Tech prepared me to not only learn the ins and outs of my industry but also gave me the drive to master my craft. Our instructors represented the best in the business, and they required the best from each of us,” said Howard. “Success for me is not solely defined by our profits but by the lives we touch and the families we help. Being a business owner has allowed me to provide our employees with great careers and our customers with outstanding quality service. Since 1985, we have worked to train future small business owners to develop the skills, business processes, and confidence to achieve success in entrepreneurship.” Entrepreneurship in and of itself is a high-risk, high-reward venture with no guarantees of success or sustainability. Understanding these challenges, ATC provides courses to support those who seek to master their respective fields of study and establish a foundation as entrepreneurs. One such example is ATC alumnus Chef Darrell “Das” Smith, who coupled his passion for the culinary arts into a business empire that has taken him from Hollywood to the White House. Smith, who is a published author and a rising culinary figure on major television networks, credits his alma mater for nurturing his passion for cooking and business. “Even as a student, I was dreaming big. There was a lack of representation in the industry and I wanted to change that by building my own company from the ground up,” said Smith. “ATC gave me the opportunity to pursue this life-long dream as well as the blueprint to be successful at building my business and brand.” A major factor in ATC’s success in producing entrepreneurs is the institution’s commitment to incorporating business principles and classes in various curriculums. “We know that owning a business is not an easy task, yet it is not an impossible endeavor either,” said Mr. Robert Leach, current Dean of Business and Public Service Technologies, and former entrepreneurship instructor. “My goal is to make the dream of entrepreneurship more obtainable. I often run into students who initially never imagined they could own a business. But now, they have a thriving business with dozens of employees and are inspiring the next generation to dream a little bigger.” Students can earn an Entrepreneurship technical certificate in as little as two semesters and will also gain valuable lessons in entrepreneurship whether pursuing a diploma or Associate degree in Marketing Management. For more information on these programs visit the Marketing/Entrepreneur program page or contact Dean Robert Leach at email@example.com. Prospective students can apply today for the Fall semester! This is sponsored content.
By Eric White Summer is typically filled with so many fond memories: Sun-filled family vacations, delicious backyard barbeques, and sleeping in after long nights of laughter with friends, The summer of 2020 is one I’ll never forget. Instead of taking my usual two-month break, I was asked to stay on in my role as a Communities In Schools of Atlanta site coordinator. Since then, I have processed more emergency fund requests than in any of my five years in this role. With my colleague, the two us serve 100 students at Brown Middle School, representative of 20 percent of the total student body. Pre-COVID, each school day presented its own set of unique challenges and opportunities. As site coordinators, we are keenly aware of the influence we have on the lives of the students and families we serve. Our work is vital to their success and growth, both academically and personally. When COVID-19 arrived, no one knew just how strong its impact would be. As we have outlined here in the weeks since, Communities In Schools of Atlanta has answered the call during these uncertain times, continuously stepping forward to be of service and help those who are facing unprecedented trials. One parent recently said, “Mr. White, you and your organization are the only ones who have answered my calls and have been in constant contact with me.” Requests have come in from school administrators, directly from parents or students, and from others in the community who are familiar with our track record of tenacious action. There is a certain amount of joy in filling out an application for a family because I know that I have a CEO and leadership team fully committed to assisting families in need. There hasn’t been one time I’ve reviewed a family’s request and thought to myself, “We can’t help.” In these times, there is no can’t. We must help and we will continue to pull our resources together to ensure our families’ needs are met. Each day we deal with the impact of serving a population already at a serious economic disadvantage. Nearly all of the children we serve are on free or reduced lunch. Since COVID-19, I have fulfilled six emergency requests, with applications for five more families currently under review. This represents just a sliver of the requests across the CIS of Atlanta network. Through our COVID-19 relief fund, we have paid past-due utility and rent bills that have piled up because of parents’ reduction in work hours or have lost their jobs altogether. While Georgians who receive SNAP benefits have thankfully been allotted additional funds, we recognize some households now have more mouths to feed as a result of the circumstances at hand. College students are at home. Families and neighbors have come together to support those awaiting unemployment benefits. That’s why we’ve fulfilled numerous requests for fresh groceries to ensure no one goes hungry. Perhaps the most heartbreaking requests we’ve received are to help cover burial expenses for family members who have died from coronavirus. When every dollar coming in is barely covering the essentials, families lack the extra cash needed for life insurance. Losing a loved one is hard enough. Being unable to fund a funeral is an unnecessary cruelty. I am working on a case involving a mother fleeing domestic violence –as if this pandemic wasn’t already hard enough. She and the student had to abruptly flee the home, leaving everything behind. You can imagine what is needed to help them adjust to a single-income household and get them back on their feet in time for the upcoming school year. The work we do is year-round, but especially these past few months, it all comes back to our mission: To surround students – and by extension their families – with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. The social services aspect of our work continues to increase, and we foresee this will continue in the coming months. If you are able, please support us as we strive to ensure metro Atlanta’s most vulnerable students can thrive in spite of the academic and personal challenges they and their families face. Given the difficulty of an at-home learning environment, there is a tremendous need for tutors who can volunteer their time during the upcoming academic year. If you are interested in volunteering virtually, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “I can tutor” and we will match you with a student in need. We are also in the process of setting up an online speaker series so students can learn from professionals of career paths across industries. Email us with the subject line “I can be a guest speaker” and a member of our team will follow up with you. If we band together – civic leaders, the business community, and everyday people – we can provide metro Atlanta students the support they need to thrive in spite of the difficulties COVID-19 has wrought. Eric White is a site coordinator at Brown Middle School in Atlanta’s historic West End. Featured Image: Eric White with one of the 50 Brown Middle School students who are part of his caseload. As a site coordinator, Eric is often the first person students go to when they experience problems at school or at home. This is sponsored content.
By Wendy Stewart, Bank of America Atlanta Market President “Community” is a word that tends to get a bit overused. Communities transcend a geographic location or coordinates on a map; they are united by proximity and bound together by what they share. And I believe every Atlantan⎯whether native or transplant⎯can agree that the pursuit of a diverse and inclusive culture is at the heart of everything we do. In Atlanta’s case, there is no better way to describe Bank of America’s relationship with the people who live in and around this great city than the word “community.” Since 1919, when Mills B. Lane brought the company to the corner of Marietta and Broad Streets, Bank of America (formerly C&S) has served Atlanta’s needs in business, banking and beyond. Our longstanding history in the city, including the boundless opportunities we’ve had to support the growth and wellness of customers and fellow citizens over the past 100 years, is a privilege we hold with the highest regard. At Bank of America, we have long recognized that a diverse and inclusive culture is essential to achieving our mission. This need has become even more urgent amid the current health crisis, which has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Underlying economic and social disparities that have existed for centuries are evident during the global pandemic, and recent racial injustices have highlighted an unprecedented need to do more, and do better, in our communities. We have been and are continuing to address systemic issues of race and place in Atlanta by investing in basic needs, community development, workforce development, and education. So far in 2020, we have deployed nearly $1.6 million to 28 Atlanta-area organizations that faced unparalleled challenges from the coronavirus, including Atlanta Community Food Bank, Grady Health System, Grove Park Foundation, and Latin American Association. Additionally Bank of America is reinforcing its commitment to create opportunity for people and communities of color in the areas of health, job training, support to small businesses, and housing, all through a lens of racial equity with a recently announced $1 billion, four-year commitment of additional support across the country. Why? Because we are committed to Atlanta and are hopeful that, together, the next 100 years will be better and even more prosperous for all of us.