This week on The Local Take I speak with Maria Saporta founder of Saporta Report, an in depth journalistic news service with a focus on metro-Atlanta. I speak with Maria about several recent reports on ...
ULI Atlanta Center for Leadership has entered its 14th year and is a powerful local resource to help guide the responsible development of the Atlanta region by strengthening connections and understanding among area organizations that guide and influence real estate development. During the course of the nine-month program, participants meet each month with a specific thematic focus on the built environment, outlined below: The class also has the opportunity to provide leadership on a critical real estate development issue through an mini Technical Assistance Panel (mTAP). This year, the mTAP program will be chaired by Shirlynn Fortson at Amazon and co-chaired by Amy Granelli at Eberly & Associates. The class of 2023 kicked off in person on September 15th under the leadership of CFL Chair Alex Demestihas at JLL and co-chair Katherine Bowen at Shelton McNally. Congratulations to the Class of 2023: Shauna Achey, TVS Anson Adams, Truist Bank Ryan Akin, Columbia Ventures Ronnie Belizaire, Jones Lang Lasalle Kenneth Budd II, Novare Group Brad Chambers, MAPP Built Alice Chang, Rockefeller Group Kate Culver, Portman Residential Katie Delp, Purpose Built Communities Jason Finley, St Clair Holdings Philip Gilman, Sugar Creek Capital Reeti Gupta, HKS Patrick Kassin, Woodfield Development Danielle Katz, ASD|SKY Jenna Lee, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP Lauren Leyrer, Eberly & Associates Daniel Maloon, Spectra Holdings Christopher Manzer, Seyfarth Shaw LLP Randi Mason, Decide DeKalb Dev. Authority Emily Mastropiero, Square Feet Studio Javier Morales, Patterson R.E. Advisory Group Jay Perlmutter, ANDP Dipo Popoola, Cygnus Capital Jordan Richardson, GID Danna Richey, Newcomb & Boyd Vickey Roberts, Invest Atlanta Shar’ron Russell, Georgia Power Company Shas Saintiague, Columbia Residential Sam Sampson, Ironwood Design Group Pierangeli Simonpietri Rodriguez, Dwell Design Studio Michael Varner, Atkins North America Ross Wallace, WorkingBuildings, LLC Douglas Webster, Cooper Carry *** ULI Atlanta’s CFL program cultivates leadership and life-strategy skills by teaching emerging leaders in the real estate and land use industries how the Atlanta region gets built and how their decisions shape the future of the built environment. Information on CFL can be found here.
MARTA announces the completion of the Edgewood/Candler Park transit-oriented development (TOD) on the Blue/Green Line in DeKalb County. Since its groundbreaking in 2016, the 6.4-acre TOD has become home to the Spoke and Quill apartment complexes, including 20 percent affordable housing units, Moving in the Spirit, a creative youth development program, office space, several retail businesses, and a small park. The final phase of the three-phase development features a new parking deck for MARTA customers and TOD residents and patrons, a redesigned bus loop that can accommodate standard and articulated buses, and art commissioned by MARTA’s public art program Artbound. “Edgewood/Candler Park is a perfect example of how developing near transit can transform and enrich a community, and we are thrilled to celebrate the completion of another transit-oriented development this year,” said MARTA Interim General Manager & CEO Collie Greenwood. “This development fulfills MARTA’s larger TOD and affordable housing commitment established by the MARTA Board, generates ridership and a return on our ground leases, and promotes a sustainable, affordable, and growing future for the people of this region.” “MARTA appreciates our partners’ dedication and shared vision of this development,” said MARTA Director of Transit-Oriented Development Debbie Frank. “Just a few short years ago, this was an underused space and now it’s a vibrant, amenity-rich community with affordable housing close to transit. We could not have achieved this without the support of the Federal Transit Administration, Atlanta Regional Commission, Columbia Ventures, Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta, and Moving in the Spirit.” “When co-founder, Genene Stewart and I started dreaming of building Moving in the Spirit’s forever home, it was critical that we join a development and community where we can share our art and reach so many young people because we’re close to transit. This powerful partnership proves that dreams do come true,” said Moving in the Spirit co-founder and CEO Dana Lupton. Edgewood/Candler Park TOD by the numbers: Phase 1 (completed in 2017) – Spoke Apartments – 202 units (including 22 affordable units) Phase 2 (completed in 2020) – Moving in the Spirit – 21,000 sq. ft. cultural facility, ½ acre park, 8,000 sq. ft. retail/office building Phase 3 (completed in 2022) – Quill Apartments – 155 units (including 53 affordable units), new bus loop, shared 393-space parking deck for MARTA customers, apartment tenants, and retail guests Development cost – $95 million Bus loop and MARTA replacement parking – $4.7 million Federal Highway Administration Surface Transportation Block Grant (includes 25 percent local match from MARTA) MARTA’s public art program Artbound commissioned two pieces for the TOD: The Great Migration by Deedee Morrison (Deedee Morrison Sculpture) and The Unseen by Christina Kwan (Christina Kwan (christinakwanart.com)). The Great Migration sculpture is a powerful visual representation of history and biogeography during the day and comes alive at night with the added dimension of light. The Unseen mural explores the elemental force of wind; how it shapes our landscape and plays an integral part in our ecosystem. “These unique works are a thoughtful and moving addition to the Edgewood/Candler Park development, beautifying the space, connecting art to audience, and celebrating the diverse natural habitat of Georgia,” said Art in Transit Director Katherine Dirga. MARTA’s Office of Transit-Oriented Development has led additional successful developments at Lindbergh Center, Chamblee, Avondale, and King Memorial rail stations, with plans for TODs at Arts Center, Bankhead, and other MARTA properties. Additionally, the Office of TOD is partnering with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs respectively to preserve and support the development of affordable housing near transit. View time lapse video of the Edgewood/Candler Park TOD construction: This is sponsored content.
Moody, who has served as Interim CEO since May 2022, to lead nonprofit building resilient families so children can thrive. Families First, Inc. today announced that Paula Moody, LCSW, MS, will lead the organization as Chief Executive Officer, effective Sept. 20, 2022. Moody has over 25 years of experience in non-profit program services and leadership. She has worked with Families First for nearly a decade, joining in 2013 as Director of Child and Youth Permanency. In 2017, she was promoted to Sr. Director of Programs; in 2020, she assumed the role of Chief Program Officer, where she oversaw all program operations at Families First. Most recently, she was appointed Interim CEO of the organization in May 2022. Prior to joining Families First, Moody served for eight years as Executive Director of a small non-profit agency serving children and families in New Haven, CT. Having devoted her career to non-profits serving children, youth and families, Moody’s expertise includes program areas such as child welfare, behavioral health as well as administrative areas including strategic planning, fiscal management, quality assurance, HR and fund development. Moody is a proud graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, where she earned a BA in Political Science. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Moody is a governing board member of Ethos Classical School and an advisory board member of Project Healthy Grandparents. “My vision for Families First is that we are always prepared to respond to everyone who seeks out our services,” says Moody. “By offering comprehensive, sustainable solutions for children and families, we will continue to improve child well-being, promote family self-sufficiency and strengthen resiliency.” Courtney Showell, Chair of the Board of Directors, noted, “Our board has full confidence in Paula’s ability to lead this organization. Her leadership, as well as the hard work of our talented and dedicated team members and partners, will ensure we continue to make progress toward our mission of building resilient families so all children can thrive.” Media Inquiries: Cindy Chapman, Director of Fund Development Families First 404.541.3080 | email@example.com About Families First: Families First was founded in 1890 as the Leonard Street Orphanage on what is today the Spellman College campus. For more than 130 years, Families First has been providing empowering solutions for Atlanta’s most vulnerable populations. With a mission to build resilient families so all children can thrive, Families First leads a portfolio of programs and services across three impact areas, Parenting & Permanency Services; Navigator Services; and Behavioral Health Services that help improve individual outcomes while strengthening and stabilizing families.
By Madgie Robinson With the world’s busiest airport in our backyard coupled with our diversity of talent, higher education institutions and quality of life, Atlanta has become a top contender for foreign-owned enterprises or FOEs to expand and target new opportunities in diverse global markets. However, it wasn’t until the 1996 Summer Olympics when the world noticed how much the region had to offer which created pathways for international trade and economic development that transformed the region into what it is today. As a result, business growth throughout the state of Georgia and city of Atlanta has welcomed thousands of companies such as Porsche AG, Adidas, Hyundai Motor Group and more. Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Vice President of Global Commerce John Woodward described the critical role global commerce has played in growing the economic, cultural and political spheres in the metro Atlanta region. Woodward, a 25-year economic development professional, has assisted hundreds of international and domestic enterprises exploring expansion across borders. His role at the Metro Atlanta Chamber involves consulting with foreign-owned enterprises considering U.S. market entry or expansion, and connecting them with relevant corporate, government and academic parties. The global commerce team is one of three elements of the economic development division at Metro Atlanta Chamber involved with all business activity that is cross-border. “With a global perspective, we make the business case for Metro Atlanta to foreign-owned enterprises,” said Woodward. The team also assists a range of locally based companies considering expanding their businesses internationally, principally via export growth. “The objective, in this case, is to help our local companies grow their operations in the metro area by broadening their business for a new global market.” said Woodward. “The Rolodex of the global commerce team is one of our most valuable assets. The capacity to make relevant connections is paramount. This applies to both FOEs entering the market, and to local companies exploring overseas.” When doing business with foreign countries, the global commerce team has expertise on what geographical areas and companies to focus on and what would be mutually beneficial for both parties. They also focus on countries whose businesses traditionally perform well when coming to Atlanta, predicting how each company would thrive in the market. “And to continue with this archaic analogy, the most well-worn cards in our Rolodex are those of our partners – other economic development organizations, governments, academics, professional service providers, binational chambers, trade offices and consulates – because they are integral to our collective success in growing international trade and investment in this region,” according to Woodward. “This collaboration across all groups is what sets metro Atlanta apart from other regions in the U.S.” Countries that have traditionally invested often in metro Atlanta include the U.K., Germany, Japan, France, South Korea, and Canada. “We strategically focus on geographic areas that are strong investors and whose ecosystem strengths generally match ours,” stated Woodward. “For example, Fintech is strong in London and Amsterdam; technical manufacturing is strong in Japan and South Korea.” Belgium is also one of the largest trading partners with Georgia, investing in the region since 1834. Ties between the two continue to develop, with 54 Belgium companies present in the state of Georgia. In June, metro Atlanta hosted the Belgian Economic Mission to the U.S., the largest international business delegation to visit Atlanta since the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. The delegation included more than 250 companies and 400 representatives led by Her Royal Highness, Princess Astrid of Belgium. When asked about the Belgian mission, “[it] was a huge success as Belgian companies and officials were given a topflight introduction to the region,” said Woodward. Beyond the access to the world from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, headquartered in Atlanta are 15 fortune 500 companies and 11 fortune 1000 companies with top businesses such as Chick-Fil-a, Home Depot and Coca-Cola originating from the metro area. “Atlanta is a major U.S. metropolitan area with all the assets one expects to find in a major metropolitan area, – deep corporate bench strength, culture and culinary prowess, multifaceted diversity, professional sports – [yet] a cost of living and business that is more like a secondary or tertiary market,” Woodward described. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport – the busiest airport in the world, brings international people from all over the world to Atlanta. In Atlanta, passengers are able to connect to the rest of the U.S. being one of the first stops for those traveling from overseas. “A key driver of Atlanta is the international and domestic connectivity of the Hartsfield Jackson airport with nonstop flights to many of our target markets,” highlighted Woodward. The business culture and community within metro Atlanta make up a talented workforce of 2.9 million as of June 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The educated and talented workforce in Metro Atlanta is a core element of any economic development plan project,” said Woodward. Adding to the business culture, the overall diversity of Atlanta attracts foreign businesses to the region, making it easier to adapt and build connections. “It’s just like the strong international community within metro Atlanta where travelers can come and fit in with our systems, connect with others and immediately grow in this market,” said Woodward. For more information on Metro Atlanta Chamber events and announcements, visit: https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/ This is sponsored content.
By Jim Durrett, President of Buckhead Coalition and Executive Director of Buckhead Community Improvement District Toward the end of 1987 I came home to Atlanta to begin my post-graduate-school career. I received my Professional Geologist license and worked for almost 10 years while doing volunteer work for the Georgia Conservancy and eventually joining the board of trustees of that esteemed environmental nonprofit. Over the following three decades my career, volunteer work and considerable time spent in the Teton region of “Wydaho” have imbued me with a reverence for nature and understanding of the damage that has been done to the natural systems we depend upon for our very survival. My wife and I have recently returned from our latest visit to our special place in Teton Valley where we regularly go for wonder and restoration. The connection to nature is powerful, one that inspires awe and reminds us that we are truly part of something much bigger than ourselves. When you live in a yurt that depends upon firewood that you have to cut and gather from the forest to provide warmth in the mornings and which allows the weather to be much closer to you than it seems to be back home in your brick-and-mortar residence, you recalibrate your relationship with nature. As you also endure smoke from distant western wildfires, heat of a greater magnitude than my 20-year-old self experienced and dry creek beds and low river flows, you worry about whether we have what it takes to come together and modify our behaviors to cut atmospheric carbon. In “Sacred Nature,” Karen Armstrong writes that not only do we need to learn how to act differently, “but also how to think differently about the natural world. We need to recover the veneration of nature that human beings carefully cultivated for millennia…. We should consciously develop this remnant of our primordial link to nature in our struggle to save the planet. It is essential not only to our wellbeing, but to our humanity.” As I write this, I am recovering from a case of COVID I picked up at a wedding we attended in Salt Lake City on our way home from Teton Valley. I was to be the speaker this evening at the annual Visionary Dinner of the Sandy Springs Conservancy. I had to back out. My remarks would have been along these lines. (George Dusenbury of the Trust for Public Land was very gracious to agree to step in as a more than adequate substitute.) I believe that the pursuit of parks and trails as a significant element in the transformation of our urban environment is an imperative. It will help us to “recover the veneration of nature” required to help us think and act differently, and it should be immune to partisan divides and give us something important to work on together, and by so doing, bring us closer together. Several Buckhead projects are helping to restore a sense of nature in the city. Our partner Livable Buckhead has led the charge to build more than two miles of PATH400 and consistently hears comments from people who enjoy the escape into nature that it provides. The HUB404 Conservancy is working with us to realize an ambitious vision to build a nine-acre park atop GA 400. And even smaller parks like Charlie Loudermilk Park, which the Buckhead Community Improvement District renovated, add a touch of nature to the cityscape. It’s important work, and I’m grateful for everyone working with us to achieve the transformation we seek. This is sponsored content.
By Rob Brawner, Executive Director of Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Cities across our nation face a keen struggle when trying to deliver green space to their underserved communities. The sincere effort to provide equitable resources and benefits is counteracted by rising housing costs sparked by the higher demand to live in the areas surrounding new parks and green spaces. In response, major cities like Atlanta are looking beyond the construction of parks and trails to consider the people and the neighborhoods they affect – and a national conversation is evolving around parks-related anti-displacement strategies (PRADS). Prior to the pandemic, Alessandro Rigolon and Jon Christensen introduced PRADS in their Parks and Recreation article “Greening Without Gentrification,” which looked at major parks projects, including the Atlanta BeltLine, and noted: “No one says, ‘we build parks, it’s not our job to worry about affordable housing anymore. It has become clear that it is everyone’s job to worry about ensuring that parks are part of equitable community development, so that the people who most need the benefits of parks are able to stay in their communities and enjoy those benefits.” While there is no silver bullet to ensure equitable outcomes around green development, there is silver buckshot. Rigolon and Christensen identified six categories in which cities are implementing strategies to limit displacement around parks. For Renters: strategies that protect renters or provide them with services, especially renters in existing units For Homeowners: strategies to preserve or create homeownership among longtime, low-income residents For Businesses and Jobs: strategies to create or preserve jobs and small businesses for longtime, low-income residents For Private-Sector Housing Developers: strategies that require or incentivize developers to produce affordable housing units in new developments For Nonprofit and Public Housing Organizations: strategies to create permanently affordable housing, including units owned by nonprofits and public agencies For Public Park Funding Agencies: strategies wherein competitive funding for parks requires or incentivizes anti-displacement strategies As the BeltLine and other parks contemplated in the ActivateATL 10-Year Master Plan are built out, these strategic focus areas can serve as a framework to organize collaborative efforts to green without gentrification. Atlanta compared favorably to other cities in the report, and additional progress has been made since it was released at the end of 2019. Alignment among organizations focused on affordability and displacement mitigation has been bolstered this year with Mayor Dickens’ activation of the Affordable Housing Strike Force and the operationalization of HouseATL with full-time staff. These initiatives build on long-standing efforts by public, private, non-profit, community, and philanthropic organizations that are consistent with the PRADS framework, though they are too numerous to list here. The Atlanta BeltLine organizations have multiple initiatives that could offer valuable learnings given the geographic focus around BeltLine parks and trails. They include: The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP) offers Home Empowerment Workshops in partnership with Atlanta Legal Aid, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, Grove Park Foundation, and many others to help both renters and homeowners reduce housing costs. In the past year, these workshops helped educate more than 400 residents about available resources, including one-on-one help to reduce their property tax bills. The Legacy Resident Retention Program, managed by ABP, covers property tax increases through 2030 and is a way for homeowners to preserve generational wealth. Participants have lived in their homes for an average of 22 years and have household incomes below 80% of the area median income. BeltLine development is spurring new jobs with the creation of 49,470 construction jobs as of 2020 and 23,300 full-time jobs as of 2019 around the BeltLine corridor. In support of businesses and jobs, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) is fostering entrepreneurship and mitigating small business displacement. The BeltLine MarketPlace pilot program offers affordable commercial spaces for up to six small, local businesses with storefronts directly on the multi-use trail. The City of Atlanta began Inclusionary Zoning around the BeltLine in 2018 to ensure private-sector housing developers would have units that are affordable for residents within the income range of police, firefighters, teachers, government employees, and young professionals. ABI’s land acquisition strategy to create deeper and longer-term affordability in Atlanta BeltLine neighborhoods can be replicated by other non-profit and public housing organizations. There are many opportunities to strengthen Atlanta’s implementation of PRADS, including capping property tax increases for low-income homeowners, expanding inclusionary zoning, and creating more permanently affordable housing through the Atlanta Land Trust and others, to name a few. As we all work together to make Atlanta a more equitable city, the PRADS framework could help focus our collective efforts around the investments we are making in parks and greenspace to ensure the people who most need the benefits of parks are able to enjoy them. This is sponsored content.
By Debbie Fiddyment Among Latest Top-Tier Organizations to Join the Financial Literacy for All (FL4A) Movement.. Iconic companies commit to join 10-year initiative seeking to engage American families where they live, work and learn. Financial Literacy for All, a national initiative to support embedding financial literacy into American culture, today announced the next wave of prominent private sector companies who are committing their organizations to the movement. General Motors (NYSE: GM), The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) and Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) join other top-tier organizations including founding members Walmart, Disney, NFL, NBA, Delta Air Lines, Walgreens, Bank of America, Khan Academy, PayPal and Ares Management, and key members BlackRock, Edward Jones, FICO, First Horizon Bank, iHeart Media, Mastercard, NASCAR, Nasdaq, Nextdoor, NIKE, Santander, Shopify, TIME for Kids, Truist, Uber, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo as part of this first-of-its-kind coalition. “We are honored to have these iconic companies, who represent the best of American ingenuity, lend their influential voice to this movement,” said John Hope Bryant, Founder and CEO of Operation HOPE. “We look forward to collaborating with the innovative leadership at General Motors, The Hershey Company and Tyson Foods to grow our impact as we work to help everyone build a better future.” Launched May 20, 2021, this 10-year commitment Co-Chaired by Walmart CEO Doug McMillion and Bryant, will reach millions of youth and working adults enabling them to achieve greater financial success for themselves and their families. Underscoring the need for financial capability, the National Financial Educators Council estimates that financial illiteracy costs American families an estimated $352 billion in 2021. To follow the progress of Financial Literacy for All, please visit FL4A.org. General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at https://www.gm.com. About The Hershey Company: The Hershey Company is headquartered in Hershey, Pa., and is an industry-leading snacks company known for bringing goodness to the world through its iconic brands, remarkable people and enduring commitment to help children succeed. Hershey has approximately 19,000 employees around the world who work every day to deliver delicious, quality products. The company has more than 100 brand names in approximately 80 countries around the world that drive more than $8.9 billion in annual revenues, including such iconic brand names as Hershey’s, Reese’s, Kit Kat®, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers, and fast-growing salty snacks including SkinnyPop, Pirate’s Booty and Dot’s Pretzels. For more than 125 years, Hershey has been committed to operating fairly, ethically and sustainably. Hershey founder, Milton Hershey, created the Milton Hershey School in 1909 and since then the company has focused on helping children succeed. About Tyson Foods: Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN) is one of the world’s largest food companies and a recognized leader in protein. Founded in 1935 by John W. Tyson and grown under four generations of family leadership, the Company has a broad portfolio of products and brands like Tyson®, Jimmy Dean®, Hillshire Farm®, Ball Park®, Wright®, Aidells®, ibp® and State Fair®. Tyson Foods innovates continually to make protein more sustainable, tailor food for everywhere it’s available and raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do. Headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, the Company had approximately 137,000 team members on October 2, 2021. Through its Core Values, Tyson Foods strives to operate with integrity, create value for its shareholders, customers, communities and team members and serve as a steward of the animals, land and environment entrusted to it. Visit www.tysonfoods.com. This is sponsored content.
Across the metro area, those living with cardiovascular disease regularly face obstacles to care. Perhaps they can’t afford treatment and must choose between rent and diabetes medications. Perhaps they can’t understand their doctor’s instructions because they don’t speak the same language or are hard of hearing. Or perhaps their doctor’s instructions run counter to cultural beliefs or norms. Today, in Fulton County alone, thousands of people have already been diagnosed with heart disease, but even more are at risk. That’s because almost 30.1% of the county’s population have high blood pressure, another 63.8% are obese and 13.4% smokes. The American Heart Association is urging people to consider heart health through an equity lens to affect change and make an impact. Consider the facts: The American Heart Association states that 1 in 3 people suffer from cardiovascular disease, which is about 5.1 million people in the metro Atlanta area. That’s enough to fill the Atlanta Braves Stadium 125 times. In Atlanta alone, more than 35 Atlanta communities are classified as food deserts: creating barriers to affordable and nutritious food for many, especially since the pandemic. Those barriers consist of the lack of transportation or relying on public transportation to grocery shop or simply in an area in which no healthy food options are available. Food deserts are especially a burden to low-income communities. Nearly 31 percent of low-income Georgia residents also have low food access. Approximately 1 in 3 adults in the metro Atlanta area have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Overall, 12.7% (58,500) of high school students in Georgia currently smoke e-cigarettes which possess very harmful chemicals and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases not just for those that smoke, but for those who are exposed to secondhand smoke as well. Black and Hispanic/Latino adults are 41% less likely to receive CPR in public. Counties located in the south, those with higher proportions of rural areas, Black and Hispanic residents, and those with lower median household incomes all have lower rates of CPR training than other communities. Atlanta’s walkability score is 48/100, meaning most city routes prevent safe outdoor physical activity, especially in low-income communities. Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke combined) causes about 2,300 deaths per day. Obesity in both youth and adults is at an all-time high, youth are being diagnosed with heart disease earlier than ever and people just ZIP codes apart can live 25 years less than their neighbors because of disparities in health. The American Heart Association’s commitment to addressing drivers of health disparities, including the social determinants of health, structural racism and rural health inequities, is the only way to achieve equitable health and well-being for all. Through multiple strategies we are creating impact informed by our community’s needs. We are ensuring all Atlantans have an equal chance of living a longer, healthier life – no matter their ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status or education level. From reducing blood pressure to ending tobacco and vaping use to investing in lifesaving research and resources to ensuring everyone has access to healthy foods, the AHA is working to improve and save lives every day. Together, we can improve the lives of all, supporting community-based solutions that reduce the social and economic barriers to health equity that disproportionately cause some Atlantans to live shorter and unhealthier lives. For more information on how you can join the fight against heart disease and stroke, visit www.heart.org/atlanta. This is sponsored content.
Westside Future Fund (WFF) is excited to be supporting thought leadership in the SaportaReport on Atlanta’s Historic Westside. At the October 15 Transform Westside Summit we announced the Westside Future Fund (WFF) PRI Program! A program-related investment (PRI) is low-cost capital that not-for-profit organizations can use to spur community development. Thanks to charitable support from Truist and PNC banks, WFF will provide low-cost loans to small, minority-owned businesses based in or serving the Historic Westside. This program builds on a pilot initially funded by AT&T and the Beloved Benefit. Our goal is to mobilize people with current, historical, or aspirational ties to the community to organically support the Westside’s economic development. The October 15 Transform Westside Summit highlighted the importance of economic empowerment of African American entrepreneurs with three special guest panelists – Courtney Smith from PNC Bank, Paul Wilson, Jr. from the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE), and Keitra Bates of Marddy’s Shared Kitchen and Marketplace. A common theme from the panelists was the need for equity in access to capital for Black business owners. Keitra Bates noted that white startups have access to $100,000 from family, on average, while for black startups, it’s only $11,000. In June 2020, PNC Bank announced its bold $1 billion commitment to playing a role in combatting racism and discrimination. During the Summit, Courtney elaborated on PNC’s commitment to the Westside by helping end systemic racism by donating to WFF for program-related investments. Keitra Bates is a recipient of a WFF PRI that she used to renovate and expand her shared kitchen. Marddy’s focus is on economic inclusion, business development, and growth opportunities for local food entrepreneurs with their primary service groups of people of color, women, and other marginalized populations. With the help of RICE, the PRI recipients will have access to resources to innovate, grow, create jobs, and build wealth. Part business generator, innovation lab, and museum, RICE invests in African American entrepreneurs, strengthens businesses, and creates community. We have many miles to eliminate the wealth gap between white and black startups. Thanks to our panelists and the organization they represent, we are making progress and hopefully serving as models for others! Check out our newsletter to learn more about the October 15 Summit. This is sponsored content.
By Kamore Campbell, College AIM Collegian and American University, Class of 2024 and Sam Aleinikoff, founder and executive director, College AIM I grew up on the eastside of Atlanta, where I attended local public schools. College was always my goal, so in 11th grade I began a dual enrollment program to work towards my first degree. At the same time, I took AP classes, captained the cheer team, played basketball and held a part-time job. I also joined College AIM, a program that allowed me to visit colleges, assisted with college essays, FAFSA completion and scholarship applications. Through College AIM, I learned about American University, a private institution, 700 miles away from home. American’s financial aid meets 100% of demonstrated need, which means that the school covers any costs that FAFSA determines I cannot afford. Once I was admitted, American offered me nearly $50,000 in grants and scholarships for my first year, which was more than enough to cover college expenses. I searched for a similarly affordable option in Georgia, but there weren’t any public, four-year institutions in the state that made the finances work for me. COVID-19 hit as I was making my college decision, and I wanted to stay close to home, but it didn’t feel like I really had a choice. I ended up enrolling at American and eventually left Georgia. Back at home, I watched my friends with fewer options stay in-state for college. One of my closest friends attended Georgia State University and had to work full-time to cover tuition. At the end of her first semester, during finals, she had to call off two days of work to focus on school. She lost her job. Without steady income, she wasn’t able to pay tuition for the spring and was forced to take a gap semester. One semester turned into two, and then three, and two years later she still hasn’t been able to re-enroll. In Georgia, I’ve seen peers work 40 hours per week while being full-time students, get dropped from courses when their tuition balance wasn’t paid in full, and have to choose paying for school over paying for rent and groceries. There has to be a better option. College AIM was founded in 2013 to help students find that better option. We partner with high schools to implement college prep programming, targeting schools with large numbers of students who are systematically excluded from higher education—Black students and other people of color, first-generation college students and those who are Pell eligible. In our partner schools, we run college readiness workshops, provide individual college counseling, and take immersive college visits. Along the way, we help young people find the right schools for them, connect students with scholarship opportunities, and walk families through every step of the financial aid process. When our students transition to postsecondary life, we pair them with our success coaches, who stay with them all the way through college graduation. Since our founding, more than 80% of College AIM students have continued onto college, and collectively they’ve been offered more than $75 million in grants and scholarships. Among our alumni are now teachers, engineers, nurses, business owners, nonprofit leaders, fashion designers and neuroscientists. Over the past near-decade though, we’ve come to realize that supporting young people through the often-treacherous postsecondary landscape isn’t enough. When even a student who has done everything right, can’t afford to go to college in Georgia, our state must be doing something wrong. It’s clear what that something is: Georgia is one of only two states in the country that does not provide need-based financial aid to college students. So, in Georgia, when a student earns the HOPE Scholarship and qualifies for a full Pell Grant, they’re still more than $11,000 short of the cost of attendance at UGA and more than $16,000 short at Georgia State or Kennesaw State. Filling these gaps is often impossible for our students, but it’s entirely feasible for our state, which currently has more than $1 billion in the lottery reserves. In response, College AIM has linked arms with other practitioners to advocate for a need-based aid program in Georgia—one that would make access to college far more equitable and allow our state to set the standard for what financial aid should look like across the country. In the past year, our coalition has partnered with policy analysts, worked closely with Georgia legislators and testified in committee meetings. This year, we’ll begin broader movement-building work across the state, and we hope that you’ll join us. As I look back on my decision to leave Georgia, I think about how my options would have been different if there had been a need-based aid program here. I’m grateful for my opportunity to attend American, but if there was a need-based aid program in Georgia I would have stayed in the state. I wanted, and still want, to be there for my teenage brothers and keep them on track, to lean on my mom and to take care of my great-grandmother. Over the past year, I’ve lost four close family members and friends, and being away during that time has been incredibly challenging. I also think about how my friends who stayed in state would have had different journeys with a need-based aid program. My peers would have been able to work fewer hours so they could focus on school and get involved in campus life. They would have been able to pay their tuition in full each semester and stay enrolled. They wouldn’t have had to choose between paying for school and necessities at home. A need-based aid program has the potential to provide critical pathways through college for me and my friends, and create more equitable opportunities across the state. _____ College AIM’s advocacy for need-based aid in Georgia, and our work at large, are funded by the community. We’re fortunate to receive support from a number of local foundations, including the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, individual donors from across …
A scientist and a comedian walk into a classroom. They start a discussion about how art can influence social justice. You’ll have to wait for the punchlines. Emory first-year students will create them as part of a new fall seminar “Human Flourishing: Imagine a Just City.” “Humans cannot flourish without true justice,” says Micaela Martinez, Emory assistant professor of biology, who developed the class. “We have so many huge societal problems that need creativity, imagination, hope and optimism to solve.” The class is among the new First-Year Flourishing Seminars, aimed at deepening what students know but also who they aspire to be. It is also part of the Emory Arts and Social Justice Fellows program, which pairs Emory faculty with Atlanta artists to explore how creative thinking and artistic expression can inspire change. Martinez is co-teaching with Arts and Social Justice Fellow David Perdue, an Atlanta comedian. “You can’t save the world with jokes,” Perdue says. “But humor can be a good way to raise awareness of what’s going on. It’s a first step.” Martinez, who joined the Emory faculty last year, is an infectious disease ecologist. Her lab studies how ecology, social determinants of health, immunology, climate change and demography intersect to shape health and disease. She comes to Atlanta from New York, where she was on the faculty of Columbia University. “During the pandemic we saw Black and Brown New Yorkers dying at two times the rate as white New Yorkers. It was quite stark,” Martinez says. “It really shined a light on the social inequities of the city.” Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegal tapped Martinez to serve on a commission tasked with making social justice recommendations to the newly elected mayor of New York, Eric Adams, to improve the lives of all New Yorkers. “We were asked to imagine New York being a just city and what we would have to do to get there,” Martinez says. “We came up with a set of policies covering everything from health, policing, climate change, food systems, housing and education.” Her idea for the Emory seminar grew out of that experience. “Emory undergraduates are eager to get a diverse, wide-ranging education,” Martinez says. “That gives faculty the freedom to develop seminars like ‘Imagine a Just City.’” Co-teaching with a comedian puts an interesting twist on the class. One way David Perdue has honed his sense of humor is coping with sharing a name with a former U.S. senator, who also recently sought the Republican nomination in the race for governor of Georgia. “When he lost I was like, ‘Oh, thank God!’” Perdue recalls. “I’ve been dealing with requests to fix potholes and other annoying remarks for years.” A native of Georgia, Perdue graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in sociology and leadership studies. “A leadership studies professor, Dr. Walter Fluker, had a heavy influence on how I think about using comedy to reach people and talk about difficult things,” Perdue says. “He opened my eyes to how to build community. Sharing laughter with someone from an opposing view can add a little depth to humanity. Good comedy threads the needle and connects people across divides.” A prolific entertainer, Perdue co-produces the free 1AM Secret Show for stand-up comedy on Saturdays at Smith’s Olde Bar. He has appeared at comedy festivals throughout the country and on Comedy Central. He co-hosts two comedy podcasts, “Forth and Ten” and “The Confused Caucus.” And he co-produced and co-created the stage show “Double Consciousness” with poet Adan Bean, which uses humor to process the social traumas of the Black community while also celebrating hope. Becoming an Emory Arts and Social Justice Fellow was one more way for Perdue to apply his talent in meaningful ways. Martinez and Perdue hit it off immediately through their shared commitment to social justice and building community. “I feel a moral imperative to use my scientific training to help address the injustices I see around me,” Martinez says. Too often, she adds, scientists, activists and artists act in silos when complex social problems require a holistic approach. A sense of hopefulness is also vital, she stresses. “It can be quite wearing on the spirit to keep going over the statistics for Black infant mortality, or the fact that if you’re Black in this country you’re so much more likely to die at the hands of a police officer,” Martinez says. “We want to foster a sense of optimism and stewardship in the students. We’re giving them the freedom to imagine a better world.” In addition to scientific reports and articles, the seminar syllabus includes visual media, such as the documentary “John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky”; creative writing, including the poetry of Ono and the essays of James Baldwin; and podcasts like the History Channel’s “Tulsa Burning.” Joint classes will be held with the “Fairy Tales and Flourishing” seminar led by Vincent Bruyere, associate professor of French and scholar of fairy tales, and “Nonhuman Flourishing” led by Sean Meighoo, associate professor of comparative literature and a founding member of the Animal Studies Society. Each week, the students discuss a different justice topic, such as food insecurity, sexual and reproductive health, incarceration and policing, climate change, environmental justice as well as chronic health disparities and infectious diseases. They are then challenged with questions such as, “If you had executive power and limitless resources to create one policy to address this issue, what would it be?” Workshops will help the students hone group class projects on their chosen topic, some of which will be presented in December at an Emory Arts and Social Justice Project Showcase and Community Conversation. “We’re learning from the students as well when it comes to the form the final projects may take,” Perdue says. “My generation got a lot of its news from the comedy of ‘The Daily Show.’ Today, TikTok and Instagram are big sources of information.” “When students leave Emory we want them to not only have a solid grounding in critical issues of social justice but also make sure …
The Nation’s Report Card from 2022, also known as the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), confirmed the significant learning loss many of us feared in the wake of the pandemic. While this “pandemic learning loss” is disconcerting, NAEP data in 2019 (before the pandemic) revealed that most American children–across every demographic–are not proficient readers in 4th grade. Fewer than 35 percent of children are reading proficiently, which means that approximately 65 percent of children are not proficient readers. Suddenly, everyone is outraged and frightened about learning loss, despite decades of scores showing that our children are not reading. While the impact of the pandemic on academic achievement is indisputable, the national conversation is misleading. COVID has provided a scapegoat for our systems’ centuries of failure and injustice. We do not accept the scapegoat. Absolutely: COVID has impacted children, adults, systems and education – there is no dispute. However, it is not because of COVID that we find most American children and communities disenfranchised by systemic failure. NAEP longitudinal data affirms what it has shown since its inception: the failure to teach our children to read belongs squarely with our national educational systems who have been failing to teach children to read for decades. Historically, we have tolerated reading failure, perhaps even expecting it for some portion of the population. But in good conscience, how can we pick the four out of ten who will read, and the six out of ten who will fail to read? Before the global pandemic, American children were already not being taught to read. This truth emerges with every NAEP reveal – despite decades of research that affirm nearly every child is equipped with the cognitive ability to learn to read, …when provided with the explicit instruction to support the brain’s translation of speech into text. What we know is this: no child has an innate ability to read, they must be explicitly taught. Unlocking literacy for all children can be achieved by applying the science of reading, a body of research that defines how our brains learn to read and provides a clear roadmap for systematic and explicit instruction. Otherwise known as structured literacy, this science is based on neuroscience, and when followed, allows 95 percent of students to become skilled readers. If the 2022 NAEP data is startling to you, good. You are paying attention, and your outrage is well-placed. If learning loss has kicked our systems of education into high gear, good! If the nation is finally locating the backbone to discontinue failed reading strategies, good! Finally examining how we are failing our children, and choosing instead to follow the science for EVERY child may be the silver-lining of COVID learning loss. It’s always the right time to do what’s right. For more information about the Science of Reading, please visit cox.campus.org or email us as firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out if your child is receiving reading instruction that follows the science, check out this article from U.S. News and World Report.  D. A. Kilpatrick, Essentials of Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2015); L. Lim et al., “Using the MULTILIT Literacy Instruction Program with Children Who Have Down Syndrome,” Reading and Writing 32 (2019): 2179–2200; P. G. Mathes et al., “The Effects of Theoretically Different Instruction and Student Characteristics on the Skills of Struggling Readers,” Reading Research Quarterly 40 (2005): 148–182; and J. K. Torgesen, “Avoiding the Devastating Downward Spiral: The Evidence That Early Intervention Prevents Reading Failure,” American Educator 28, no. 3 (2004): 6–9, 12–13, 17–19, 45–47. https://www.aft.org/ae/summer2020/moats#:~:text=Researchers%20now%20estimate%20that%2095,reasoning%20and%20listening%20comprehension%20abilities. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1260264.pdf This is sponsored content.