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Reporter’s Notebook: Screening on critically endangered right whales, Georgia State awarded $1 million for minority women in STEM, zero-emissions school buses

The week in local news.

This week is the fifth annual Black Restaurant Week in Atlanta, highlighting local African American, African and Caribbean cuisine at local restaurants and food trucks. If you’re looking for your new favorite restaurant, click here.

On to other local news from the week:

Mailchimp commits to $1 million for Clayton State leadership academy

Mailchimp, an email marketing company, recently committed to investing $1 million into the Clayton State University Launchpad leadership academy over the next three years.

In 2018, eight students enrolled in the pilot Launchpad program — a partnership between Mailchimp and the university — which offered a blend of classroom instruction from professors, conversations from Mailchimp employees and leaders and projects with real-world applications.

Four years later, the year-long program has continued to grow, offering curriculum in cloud computing, information security, data infrastructure operations and software quality assurance, along with learning opportunities with Mailchimp’s team. 

Since partnering in 2018, Mailchimp has hired two full-time employees and eight interns from the program. 

“Our company’s purpose is empowering small business underdogs, and we’ve long invested in local, small organizations who’re impacting the world in big ways,” Mailchimp COO Sheldon Cummings said in a press release. “Schools like Clayton State have a rich community of diverse, talented students, but might get overlooked at times. With programs like Launchpad, there’s an opportunity to invest in the university, elevate its reputation in the tech landscape, and connect students to better career opportunities upon graduation.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Join the film screening to learn more about the critically endangered aquatic mammal.

Environmental organizations offer free screening on critically endangered whale species at Plaza Theatre

With only 340 North Atlantic right whales left — and about 70 females who can reproduce — the species could be facing extinction due to fatal ship collisions and entanglement in fishing gear. Every fall, the species migrates down to the warm waters along the Southeast to birth and nurse their young.

To help bring attention to the critically endangered species, Wild Cumberland and The Sierra Club are hosting a free screening of “Last of the Right Whales” by HitPlay Productions. The film offers intimate footage of the aquatic mammal, with insights from scientists, rescuers and fishermen.

The film will be shown on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Plaza Theatre, followed by a panel discussion with experts from ​​Oceana, Georgia Aquarium and others. Click here to register.

Wild Cumberland is an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the wilderness, native species and the ecology of Cumberland Island. The Sierra Club is a grassroots environmental organization in all 50 states, with the Georgia Chapter protecting from the Appalachian foothills to the coast. 

 — Hannah E. Jones

Georgia State awarded $1 million NSF grant for minority women in STEM initiative

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded Georgia State University (GSU) a $1 million grant to better recruit, retain and support women faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, especially women from underrepresented minority backgrounds. 

The Intersectionality and Mentoring in the Professoriate for Advancement, Community and Transformation (ADVANCE-IMPACT) will partner GSU with Florida International University and aim to include leadership, training, faculty mentoring and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.

“ADVANCE-IMPACT will promote policies and practices that will allow current faculty and the next generation of women scholars to make important contributions to our academic and research missions in an environment that makes them feel welcomed and valued,” said Dr. Marise Parent, principal investigator on the NSF grant and professor of neuroscience and psychology at GSU.

Since 2001, NSF has invested over $270 million to support ADVANCE projects at more than 100 institutions of higher learning and STEM-related not-for-profit organizations all over the country. 

— Allison Joyner

The Atlanta Bluebird Electric School Bus. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

Mothers and Others for Clean Air advocates for zero-emissions buses

On Tuesday, August 9, Mothers and Others for Clean Air (MOCA) gathered at the Liberty Baptist Church to shed light on opportunities for federal funding of clean, zero-emissions school buses and indoor air purifying systems. 

Under the Clean School Bus Rebates program, the EPA is offering rebates to replace existing school buses with green models. Georgia schools must apply by August 19.

MOCA leaders, environmental experts and advocates gathered to tour the Atlanta Bluebird Electric School Bus — which looks like a regular school bus but is a little sleeker — and discuss opportunities for local schools.

Click here to learn more about the Clean School Bus Rebates program. 

Scroll down to check out shots from the event. Photos by Kelly Jordan.

— Hannah E. Jones

(Credit: Albany State University.)

Albany State receives $1.3 million for TRIO educational talent search program grant

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Albany State University’s Educational Talent Search program a grant to provide educational services for middle and high school students seeking to complete their high school education in Dougherty County.

The program focuses on helping students reach their college and career goals with academic success coaches that will work one-on-one with students, providing individualized mentorship and help them participate in one-of-a-kind experiential field trips to colleges, universities and cultural centers. 

“Too often, students are discouraged from continuing their educational pursuits because of financial barriers, including the lack of available resources. A partnership with the U.S. Department of Education through the Talent Search Program will provide the necessary support to students and enable them to see the possibilities while preparing them to succeed in college,” said Marion Ross Fedrick, President of ASU. 

Click here to learn more about the program.  

— Allison Joyner

Local Girls on the Run welcomes new members to its board

On July 1, Girls on the Run (GOTR) Georgia welcomed seven new community leaders to join their Board of Directors. 

GOTR is a national nonprofit that uses exercise as a mode to teach healthy physical, emotional and social skills to elementary and middle school girls. The Georgia Chapter has engaged 35,000 girls throughout the state since 2000. 

The newest additions to the board include: 

  • Bethany Baker, Emory University Senior Human Resources Manager 
  • Shawn Johnson, The Coca-Cola Company Human Resource Director
  • Kendra LaFleur, Carr, Riggs & Ingram Senior Manager
  • Stacey McGavin Mohr, Eversheds Sutherland Partner
  • Brenda Smith, The Coca-Cola Company Supply Chain Transformation Vice President
  • Elise White, Zurich North America Business Practices & Project Consultant
  • Shawn Whitman, Zoo Atlanta Membership & Guest Experience Vice President

The seven new board members will serve two-year terms, ending on June 30, 2024. Carrie Magee, founder and CEO of Qspired, also joined as Board Chair for the 2023 fiscal year.

“We are honored and excited to welcome this incredibly talented and diverse group of leaders from throughout our community to the Girls on the Run Georgia Board of Directors and are also so appreciative of the contributions made by those that have recently completed their Board terms,” GOTR Executive Director Lea Rolfes wrote in a press release. “Each and every one of our Board members play such a critical role in supporting our organization’s mission, and we are grateful for their leadership, insights, talents and their commitment to helping girls activate their limitless potential.”

— Hannah E. Jones

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.

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