The week in local news.

The third week in March, 89 years ago, marked the first Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. The 1934 tournament was spearheaded by famous Georgia golfer Bobby Jones who was the first person to win four major titles in one season — known as the Grand Slam.

In 1956, the Masters became the first golf tournament to be televised. Today, it is the most prestigious and most-watched tournament in the sport.

On to other local news: 

(L to R): Mayor Andre Dickens, Rob Brawner of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Eloisa Klementich of Invest Atlanta, Aretta Baldon of the Atlanta Board of Education, Clyde Higgs of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Fulton County Commissioner Natalie Hall, Zena Scott Williams of Washington Manor and Rev. Gerald Durley. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

The Atlanta BeltLine breaks ground on Segment 4

Ground was broken on a 1.3-mile stretch of the Westside Trail on Wednesday at Washington Park.

The segment will connect Washington Park to Bankhead/Historic Westin Heights. When it’s complete in the summer of 2025, people will be able to travel 6.5 miles continuously from Pittsburgh Yards in southwest Atlanta to Huff Road in West Midtown. The trail also will connect to downtown Atlanta.

“As we break ground on the last major segment of the Westside Trail, we are creating a bridge between the past and present in Atlanta,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said. “This segment embodies my goal for a city of safe, healthy, connected neighborhoods that also symbolizes African American history and showcases Atlanta’s ongoing growth and innovation to create a city built for the future.”

Immediately before the groundbreaking, Dickens took a selfie saying he wanted his own keepsake.

“This is special y’all,” said Clyde Higgs, CEO of Atlanta BeltLine Inc. “We are going to complete the BeltLine trail by 2030.”

Higgs also expects that 80 percent of the BeltLine trails will be completed or under construction within the next two years.

Rev. Gerald Durley provided a historical perspective, saying there had been a great deal of skepticism in the community when the BeltLine was first proposed that it would “run Black people out of town.” Now Durley said the BeltLine is an example of how “people can come together for the overall good.”

— Maria Saporta

The ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Friday, March 17. (Photo courtesy of City of Refuge.)

City of Refuge completes second affordable housing project, The 345

City of Refuge, a faith-based nonprofit helping individuals and families transition out of crisis, recently opened its second affordable housing project on Atlanta’s Westside — The 345. 

Originally The Danzig Motel, The 345 offers 31 housing units and access to the nonprofit’s wraparound services for up to three years. Available services include budgeting, employment, counseling, healthcare, childcare and more. Additionally, each floor will be managed by a Resident Services Supervisor, who will also serve as an advisor to the men living in the building.

“From where we stand as an organization, Atlanta’s Westside is filled with hidden potential. The 345 is just one example of how we are working to uncover and restore critical pillars of this community by tackling one of its most pervasive issues: lack of affordable housing,” Founder and CEO Bruce Deel wrote in a recent release. “Over the coming months and years, we are excited to share more on how we are improving access to high-quality, safe and supportive housing to support transformation for families and individuals in the 30314.” 

Intending to primarily serve low-income men, the three-floor building will be separated into groups based on their needs. Floor one is home to citizens returning from incarceration, floor two is dedicated to veterans and floor three will house young men aged who are furthering their education, working full-time or enrolled in one of City of Refuge’s vocational training programs.

Funders included The Home Depot Foundation and Georgia Power, along with local foundations, churches and individual supporters.

— Hannah E. Jones

Morehouse School of Medicine receives $4.2 million federal grant for Digital Health Equity, Community Impact Project

Wednesday, Morehouse School of Medicine received a $4.2 million grant to better understand the impact that increasing technological access and literacy will have on digital health equity. 

The “From Survivor to Innovator: Digital Health Equity and Community Impact Grant,” program will expand student access to basic technology and broadband, improve telehealth access in its neighboring communities and improve faculty’s ability to integrate technology into the teaching and learning process. 

“Atlanta is a thriving city with access to the world. However, in the West End, where MSM resides, communities are disconnected from information, education and healthcare,” said Dr. Ryan Clark, director of the Office for Educational Outreach and Health Careers Pipeline Initiatives for MSM.

— Allison Joyner

Captain Planet Foundation is based on the animated television series “Captain Planet and the Planeteers,” conceived by Ted Turner and Barbara Pyle in 1989, which took an “edutainment” spin on key environmental and social issues. (Photo by Kelly Jordan.)

Captain Planet Foundation’s gala honors environmental changemakers, raise over $650,000

Last week, Captain Planet Foundation hosted its annual gala with over 450 guests gathering to celebrate the nonprofit’s environmental education work, while also honoring two leaders. The event raised over $650,000 to support the nonprofit’s efforts to empower young people to be problem solvers and changemakers for the environment. 

This year, the Foundation honored climate activist Xiye Bastida with the Young Superhero for Earth Award. Bastida was selected for her community organizing efforts, including Fridays For Future NYC, co-founding climate justice organization Re-Earth Initiative and serving as a commissioner at the Climate Governance Commission.

“I was raised with a view of the world that was about giving back, that was about reciprocity, that was about climate justice,” Bastida said in her acceptance speech. “And if all of the kids in the world were raised with this point of view, we can truly change the world.”

Filmmaker and environmental advocate Louie Schwartzberg was selected for the Superhero for Earth Award. Schwartzberg created the Netflix series “Moving Art” and is the only artist inducted into the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

“Grabbing eyeballs is the new currency of our time,” Schwartzberg said while accepting his award. “I think that we need a new story to open our hearts and change our worldview. As a filmmaker, I love to take people on a journey through time and scale; to make the invisible, visible; to unveil the mysteries of life that immerse us into nature’s wonders; because beauty is nature’s tool for survival.”

The program was held at Flourish Atlanta and hosted by Atlanta News First’s Monica Kaufman Pearson. There was also a live musical performance by DejaBlue Grass Band. 

In the last 31 years, the Foundation has funded 3,600-plus hands-on environmental education projects in all 50 states, with more than 1.7 million children participating in and benefiting from these initiatives. Click here to learn more about the nonprofit’s efforts.

— Hannah E. Jones

The new additions to the Board of Trustees. (Photos courtesy of Morris Brown College.)

Morris Brown votes new executive to Board of Trustees

On Wednesday, the Morris Brown College Board of Trustees seated nine executives for three years. 

Mohamed Balla, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Atlanta, Darryl Hicks, financial advisor and immediate past chair of the board for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, and Dr. Lisa Herring, Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools are among the new members that will govern the recent HBCU that retained its accreditation after a 20-year loss. 

“Their business acumen, executive experience and corporate relationships will lend well to the forward progress of this institution,” said Jeffery Miller, Governance committee chair of the Board of Trustees. 

— Allison Joyner

Jewish Kids Groups launches initiative to help other orgs build afterschool programs

The Atlanta-based Jewish Kids Groups (JKG) plans to launch its Jewish After School Accelerator, thanks to a grant from The Marcus Foundation. The new program will aid synagogues and other Jewish organizations in launching their own Jewish after-school programs. The one-year program will provide the organizations with the tools, guidance, curriculum and financial support needed.

JKG offers after-school childcare — including playtime and homework help — for pre-k through fifth-grade students, while embedding Jewish education and experiences into the curriculum. Students will learn about Jewish holidays, history, values and Hebrew.

Over the next two years, the Accelerator program will support 11 organizations to develop their programs, with participants receiving matching grants of up to $100,000 over three years to offset the start-up costs. 

“We saw an opportunity to unite education and childcare with Jewish learning. Today’s families want and need programs like this, like RootOne, and like Hillel to grow children’s love of Judaism as they themselves grow,” wrote Bernie Marcus, chairman of The Marcus Foundation.

Organizations interested in JKG’s new program can click here to learn more and apply for the 2023 or 2024 cohorts. Applications are due on Wednesday, April 19.

— Hannah E. Jones

Additional details. (Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.)

Local Deltas begin celebrating with pre-centennial fashion show

On Apr. 16, the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will host a pre-centennial fashion show to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Since 1924, the organization has committed to serving the Atlanta metro community for almost 100 years. The fashion show kicks off this milestone year with inspiration from one of its previous scholarship fundraisers, the Ebony Fashion Fair. 

The show will take place at Atlanta Symphony Hall and will feature appearances by former Ebony Fashion Fair models and special guests. 

Proceeds from the event will support the sorority’s chapter initiatives including its scholarship fund.

Tickets are available now and are expected to sell out. 

— Allison Joyner

C. Scott Votaw.

Georgia Film Academy welcomes addition to leadership team

The Georgia Film Academy (GFA) recently named C. Scott Votaw as its new executive director. He follows former GFA Executive Director Jeffrey Stepakoff, who stepped down in July to establish a talent management and production company.

Georgia is emerging as a leader in the film industry and in Fiscal Year 2022, film and television productions spent $4.4 billion in the state — a new industry record. Since its inception in 2015, GFA has met the increased demand for educational and job opportunities within Georgia’s creative industries, offering professional training to 28 institutions like the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia.

With 35 years of experience in the entertainment industry, Votaw has worked on sets for commercials, film and television. He also served as vice president of production and development for Classic Entertainment and president of KidzVid Entertainment.

“Alongside GFA’s amazing team of professionals, I hope to leverage years of global industry expertise and relationships to expand partnerships and train more Georgians for jobs in the rapidly changing film, television and digital entertainment industry,” Votaw wrote in a release. “I look forward to increasing collaboration with our partner institutions and industry stakeholders by using emerging technologies to transform how content is created and consumed – all while creating innovative instructional and learning experiences for students and adult learners statewide.”

— Hannah E. Jones

Mike Davis.

Purpose Built Schools names new chief executive officer

Purpose Built Schools Atlanta welcomes Mike Davis as its next Chief Executive Officer. He will take his new leadership position in May. In this new role, Davis will guide and support the nonprofit’s efforts to improve outcomes among underperforming schools in south Atlanta.

Davis has over two decades of experience in nonprofit, business and educational settings, including his current role as Chief Impact Officer for Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Centers. He also founded his own educational consulting company.

Working in partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, Purpose Built Schools supports students outside of school through project-based instruction and enrichment opportunities.

— Hannah E. Jones

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is a 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...

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