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Thought Leadership Guardians of Atlanta’s Future

You, too, are a guardian of Atlanta’s future

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By Frank Brown, Esq. CEO, Communities in Schools of Atlanta

As we close out the first month of the new year, my staff and I have already received dozens of calls from metro Atlanta students and parents in need of support. Money for food, emotional support after losing a family member, on the brink of eviction and not sure if they will see their teachers the following day. 

These are just some of the challenges students from low-income families face before they even step foot in the classroom. 

We stand ready to guard their future by providing hope and help.

Communities in Schools of Atlanta is an award-winning dropout prevention organization serving students in Atlanta Public Schools and the county school districts of Clayton, DeKalb, and Fulton counties. Through school-wide service, targeted group support, and individual case management, we reach nearly 30,000 students each day and have more than 3,000 in our intensive case-managed model. Through career fairs, anti-bullying agendas, mentoring groups, and home visits with a parent or guardian, we provide the wraparound services needed to keep kids in school and on track to become full participants in the American dream. 

In the city of Atlanta alone, nearly 80 percent of African-American and 40 percent of Latinx children live in high-poverty areas, according to research from The Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

A child born in Atlanta has a four percent chance of making it out of poverty – about the same as if the child had been born in India. That child’s future is my future, it’s your future, it’s our community’s future. 

Growing up as a poor kid in Charleston, SC,  a bright future was not a consideration. College was not an expectation, much less an aspiration. By the grace of God, a Catholic priest in my community heard about my potential and offered to pay my tuition to Bishop England High School, a private Catholic school that many wealthy parents enrolled their children. Father Sam’s selflessness is how I was able to make it through high school, graduate college with honors, and successfully complete law school while passing the South Carolina Bar. Each step of the way,  my teachers, mentors, classmates, and others in the community – including my family – were there when the ground felt unstable or the path unclear. They guarded my future. 

Over the next 11 months, through this column, Communities in Schools of Atlanta will share more about our work and stories from educators, parents, partners, and students. Stories of courage, stories of opportunity, stories that defy the odds. 

As you read these – and those from our education partners in the Guardians of Atlanta’s Future series – I urge you to identify what you can personally do to help secure a complete, promising future of our kids and the place we all call home.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once shared a conversation he had with his children. He remarked, “I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of God’s children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don’t want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.” 

You can join us in this fight by sharing this article with your colleagues, friends, and family, following the Guardians of Atlanta’s Future series, or by supporting the student or parent in your child’s school who seems like they could use a helping hand.

Featured Image: Frank Brown, Esq. and Dorothy Styles, Director of Programs escorted four students (one student from each district) to visit with Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC. Each year, CIS of Atlanta facilitates a College, Career, and Cultural Student Excursion to different cities across the country. The trips are sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation.

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