02-20-2020 · African-American Partnership

Atlanta CARES was given numerous opportunities to engage and recruit more mentors for young black men in South Fulton because of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership.

Atlanta CARES recruits mentors through partnerships with the South Fulton Arrow Leadership Council and Real Dads Read. Build-A-Library has helped them provide more exposure to the community about the programs available for the youth, Atlanta CARES’ Brenda Coleman says.

“In essence, the Build-A-Library project has enhanced the marketing of our program immensely,” Brenda says.

One student, Asheki Wilkins, a student from Woodland Middle School, read the book “Nightjohn” by Gary Paulsen, a story following a slave from the pre-Civil War South who taught others on his plantation to read and write.

“My favorite character was Nightjohn because he was determined to teach different people how to read and write,” Asheki says. “The book reminded me of my family members and my ancestors.”

AAP’s Build-A-Library program supplies local community centers with books and other learning resources for different locations across Greater Atlanta.

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership was established 20 years ago to engage an underrepresented population of United Way giving societies.

APP celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with its fifth-annual Leadership Luncheon on Feb. 29, 2020.

The partnership launched June 2000 under the African American Initiative moniker by Conchita Robinson and Charles Stephens with the purpose of increasing financial participation and volunteers from our community — there was also this real desire to make United Way’s donor base more reflective of the demographics in Atlanta where they serve. AAP committed itself to addressing achievement gaps and improving outcomes for African-American boys and young men in the Greater Atlanta region by offering resources and mentorship.

AAP is open to donors with shared affinities for philanthropy, leadership and service, and members of AAP donate $1,000 a year or more to United Way of Greater Atlanta. Currently, AAP has more than 1,000 members and raises more than $2 million annually.

That money feeds into United Way’s overall goal of improving the well-being of more than 250,000 children in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties by 2027.

United Way saw after its strategic planning meeting two years ago that the zip code a child lived in too often determined the fate of that child. United Way saw that, statistically, because of what zip code a child was born into, he or she was handed a disadvantage beyond their control. Through a set of 14 measures, United Way calculated at the time a child well-being score of 58.9.

On May 9, officials announced the score had improved in two years to 61.8. That equates to a change in the lives of more than 82,000 children in the region living in low or very low child well-being. By using the child as the lens, we can identify the big picture needs of the community, such as a need for essential educational resources for these communities.

“The major success of our program is evidence that students have truly begun to develop a joy of reading,” Brenda says.

To help power the potential of young men like Asheki and help them develop a love for reading, join the join the African-American Partnership. Email AAP@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more.