“We all have a challenge right now to build up the next generation,” said 11x NBA All-Star and 2x NBA Champion Chris Bosh. “Take on that challenge – especially when it’s hard.”

Bosh, alongside actor and budding filmmaker Kofi Siriboe, joined African-American Partnership (AAP) for its fifth-annual Leadership Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Atlanta.

AAP, a giving group from United Way of Greater Atlanta, is the premiere platform for African-American professionals to engage in philanthropy, leadership and service in the Greater Atlanta region. The group boasts more than 1,000 members and raises $2.6 million every year for United Way programming. It’s celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year and is honoring that legacy with a 20-year timeline and a collection of 20 stories about the impact the group has made in its lifetime.

For the past five years, AAP has been hosting the Leadership Luncheon in order to specifically benefit its Build a Library program.

Through Build a Library, United Way of Greater Atlanta and AAP collaborate to provide literature in youth-serving organizations where African-American youth play and learn. Build a Library ultimately became the cornerstone for AAP’s signature cause, Powering the Potential, which expanded the supports and educational efforts offered through the literacy program.

Through Powering the Potential, AAP partners with local nonprofits, after-school providers and Atlanta professionals to advance the academic achievement and long-term success of young African-American men and boys through year-round literacy and mentorship programs.

Neon Chapman, senior project manager for UPS and chairman for AAP, told the Leadership Luncheon audience about his own personal connection to the cause and the pertinent need for mentorship in the African-American community.

“I wanted to be someone who could put some good back into this world,” said Chapman. “But it wasn’t until I was 10 years old that I would understand just exactly how I could begin my personal journey to success.”

Chapman described how critical it was, at 10 years old, to see his father’s high school and college degrees hung on the walls in his childhood home in Baltimore, Maryland. Those degrees, combined with his parents’ desire for him to succeed, propelled him in his journey to and through college. But that need for positive reinforcement and guidance never faded.

“In the beginning of my life, I looked up to my mother and father,” said Chapman. “And I still do. But today, I also look up to the countless mentors who have stepped in to help me along my professional career path at UPS.”

Chapman called on audience members to consider taking up mentorship opportunities through AAP. The giving group hosts Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)-related career expos that pair AAP members and prospective members with students from around the region for a day of workshops focused on learning about gainful employment opportunities in various fields. The event will be taking place again this year.

Milton J. Little, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta, called special attention to a student who was identified by an AAP volunteer at the STEAM-related career expo from 2018. Though bright and resourceful, the student had obstacles that were blocking his pathway to success.

“He was born to parents who both became incarcerated when he was young,” said Little. “He was living with his grandparents, who had supported him for almost his entire life.”

Little explained that while he was making the most out of his situation, this student needed the same supports that many others needed on their own paths to college.

So, over the course of the past year, United Way and the volunteer guided him through corporate and virtual school visits, helped him understand the financial aid process, showed him how to apply for scholarships and introduced him to alumni from various collegiate institutions.

“As a result of combining his hard work with these supports, we are proud to announce that he has his sights set on attending the likes of UGA, Morehouse… and the University of California, Berkeley,” said Little.

Little later stated the success of this student should become the standard, not the exception, as Powering the Potential continues to expand its efforts at six different sites across Greater Atlanta. It also continues to drive the progress of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being Movement forward.

The Child Well-Being Movement is United Way’s continued commitment to ensuring that every child in Greater Atlanta has the opportunity to thrive. United Way defines thriving communities as those where babies are born healthy, kids read proficiently by third grade and teens graduate from high school ready for college and careers. Those conditions can only exist in areas where people are educated, employed and housed.

“We’ve seen that providing books through the Build a Library program opened a door to educational curiosity,” said Little. “Our Powering the Potential initiative expanded the realm of possibility for a successful future.”

Following Little’s remarks, Jovita Moore, anchor for Channel 2 Action News, took the stage to interview Kofi Siriboe about how mentorship helped carve his pathway to success.

“I’m grateful that my mom and dad, despite the circumstance, fought to give me the opportunity to explore and discover,” said Siriboe.

Siriboe also explained how other mentors helped him gain awareness about the need for positive mental health supports and open dialogues in his community.

His remarks were followed by an interview with Chris Bosh. The former NBA star commended AAP for its efforts through Powering the Potential.

“I was once one of those kids who needed a free lunch and a basketball program,” said Bosh. “You are touching the fabric of the community more than you know.”

At the event’s conclusion, Moore shared some closing remarks to send audience members home with the same heightened sense of purpose Bosh iterated.

“We’re celebrating AAP’s 20th Anniversary this year,” said Moore. “What will you contribute to AAP’s history? What legacy will you leave that can one day be put up on the timeline for AAP’s 40th anniversary celebration?”

With those words ringing in their head, attendees were pressed to join AAP and become a part of the group’s enduring legacy.

If you would like to join in the impactful work of AAP, visit the AAP landing page on United Way of Greater Atlanta’s website and make your pledge today.

Demar walks into a large classroom around the corner from the gymnasium at the Welcome All Recreation Center in South Fulton. As he cracks the door open, the smell of fresh pizza wafts through the air, and he sees a stack of books at table next to the food.  

He comes up to the Welcome All Rec Center just about every day. And he spends most of the evenings there with his friends practicing basketball and waiting for his parents to arrive home from work to take him back to his house.  

Demar goes to an elementary school just up the road. He spends some part of every day at the rec center. But today he wanted to stop by this classroom — he came for the pizza, but he grabbed a handful of books with his other hand and made his way to a table.  

The literacy program is held at Welcome All, but it’s hosted by Atlanta CARES, a nonprofit that partners with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership to offer its literacy program at multiple locations across the South Fulton area. 

Brenda Coleman is the executive director of Atlanta CARES, and she says she chose this location for the literacy program because the rec center was reported previously by United Way to be in a zip code with a low child well-being score.  

The grant funds provided by AAP give students at Welcome All, and across Greater Atlanta, access to new reading, writing and other learning materials.  

AAP 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.  

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. 

The program Atlanta CARES provides gains new students every day. By just getting them in the doors, they open up a world of opportunities for these students. You can help provide access and materials to students like Demar. You can help kids like him reach their full potential.  

Don’t you want to be a part of that change?  

Join AAP today to help more kids like Demar. Email aap@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more.   

Khemari likes to come to the Welcome All Recreation Center during the week. In fact, most of his time outside of school is spent there — he’s there a lot after school. 

Khemari loves sports. But this isn’t his season yet — he’s more of a baseball guy. He’s also “more of a math guy,” but today he’s joining the reading program at Welcome All.  

Khemari reads a lot at school, but after school he doesn’t get as much time to, which makes access to a program like the one offered by Atlanta CARES so important.   

Khemari attended the literacy program at Welcome All, which is hosted by Atlanta CARES. The program is funded by United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership, and it is held at a number of other locations across Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties.  

Brenda Coleman is the executive director of Atlanta CARES, a nonprofit that partners with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership to offer its literacy program at multiple locations across the South Fulton area. Coleman says she picked Welcome All specifically because United Way reported that this was an area of low child well-being in Greater Atlanta.  

AAP 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.  

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. 

Khemari likes to read a bit of everything he can get his hands on. He says he’s into “all types of stuff” — he likes “chapter books,” biographies and historical fiction stories. All of it.  

AAP helps give students like Khemari access to “all types” of materials. A donation to AAP is a donation to Khemari and a commitment to impacting more lives in Greater Atlanta just like him.  

Don’t you want to be a part of that impact?  

You can find out how by joining AAP today. Email AAP@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more about the group and how to join. 

Nikia jokes that he first came to the reading club at Welcome All Recreation Center just for the pizza.  

The teenager comes to the rec center most days during the fall for basketball practice. But one day on the court his coach told him he should check out the program in one of the adjacent classrooms.  

“I found out about this [literacy program], and we came in and Mrs. [Brenda] Coleman greeted us and taught us all about it,” Nikia says. “I came for the pizza, but once we started reading and writing I stayed. I like reading a lot.”  

Coleman is the executive director of Atlanta CARES, a nonprofit that partners with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership to offer its literacy program at multiple locations across the South Fulton area. Coleman says she picked Welcome All specifically because United Way reported that this was an area of low child well-being in Greater Atlanta.  

The grant funds give students at Welcome All access to new reading, writing and other learning materials.  

AAP launched June 2000 under the AfricanAmerican Initiative moniker by Conchita Robinson and Charles Stephens with the purpose of increasing financial participation and volunteers from our community.  

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. 

“I really liked the characters in the books we were reading,” Nikia says, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms across the letters of his Georgia Tech sweatshirt. “I felt like the characters reminded me of myself.” 

Nikia wants to continue to get better at reading and writing. He says while he likes writing, he’s got problems right now dealing with the critique of his writing — that’s because he wants “to be the best at everything” he does. 

By giving to AAP, you can help other teenagers like Nikia reach their full potential and be the best they can be at everything they do.  

Join AAP today to help other kids like NikiaEmail aap@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more.  

DeMorris doesn’t “love” to read — he knows it’s important, though. He knows that it’ll help him punch his ticket to college.  

He was encouraged to get involved in a reading program at The Villages at Carver YMCA by Bilal Blake who helps teach other teens like DeMorris classes in reading, writing and STEM.  

“I do most of my reading at school,” DeMorris says, sliding the strap of his backpack off of his shoulders and onto the floor. “But I do really like math, and I want to go to college. I don’t know what I want to do yet, but I’ve been meeting with colleges, and I had a college interview yesterday.”  

For the past three years, DeMorris has been walking to Carver YMCA, playing basketball, swimming and participating in a number of other things. But now he’s started reading more. That’s because of this reading program.  

The high school student participates in the literacy program that’s held at Carver Family YMCA. There are about 15 other kids in the program with him, too. He says he really didn’t even know them until he started the class, either.  

But now they’ve become his friends. DeMorris gets exposure to the reading program and all kinds of books, STEM materials and regular meetings to discuss college and careers thanks to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership.  

The grant money given to Carver YMCA helps improve reading, writing and critical thinking skills for students like DeMorris 

AAP 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.  

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. 

A gift to AAP helps students like DeMorris. You can have a direct impact in this neighborhood. There’s so much potential to change so many lives across Greater Atlanta. Do you want to be a part of that change?  

Join AAP today to help others like DeMorris. Email aap@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more. 

Rashaud says he wants to be a rapper when he grows up.  

But a rapper needs a firm grasp on the English language. A rapper needs rhythm and flow. He knows that.  

That’s why he loves reading poems. The timbre and meter of those poems help him as he works on raps of his own.  

The middle-school student has been coming to The Villages at Carver YMCA for a while now, but a couple of months ago he started getting involved in the literacy program.   

Rashaud reads each day from 30 minutes to an hour, he says. When he goes home his grandmother makes him sit at the table and read, as well.  

“I like to read,” Rashaud says. “My grand-momma makes me read newspapers.”  

Rashaud participates each Thursday in the reading program that’s held at Carver Family YMCA. Rashaud gets exposure to the program and all kinds of booksSTEM materials and regular meetings to discuss possible careers, like a career in music, thanks to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership.  

The grant money given to Carver helps improve reading, writing and critical thinking skills for students like Rashaud 

AAP 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.  

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. 

You can help open up a world of possibilities to students like Rashaud by giving to programs like AAP. Your donations directly impact students like him in your neighborhood. Do you want to be a part of that change and that impact?  

To help other kids like Rashaud, join AAP and emaiaap@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more.  

Jamari is a quiet kid.  

He says he doesn’t read much outside of school. That makes his time at The Villages at Carver Family YMCA even more crucial.  

Jamari’s tall with broad shoulders, and that size has helped him play basketball and Rugby against his friendsHe’s been coming to Carver Family YMCA a couple times a weekand he has a ton of friends at Carver. A few months ago, those friends pulled him into a classroom for book club.  

The quiet kid, more interested in spending time on the court or in the pool, says the time he’s spent reading at the YMCA has opened him up to reading more than any class at school has. It’s something he’s starting to look forward to now 

“We read comic books, and I love the illustrations and all of the stories, too,” Jamari says. “I really like reading fiction books now.”  

Jamari participates each Thursday in the reading program through his school that’s held at Carver Family YMCA. Jamari gets exposure to the program and all kinds of books and STEM materials thanks to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership.  

The grant money given to Carver helps improve reading, writing and critical thinking skills for students like Jamari.  

AAP 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.  

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. 

Jamari now has another thing that helps him get engaged with his school work and his friends outside of sports. It’s something that has helped him open up. A donation to AAP has helped give him that. It’s helped change him.   

Don’t you want to continue to be a part of that change? 

To help other kids like Jamari, join AAP and email aap@unitedwayatlanta.org for more. 

“I probably read at least two hours a day,” Jayden says. “[His parents] they try to make me do it, but I like reading sports books and comic books and all sorts of things like that.”  

Jayden loves to read, but a lot of his times at the Villages at Carver Family YMCA were spent outside of the classroom areas and inside the gym — until about two years ago, that is. Jayden loves to play football and basketball — he was a skater, too, when he was younger. He keeps his Vans sneakers clean and color-coordinated with his royal blue T-shirt.  

Jayden loves to read, but about two years ago he had an opportunity to expand on that love of reading.  

“I started coming here,” Jayden says. “I liked reading, and I’ll start as soon as I get home.”  

Jayden has participated in the reading program through his school that was held at Carver Family YMCA. Jayden’s exposure to the program and countless other books was made possible by United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership.  

The grant money given to Carver Family YMCA, helps students like Jayden read, write and participate in STEM activities too. 

AAP 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.  

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. 

“I like to get into the books and get deep into the good parts,” Jayden says. “I like to read and when a book surprises me and doesn’t end like I thought it would.”  

The program at Carver has definitely helped Jayden. Think about the impact you can help make on others like him.  

To find out how, email aap@unitedwayatlanta.org. Join AAP today and help other kids in this community.  

De’Marco shifts his weight to the front of his chair and slings the hood of his heavy coat over the top of his head, pulling down on the corners of a green beanie.  

De’Marcos a middle school student in Atlanta, and he’s a regular at The Villages at Carver Family YMCA. He’s been coming to that location for nearly four years now, but a couple of months ago, he got involved in a reading program that was held at Carver Family YMCA.  

De’Marco used to love coming to the YMCA to play basketball, hang out with his friends and “go to the vending machine,” he says with a laugh. But now he’s got another reason to come.  

For about an hour or so each Thursday, De’Marco gets to read with his friends other stories that interest him — he’s been developing a story of his own with a couple of his classmates, as well. 

“We’re gonna be able to write our own books sooner or later,” De’Marco says. He’s really looking forward to that.  

This program is made possible by United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership. The grant money given to Carver Family YMCA, helps students like De’Marco read, write and participate in STEM activities too.  

AAP 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 

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. 

De’Marco’s thankful for this outlet to tell his own story.  

“We get to write stories about what’s going on at school and what we’re going through,” De’Marco says. “I like it a lot. It’s joyful.”  

That’s what your gift to AAP can do.  

You can help more kids like De’Marco. Join AAP, and email aap@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more.  

#WhyWednesday: Elijah Whitfield

#WhyWednesday: Elijah Whitfield

“I was once one of the less fortunate kids growing up. What more of a platform than to serve as an AAP board member, to reach back into the community where I once was?”

As a United Way of Greater Atlanta African-American Partnership board member, Elijah Whitfield invests in Greater Atlanta’s future. Today, hear why he believes AAP’s mentorship, leadership and literacy programs are so important.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of AAP. Twenty years ago, a small group of Black leaders set out to make the face of philanthropy more reflective of the demographics in Greater Atlanta. Their vision became United Way of Greater Atlanta African-American Partnership. To learn more about the history, impact and continuing legacy of AAP, click here.