Gavin McGuire worked previously with the Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA in Atlanta where students on campus participated in activities funded through United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership.
McGuire said he and the staff at YMCA conducted a series of sessions to first gauge the interest in reading among the middle and high school students. He said about 20 of them were selected who had a passion for writing a book or novel to serve as the first class to participate in the YMCA’s “Writes of Passage” program.
He said that at mid-year there were about 15 total sessions, workshops, tutorials and reading groups on campus for these teenagers — teenagers like Denard Baker.
“There are many success stories that have been identified since the launch of our program,” Gavin said in March 2018. “Denard Baker has been impacted tremendously by this initiative.”
Gavin said Denard attended Kipps Ways Academy and credited this program with increasing his reading comprehension and writing.
The Writes of Passage program was funded through AAP’s Build-A-Library initiative. AAP has provided books and other learning materials for many locations across Greater Atlanta through this Build-A-Library program.
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.
Gavin said he could already see the impact that the program had on Denard’s confidence.
“In such a short period, he has increased his vocabulary and his overall reading comprehension,” Gavin says. “The interaction with the mentors and session facilitators has provided consistent interaction with positive role models for Denard.”