Joshua is a middle-school student in Atlanta.  

An after-school program at the Welcome All Recreation Center, which is hosted by Atlanta CARES, helped Joshua develop stronger reading, writing and comprehension skills, Executive Director of Atlanta CARES Brenda Coleman says.  

“Joshua has shown great enthusiasm about reading… sports-related books,” Coleman says. “While perusing all of the books available for him to read, he said, ‘I can’t believe we have all these books about our people. It’s so hard to choose one.”  

AAP Build-A-Library participantUnited Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership helped open up a world of books for Joshua. It gave him a chance to see the contributions others like him have given their community. It’s a moment like this that makes your donation of time and money worth it.  

Atlanta CARES partnered with the Welcome All Recreation Center to bring in a literacy program using books provided through AAP’s “Powering the Potential” grant 

AAP is a United Way of Greater Atlanta affinity group, and they help provide books and other learning materials for Atlanta CARES and other locations across 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 — there was also this real desire to make United Way’s donor base more reflective of the demographics in Atlanta where they serve. 

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.  

Your funds go directly back into this community and power potential in young black men across Greater Atlanta. 

Coleman says Joshua loves his “literacy parties” with his friends where he can eat pizza and talk about books he’s read. 

“The Powering the Potential program is beneficial to Joshua and the other students because it provides a platform for them to improve their word attack skills, comprehension skills, writing skills and speaking skills,” Coleman says. “Most importantly, it has enhanced their joy of reading.” 

To help other young men in Atlanta enhance their joy of reading, join the African-American Partnership today. Email AAP@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more. 

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.

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.”

To give back to your community, and be a positive role model to other young men across Greater Atlanta, join the African-American Partnership. Email AAP@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more.

Derrick Brown clutches a “Black Panther” book close to his chest, right against his heart. He told Brenda Coleman, executive director at Atlanta CARES, that reading the book made him feel “like a king.”

“It made him proud of his African heritage,” Brenda says. “He also mentioned that he wanted to help his classmates solve problems and get along better just like the characters in the book eventually learned to do.”

Derrick was participating at one of the Build-A-Library sites funded by United Way of Greater Atlanta through the African-American Partnership affinity group. AAP has provided books and other learning materials for different 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 an 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.

Brenda said Derrick got the book at one of her nonprofit’s “Real Dads Read” event. Where he, like many other students, discussed their favorite book characters, events and valuable lessons learned in the book.

“The success I witnessed was the students’ enthusiasm about books in all of our partner organizations,” Brenda says. “One of the students… stated, ‘I like reading these brand new books with pictures of my people.’”

She said students at the library got a heightened interest in reading because of the culturally authentic books that students could relate to. Brenda said Derrick “started his own book club with four of his friends on his own, and they read “Black Panther” together.

“Reading the book together enhanced their joy of reading,” she says.

To give back to your community and help power the potential of other young men like Derrick, join the African-American Partnership. Email AAP@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more.

The mother of a teenager in the 30310 zip code of Atlanta was afraid her son’s school didn’t have the resources he needed to become successful.

“She wanted to move him to another school, but he didn’t have the money to relocate her family to another community,” says Michael Supreme, teen director of the Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA.

The young man, Quinton, was joined by 50 other students like himself at the YMCA who participated in after-school college and career readiness sessions, which include college tours, college workshops and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math workshops and field trips over the course of the past year.

Supreme says the students also learned about leadership and civic engagement, and they were required to conduct at least one “impact project” each month. He said the students were interested in “expanding the scope of the program.”

These sessions were funded as part of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership Build-A-Library program.

“We lacked resources and funding support for our middle and high school initiatives,” Supreme says. “This funding aided us to provide content to this demographic of participants.”

Build-A-Library sites are funded by United Way of Greater Atlanta through the African-American Partnership affinity group. AAP has provided books and other learning materials for different 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 an 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.

Quinton’s mother “credits this program with inspiring her son and for providing him with the access to the tools and experiences that he needs to continue to successfully grow and develop,” Supreme says.

“Quinton identified his spark as being an engineer,” Supreme says. “He is interested in attending college at Georgia Tech. He is a peer leader who recruits others to join this initiative and other programs at YMCA.”

A student looks to Dr. Tene Davis during a group discussion at Booker T. Washington High School in Fulton County — he looks dejected as he tells Davis that he struggles with planning and time management.

Davis says the young man tells him that he’s “not good at planning” in a discussion about exploring skills and personality traits.

“[He says] that is something that he would like to improve,” Davis says. “We had a group discussion in which he exclaimed that he feels he, ‘just goes about his day-to-day without much thought.’”

The teenager is joined by 15 other students like him at an after-school session held at the high school. Davis helped lead about 60 sessions over the course of a year at Booker T. Washington High School. The program was a result of a grant funded by United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership (AAP).

Over the course of a year, Davis says facilitators led discussions and activities on topics that were identified to help foster young men’s “black male identity development.” Students attended team-building retreats, college tours, career training fairs and they participated in AAP’s Day of Service.

“We had a core group of dedicated young men who regularly attended weekly sessions and meetings,” Davis says. “We completed a retreat at Georgia State’s Indian Creek Lodge in which the young men completed several unique team building challenges and media training.”

He says these sessions helped fine-tune skills that they were able to take with them to the career fair at the school in the spring. The program was funded through AAP’s Build-A-Library program. Build-A-Library sites are funded by United Way of Greater Atlanta through the African-American Partnership affinity group. AAP has provided books and other learning materials for different 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 an 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.

Davis says the participants enjoyed activities that challenged them. They saw positive effects on the young men in areas of identity development, reading for understanding and time management skills.

He brought that one young man’s concerns up for discussion for the rest of the group. It was a learning moment.

“Upon further questioning and exploration, we realized that he is thoughtful and proficient in setting goals, had developed several contingencies or back-up plans, and we demonstrated how these attributes are related to planning and success,” Davis says. “The student expressed understanding and confidence after realizing that this skill he previously believed he lacked was one of his strongest qualities.”

To give back to your community and help power the potential of other young black men, join the African-American Partnership. Email AAP@unitedwayatlanta.org to learn more.

By Maya Robinson

On December 4th a group of Wells Fargo employees took time out of their day to volunteer at AAP Build-A-Library Site, Raising Expectations. The group was organized by AAP Cabinet Member and Wells Fargo Senior Vice President, Hugh Rowden and his colleague Tammy Sanders.

“What is the difference between a checking account and a savings account? How old do you have to be to open your own savings account? How many types of savings accounts should you have as an adult?”

Those were just a few of the questions that volunteers from Wells Fargo asked the sixth grade students from the Raising Expectations afterschool program. By the end of their hour and a half session, the students were correctly answering questions about banking, money, and saving. The Wells Fargo volunteers, Linda Brown and John Stork, made the lesson fun and interactive with videos and prizes for each correct answer. At the end of the lesson, Wells Fargo presented the students with copies of Beating the Odds: Eddie Brown’s Investing and Life Strategies.

While the six graders were trained on financial literacy, two groups of Wells Fargo volunteers were busy with the younger students on more age appropriate projects. The fourth and fifth graders assembled care packages with special notes for local senior citizens. The contents of the care packages were donated by Raising Expectations and Wells Fargo.

The youngest students spent the afternoon reading aloud with Wells Fargo volunteers. The students who were old enough to read themselves chose their favorite books to read to the volunteers. Research shows that reading aloud is the foundation for literacy development.

To celebrate a successful afternoon of learning and volunteering, Bruster’s Ice Cream treated everyone to an ice cream sundae bar, thanks to Wells Fargo. Financial literacy and ice cream made the perfect pair!

Raising Expectations has been a long-time Build-A-Library site for AAP and grantee for Powering the Potential. Raising Expectations provides impactful youth development programming for youth in Atlanta communities. It is unique among out-of-school time (OST) programs in that it is longitudinal in its relationship with students. Students begin their relationship with Raising Expectations as middle school students and continue as they matriculate through secondary and embark upon their post-secondary plans.

If your company or group would like to volunteer at a Build-A-Library site, a staff member will be happy to coordinate.

AAP is committed to addressing the achievement gap and improving outcomes for African-American boys and young men in the metro area through partnerships that increase educational opportunities and pathways to employment. Over the years, our efforts have expanded from a laser focus on literacy to include additional learning opportunities targeted to support youth’s overall academic achievement and future success. We have seen the profound impact that caring professionals, like you can have both for you and the students. This fall, AAP is launching a pilot volunteer program of tailored volunteer opportunities.

As our dedication to this work continues, AAP and United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Volunteerism team have come up with a menu of volunteer opportunities with AAP’s current Build-A-Library Sites.

We can organize interactive projects for groups of 10 to 25 people. Opportunities can be customized for the company depending the career area. For example, a financial company could present a workshop on money management for young adults or a team of software developers could present about writing code.  Your company can host a group of students for a day of shadowing on October 15 or November 5 or you can travel to an agency like Delta Air Lines chose to do in this video.

To participate, please fill out our project request form to find an available date.

AAP Partners with Georgia State University’s African-American Male Initiative

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s African-American Partnership (AAP) is committed to improving outcomes for African-American boys and young men in the metro area through partnerships that will increase educational opportunities and pathways to employment. AAP’s signature cause Powering the Potential of African-American boys and young men began in 2016 with a laser focus on literacy through the Build A Library project at six partner agency locations. Thanks to dramatic response from AAP stakeholders, increased fundraising and recommendations from program experts, the efforts have broadened beyond basic literacy to include additional learning opportunities targeted to support youth’s overall academic achievement and future success. Each site exposes youth to career pathways, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), through career exploration, job training and work experiences.

AAP partners with the Georgia State University’s African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) at Booker T. Washington High School as one of the six sites in areas of low and very low child well-being in Atlanta. The mission of the Georgia State University African American Male Initiative (AAMI) at Booker T. Washington High School is to enhance the graduation rate of African-American males at Booker T. Washington High School while also increasing the number of diplomas conferred upon this population couched within a college access and readiness focus. With support from generous AAP members, AAMI provides a true STEM experience using digital literacy to address themes of Black male identity.

Recently, AAMI gave us an update on their work. The young men participate in discussions and activities twice a week covering topics that include the formation of Black male identity, spirituality, critiquing modern music, adjusting cultural lens about Africa, and interviewing and digital media training. Over the course of the school year, the students have fostered an environment that makes it acceptable for young men of color to be vulnerable and not feel ostracized.

AAMI has been able to leverage the Build A Library program to purchase books on various topics including subjects that have enhanced their media skills training like camera, editing, film, graphic novels, books on fantasy and anime. The students have developed their own graphic novels and film projects. This year, two veteran program members who are working to complete their comic book character origin stories, which they began last spring, delivered a presentation about the process for developing their comic origin stories at the Sources Conference hosted by the Georgia State University’s Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence.

Beyond their work on graphic novels, AAMI facilitators taught the young men about shot and angle composition. The young men were tasked with shooting a short-film utilizing the information from their lessons. They came together and completed the assignment within one hour. The short-film was edited and presented to them to show their accomplishment. Check out their video here. They will be utilizing their media skills at an upcoming career fair being held at Washington High School.

The young men were exposed to activities that went beyond the afterschool program on their school campus. Some of the young men went on college tours to Georgia State University and Clark Atlanta University. The group had the opportunity to complete unique teambuilding challenges at the Escape Room and the retreat at Georgia State’s Indian Creek Lodge.

You can be part of the great work happening at Booker T. Washington High School and AAMI. First, make a commitment to support United Way’s AAP which funds six sites in areas of low and very low child well-being in our region. Give now. Second, AAMI are looking for volunteers for their upcoming Summer Institute to chaperone field trips and discuss their education and career pathways with the students. Sharing your story could shine a powerful light ahead for these young men. Contact aap@unitedwayatlanta.org to coordinate a date and time.

Villages at Carver YMCA Impresses at AAP Leadership Luncheon

Of the many attendees at the 4th Annual AAP Leadership Luncheon, two young men stood out a head above the rest, Deron Dill and Christopher Wright, program participants from AAP Build a Library site at Villages at Carver YMCA.

These two gentlemen, along with the teen center director, Bilal Blake, were featured in a video about AAP’s signature cause, Powering the Potential of African-American Boys and young men toward academic achievement.

Villages at Carver YMCA is one of the original after-school sites that AAP invested in when the group took up the goal to improve academic outcomes for African-American young men and boys back in 2016. Today, students participate in the book clubs, leadership workshops, team building projects, creative writing classes and homework tutors. Tricia Crossman, United Way’s Senior Director, Youth Development, manages the program.

Hear more from Deron and Christopher here.