There are more than 25,000 children living in the five zip codes encompassing Fayette County, and while much of the county may celebrate success, we know there are still children in need. There are still kids who don’t have access to the same opportunities.

There are vast differences from zip code to zip code.

United Way of Greater Atlanta set out to map those differences in Fayette and the other 12 counties just over two years ago when it launched the Child Well-Being Movement. What United Way saw was that children growing up in one zip code didn’t have the same resources, social support or opportunities as those growing up a few miles from them. Through a set of 14 child, family and community measures, United Way calculated at the time a child well-being score for each individual zip code.

The region as a whole had the previous score of 58.9 — a failing grade. United Way found that about 500,000 children in Greater Atlanta lived in areas of low to very-low child well-being. This helped United Way form a single, shared agenda targeting low child well-being areas.

On May 9, United Way announced that the regional score had improved to 61.8 — that equates to a change in the lives of more than 82,000 children.

But, back to Fayette. Fayette County had a previous score of 82.2, and after the new data was released in May, that score actually decreased overall to 81.1. While still better than the region average, this still tells the story of nearly 6,000 children living in low child well-being communities — and there are disparities among Fayette County zip codes, with the lowest child well-being score of 69.4 in zip code 30214 and the highest of 84.5 in 30215.

There’s a story behind those numbers and behind those disparities.

United Way of Greater Atlanta and Fayette County Schools presented its Fayette State of the Children Community Conversation on Nov. 20 to give context to those stories.

Jennifer Young, regional director of United Way of Greater Atlanta in Fayette County, said there were notable improvements in high school graduation and an increase in people enrolled in post-secondary education, but there was also an increase in children in poverty.

In the 30214-zip code, Young says the Child Well-Being Score had dropped 3.1 points. She said there were improvements in high school graduation rates, improvement in college and career readiness and a decline in unemployment. But there was also an increase in children in poverty and families not financially stable.

In the neighboring 30215 zip code, the score improved to 84.5 in two years, Young says, which was an increase by 2.8 percent.

She said a reason for the drop in overall child well-being for Fayette County could largely be attributed to the change in standardized testing, which dramatically impacted third-grade reading scores and child well-being scores.

“When we talk about the data and everything behind the data, these are great points, but there are stories behind it,” Young says. “When you have access to early learning programs, we know they will have cognitive, social and behavioral skills. The access to early education is essential.”

Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow agreed with Young.

“One of the things I’ll say all the time [to his staff] is, ‘In God we trust, and everybody else we expect to see data,’” Barrow said with a laugh. “We dig down into it and drill down so we can better understand… It’s not just about the data, but we need to be able to interpret the data.”

Barrow says that “poverty is the beast that really impacts us all.” He said that poverty in the community can directly affect the well-being of students in schools. Barrow sat on a five-member panel with four other community leaders to discuss how they are powering the Child Well-Being Movement in Fayette County.

Colin Martin, president and CEO of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, says that the overall Child Well-Being of Fayette impacts the business community in addition to its schools.

“When we talk about Child Well-Being and how it impacts businesses, one short-term perspective is that all of our businesses have employees that are parents, and if those parents have to worry about, ‘Is my child fed?’ Then they are less likely to be productive employees.”

The county needs to be able to “create a climate” where businesses should be successful and nonprofit providers can provide assistance, Charles Rousseau says.

Rousseau is the District 4 commissioner for Fayette County. He says the county is currently doing well, but he said to use that success as a springboard to continue the work in the county.

Barrow said the discrepancies in Child Well-Being in neighboring zip codes was a “brutal reality” that the community needed to confront.

“One of the things we have to do as individuals and businesses and entities is you have to confront the brutal realities,” Barrow says. “One of the things we have to do is talk. We have certain schools within this zip code that may not be performing as well as other schools. That’s an issue of equity.”

But Fayette County Public Schools isn’t “short-changing anybody,” he says.

“We realize some schools may be more impacted by poverty, and we need more resources to overcome those barriers,” Barrow says. “Partnerships are critically important to what we can do as a group.”

Kim Schnoes, a financial planner and community advocate, agreed these partnerships were crucial. Schnoes is active in her community serving on a number of local boards. She stressed the importance of giving to organizations like United Way.

“I think it boils down to wanting to be able to bring out the best assets and best around us from the community,” she says. “We know this community is great, but we don’t want to rest there.”

Dawn C. Oparah, executive director of Fayette FACTOR, says one of the ways to improve the community is to speak up. She said it was important to continue this same type of dialogue within the community beyond just those in the room.

“The threat to [Fayette’s] Child Well-Being is not having the knowledge,” Oparah says. “When people don’t know, we can’t do. If you have the knowledge and the willingness, then we’ll continue to thrive as a community.”

Conversations like the on Nov. 20 are what help a community overcome its problems, Barrow says. He said it’s easy to point out those issues, but it takes more than that to address them. He said this type of work only happens through collaboration and partnerships with organizations like United Way.

“We can maintain the level of quality of life and even bump it up,” Barrow says. “I think we have the opportunity to have a world-class community, but it takes people working together and checking our ego at the door.”

#WhyWednesday: Nargis Aniston Hansen

Nargis Aniston Hansen is a travel manager for Mediacom 24-7 LTD at Pinewood Studios and a member of our Fayette Co. advisory board. Today, hear why she gives back to Greater Atlanta through United Way.

Fayette County communities can thrive today and reach their greatest future potential only if their children are thriving. That’s why our focus is on building a Greater Atlanta where every individual and family can thrive by making sure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her potential.
Communities that can say, “all the children are well” have babies who are born healthy; kids who read proficiently by 3rd grade; teens graduating from high school prepared for college, careers and life; they grow up in secure homes, in safe neighborhoods, with healthy food, access to medical care to keep them healthy; supported by communities where people are educated, employed, and housed; with ready access to good healthcare and affordable healthy foods. Learn more here!

Each morning, your alarm on your phone sounds and you roll over in bed to switch off the device, flipping on a lamp at your bedside table. You scroll through that phone and check your calendar — a full list of the day’s events — you head to the kitchen, open the fridge and grab breakfast just as your automatic coffee machine cycles on and pours you a fresh cup.

You cram down your breakfast, take a shower, get dressed and hop in the car or rush to the train for your commute to work.

Every single step of the way, the decisions you make and the actions you take —all seemingly insignificant — are inspired by science, produced by an engineer and involve some sort of mathematical operation.
This is what United Way of Greater Atlanta President and CEO Milton J. Little, Jr. brought to the attention of the audience inside an AT&T ballroom in Midtown Atlanta a few miles from Fox Theatre on Nov. 19.

“There’s nothing that you can do in this world that doesn’t require science,” Little says. “There’s no clothes to wear, there’s nothing to eat, there’s nothing you drive — almost nothing we touch that isn’t the product of someone who learned to invest in science.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta has invested in science over the past year. On Nov. 19, United Way hosted its inaugural STEMUp Youth Maker Competition at AT&T.

The STEMUp program’s director and Senior Director of Youth Development at United Way Tricia Crossman says the Youth Maker Competition is about “giving young people the opportunity to give their ideas” in order to solve problems their communities face using Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Those ideas were presented to a round of judges via video submissions and then whittled down to nine finalists.

For this competition, students had to create something “solution-oriented,” Crossman says. The submission had to be realistic, could be successfully implemented, had to be youth-led and had to be creative and innovative.

Crossman says the students also had to consider a “social responsibility” component.

“Young people have great ideas, and we often don’t tap into them to help us make our world better,” Crossman says. “This is our inaugural competition, but it is our hope that we’ll be able to grow this competition and have it every single year for young people in our metro region.”

Crossman says the competition requirements were released at the end of August to schools in the Greater Atlanta region, and despite the quick turnaround, there were 78 submissions and 189 youth participants.

Twenty-four percent of those students were high school-aged, and 30 percent of the youth lived in low or very Child Well-Being areas, according to United Way’s Child Well-Being Map, Crossman says.

United Way of Greater Atlanta saw two years ago after its strategic planning meeting 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 family, community and child measures, including things like eighth-grade math proficiency and third-grade reading scores, United Way calculated at the time a child well-being score of 58.9.

On May 9, 2019, 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.

In addition to the Youth Maker Competition, Crossman says United Way funds an initiative called “Get Connected,” which is a digital literacy program for children and their parents.

The nine finalists for Youth Maker were comprised of five high school teams and four middle school, Crossman says.

The finalists had to pitch their projects to judges in a “Shark Tank-style” demonstration before a winner was selected in front of the crowd at AT&T.

The finalists had run through those demonstrations for hours, and the time was quickly approaching for the winners to be announced.

Little made his way to the stage prior to the announcement, and he was presented a $230,000 check from AT&T’s Director of Federal Public Affairs Yvette Pugh. The check would fund “Community Impact and STEM” projects at United Way. AT&T supports the Chief Science Officer (CSO) program, which seeks to enhance the workforce and employability skills of student CSOs and their peers.

“We believe in the work United Way is doing,” Pugh said. “We have 20,000 employees in Georgia. We live and work in this community and want to be a part of the great work you are doing to move our communities forward.”

The STEM Youth Maker Competition is a great example of ways to move these communities forward.

“We know job trends in the Greater Atlanta region are going to require more science and math in order for young people to compete in the workforce of today and tomorrow,” Crossman says.

 

STEM IS EVERYWHERE

Each of the finalists and their school’s sponsors rushed to their tables with Chick-fil-A boxed lunches, eagerly awaiting the final results while nibbling on chicken sandwiches.

The judges were made up of local business owners and sponsors — the project was sponsored by Cox Enterprises, AT&T, General Motors and the African-American Partnership Affinity Group at United Way. They were tasked with selecting one middle school and high school winner each, but narrowing down to one each was more difficult than it seemed.

Ultimately, there were two winners each from those categories. In the middle-school division, Amariyahu Edmunds and Regie Ingram each won, and in high school division the two winners were the Forest Park High School Team and then Madison Kenney. Manitca Kheim, Helen Tran, Sharron Van, Evan Minor and Lazaro Valle-Reynoso made up the Forest Food Initiative.

The Forest Food Initiative is a hydroponics system and greenhouse that would address a lack of access to produce in Forest Park, Clayton County.

“Our goal was to create a hydroponics system and address a food desert in our community,” says Lazaro Valle-Reynoso, a Forest Park High School student. “So, what is a food desert? It is an area where people can’t reach food and fresh produce. I had a teammate who said she had to drive 30 minutes to buy fresh produce.”

Helen Tran said the Forest Food Initiative started through the CSO program, but once the team learned of the Youth Maker Competition, they pulled in additional members to form a team.

“We had a PowerPoint, and I brought in a hydroponics prototype,” Tran said. “We went over the budget, the goals and who we were collaborating with, and we shared with the judges what living in a food desert looks like.”

Tran says her family can only find certain foods by traveling 30 minutes or more one way, and she says this isn’t uncommon at her school.

Valle-Reynoso says the garden and greenhouse project addresses this issue.

Kenney established previously a RoboChicks program at the Andrew and Walter Young YMCA to help “get girls interested in STEM.”

“I started coaching them,” Kenney says. “When I saw the United Way grant, I applied ASAP because I wanted to get more funding to coach more girls and, at the time, I got a request to do an all-boys team as well.”

Kenney says her interest in STEM started when she was 8 years old.

“I got my most experience hands-on,” she says.

Like Kenney, Edmunds also first became interested in STEM while he was in elementary school. He says he was intrigued by the opportunity to build something on his own.

He developed his “Code Flow” program to generate more interest in STEM among younger kids.

“A lot of kids in my school, specifically third-graders, aren’t excited about STEM,” he says. “It can be fun. I want to take 10 students, and I want to buy them [robots] that you can code and get them to perform specific tasks in multiple obstacle courses, and my hope is that they will get excited about STEM.”

Edmunds loved the idea that as a kid he could learn how to “code and build stuff.”

“I built a robot out of a fan with, like, air pumps and air pressure, and when I saw what I could do, I said, ‘This looks really cool,’” Edmunds says. “STEM is everywhere! There’s nothing that you can touch that hasn’t been involved with science.”

Ingram also loved how STEM allowed him to open his mind and create something of his own. Ingram developed a joggers’ belt that he presented to the judges.

“I started with an experiment in the science fair to see if I could make electricity with magnets and coils of wire,” Ingram says, “and I wanted to make a product for this idea.”

Ingram identified a problem he saw that would allow him to flesh out this idea and address a need in his community. The belt is made of nylon and fits around a jogger’s waist. As the jogger bounces up and down, the magnets inside of a tube bounce up and down hitting a coil of wires attached to an LED light. The light begins to flash, which signals to drivers on the road that a jogger is on the sidewalk or passing in front of them.

“There are so many jogger injuries that happen each year,” Ingram says. He now plans to turn the Youth Maker grant into 30 prototypes he can share with his fellow classmates on his middle school track team.

The competition’s success stems —no pun intended— from an overall need in the community to generate interest around technology, which is where a trained workforce is needed in the Greater Atlanta region.

“The number of technology jobs far outpace the people that can fill those jobs,” Crossman says. “Many of the companies in our region are going out of state and country to get those jobs filled. We can change that. STEM programming for young people and STEM education is a critical part of making that happen.”

For more information for STEM programming and United Way of Greater Atlanta’s work, visit www.unitedwayatlanta.org.

“Experience leads to knowledge, knowledge leads to attitude, attitudes lead to behaviors and behaviors lead to results,” says Milton J. Little, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Little uses this quote to introduce the October InForum breakfast. InForum is an ongoing series of community conversations convened by United Way of Greater Atlanta. It brings nonprofit, corporate, philanthropic and civic partners together to talk about the issues the Greater Atlanta community faces and how it is that, collaboratively, the community can address them.

“We set ourselves the very ambitious goal of improving the well-being of 250,000 children over the next 10 years,” says Little. “To do so, we need solutions designed to tackle multiple and inter-related challenges that people face.”

The goal Little refers to is that of the Child Well-Being Movement, which has been the guiding force of United Way of Greater Atlanta’s work for the past two years.

When the Movement began in 2017, United Way of Greater Atlanta recognized that its desire to make an impact in the community and improve the lives of so many children needed to be met with an ability to measure and maintain how their work made a difference.

That’s why, alongside dozens of community partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and the Atlanta Regional Commission, United Way of Greater Atlanta developed the Child Well-Being Index. The Index informs the organization of what communities are in greatest need by using a set of 14 measures that determine the level of opportunity and resources present in any given zip code.

Some of those measures include rates of low-weight births, percent of children reading at a third-grade level and the percent of families who are not financially stable. These metrics act as a barometer for understanding whether children living in a certain community are primed for success or failure – whether they have the opportunities and resources they need to thrive.

It’s not common that the problems of a child are an isolated incident. There are typically other “inter-related challenges” the child’s community and family face, hence Little’s call for solutions that can tackle multiple issues at once.

For the October InForum, the speakers are principally concerned with evaluation – namely, how we can approach large systems change work like Child Well-Being and apply evaluation frameworks that measure changes when solving for complex, inter-locking challenges.

“If we’re being honest, there is a huge disconnect between what we’re accomplishing and the promise of evaluation,” says Kelci Price, senior director of learning and evaluation at the Colorado Health Foundation. “Evaluation was not created for how we try to use it today.”

Price’s opening remarks speak to the need to disrupt the field of evaluation – a practice that was originally designed to test the impact and effectiveness of stand-alone programs in stable environments.

Social innovation work, like what United Way of Greater Atlanta focuses on through Child Well-Being, deals with complex issues in the community, where variables and contexts are ever-changing. That level of complexity is too much for the methodologies and frameworks of traditional evaluation to keep up with. As a result, social innovators are left without the tools they need to evaluate their work effectively.

“As a field,” Price states, “we’re not shifting fast enough because we’re too stuck in old mindsets.”

To change those mindsets, Price suggests social innovators cultivate a culture of learning instead of attempting to replicate those dated evaluation models.

“It feels like we’ve forgotten that learning is not what comes from measurements and indicators and metrics,” says Price. “To learn, we have to wrestle with the evidence.”

Price says collecting data isn’t good enough. Organizations have to grapple with the data they have collected, pay attention to the context it is collected in and generate solutions that are well-informed and as multi-faceted as the problems they face.

To do so, Price calls for an “emergent learning framework.” Through this framework, social innovators are encouraged to learn through intentional, iterative and ongoing experiments, which are more responsive to variables of change in the community.

Mark Cabaj, president of Here to There and associate at the Tamarack Institute, kicked off the second half of the breakfast by asserting that evaluation is constantly “playing catch-up” to the work of social innovators.

“I didn’t start as an evaluator,” says Cabaj. “I started as a strategist who desperately wanted better evaluation in my work.”

Over the past few decades, Cabaj’s prayers have started to receive answers. The field of evaluation has begun producing methodologies and frameworks designed to accommodate complex community change work.

One such framework, Multi-level Perspectives, guides systems change efforts by tracking four different actions simultaneously: supporting niche innovations, nudging systems, shifting culture and being responsive to changes in landscapes. This framework embraces the fact that complex community change efforts must bounce between perspectives, constantly adapting to its environment in a fluid, comprehensive manner.

Another framework, the Five Dimensions of Scaling, details how social innovators can scale a program to reach more people, change systems, make bigger impacts on culture, innovate with new solutions and build the capacity of a community to expand that work at scale.

And, while these frameworks have greatly improved evaluation in social innovation work, there are still shortcomings.

When working to address multi-layered challenges, Cabaj says there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all answer.” All frameworks for evaluation reveal an important finding, while distorting something else.

“I treat them like kaleidoscopes,” says Cabaj. “Put one on and see something, change it out and see something else.”

Regardless, both Price and Cabaj agree that it’s an exciting time to be involved in the evaluation space.

United Way of Greater Atlanta, driven by its Child Well-Being Movement, is taking up the call to pay attention to place and understand that its community change efforts will have to be as complex and adaptive as the community problems it is seeking to address. And by 2027, it is hoping those efforts will be enough improve the well-being of 250,000 children.

To contribute to those efforts and empower the work of United Way of Greater Atlanta, donate to the Child Well-Being Impact Fund today.

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society members understand what a significant gift can help accomplish.

Atlanta’s Tocqueville Society, which was formed in 1985, is named after French politician Alexis de Tocqueville, who recognized the importance of voluntary action. Members of Tocqueville Society are philanthropic leaders in the Atlanta area who contribute $10,000 or more annually to United Way of Greater Atlanta.

According to United Way Worldwide’s annual report, Tocqueville Society has generated more than $10 billion to date. There are 25,000-plus members in 400-plus societies around the world.

In Greater Atlanta, Doug Hutcherson is one of those philanthropic leaders. The CEO of Lockton Companies Southeast has always had ties to United Way.

“I’ve contributed to United Way for many years with former employers — even dating back to elementary school,” Hutcherson says. “United Way was always kind of an omnipresent charitable organization, and we were encouraged to donate money.”

Hutcherson has been CEO of Lockton in Atlanta for the past 16 years. He says he created the Lockton business in Atlanta “from scratch” with 12 people, and now the company is 300-plus strong and has grown with revenues of more than $100 million.

Lockton is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, and has always been passionate about service to United Way, Hutcherson says.

“It was a natural extension to Atlanta,” he says. “We carried on that cultural tradition. It was a natural fit.”

But around a decade ago, Hutcherson saw the work United Way of Greater Atlanta does from a different perspective.

Hutcherson had the opportunity to participate in one of United Way’s Street-to-Home outreach projects.

United Way’s Street-to-Home initiative seeks to end homelessness by helping people living on the streets obtain permanent housing and gain access to support programs.

United Way works alongside partner agencies to reach out to homeless communities in Atlanta in hopes of providing them transitional housing, and case management which enables a large majority of individuals to become independent.

The program helps to house hundreds of individuals each year.

During Street-to-Home outreach projects, volunteers will board buses early in the morning and drive around Atlanta to interact with the city’s homeless population. Volunteers such as Hutcherson will ask people if they can help put them in contact with resources.

Hutcherson says he went to United Way of Greater Atlanta early one morning for what he thought would be a discussion about how to provide services that would help the homeless population. It was then that he went into the streets with an ADP escort to directly engage people.

“The reason you go out at 5 o’clock is that you want to get to people before they get on the move,” Hutcherson says. “In those days, you have a group of people walking up to a homeless person on the street, and you can just think what was going through their head — ‘Am I about to be arrested, get beaten up, what’s happening?’

“There was very little trust between the homeless community, but with these outreaches over time, I think that we’ve done a good job of building relationships in this community.”

With these projects, Hutcherson was able to go beyond just giving a monetary gift. In all, he says he’s done about 25 or more of these outreach events, and he took his son out when he was 14 to help instill the importance of service.

This particular project was something that struck a chord with Hutcherson.

He said his office has allocated its United Way Campaign to the program each year since his first experience with Street-to-Home.

Hutcherson now serves on the Tocqueville Society Cabinet. He says he likes serving with other Tocqueville members and sees the group as a good leadership function for the Atlanta business community. He said Tocqueville does a nice job of promoting targeted philanthropy.

“Most Tocqueville Society members are good about sharing within their organizations the importance of philanthropy,” Hutcherson says. “Our company’s three pillars are clients, associates and communities in which we work and live. Giving back to the local community allows for the privilege of prospering in the being the business community.”

Hutcherson says he appreciates the leadership at United Way and called its message — specifically its new Child Well-Being message — an inspiring one.

“I have an inherent trust in United Way,” Hutcherson says. “I think it’s efficiently managed and United Way carries a very powerful brand within the philanthropic world. In Atlanta, I feel like it’s a very well-run organization. I think [President and CEO] Milton [J. Little, Jr.] does a great job, and [Vice President of United Way Regional Commission on Homelessness] Protip Biswas — I’m very impressed with how passionate they are. They believe in the message, which inspires others to act.”

If you are passionate about United Way’s message that all children deserve a chance to reach their full potential, donate to the Child Well-Being Impact Fund. Click here for more information about Tocqueville Society or learn more about how to get involved with United Way’s Street-to-Home initiative and how you can give.

Two years ago, Gwinnett County saw too many children in its own back yard were growing up with a disadvantage.

Children in “low to very low child well-being” areas across Gwinnett County grew up within these same geographical boundaries, but without access to the same resources. They lacked the same access to quality education, food and health care among other things.

But a lot can change in two years.

On Oct. 18, United Way of Greater Atlanta announced a 2.3-point improvement in the overall Child Well-Being score for Gwinnett County. The announcement came during United Way and Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce’s State of the Children Summit.

More than 350 business leaders, elected officials and community stakeholders gathered at 12Stone Church in Duluth to celebrate the improvements in Gwinnett County and praise the progress achieved because of community, corporate and nonprofit partnerships.

In 2017, United Way of Greater Atlanta saw after its strategic planning meeting that the zip code a child lived in too often determined the fate of that child. United Way observed 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 for the 13-county region.
In the spring, 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.
In Gwinnett in 2017, the county had a score of 61.8, but Ginneh Baugh, vice president of Strategic Impact for United Way, said Oct. 18 the score had improved to 64.1. Gwinnett’s score, while higher than the region average, still tells the story of 52,000 children who are living in low or very low child well-being communities, Baugh says.

“It’s about, ‘How are all the children in Gwinnett and in our region doing?’” Baugh said. “It’s not just about what we want for kids in terms of them being smart. I want them to have lots of opportunities in front of them. It’s about making sure the children have the opportunities, resources and social supports they need to reach their full potential. We can take that on.”

United Way saw previously that our region was one of the largest regions growing in suburban poverty in the country, Baugh said. The communities with low child well-being were spread across the 13-county footprint. There are still extreme disparities among Gwinnett County zip codes with the lowest-scoring zip code rating 23.7 and the highest at 81.9.

This means there is definitely still a need in Gwinnett, Baugh said.

“We can’t claim victory, but we can claim progress,” Baugh said. “We’re really excited to see that map change. Also, that’s a big part of what we’re here for. We need something to put our stake in the ground on. By moving forward, the pieces are coming together.”

Gwinnett County saw overall improvements in high school graduation rates, decline in births to mothers without a diploma and more adults who now have health insurance, Baugh said.

Baugh spoke of the progress in Lawrenceville, a four zip code area where there was a 3.2-point increase in child well-being up to 64.2. Lawrenceville saw improvements in high school graduation rates, but an increase in children of families in poverty and fewer financially stable families. These “headwinds” help show us where we need to focus our efforts, she said.

United Way is driving change in its three big roles as a strategic philanthropic partner, data-driven investor and by acting as convener and catalysts for change, Baugh says.

“All of this is so we can activate people, align dollars and really see a significant change,” says Baugh.

There’s still work to be done in the region, though. For example, Baugh said there’s still a “25-point gap” in third-grade reading for communities in low child well-being. But by bringing people and resources together, we can drive collective impact and lasting change.

“We really have to make sure the opportunities are there for all children, regardless of where you grow up,” Baugh said. “Our system is not fully working to meet their needs. There are gaps to close, but we think it’s possible to make that change.

“Progress is possible when good people move from ideas to action.”

To help empower progress and put this plan to action, donate today to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being Impact Fund.

#WhyWednesday: Marshall Barton

Combating child homeless is her passion. United Way of Greater Atlanta is her platform. Today, hear why Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health employee and United Way Gwinnett County advisory board member Marshall Barton invests in the Child Well-Being Movement to give back to Greater Atlanta.

 

At United Way of Greater Atlanta, we are committed to seeing children have access to resources in order to lead happy and healthy lives through our Child Well-Being Movement. Click here  to find out how you can join the movement!

#WhyWednesday: Brenda Reid

Why is Brenda Reid, Publix Media and Community Relations Manager, and member of our Board Directors passionate about United Way of Greater Atlanta? “The model that they have is to pool the resources and attack a certain issue; then you will begin to see change.” Hear why she gives back below.

United Way’s Child Well-Being Impact Fund invents impact dollars in teams of nonprofits to work on collaborative solutions that lead to positive and sustainable outcomes for children and families. By developing 14 key index measures, we’re able to track our progress and determine what levers are the most effective in ensuring “all the children are well.” Learn more about Child Well-Being in Greater Atlanta here.

#WhyWednesday: Bill Cheeks

Bill Cheeks began his journey with United Way when he was a child. Now as President of Abba Associates, Inc. and board member of United Way of Greater Atlanta, he is excited to improve child well-being and financial stability throughout Greater Atlanta. Today, hear why he gives back to his community!

United Way is committed to improving child well-being in Greater Atlanta. Read about the how we are impacting the lives of children, families and communities in our 2018 stakeholder report.
How are the children doing in your community? Explore your child well-being score here.

Atlanta-based law firm was awarded Child Well-Being Impact Champion Award at annual State of the Children event

By Bradley Roberts

King & Spalding has had a longstanding partnership with United Way of Greater Atlanta. When the Atlanta-based law firm first learned the nonprofit had launched its Child Well-Being Movement in 2017, it was a no-brainer for them that they would give United Way complete support.

“We’ve supported United Way for a long time, and we’ve tried to be a good partner in a lot of ways—through the annual giving campaign, representation on different boards and committees, volunteer projects — we’ve tried to plug in a lot of different ways,” says Lauren Abbott, community affairs manager for King & Spalding. “Through that longstanding partnership, we understand and respect the level of expertise that [United Way has] as far as convening different stakeholders and being the expertise in the community.”

On May 9, King & Spalding was awarded the Child Well-Being Impact Champion Award at United Way of Greater Atlanta’s annual State of the Children event. The Impact Champion Award goes to organizations that provide significant support to the Child Well-Being Impact Fund.

King & Spalding and its employees are actively engaged in the work United Way is doing, and they understand the importance of setting up a child for his or her best opportunity for success.

United Way saw two years ago after its strategic planning meeting that the zip code a child lived in too often determined the fate of that child. United Way saw that children living a few miles away from each other don’t have the same experience.

While some children came to school rested, well fed and prepared for class, others lacked the same access to healthy foods, health care and other community resources.

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.

King & Spalding is the leading law firm contributor to United Way of Greater Atlanta and has been for 16 consecutive years. In 2018, King & Spalding raised more than $875,000 for United Way from 615 committed donors. The firm has raised more than $11 million since 2008.

King & Spalding’s commitment to United Way extends even beyond monetary donations, though. King & Spalding partner Meghan Magruder serves on the United Way board of directors, Abbott said.

She said the organization was moved by the data and research that was presented to them in 2017.

“It’s hard not to be on board [with the Child Well-Being Movement],” Abbott said. “We have a lot of personnel who are in different areas of the city— it’s Atlanta, everybody is scattered all over the place— and it made you realize there are these pockets of need in almost every community. It helps us visualize that, when you are giving to United Way of Greater Atlanta, you are giving to all of the counties.”

While everybody knows there’s a need that exists, Abbott said King & Spalding liked how United Way was able to zero in on a specific need and use a data-driven approach to make sure the work they are doing in the community makes the greatest impact where there is the greatest need.

“State of the Children was the first time we’ve seen the status update and the grand plans to move the needle, and that it has been working,” Abbott said. “It makes a difference to have those targeted efforts in certain areas. It’s encouraging to see the progress, and we’re trying to think about creative ways to share that moving into campaign.”

The law firm encourages its employees to give to campaign, and they always encourage them to be “as generous as possible,” Abbott said.

Personnel at King & Spalding are encouraged to be active partners to United Way throughout the year, not just during campaign. Last year, King & Spalding partnered with the United Way Volunteerism team to plan five community service events for lawyers and staff, and in June, as part of a firm-wide day of service, volunteers visited the Hughes Spalding Hospital in Atlanta to host a craft party for pediatric patients.

Additionally, they’ve completed care package, meal packing and literacy kit projects among many other community projects outside of United Way.

“The Child Well-Being Movement just clicks with us,” Abbott said. “Anything that is data driven, you are speaking our language and it’s something that we can connect to.
“Education, housing, hunger, no matter what motivates you to give, you can speak to all those things through the lens of supporting children in the community through United Way.”