#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.”

Day at the Capitol event highlights collaborative effort between elected officials and nonprofit agencies

By Bradley Roberts

Lawmakers in Georgia have been in and out of session for just over two weeks, but on Feb. 13 they convened again to discuss United Way of Greater Atlanta’s work to improve Child Well-Being in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties.

A room filled with politicians, donors and stakeholders met to mingle and discuss Child Well-Being in the Blue Room of the Georgia Freight Depot off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive — a few small steps away from the statehouse.

Elected and appointed policymakers are those who have the ability to remove barriers preventing our children, families and communities from thriving. Removing these barriers is a way we can improve the well-being of the children in our region. There are currently 500,000 children living in areas of low or very low Child Well-Being.

“We are not your father’s United Way,” CEO Milton Little said. “It’s a model that is changing to be more responsive to challenges of communities and demands that companies and individuals make when they make decisions of who should be a recipient of their charitable dollar.”

Little said the United Way had chosen to “swim upstream” in order to address Greater Atlanta’s most pressing issue, which was the well-being of our children.

United Way of Greater Atlanta saw at the end of its last strategic planning meeting that children growing up in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties were given a disadvantage based on the zip code where they were born.

United Way now uses 14 different data-driven child, community and family measures to determine an overall “Child Well-Being” score for each zip code in our 13-county region. It’s a shared agenda, and a way to leverage your donations in order to maximize the impact and reverse the implications of the Child Well-Being score.

By using the child as the lens, United Way can then identify the big picture needs of the community.

The Greater Atlanta area is one that has been extremely generous since its inception in 1905, Little said.

“Today, the United Way of Greater Atlanta is the most robust in the national system in terms of annual revenue raised,” Little says. “That is a testament to the generosity of you and others like you. We happen to be living in communities of great generosity — people who understand the personal sacrifices and personal commitment to the well-being of the community they are a part of.”

United Way has become “stewards of [donors’] generosity,” Little said. United Way is tasked with figuring out ways to aggregate philanthropy in our community, and then charge our volunteers to help make decisions about where we invest into the community.

He asked the room to continue to influence “policies that address challenges our people face.”

Gov. Brian Kemp made an appearance at Day at the Capitol. The newly-elected Republican governor, dressed in a blue, pinstriped suit made his way around the room, shaking hands with attendees before stopping to thank United Way for the work it does in this community.

Kemp agreed with Little, saying that the Legislative session wasn’t just about “passing laws and budget,” but drafting laws that govern our state, constituents and groups like United Way that are doing good work.

Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce President Dan Kaufman commented further on the “good work” United Way has been doing.

Kaufman talked about the great disparity in child well-being scores across his county — part of the county averages at 81.9, while the lowest zip code rating in Gwinnett is 23.7.

The Child Well-Being map is astonishing,” he says. “There are many places where our children are not doing well.”

Kaufman said with its population of children in low or very low child well-being —around 68,000— Gwinnett would still be the 25th largest county in the state, which was something that “really hit [him] between the eyes” when he started looking at the disparities. He highlighted some of the initiatives Gwinnett has adopted in order to address its children.

“Whatever we are doing in Gwinnett County is a direct result of the work United Way does with its Child Well-Being study,” he said.

The challenges Gwinnett County faces are not unique to one specific area, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said.

“We wouldn’t be the city of Atlanta if it wasn’t for your leadership,” Bottoms told the crowd. “We appreciate that you are willing to stand in the gap so we able to continue on the path forward in this city.”

Bottoms agreed that every child in Atlanta deserves an opportunity for success. It’s an agenda that isn’t hard to get behind.

“Child Well-Being is something that really resonates because people can quibble and argue —and fairly so— about to what extent you should help able-bodied people,” Mike Petrik, a local attorney and member of the Tocqueville Society and Ivan Allen Circle affinity groups. “But, with children, their futures are not a function of bad decisions.

“The Child Well-Being index is a wonderful metric for determining the health of a county.”

It’s United Way’s job, and the job of our elected officials, to make sure all children are doing well because there’s a clear connection to their well-being and the success of our community.

It’s what makes this an agenda that is easy to get behind.

“We want to create platforms where everyone can achieve success with no limits,” Little said. “We ask that you work with us, join us and continue to embrace Child Well-Being and our agenda because it’s your agenda.”

United Way unveils new Child Well-Being score, praises importance of partnerships during annual report

By Bradley Roberts

United Way of Greater Atlanta on May 9 at its annual State of the Children event reported out the progress made in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties to improve the well-being of its children.

A previous Child Well-Being Score of 58.9 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. United Way is on its way to reaching the goal of improving the lives of 250,000 children by 2027.

This means the movement is working, according to United Way of Greater Atlanta President and CEO Milton Little Jr.

Little presented this at the Omni Hotel in downtown Atlanta to a room full of volunteers, donors and stakeholders May 9. Little highlighted the importance partnership played in making drastic improvements in such a short time.

“You are here this morning because you invested in the future of this community,” Little said.
“No one organization can change the lives of the more than 1.3 million children living in Greater Atlanta. The differences we have made these last two years have come in large part because of partnerships.”

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 school, 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 a child well-being score of 58.9. On May 9, Ginneh Baugh, VP of Strategy and Knowledge Development at United Way, reported on new numbers displaying the region’s progress.

Baugh said fewer communities in 2018 displayed low or very low child well-being scores. Those numbers dropped from 38.7 percent of the region to 30.6.

Baugh said while our average for the region was 58.9, there was a 40-point gap between the low and high child well-being communities. We saw the greatest improvements in Clayton and DeKalb County.

“We’ve made place a priority,” Baugh said. “You can say, ‘Yes, we’ve raised the score overall,’ but what’s happening to those places that have lower scores? When you look at the map it’s a little disheartening to see places with scores below a 55.”

United Way put a focus on those areas of the map, though, Baugh says.

“Now we can say there are fewer communities with low or very low child well-being,” she said. “We’re making progress in the places that matter.”

This kind of progress is taking place across the region, and it’s encouraging, Baugh says. There’s a continued trend in improved graduation rates and children getting access to health care. Clayton County, which had a previous score of 36 in 2016, improved to 41 in 2018.

But there’s still work to be done. You can learn more about this work and how you can contribute by checking out United Way’s 2018 stakeholder report.

There are still gaps to be addressed, Baugh says. For example, African-American children are twice as likely to be born underweight, and Hispanic youth are still less likely to graduate from high school.

“We can’t stand still and say all the children are well when we’ve got these disparities,” Baugh says. “That’s part of our journey ahead.
“Based on the data, the future is promising.”

Little echoed this in his closing remarks.

“The path to a thriving community starts with the children,” Little said. “A community can say it is thriving only when all its children are thriving. We need to keep building that infrastructure of partnerships that make progress systematic and gains sustainable.
“Here at United Way, we will continue to focus our resources on powering the progress and orchestrating the partnerships that underlie it.”

Group is more than 1,600 members strong and growing

By Bradley Roberts

There’s a group of young adults working in the Atlanta area with a shared vision to make an impact in the lives of children in Greater Atlanta’s 13-county region.

The Young Professional Leaders affinity group is made up of people 40 and under. It’s a step-up from the LINC group, which is available to people age 22-30. Members of YPL give $500 or more a year to United Way of Greater Atlanta.

“This is a group of people that have varying backgrounds, and they come from different places around the world, but they come together hoping to make an impact by focusing on the Kids Home Initiative,” says Lauren Rock, director of Young Professional Engagement at United Way. “We have various levels of professionals—you see vice presidents and senior managers and a lot of different backgrounds. The big thing, though, is that you have people that want to talk about the issues.”

YPL has adopted the Kids Home Initiative as its primary focus. With Kids Home, children become the focus behind finding a solution to combat Greater Atlanta’s complex issues. Kids Home is a comprehensive solution helping children avoid or escape homelessness by assisting children and families have secure and successful futures. They do it by helping kids stay in school.

Through Kids Home, Rock can introduce YPL members to the Child Well-Being Agenda of United Way of Greater Atlanta.

United Way uses 14 different data-driven child, community and family measures to determine an overall “Child Well-Being” score for each zip code in our 13-county region. This helps United Way leverage your donations in order to maximize the impact and reverse the implications of the Child Well-Being score. By using the child as the lens, United Way can then identify the big picture needs of the community.

Rock says YPL has chosen “basic needs and homelessness as an umbrella” to work under. It’s an easy concept to introduce, she says. The issue is one you can see across the city, and it’s something members can get behind.

“You know that people have basic needs like having clothes, something to eat and a place to rest at night,” Rock said. “The Kids Home [relationship] came out of what most identifies with this group.”

That collective decision to focus on the Kids Home Initiative comes from the YPL board, which is the governing body of the group that is more than 1,600 members strong and continually growing.

Many of those members inquire online or through meetings or volunteer events at their office.

There are some great benefits of joining YPL.

The affinity group takes Greater Atlanta, and it gives you a smaller community of people that you’re on the same level with. Members can be open and clear with one another.

YPL meets regularly with potential members, and the members of the board sometimes assist in recruiting.

The group has several core events that happen each year, Rock says. There is the HoliDAY of Service —on Dec. 1, more than 200 volunteers at nine different sites across the Greater Atlanta Region made a difference in the lives of 300 children and families—personal and professional development events, spring mentoring mixer, which is a partnership with the Tocqueville Society, SaturDAY of Service and The Night for a Brighter Tomorrow Gala.

The YPL Gala will be May 3 at 8 p.m. on the Roof at Ponce City Market.

Rock says funds raised at the Gala goes to support Kids Home directly.

YPL has the benefit of having enough events geared around a common issue together, which makes it appealing to members. There’s an added benefit of networking and getting to know people across many different industries who have similar philosophies and passions as you.

“There are a lot of young professional groups in Atlanta, but what makes us unique is that we’ve got an umbrella view of the city and the city’s organizations,” Rock said. “We have the opportunity to connect you to people in various industries that you may not be able to otherwise.”

To learn more about YPL, click here.

Join us for State of the Children: Progress through Partnerships as we recognize our partners and provide an update on how we’re moving the needle to improve the well-being of 250,000 children by 2027. Award nominees to be recognized are listed below. From these nominees, a total of seven award winners will be announced.

 

Child Well-Being Impact Fund Champion Award Nominees (corporate, foundation)

  • Alston & Bird LLP
  • Bank of America
  • Cousins Properties
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Enterprise Holdings
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Genuine Parts Company
  • Grant Thornton
  • Graphic Packaging
  • Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners
  • Gwinnett County Public Schools
  • Havertys Furniture
  • Holder Construction
  • King & Spalding
  • Lockton Companies
  • Oxford Industries
  • PNC
  • Printpack
  • Publix Super Markets, Inc.
  • RentPath Gives Back Foundation
  • Rogers and Hardin
  • Rollins
  • Starbucks
  • SunTrust
  • Synovus
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Wells Fargo

 

Volunteerism Champion Award Nominees (individual, corporate)

  • Child Well-Being Advocacy Taskforce
  • Amy Corn
  • Chris Peck
  • Cox Enterprises
  • Katina Asbell
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Patricia C. Williams
  • Primerica Foundation
  • Rachel McBride & Will Lewis
  • Rhonda Moore
  • Salesforce.com
  • Wayne Ellison

 

Partnership Champion Award Nominees 

  • Atlanta CareerRise
  • Banneker High School Student and Family Engagement (SAFE) Center
  • Clayton Scorecard Learning Groups
  • Community in Schools Atlanta
  • GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Early Students
  • Georgia Public-Private Partnership for Teen Pregnancy Prevention
  • Get Georgia Reading
  • Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce
  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia
  • Junior League of Atlanta
  • Learn4Life
  • Neighborhood Nexus
  • State of Hope (DFCS)

 

Place-Based Work Champion Award Nominees

  • Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI)
  • Clayton County Government
  • Clayton County Schools
  • HTI Catalysts
  • New Life Community Ministries
  • Partnership for Southern Equity
  • Raising Expectations
  • Southern Education Foundation
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • TransFormation Alliance

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Cole Society is the umbrella covering three different affinity groups: African-American Partnership, Young Professional Leaders and Cole Women United.

Cole Society has around 8,000 members who have invested millions of dollars into Greater Atlanta. To qualify for Cole Society, you must give an annual gift of $1,000 up to $9,999.

“Your contribution to the Cole Society enables you to participate in those three groups,” Eve Powell, a strategic leader who assists in an administrative capacity with Cole Society, said. “We don’t have a committee. We have a panel that we call our ‘advisory panel,’ and we have a dozen members who meet quarterly.

“We don’t have a focus area, specifically. Our focus is just child well-being.”

Improving the well-being of children in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties has been the primary agenda for United Way since its last strategic planning meeting. Born out of this meeting was the Child Well-Being Index. United Way found certain zip codes where people were born created a barrier that prevented children to reach their life’s full potential.

A data committee looked at how we measure potential for a child. Fourteen measures in determining child well-being were selected. Compiled data showed half a million children in Greater Atlanta grow up without the resources, opportunities or social supports to reach their full potential. The index gave United Way a tool to measure this. The data was daunting, but the data created a common goal for the organization to work toward correcting.

There is now this organization-wide shared agenda, and all roads to giving point toward reversing the implications of the Child Well-Being Index. Affinity groups allow members to meet with other like-minded people who understand the importance of giving back to their communities.

“We don’t have any events that are just Cole Society,” Powell said. “We want people to get into an affinity group and be participatory in all that we do. You would give at the Cole level and you can be a member of the other three.”

Cole donors are a diverse group who unite around this common goal of helping others.

Powell doesn’t directly recruit new members for Cole Society, but she works in a planning and leadership role with United Way of Greater Atlanta’s development officers. These development officers work with corporate partners to recruit members for leadership giving, which opens them up to affinity groups.

Cole Society is named for Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, who served previously as board chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta and was former president of Spelman College, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta.

Cole believed we have the power to generate change and transform the tomorrows of people in the community, and through the Child Well-Being agenda, community members work together to build strong foundations and create opportunities for success.

Cole was board chair of United Way of Greater Atlanta as the nonprofit made the shift toward becoming an “impact organization,” Powell said.

“We were making a big shift from the old United Way where you give us money and we firm it out,” Powell said. “Now, you give us money and we have an agenda. We’re trying to impact specific areas. That’s what drives our investment leaders.”

Click here to learn about more ways Cole members can engage in their communities.

Cole Society consists of people in the Greater Atlanta area who have one shared focus: helping others. The mission is the same and Cole Society encourages people who have given to United Way to put more than just their dollars to work.

They are calling people to be leaders in the community.

“I think we are trying to build communities of like-minded people and people that think that it’s important to give back and invest in the health of our community,” Powell said. “What we’re asking people to do is step up and become leaders—that’s why this is called, ‘Leadership Giving.’

“We want to ask people to take a stand.”

To learn more about Cole Society, click here.

Last month, Tocqueville Society Champions gathered to discuss best practices and provide an update on the progress of our Child Well-Being Movement.

Child Well-Being Ambassador Tricia Holder shared an anecdote about how the Child Well-Being Heat Map is making a difference. A donor recently shared the map with a librarian in Gwinnett County Public Schools. Examining the Map, the school system’s librarian added additional routes to the book mobile so children in areas of very low child well-being could also gain access.

This is just one illustration of how awareness and discussion of the Child Well-Being Heat Map can positively impact communities and the distribution of resources.

Join the conversation. If your company has not already designated a Tocqueville Society Corporate Champion, please contact your Major Gifts Officer.

View Our Child Well-Being Map

Why Wednesday: Afton Herring

This week, United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Afton Herring shares her why! Hear why she supports the child well-being movement, and is helping us create a Greater Atlanta where a child’s ability to thrive isn’t based on the luck of their zip code. To see how your zip code scores on our Child Well-Being Index, click here.

 

 

Are you committed to the cause of child well-being in Greater Atlanta? What’s the “why” behind your community service? United Way of Greater Atlanta wants to hear what drives you to give, advocate and volunteer. Share Your Why with us!

New Year’s Resolutions for a Thriving Community

Starting off 2018 with big goals to give, advocate and volunteer — but don’t know where to start? It’s a new year, and there are new ways to get involved, give back to Greater Atlanta and deepen your connections with your community.

 

Know the child well-being score for your zip code

As Ida B. Wells said, “The people must know before they can act.” At our State of the Children press conference in March 2017, as we announced the launch of the new Child Well-Being Index, WABE’s Rose Scott quoted Ida B. Wells as a reminder that to improve the well-being of our community, first we have to know the data.

What are the obstacles that keep Greater Atlanta’s children from thriving? With its 14 measures of child, family and community well-being, the Child Well-Being Index gives us insight into where our community stands presently — and how we can improve its future. And here’s the coolest part: Our interactive Child Well-Being Map makes it easy to get informed on the issues facing the communities where you live, work and play! Just enter your zip code to see how children are doing in your region.

 

Download the VolunHere app

Did you know that United Way of Greater Atlanta has a new mobile app? We’re making it easier than ever to volunteer when, where and how you want! So, download the VolunHere app to identify local volunteer opportunities and put your time and talent to work for your community. And, as always, you can also stay up-to-date on the latest volunteer opportunities via our website, or by following us on Facebook.

 

Join the Westside Volunteer Corps

In 2017, we partnered with the Westside Future Fund​ to launch the Westside Volunteer Corps — uniting residents, community members and business leaders who are committed to investing in the future of the historic neighborhoods on Atlanta’s Westside. Want to help revitalize the Westside? Become a member of the Westside Volunteer Corps to give your time on an ongoing basis, or you sign up for a one-time volunteer event like the upcoming Westside Volunteer Corps MLK Day of Service.

 

Become a community VIP

Did you know that United Way of Greater Atlanta’s nonprofit board training initiative, the Volunteer Involvement Program (VIP), has equipped more than 2,200 diverse volunteers to become effective board leaders? VIP participants build leadership skills throughout a 10-week, 40-hour training program that includes workshops on fundraising, strategic planning, marketing and financial and legal decision making. Applications are currently being accepted for United Way VIP’s spring 2018 training session!

 

Join a group

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s engagement groups and leadership giving societies allow you to make a positive impact on our region while also building your personal and professional networks. These caring communities of donors and volunteers drive sustainable improvements in the well-being of children, families and individuals in the 13 counties of Greater Atlanta. Learn more about joining a United Way group.

 

Share your why

What’s your “why”? What drives you to give, advocate and volunteer for the good of Greater Atlanta? Whatever it is — that’s your “why.” And we want to hear it! You can share your story with us online, or keep your eye out for our Share Your Why booth at upcoming United Way of Greater Atlanta events. In the meantime, check out Share Your Why videos from like-minded donors, advocates and volunteers to get inspired!