Milton J. Little, Jr., President and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday, we honored Martin Luther King, Jr. for his life of service to the Civil Rights Movement, his power to strengthen communities, address social problems, bridge barriers and move us closer to his vision of a beloved community. And while we honor his legacy the third Monday in January of every year, the following Tuesday each year marks another important day for our community – the National Day of Racial Healing.

Today, January 18, 2022, marks the sixth year of the National Day of Racial Healing – a day dedicated to healing from the effects of racism. It is a day to acknowledge the stains in our country’s history and bring ALL people together in their common humanity to take collective action and create a more just and equitable world.

At United Way of Greater Atlanta, our longstanding commitment to remove racial barriers deeply impacting communities in our region remains stronger than ever. Our mission is to engage and bring together people and resources to drive sustainable and equitable improvements in the well-being of children, families, and individuals in the community. Simply put, our work is grounded in equity for all and is core to our mission to improve Child Well-Being.

In July of 2020, we launched our United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund. The fund was created to address the racial disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and to build on the new momentum from 2020’s civil unrest to address racial inequities and to advance deep and widescale changes. This fund invests in structural solutions that address the root causes of racial inequity.

Across the Greater Atlanta community we have seen immense support for the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund. Donations to-date of $3.1M have enabled us to provide multi-year grants to 19 partners. We have also seen a widespread commitment to learning about racial equity and healing through our 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. Through the challenge, we were able to engage more than 4,500 people across 36 states representing more than 1,200 organizations. Douglas, Cobb and Gwinnett Counties participated in the challenge with a variety of public sector partners such as school districts, county commissioners, corporate partners and Chambers of Commerce. Last year, Gwinnett County officially proclaimed the Tuesday after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the National Day for Racial Healing in Gwinnett County. The breadth and depth of insights that have informed our work in racial equity could not have happened without the convening of a diverse and talented group of volunteers, advisory board members and thought leaders.

Healing is an integral part of the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund’s title. According to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, racial healing is a process we can undertake as individuals, in communities and across society as a whole. In healing, we recognize our common humanity, acknowledge the truth of past wrongs and build the authentic relationships capable of transforming communities and shifting our national discourse.

As we reinforce the mission of achieving the promise for a more equitable Greater Atlanta, to improve Child Well-Being, healing is top of mind. United Way of Greater Atlanta recently provided grant awards to 8 nonprofits who not only have a racial justice lens but are also focused on healing and restorative practices that are rooted in place and grounded in community. In order to have both thriving and resilient communities, we must respond and invest in solutions that transform the systems that have disrupted so many lives in Black and Brown communities. Through these grants, we are committed to learning alongside our partners to better understand the role “healing” plays in creating a brighter future for children, families and communities and inspiring collective action.

Examples of funded partners are as follows:

  1. Sistercare Alliance – SisterCARE Alliance is a network of professionals, mothers, sisters, entrepreneurs, activists, self-care advocates, and leaders who believe that protecting Black women and their well-being is fundamental to ensuring family and community.
  2. Policing Alternatives & Diversion Initiatives(PAD)– is an initiative born out of the work and vision of Atlantans directly impacted by policing and incarceration and committed to a new approach to community safety and wellness.
  3. Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective – is a network of healers, health practitioners, and organizers in the U.S. Southeast, began using the term “healing justice” as a framework to identify how communities can holistically respond to and intervene on generational trauma and violence.
  4. JustGeorgia Coalition – was formed in 2020 by the Georgia NAACP and the Southern Center for Human Rights to form a racial justice advocacy coalition following the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

In honor of National Day of Racial Healing and beyond, we honor these organizations and their leaders for their longstanding commitment to advancing racial equity and healing for our region. Together, we can do MORE to achieve the promise to be an equitable Greater Atlanta for all. For more information on the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund, click here.

 

This story was previously published on SaportaReport.com.

This year, United Way of Greater Atlanta will provide assistance to more than 381,000 individuals and families across Greater Atlanta’s 13-county region. From the Child Well-Being Mission Fund, the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund, and the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, we’re providing sustainable and equitable improvements for the well-being of children, families and communities.

Because of our generous donors, more children will receive quality childcare, families will receive basic needs and housing, youth receive college planning, and families are provided with tools to build wealth. Read on for some highlights from the last year.

Child Well-Being Mission Fund

The Child Well-Being Mission Fund ensures lasting, equitable and collaborative solutions to the critical problems that stand between us and a better quality of life. The fund includes four investment priorities – Strong Learners, College and Career Ready, Economic Stability, and Brighter Future.

  • $43.92 Million Distributed
  • 223 Nonprofits Funded via 267 Grants
  • 381,000 Services Provided

82% of our grants are direct service grants, which provide active supports, services and/or programming to individuals and families.

Strong Learners 25,703 children will become stronger learners through securing housing and basic needs for their families, providing support to build reading skills, helping to strengthen family engagement, increased access to health services, and access to quality early learning.

College and Career Ready 104,326 youth will be supported for higher education and high-growth careers through strengthened academic support, expanded career pathways, increased college planning and secure housing and basic needs.

Economic Stability 113,062 individuals will gain access to childcare/afterschool care, job skills, financial training, and housing and basic needs, in order to reach economic stability.

Brighter Future 123,389 individuals will be supported through investments that expand key coalitions, increase civic participation, and improve advocacy that directly improves communities in Clayton, South DeKalb, and South Fulton counties.

United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund

Nearly 500,000 children in Greater Atlanta live in communities where the majority of residents are people of color and lack the basic opportunities and resources to thrive. The United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund tackles the systemic issues underlying the correlation between race and zip codes, place and equity.

  • $3 Million Raised
  • 7 Nonprofits Funded Through Initial Grant Round
  • $1.2 Million Granted as Multi-Year Commitments
  • Average Award of $105,889 (Additional round of funding to be considered in Fall 2021)

COVID-19 Response and Recovery

The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, in collaboration with Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, provided support grants to nonprofit organizations to provide services to people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund rapidly distributed dollars to nonprofit organizations so that they could quickly get help to children and families impacted by COVID-19.

  • 14 Million Services Provided
  • $28.2 Million Distributed via 598 Grants
  • 481 Nonprofits Funded

We’ve improved the lives of 82,000 children, but we can do more. We know every child whose life we change will go on to change the lives of countless others, and when we work together our community impact grows exponentially to create an equitable future for all.

Work this important is never over or done alone. Can children, families and Greater Atlanta communities count on you? Unite for more today.

“Myself and my kids are so grateful to you all. You really reached out to us when we needed it the most.” – Emergency Housing Assistance Program funding recipient Jallow Hadijjatou

Like so many City of Atlanta residents, Jallow Hadijjatou lost her job at the start of pandemic. A single mother and im

migrant, the stress of caring for her family without a job quickly set in. According to the US Census Bureau, there are approximately 13.6 million single parents in the U.S., raising 22.4 million children. And eighty percent of those single parents are moms like Jallow.

The strain the pandemic has put on single mothers is heartbreaking. According to the University of Oregon study Home Alone: The Pandemic Is Overloading Single-parent Families, researchers note the impact of COVID-19 is more distressing for single parent families than other types of households.

While unemployed, Jallow, like most parents during the pandemic, became an at-home teacher’s assistant, helping her children navigate remote learning. When school was done for the day, she tried to keep them busy – all while dealing with the worry of affording rent and utilities. As lockdown stretched on, Jallow continued to search high and low for a job, but rent payments were a continuous struggle and were piling up. According to the Federal Reserve of Atlanta’s one-year study of the pandemic, more than 60 thousand evictions were filed. That number has now grown.

After hearing about rental assistance programs, Jallow decided to shift her focus on the short term. Through the Emergency Housing Assistance Program and United Way of Greater Atlanta’s partner, Housing Plus, Jallow connected to a case manager who listened to her experiences and provided personalized care and rental assistance. Jallow and her children were able to stay in their apartment, and focus on school in a stable home environment.

United Way of Greater Atlanta and the City of Atlanta recently announced that the Emergency Housing Assistance Program re-opened October 4th to distribute an additional $12M in Department of Treasury funding received through the United States Treasury. The current Emergency Housing Assistance Program – totaling $15.2M in federal funds – is on track to distribute the entire amount by mid-October. Since August 2020, through both the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) and the US Treasury, the Emergency Rental Assistance program has helped more than 7,800 individuals and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic stay in their homes.

According to the NY Times, about 89 percent of rental assistance funds have not been distributed nationally,” says Milton J. Little, Jr. President and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “We’re proud to say that we are on track to spend the full amount of previous American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Now, with the additional funding, we hope to help an additional 2,000 families.”

Since August 2020, United Way of Greater Atlanta has partnered with the City of Atlanta, Curry Davis Consulting Group, and agency partners on the Emergency Housing Assistance Program. Having a roof over your head and having a stable place to call home is foundational to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being mission. Families that have been evicted or face eviction deal with a number of factors including keeping children in school, maintaining stable employment and protecting their health. According to Bloomberg News, “Evictions touch households beyond just those who receive an order to vacate. People who get evicted from their homes tend to double up, moving in with friends or family, or going to shelters. These outcomes make for more crowded households, increasing the points of contact between a home and the outside world, and creating more exposure opportunity for someone who hasn’t gotten the vaccine.” That’s why United Way of Greater Atlanta joined the City of Atlanta to help get federal funding out as quickly as possible to people most in need through the Atlanta COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program.

City of Atlanta residential renters who have experienced a loss of income because of COVID-19 will be able to receive assistance with the payment of their past due rent, utility and/or security deposit assistance dating back to March 13, 2020 with an average payment of $3,000 per household. Due to new federal guidelines, mortgage assistance is not available.

Individuals and families impacted and in need of support will have multiple access points to apply for assistance in both English and Spanish. To apply for assistance and view eligibility requirements and FAQs, options include:

  • Access the client application by visiting www.unitedwayatlanta.org or by clicking here.
  • Visit http://211online.unitedwayatlanta.org/
  • Call 2-1-1 to speak with a live 2-1-1 Community Connection Specialist Hours are limited from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Due to high call volumes, the above listed options are preferred.

Previously published on SaportaReport.com.

ATLANTA, GA – United Way of Greater Atlanta announced today that the CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Dr. Raphael Bostic, has been appointed as the 2021-22 Board Chair. Dr. Bostic has been on United Way of Greater Atlanta Board for two years and he will now be joined by four new Board members, including Dr. Lisa Herring, the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools; Chloe Barzey, Managing Director of Accenture; and Sarah Clamp, a partner at EY, and Jessica Corley, a partner at King & Spalding. United Way of Greater Atlanta engages and brings together people and resources to drive sustainable and equitable improvements in the well-being of children, families, and individuals in the community.

“At the Atlanta Fed, we recognize the importance of making the economy work for everyone, and our work in this area aligns with the efforts of the United Way of Greater Atlanta to help reduce inequity and bring about a more inclusive economy,” says Dr. Bostic. “As the new board chair, I am very excited to have four new directors who bring a diverse set of skills, experiences, and perspectives. Their addition to our team will allow us to accelerate progress towards our strategic goal of improving the well-being of children and families across the region.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s vision for Greater Atlanta is a thriving and inclusive community where every person, regardless of race, identity or circumstances, has equitable opportunities to live a healthy life and to acquire the education and skills they need to earn a sustaining wage so that they may achieve their full potential. The organization’s Child Well-Being Agenda concentrates on the direct correlation between child well-being and thriving communities. While there are many groups doing excellent work, there are gaps in resources in areas of low child well-being, and insufficient alignment among services and resources to drive sustainable change. By providing the necessary attention to resource gaps, and building partnerships in each community, United Way is looking to improve the long-term outlook of the region.

“Education is the greatest equalizer and I believe in the inner strength, power, and talent of all children. Success does not rest on where we begin in life but how each of us maximizes our talents and pursues our purpose. The concept is critical in serving, supporting and educating children and future leaders,” says Dr. Lisa Herring, superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. “I’m proud to join United Way of Greater Atlanta’s board to provide insights and expertise to move the organization’s mission forward and to create and equitable future for all.”

New additions to United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Board of Directors are:

United Way of Greater Atlanta serves 13 counties in the Greater Atlanta area: Butts, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale. Of the more than 1.3 million children living Greater Atlanta’s 13-county region, close to a half a million live in communities with low or very low child well-being.

About United Way of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way in the nation, engages and brings together people and resources to drive sustainable and equitable improvements in the well-being of children, families, and individuals in the community. We have improved the lives of 82,000 children, but together, we can do MORE. The organization unites with more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Mission Fund to create an equitable future for all. Let’s do MORE, together. Unite for MORE today! For more information, visit: unitedwayatlanta.org or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

ATLANTA – June 10, 2021 – As our region continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a critical need for investments that broaden access to vaccines for communities that do not have equitable opportunities to receive them. Education to address vaccine hesitancy, especially among immigrant and minority communities, is also a priority to ensure maximum vaccination levels across the metro area.

To make vaccine access more equitable, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta have committed $1.125 million in grants to 23 organizations addressing these challenges. Grants will be administered as the ninth and final round of grants made possible through the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. This round of funding, which is focused on moving our region forward from emergency response to recovery, also includes four grants totaling $550,000 to bolster capacity for nonprofits and nonprofit leaders; 15 grants totaling $1 million to nonprofits focused on comprehensive summer learning opportunities including social emotional supports and to address the digital divide; and 13 grants totaling $650,000 to organizations leading on policy and advocacy, for a total of $3.325 million awarded in this round.

In the initial stages of vaccine roll out in Georgia, as few as 7% of the Latinx population and 16% of the Black population were receiving vaccines compared to 24% in the white population and 33% in the Asian population. In response, the Community Foundation partnered with the Metro Atlanta Chamber to convene leaders from across the region to focus on access to, and education about, the vaccine with a goal of reaching an 80% vaccination rate in the region by July 4. This work informed the latest round of grants to nonprofits that are well positioned to move rapidly and have direct, immediate impact in targeted communities. Grant recipients range from those working broadly across the region to those focusing their efforts on a specific language-speaking population or zip code. All grant recipients are detailed below.

“Since the launch of the COVID-19 Fund in March 2020, its aim was to be nimble and pivot as needed to respond to the most critical need at a given time,” said Frank Fernandez, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “From its initial days funding immediate needs including food access for neighbors in need and childcare for first responders, the Fund’s later rounds focused on changing priorities, including technology for remote learning for students, housing and mental health. This final round of grants focuses on initial steps from response toward recovery and today’s most pressing need, ensuring that our region’s rate of vaccinations improves so that we can truly begin to move forward and return to some sense of normalcy.”

With the COVID-19 grant cycles now complete, moving forward, the Community Foundation and United Way will continue to partner in place-based work to address the needs that COVID-19 exacerbated in our region, especially the racial inequities that emerged in areas ranging from healthcare outcomes to access to essential resources.

“The fact that we pulled together the COVID-19 Fund, secured financial commitments from individuals, corporate partners and private foundations, and made our first grants in a matter of days last March is a testament to the power of partnership,” said Milton Little, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “Now, moving forward, we will work in partnership with our community to develop and deepen place-based strategies that engage local stakeholders, aiming to address the root causes of the challenges that COVID-19 laid bare on our region.”

A grand total of $28.2 million from the COVID-19 Fund has been mobilized to benefit 478 nonprofits in its nine funding cycles. Today’s announced grants, as well as those made in the earlier rounds, are listed on both the Community Foundation’s website and United Way’s website.

Grants for vaccination access and education were prioritized to organizations that are predominantly led by Black and Latinx people as representatives of communities that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in our communities. These organizations work across a variety of social and economic issues that are critical to recovery for the region and are explicitly working toward improving the lives of people of color, including immigrant and refugee communities.

 

  1. 100 Black Men of Atlanta: $42,500 for the design, coordination, and execution of vaccination efforts on the West Side/Vine Cities communities within zip code 30318.
  2. Amani Women Center: $28,500 for the design, coordination, and execution of vaccine awareness/education campaigns in African-specific languages.
  3. Black Child Development Institute (BCDI) – Atlanta: $50,000 to expand testing/vaccine access and outreach efforts for faith-based partners within Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton counties.
  4. Center for Pan-Asian Community Services: $50,000 to expand vaccine accessibility to communities served in DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties.
  5. Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc.: $25,000 to expand COVID-19 testing/vaccination awareness and outreach efforts in metro Atlanta.
  6. CORE: $250,000 to operate COVID-19 mobile vaccination units.
  7. CovidCareGA: $20,000 for COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the metro-Atlanta region.
  8. The Family Health Centers of Georgia: $50,000 for COVID-19 testing/vaccination efforts throughout metro Atlanta.
  9. Feminist Women’s Health Center: $25,000 for COVID-19 testing and vaccines.
  10. Georgia Charitable Care Network: $50,000 for COVID-19 testing/vaccination efforts at charitable clinics in metro Atlanta
  11. Good News Clinics: $50,000 for COVID-19 testing/vaccination efforts in Hall county.
  12. Hispanic Alliance GA: $50,000 for COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts to improve accessibility in Barrow, Forsyth, Gwinnett and Hall counties.
  13. Interfaith Youth Core: $25,000 for COVID-19 vaccination outreach efforts in metro-Atlanta.
  14. Latin American Association: $25,000 for COVID-19 vaccination outreach efforts of the Latinx community in metro-Atlanta.
  15. Latino Community Fund: $100,000 for the design, coordination and support of vaccination efforts within Latinx communities.
  16. Los Niños Primero (Children First): $50,000 for COVID-19 vaccination efforts and outreach in the Latinx community.
  17. The Nett Church: $12,000 for COVID-19 testing/vaccination efforts.
  18. Refugee Women’s Network, Inc.: $28,500 for COVID-19 testing/vaccination efforts in refugee and immigrant communities within Clarkston.
  19. Ser Familia, Inc.: $50,000 for COVID-19 vaccination efforts and outreach in the Latinx community.
  20. Southside Medical Center: $50,000 for COVID-19 testing/vaccination efforts throughout metro Atlanta.
  21. The Twenty Pearls Foundation, Inc.: $33,500 for expanding COVID-19 testing/vaccine access, education and awareness in South Fulton communities.
  22. Unidos Latino Association, Inc.: $35,000 for COVID-19 testing/vaccination efforts and outreach in Newton and Rockdale counties.
  23. VOX ATL (aka VOX Teen Communications): $25,000 for COVID-19 vaccination outreach efforts focused on youth vaccination in the metro-Atlanta region.

Capacity building enables nonprofit leaders and organizations to develop the skills and resources they need to strengthen their work. These capacity building investments were responsive to the current COVID-19 landscape. Grants awarded to build capacity for nonprofits include:

  1. Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement: $150,000 to provide capacity building resources for the development of a coordinated care system.
  2. Center for Civic Innovation: $100,000 for a self-care/mental health fund and accompanying programming to support Women of Color community leaders and entrepreneurs.
  3. Georgia Center for Nonprofits: $125,000 to lead 30 Resiliency to Recovery Strategy and Roadmaps program grantees through GCN’s Resilience to Recovery Cohort, including expanded training and $2,500 stipends per organization.
  4. Latino Community Fund: $175,000 to provide capacity-building resources to Latinx-led and Latinx-serving organizations.

The pandemic has set back learning for students in our region and access to summer learning programs is critical to addressing further learning loss. Grants awarded for education include:

  1. 21st Century Leaders: $45,000 for a summer learning program, which will enhance STEM leadership development skills as well as address digital divide for youth in metro Atlanta.
  2. Agape Youth and Family Center: $100,000 for summer learning programs, including work to close the digital divide, in the city of Atlanta.
  3. Atlanta CARES Mentoring Movement: $75,000 for summer learning opportunities that focus on literacy and STEM while addressing the mental health and well-being challenges related to the COVID-19 disruption of the learning environment that is impacting metro Atlanta students.
  4. Center for Pan-Asian Community Services: $100,000for summer learning programs and technology needs for students.
  5. Community Guilds (STE(A)M Truck): $30,000 for STEAM summer learning programs in Clayton county and the Westside of Atlanta
  6. Community Teen Coalition: $40,000 for a six-week summer program simulating a college-going experience.
  7. Corners Outreach: $50,000 for summer programing serving children and teens at three locations.
  8. Fugees Family: $50,000 for the Georgia Fugees Academy Charter School that provides intensive summer support in DeKalb county.
  9. Inspiredu: $100,000 to address the digital divide for students across five metro districts.
  10. LaAmistad: $100,000 for the summer learning program, including work to close the digital divide, serving the Latinx community in metro Atlanta.
  11. Latin American Association: $100,000 for the Latino Youth Leadership Academy and Summer Academic Enrichment Program.
  12. Los Niños Primeros: $50,000 for a virtual summer learning program with a primary focus on children who are immigrants and/or Hispanic or Latinx focused on academics, language acquisition and the arts.
  13. Odyssey: $40,000 for a summer learning program with a focus on communities south of I-20.
  14. SEM Link: $20,000 for a STEM summer learning program in South Fulton and the City of Atlanta.
  15. Raising Expectations: $100,000 for summer learning programs in the Westside of Atlanta.

 

Now more than ever, supporting a strong civic ecosystem that includes policy and advocacy partners is essential for the recovery of the metro Atlanta region. Grants awarded for public policy and advocacy include:

  1. Asian Americans Advancing Justice: $50,000 to increase equitable access to COVID-related information, targeting AAPI, immigrant and other communities of color.
  2. Equity Foundation of Georgia: $50,000 to continue efforts to engage LGBTQ people within their local communities.
  3. Georgia Budget and Policy Institute: $50,000 to improve communities throughout Georgia through policy efforts.
  4. Georgia Coalition of the People’s Agenda: $50,000 to increase civic engagement around issues like health, economic and education equity and power mapping.
  5. Georgia Muslim Voter Project: $50,000 for policy and advocacy building in Muslim communities.
  6. Georgia Shift: $50,000 to increase access to civic participation through voting access, education and advocacy.
  7. Georgia STAND-UP: $50,000 for civic engagement and mobilization for communities of color.
  8. New Georgia Project: $50,000 for civic engagement and mobilization for communities of color.
  9. Project South: $50,000 for policy and coalition building to improve access to resources for COVID-19 relief.
  10. Solutions Not Punishment : $50,000 for the completion of the data gathering project, “A Safe Atlanta” to recommend and provide alternatives to policing  in the City of Atlanta.
  11. The Arc: $50,000 for the Grassroots Connectors program that builds trust in rural areas of the state where information and resources for communities and people with disabilities is scarce.
  12. Women Engaged: $50,000 to build power and provide leadership development targeted toward Millennial and Gen Z Black women.
  13. Women on the Rise: $50,000 for civic engagement and organizing work targeting Black women, LGBTQ, gender non-conforming and women with disabilities

 

About United Way of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. The organization invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Impact Fund and works to help children succeed in school, improve financial stability of families, provide affordable and accessible healthcare and end homelessness. For more information, visit: unitedwayatlanta.org or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Media Contact:

Chad Parker, 404.358.5055
cparker@unitedwayatlanta.org

Laura Salvatore Adams is passionate about public health work. But, more recently, she’s seen how the importance a community places on the health of its citizens can impact a family’s ability to grow its wealth.

Adams is one of many United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Young Professional Leaders who volunteered in the LINC and YPL affinity group’s Child Well-Being Hackathon on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“I think, typically, hackathons are a half day, full of events, and with our hackathon we wanted to sort of replicate what you see in the business world,” Adams, a YPL board member, says. “We wanted to bring together multiple organizations and have them solve some sort of problem in a short time frame.”

 Lauren Rock, Director of Individual Engagement in the Office of Development for United Way, says this hackathon was an “evolution of United Way’s historical MLK Weekend event” called the Day of Innovation, which was first hosted by United Way with LINC members about six years ago.

The event has evolved over time and the format changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it allowed LINC and YPL to host a unique skill-based volunteer opportunity.

“This year they are focused on introducing young professionals to United Way’s Investment Priorities, and a more expanded representation of organizations that share in their commitment to Child Well-Being,” Rock says. “On Jan. 18, we were joined by: Atlanta CARES, Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency, Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, Everybody Wins Atlanta, Sneaker Ball Atlanta’s FEATS and InspirEDU.”

These organizations were selected based on a set of criteria that amplified youth voices, created digital access to literacy tools and increased equitable outcomes for communities impacted by structural racism, Rock says.

An event participant said the event was ‘a very fulfilling experience, much better than dropping off goods at the office.”

“For an event that typically lasts a half day and that has overwhelming success in person, we knew that the limitations of the virtual world might impact the overall experience,” Rock says. “Fortunately, the feedback has blown us away and encouraged us to begin planning our next hackathon.”

Adams moved to Atlanta from Topeka, Kansas for school—but Atlanta’s been her home for the past six or seven years, she says. It’s no longer just “a stop along the way,” but where she has settled and set roots for her family. The Emory University graduate has a master’s in public health with a focus in health policy and management. But the hackathon work on MLK Day centered around the issue of economic stability, she says.

“Partner organizations came into the hackathon with a challenge they needed help with,” she says. “I partnered with the Atlanta Center for Self-Sufficiency, and what they were doing had to do with their overall strategy and branding from where they are now compared to where they want to go.”

Making sure families are financially stable starts with making sure a family remains healthy, Adams says.

“What brought me to volunteer more with United Way at first is public health, but as I’ve gotten more involved, it becomes apparent that a part of public health is economic stability,” she says. “It’s hard to pay attention to public health when you aren’t [financially stable].”

United Way of Greater Atlanta has recently aligned its work to invest in four priority areas to improve the well-being of children, families and their communities across Greater Atlanta. United, we can make sure children grow up as strong learners who are college and career ready—we can make sure families that are economically stable are set up for the best possible success for the future.

United Way’s economic stability work focuses on improving job skills while addressing factors like housing, financial education and health costs, which helps ensure families convert an increase in income to sustained wealth—that last point is what grabbed Adams’ attention.

“That’s what I’m most interested in these days. It seems crucial to providing long-term sustainable change in these communities,” she says. “I feel like all of the investment priorities United Way has I align with.

“I just want to bring whatever skillset I have to make those things happen. Being a [YPL] board member, it’s not just about our ideas, but how we can execute more of what United Way wants to do. We are really passionate about this work.”

If you are passionate about giving back to your community, join the LINC and Young Professional Leaders affinity group.

Editor’s Note: This story’s featured image is from Housing Justice League’s Facebook page. 

 

Atlanta is a community full of champions—people who work each day to improve the quality of life for every single person in that community.

Greater Atlanta needs even more champions, though, if we’re going to change our standing as the “Capital of Inequality” in America—a title we’ve carried for the second-straight year.

But first, in order to do that, we have to address the facts. Today, news and researchers have brought to light the facts around racial wealth disparities that exist and have for some time.

White families have substantially more wealth than Black families.

According to a report from the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, the median household income in Atlanta for white families is $83,722 compared to $28,105 for Black families.

The average African American-owned business is valued at roughly $58,000. Whereas the average white-owned business is valued at $658,000.

Homeownership can be another key component of wealth building, and we see the same trend here. After rebuilding from the 2008 recession, in Greater Atlanta about 70 percent of white families are homeowners compared to 46 percent of Black families.

It’s a trend not only here in Atlanta and in the South, but across the United States.

These disparities arise from a system steeped in racism and founded upon it. Families living in neighboring zip codes don’t have the same opportunities as those just down the road.

Think of your community as a forest of trees—they represent our health system, education system, financial system and even our housing system.

While a tree may appear healthy, sometimes it takes looking beneath its surface and examining its roots and groundwater to find that it’s a root system in decay.

Our community, similarly to this forest, can only thrive from the ground up, and it becomes our challenge to address the unseen ideologies—the groundwater— that feed policies and investments into the roots of our communities. The groundwater that should provide essential nutrition and make a system strong is tainted by systemic racism.

 

Weather the storm

 

Housing policies from the 1940s determined where banks, developers and government would or would not invest in Atlanta. Neighborhoods that were predominantly Black were marked as not eligible or worthy of investment. They were outlined on maps and ultimately this practice was called “redlining.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well-Being Map shows that despite the fact discriminatory redlining practices officially ended in 1967, the disinvestment and its after-affects continue. Black and Brown Atlantans have suffered despite their individual efforts. Home values, education investments and opportunities to accumulate wealth were limited.

We need champions to call out these problems—champions like Alison Johnson.

Alison is the executive director of Housing Justice League, a community-led grassroots organization. Housing Justice League’s mission is to work with tenants and renters to stimulate their power and drive positive impact in organizing for fair housing and tenant rights.

Housing Justice League also uses this position to provide education and support to tenants and renters while informing policy that can help reverse this inequity in housing.

Alison said in a Housing Justice Webinar hosted by Black Futures Lab that she was “born and raised” in the community of Peoplestown in Atlanta. She’s lived there all of her life, “leading the fight to mitigate the harm” caused by issues around redlining.

While she lives in Peoplestown, her family’s journey began with her grandfather in the old Atlanta community of Buttermilk Bottoms. She said her grandfather worked as a chef in a neighboring community, but Buttermilk Bottoms was where he would come home after those long days at work. She said the family was forced out of his community after the city’s “urban renewal” program came in to “clear away the slums.” They moved to what is now Old Fourth Ward, and after settling there, they were once again forced out of the community with the building of a new highway system.

The family moved then to Summerhill. This was where her parents met and married, her father a city employee and mother a stay-at-home mom who was a community volunteer that spent much of her time caring for Alison and her sister, who was deaf. Her mother and father were forced out of a rental home once again and into the Peoplestown community. It took several years, Alison said, for her family to finally secure homeownership.

It wasn’t much, but they “made it a home.”

So, Alison continues to be champion for those in Atlanta with similar stories, displaced by longstanding racist systems. She has become a champion to fight and mitigate the harm and displacement so many renters face.

“I want to make sure people who are living in these communities know exactly how important family is and how grateful we are for our culture…and how many storms we’ve been able to weather in order to remain and sustain in the communities where we are living,” she said in the video.

 

Address Groundwater Problems

 

In order to create the thriving community we aspire to—to create a housing system that can thrive—we must address the groundwater problems. We must end systemic racism and invest in solutions that address these root causes.

Homeownership in Atlanta has created this gap that has widened between white families and Black families. Private banking policies and national policies have created obstacles for Black families.

By not addressing these racial gaps, it has cost the United States $16 trillion.

United Way of Greater Atlanta announced the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund in July 2020 to tackle the systemic issues underlying the correlation between race and zip codes, place and equity. Others were taking on this challenge, too, but it was time to unite and heal together.

This is why United Way has partnered with and reached out to organizations involved in work addressing these housing gaps—organizations like Housing Justice League.

Do you want to become a champion for your community? Join United Way as we work to create a more just, equitable and inclusive Greater Atlanta. Donate today to the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund.

As a young professional in the working world, the biggest challenge I faced was learning how to create meaning outside of my career. College offers endless opportunities to get involved in the community through organizations and university sponsored events, but the professional world is much more fragmented and the opportunities are much harder to come by, especially when moving to a new city. LINC (Lead. Impact. Network. Change.) gives individuals aged 22-30 the opportunity to experience a centralized community of people hungry to get involved.

Through involvement in the community, young professionals develop leadership, communication and organizations skills that prove to be invaluable in the workplace. In addition, the network of LINC members goes beyond our city to over 20 other markets, providing ample opportunities to expand your personal network and surround yourself with people who will push you in a positive direction. The most important way to build a purpose filled life is by getting involved with the community now. While it may seem like balancing a career and getting involved with the community can be a challenge, we are here to show you how.

Together, we have created an organization of individuals who are actively engaging in philanthropy, advocacy, volunteerism and leadership in the Atlanta community. United Way’s extensive network and ties to the community provide a tremendous opportunity to learn about where the greatest needs are in the Atlanta community. And it doesn’t stop here – many members further expand their involvement with United Way’s partner organizations outside of their LINC involvement. The opportunities for growth are endless, and LINC gives each individual the network and exposure to understand the needs of our community and make a difference.

When LINC was formed back in 2015, we were encouraged as a network to just “do good” stuff. We convened for happy hours and volunteering. What we have realized? That is not enough. To truly be involved now we need a new commitment to our members and city: to Show Up United. We have to take the lessons shared by the leaders that positively influenced our history, couple it with our innovative skills and talent to support action and education. LINC Atlanta is committed to providing those opportunities to you—our members and partners.

As United Way’s Child Well-Being reframes their work into four priorities: Strong Learners, Economic Stability, Brighter Futures, and College and Career Ready, LINC will focus on creating activities that promote action and education around one of these investment priorities each quarter. We encourage all LINC members and your networks to participate in these experiences, share your ideas by joining a committee, and helping us increase our impact through service.

Our first priority area will be Strong Learners focused on improving third-grade reading levels and overall educational outcomes in Atlanta-based communities with low Child Well-Being scores. Take five minutes to read more about this priority area, and then follow us on Instagram and join our Slack channel to stay in the know!

Mitch Hogan

2020-2021 LINC Atlanta Vice Chair

 

Want to connect with Mitch? Message him at linc@unitedwayatlanta.org.

YPL was founded in 2010 as a place where Greater Atlanta’s growing population of young professionals could come together and actively engage in philanthropy, advocacy, volunteerism, and leadership in our community. In 2020, YPL celebrates our 10th year of service and over the past 10 years, we have seen our annual service hours grow from less than 500 hours per year to over 1,500 hours per year and seen annual funds raised exceed $2.5 million.

While YPL has been historically aligned to the United Way Child Well-Being cause by focusing primarily on the United Way Kid’s Home Initiative, as we look ahead to our next ten years of service, the YPL Board Leadership team is excited to announce that we will be taking a more strategic approach to progressing child well-being by aligning to United Way’s new Child Well-Being Investment Priorities. These investment priorities establish a collective vision and shared agenda with unified measures of achievement, strategies for attaining success, and an established evaluation process.

The four Child Well-Being priority areas include: Strong Learners, Economic Stability, Brighter Future, and College and Career Ready. Each quarter, YPL will focus our philanthropy, advocacy, and volunteering efforts around one of these investment priorities. We welcome YPL members and guests to engage in upcoming quarterly events and activities aligned to each of these priority areas to increase child well-being in our community. Our first priority area will be Strong Learners focused on improving third-grade reading levels and overall educational outcomes in Atlanta-based communities with low child well-being scores.

Click on the links below to learn more about each of United Way’s investment priority areas and join us for upcoming events and activities to support each of these priorities over the next year.

Strong Learners – August, September, October
Economic Stability – November, December, January
Brighter Future – February, March
College & Career Ready – April, May, June

To learn more, join us for our first virtual social and game night of the year on August 27th. See you there!

Brandi Wyche
2020-2021 Young Professional Leaders Chair

Want to connect with Brandi? Message her at ypl@unitedwayatlanta.org.

ATLANTA – Nearly 500,000 children in Greater Atlanta live in communities that lack the basic opportunities and resources that all children and families need to thrive. These communities are in zip codes where the majority of residents are people of color. These are also communities where COVID-19 hit hardest, exposing the health and economic disparities resulting from years of disinvestment and structural racism. The current spotlight on these disparities and recent civil unrest has created new momentum to address racial inequities and an opportunity to convert the moment into a turning point for advancing deep and widescale changes.

In response, United Way of Greater Atlanta has created the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund to tackle the systemic issues underlying the correlation between race and zip codes, place and equity.

“The urgency for racial equity embedded in this historic moment requires innovative strategies coupled with courageous action,” said Nathaniel Smith, Founder and Chief Equity Officer for the Partnership for Southern Equity. “The establishment of the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund adds significant momentum towards the realization of a more just and inclusive Greater Atlanta. The journey towards racial equity for current and future generations is a difficult path to follow. It is encouraging to witness United Way’s decision to choose a path seldom taken by our local civic leadership. I encourage others to choose this pilgrimage with us.”

United Way’s Board of community volunteers made the decision to match the first $1 million in donations to the fund to demonstrate their strong belief in the importance of its charter and its consistency with United Way’s Child Well-Being mission: to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her potential.

Since 2016, United Way of Greater Atlanta has been laser focused on addressing the reasons why Greater Atlanta sits at the bottom of the list of U.S. cities in terms of opportunity for social and economic mobility. A 2019 Bloomberg report named Atlanta “the capital of U.S. inequality” for the second year in a row. “Zip code should not be destiny,” has been a guiding force for the organization’s homelessness, human trafficking, early learning, and workforce development priorities.

“The correlation between race, zip codes and its effect on child well-being makes it critical for United Way to address place and racial equity strategically,” said Katrina D. Mitchell, Chief Community Impact Officer at United Way of Greater Atlanta. “The decisions and actions we make today will significantly shape the future. It is our vision that this fund will invest in structural solutions to catalyze effective, long-lasting change, address the root causes of racial inequity and prioritize hope, healing, and care during an unprecedented time.”

Funds will be invested in organizations in Greater Atlanta that are primarily focused on racial inequity challenges in their communities and on a regional level. Priority will be given to organizations:

  • Led by (executive leadership, staff, board) and focused on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities most directly impacted by structural racism
  • That are leading policy and advocacy efforts that intersect with on-the-ground civic engagement that is focused on people of color
  • That prioritize youth voices and take a multi-generational approach
  • Working on or adjacent to Racial Justice Efforts

 

Fund investments will be guided by an advisory committee and will utilize a racial equity impact analysis to aid in grant decisions.

Raphael Bostic, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (FRBA), and United Way of Greater Atlanta Board member, is a key supporter of the new fund and its timeliness. As Bostic said in an essay for a recent FRBA report, “Systemic racism is a yoke that drags on the American economy. By limiting economic and educational opportunities for a large number of Americans, institutionalized racism constrains this country’s economic potential. This country has both a moral and economic imperative to end these unjust and destructive practices.”

To donate to the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund, click here.

About United Way of Greater Atlanta

United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way chapter in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Greater Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. The organization invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Impact Fund and works to help children succeed in school, improve financial stability of families, provide affordable and accessible healthcare and end homelessness. For more information, visit: unitedwayatlanta.org or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Media Contacts:

For United Way United Way of Greater Atlanta

Chad Parker, 404.358.5055

cparker@unitedwayatlanta.org