By Katrina D. Mitchell, Chief Community Impact Officer – United Way of Greater Atlanta and Erica Fener Sitkoff, Ph.D., Executive Director – VOICES for Georgia’s Children

While much news these days focuses on COVID-19 — cases, hospitalizations, deaths, masks, vaccinations, and variants — other challenges, which existed well before the pandemic, are finally getting the attention they are due. This pandemic has forced a reckoning with Georgia’s long-standing systemic and logistical barriers to food, shelter, education, childcare and mental and physical health, to name a few. Consider these numbers:

Of the 2.5 million children in Georgia ages 0-18,

  • 377,000 are food insecure,
  • 420,000 did not have a dental check-up in the last 12 months, and
  • 78,000 students in 6th – 12th grade reported having seriously considered attempting suicide.

To be clear, however, the problem is not lack of attention and investment from government agencies, non-profit organizations, and the private sector.  Many of us have spent years analyzing these issues, developing and implementing programs based on evidence and data, and advocating for policy and practice changes that would help kids and their caregivers.  The problem is that we just weren’t close to being “finished” before the onslaught of the pandemic.

“Even though many of these challenges are not new, the pandemic has pushed more and more families into or precariously close to the brink; and we know that public and private systems need ideas, monies and effective communication to help our fellow Georgians through this trying era,” said Katina Asbell, Chair of the Public Policy Committee and a member of the UWGA Board of Directors.

Now here we are, going into 2022, and COVID remains pervasive.  What now?

In a lot of ways, we have surprised ourselves with our flexibility and resourcefulness.  School bus drivers delivered food, people accessed mental health care by phone, and while not necessarily elegant, people pretty much figured out how to use Zoom.

Additionally, many of us found ourselves in new or revitalized partnerships, most often with a shared urgency to help each other help families. Voices for Georgia’s Children and the United Way of Greater Atlanta is one such alliance. We have joined forces to advocate for a comprehensive policy agenda under the Gold Dome this legislative session and beyond.

This is not surprising, considering both organizations approach the work holistically – focusing on what we call “whole child policy.” We understand that a child does not live or learn in silos or sectors, and that decisions made in one area of a child’s life or development can influence outcomes in another.  For instance, it is now common knowledge that a child truly cannot learn when hungry or struggling with mental health, that isolation to keep kids safe from COVID-19 can also create barriers to getting proper dental care and necessary check-ups with pediatricians, and that a lack of childcare not only prevents children from learning what they need to be school-ready but can also make it hard for their parents to maintain employment. It is critical that Georgia’s policies and laws reflect such dynamics. United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2022 Public Policy Agenda with its focus on improving child well-being by working together towards a single, shared agenda to put our community’s children on an equitable path to fulfilling their potential, paves the way.

“We have been great allies in the policy space for years,” says Asbell, “but now we are working even closer. The beauty of that is that we can each use our networks to dovetail advocacy on all those things that we both know need fixing.”

Click here to learn more about United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Child Well Being Agenda.


This story was previously published on

ATLANTA –  November 19, 2020 – The Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, a joint effort from Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta, today announces grants supporting education-focused interventions, food insecurity, housing and mental health services. To date, the Fund has raised more than $25 million through collective resources from public and private donors across the region. Since the Fund was announced in March, the two organizations swiftly optimized open applications as well as online quantitative data facilitation tools to identify the areas of greatest need and the most vulnerable populations to determine where to deliver philanthropic funds.


These grants total $6.511 million and will be distributed to 214 organizations in response to the region’s needs as a result of COVID-19. During this round of grants, BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) organizations were prioritized and received over 50% of funding. A grand total of nearly $25 million from the Fund has been mobilized to benefit 455 nonprofits thus far. A full listing of today’s grants is detailed below. These, as well as those made in the earlier rounds, are listed on both the Community Foundation’s website and United Way’s website.


Individuals who wish to contribute to supporting our region’s nonprofits can donate to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund here. Support funds will be released on a rolling basis throughout the outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis.


Housing Grants:

In the past seven months, more than 1.4 million Georgians have received unemployment benefits. According to Neighborhood Nexus’ COVID-19 weekly report, there were 21,088 unemployment claims the week of October 18 – a 910% increase from the week of March 8 when the first case of COVID-19 came to Georgia. With loss of employment, questions about how families will maintain housing without employment become a significant concern.


Mental Health Services Grants:

In 2020, people have reported an increase in the number of mental health challenges they are facing; the severity is also more intense. Rates of symptoms in the second quarter of 2020 are significantly higher than in previous years: rates of anxiety increased from 8.1% in 2019 to 25.5% in 2020; depression rates went from 6.5% in 2019 to 24.3% in 2020; suicide ideation rates went from 4.3% in 2018 to 10.7% in 2020.


Education-focused Interventions Grants:

Nearly 90,000 students are without access to technology in just seven regional school districts (includes both rural and metro districts), representing technology hardware needs of $43.7 million and internet access needs of $10.9 million. Districts/schools have reduced budgets but an increased need for and a shortage of PPE and cleaning supplies. As 96% of schools reopen with some kind of virtual learning options, many working families throughout the region have no choice but to return to work without safe and licensed options for children to safely learn throughout the day.


As a result of COVID-19 related challenges, thousands of students may not return to college, which will have a residual impact on Georgia’s economic mobility due to a decrease in our talent pipeline.


Food Insecurity Grants:

The current and prospective economic picture with continued unemployment suggests food insecurity will continue to be a significant issue over the coming months. There are substantial racial disparities in food insecurity rates that have been exacerbated by the pandemic: Black households are over two times more likely to be food insecure than white households, while Latinx households food insecurity rates are three times as high as white households. Both of these population groups are also disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Additional disparities in food security can be seen in rural areas, where residents often do not have easy access to local emergency food resources like a food pantry and must travel to neighboring counties to receive assistance.


A full listing of grantees for the eighth round of grants is listed below.

  1. 100 Black Men of North Metro Atlanta – $25,000 to support coaches and mentors directly working with male students to support academic gains over the year.
  2. 3D Girls – $17,500 for care coordination to address feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation.
  3. 7 Bridges to Recovery – $25,000 to provide safe in-person learning labs for children during distanced learning with on-site tutors.
  4. Africa’s Children’s Fund – $50,000 for rapid re-housing and utility assistance program provided to families and people in City of Atlanta, Fulton, DeKalb, Henry, Clayton and Cobb Counties.
  5. Allen Temple AME Church of Atlanta – $20,000 to provide WiFi Safe Space for children to access virtual learning with safe adult supervision, and providing food during the day to attending students.
  6. Anita Lane Ministries – $20,000 for on-site tutorial lab for 25 students at a time.
  7. Assure Elder Care – $10,000 to support stable housing for seniors in DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties.
  8. Atlanta Educational Telecommunications Collaborative, dba Public Broadcasting Atlanta – $20,000 for tutorial services for Atlanta Public Schools, Cobb and Fulton districts.
  9. Atlanta Habitat For Humanity – $50,000 for mortgage assistance to those with mortgages from Habitat.
  10. Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition – $25,000 to enhance mental health resources and provide training for staff and peer specialists such as mental health first aid.
  11. Atlanta Jobs with Justice – $50,000 to provide emergency assistance to those that have rental arrears as an immediate service but are unable to receive Unemployment Insurance and addressing systemic issues with Unemployment Insurance.
  12. Atlanta Partners for Education – $37,500 to pilot learning hubs with churches and other community partners to provide additional opportunities for students to continue their schooling, while receiving the benefits of a high quality, and in-person education.
  13. Atlanta Victim Assistance – $50,000 to respond to victim’s needs, including healing circles and support groups.
  14. Auditory-Verbal Center – $10,000 to provide digital telehealth services for the hearing impaired.
  15. Berean Outreach Ministry – $33,000 to address food insecurity in the Westside of Atlanta.
  16. BestFit – $75,000 for Tech Essentials Care Packages for homeless or foster care college students.
  17. Bethany Christian Services of Georgia – $25,000 for individual and family counseling that addresses post-traumatic stress and intensive family interventions.
  18. Bethesda Christian Academy – $30,000 to provide a safe and stable learning environment for children whose families must work.
  19. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta – $50,000 for mentoring in metro Atlanta with a focus on both academic and social emotional support
  20. Black Child Development Institute-Atlanta – $45,000 to expand the Strength Within program.
  21. Black Women’s Health Imperative – $50,000 to modify the SIS Circles program to a virtual format that empowers teen girls of color.
  22. BlazeSports America – $20,000 for therapeutic recreation programs for veterans with disabilities and PTSD, as well as transportation, access to healthy foods and peer-to-peer support.
  23. Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier – $39,865 to provide a safe space for students to access virtual learning opportunities, including tutoring in small groups with qualified teachers.
  24. Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta – $100,000 to address the digital divide for students, ongoing technology support and safe care during virtual learning and after school as needed.
  25. Boys & Girls Clubs of North Georgia – $15,000 for after school programming focused on homework help and and tutoring in Pickens County.
  26. Bread of Life Development Ministries – $50,000 to address food insecurity in metro Atlanta.
  27. Bright Futures Atlanta – $30,000 for college preparation and work readiness opportunities for students from 5th to 12th grade on Atlanta’s Westside, access to camps to ensure safe and monitored access to all program and public school virtual classrooms.
  28. Brown Toy Box – $50,000 for STEAM programming specifically for Black and Brown students in Atlanta Public Schools and Clayton County school districts.
  29. C Life’s Fulfillment – $10,000 to provide a safe space for children of working parents during virtual learning.
  30. Calvary Refuge – $10,000 to re-house or prevent homelessness for families, many of which are served through shelter and transition services.
  31. Caminar Latino – $20,000 to provide the Latinx community with prevention services for those experiencing family and domestic violence.
  32. Caring For Others – $50,000 to address food insecurity and increase access to local, healthy, fresh foods in metro Atlanta.
  33. CaringWorks – $50,000 to train staff in community resilience, to advocate and educate on issues related to racial inequity and to provide behavioral health services.
  34. Carrie Steele-Pitts Home – $25,000 for increased behavioral health services focused on life skills and trauma informed care.
  35. CDF ACTION – $21,000 to support WiFi access, device and support to residents of two Clarkston apartments.
  36. Cherokee FOCUS – $10,000 for work readiness programming and general education diplomas for students in Cherokee County.
  37. Children’s Development Academy – $30,000 for subsidized high quality child care for low-income essential workers.
  38. Christ The Restorer Ministry – $15,000 to provide transitional housing and emergency housing to individuals and families Gwinnett County.
  39. City of Refuge – $50,000 for on campus classrooms for homeless students to access virtual learning in Atlanta and receive support from education facilitators.
  40. Clarkston Community Center Foundation – $35,000 to provide free, supervised open learning spaces for students in virtual classrooms in Clarkston.
  41. Clarkston Community Health Center – $10,000 for mental health services and prescription access.
  42. Clifton Sanctuary Ministries – $5,250 to provide housing stability and wrap-around supports for homeless men.
  43. Cobb Collaborative – $5,000 for digital resources and virtual workshops for nonprofits and community members focused on building capacity related to mental health and wellness.
  44. College Clinic – $10,000 to provide programming focused on college access, including preparation and the application process.
  45. Communities in Schools of Atlanta – $75,000 to provide high touch support for students and families through virtual learning.
  46. Community Farmers Markets – $10,000 to increase access to local food, support local farmers and minimize the effect of COVID-19 on the local food ecosystem.
  47. Concrete Jungle – $10,000 to increase access to fresh healthy food for medically fragile and other food insecure households.
  48. Connecting Henry – $25,000 to prevent homelessness and maintain family stability in Henry County.
  49. Cool Girls – $5,000 to address food insecurity for families.
  50. Corners Outreach – $50,000 for small group tutoring for students more than one grade level behind in reading in partnership with multiple elementary schools in Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties.
  51. Covenant House Georgia – $20,000 for housing stabilization services for youth ages 16-24 experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness and trafficking.
  52. Create Your Dreams – $40,000 for full day learning pods for children 7 to 17 in Atlanta to ensure access to virtual learning provided by Atlanta Public Schools and tutoring and academic support as needed.
  53. Diabetes Association of Atlanta – $26,000 to address access to healthy food in areas and populations either with or at risk of diabetes.
  54. Dukes Foundation – $40,000 to provide at-home equipment and internet connectivity.
  55. Duluth Cooperative Ministry – $5,000 to address food insecurity in Duluth.
  56. East Atlanta Kids Club – $18,000 to address food insecurity on the Eastside of Atlanta.
  57. Easter Seals North Georgia – $85,000 to serve children and families in DeKalb County with quality early learning experiences, including the purchase of laptops, internet and learning platforms.
  58. Elaine Clark Center – $10,000 for subsidized high quality care for families with children with special needs and supports for children on IEPs with school districts.
  59. Empowerment Resource Center – $50,000 for onsite and telemedicine behavioral health services.
  60. Everybody Wins Atlanta – $22,000 for a reading and mentoring program for struggling readers and access to home libraries.
  61. Extraordinary Life Community Church – $14,250 for healing groups and counseling.
  62. Families of Children under Stress – $12,500 for care coordination and integrated services that combat stress and social isolation.
  63. Family Health Centers of Georgia – $50,000 for school-based health services for students, families and the broader community.
  64. Family Heritage Foundation – $50,000 to provide financial assistance to individuals and families who are housing vulnerable due to COVID-19.
  65. Family Life Restoration Center – $25,000 to address food insecurity in Cobb County.
  66. Family Promise of Hall County – $6,750 to provide emergency assistance and long-term housing stabilization to families in Hall County.
  67. Family Promise of New Rock – $7,500 to provide emergency financial assistance to individuals and households to bridge gaps in rent, utilities and security deposits for housing.
  68. Fayette FACTOR (Fayette Alliance Connecting Together Our Resources) – $28,000 to work with schools to serve primarily BIPOC families with housing stabilization services.
  69. Feeding GA Families – $13,000 to address food insecurity in College Park.
  70. Fill Ministries dba Meals by Grace – $10,000 to address food insecurity in Forsyth County.
  71. Food Security for America – $5,000 to address food insecurity in apartment complexes in Cobb and Fulton Counties.
  72. Four Corners Group – $15,000 for job readiness training and employment opportunities for at-risk youth to ensure academic success and reduce recidivism.
  73. Friends of Atlanta Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill Park Communities Collaborative – $23,000 to address food insecurity in south Atlanta, including the Browns Mill, Lakewood, Norwood Manor, Thomasville Heights and Stonewall Heritage neighborhoods.
  74. Frontline Housing – $50,000 to provide rapid rehousing services for families living in motels and in need of permanent housing.
  75. Future Foundation – $40,000 for virtual tutoring program for students in Fulton County for both math and language arts, targeting learning loss and challenges to virtual learning for enrolled students.
  76. Georgia Foundation for Early Care + Learning – $45,000 to provide critical child care scholarships to children of essential workers in the COVID-19 Relief Fund footprint.
  77. Generation STEM dba The STEAM Generation – $14,000 so that vulnerable and low-income students at Title 1 schools can receive access to in-person, hands-on project based learning and after-school enrichment during this exacerbated period of educational inequities.
  78. Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN) – $14,000 to provide grocery assistance to asylum seekers and immigrant victims of domestic violence.
  79. Georgia Community Support & Solutions, dba InCommunity – $15,000 for the purchase of devices for children of essential workers, specifically those providing direct serve needs to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  80. Georgia Mountains YMCA – $15,000 for providing students access to a safe facility during times the schools are virtual.
  81. Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education – $35,000 for state and regional advocacy efforts to examine policy and programmatic issues critical to COVID recovery efforts specifically impacting education outcomes.
  82. GeorgiaCAN – $10,000 for advocacy efforts for families of economically disadvantaged students and those with special needs.
  83. Georgians for a Healthy Future – $15,000 for policy efforts for equitable access to high quality behavioral health services and supports.
  84. Gilgal – $28,950 for integrated mental health services and staff training for trauma informed care.
  85. Good News Clinics – $40,000 for depression screenings and counseling services.
  86. Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation Fund – $150,000 for multiple digital learning improvements for early learning access, for students, for teachers and even for parents.
  87. H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People be Empowered) – $9,000 for rent and childcare assistance for single parents attending school.
  88. Habitat for Humanity DeKalb – $50,000 to assist current homeowners and future homeowners who may be adversely affected, facing unexpected lost wages and increased childcare costs.
  89. Hand, Heart and Soul Project – $50,000 for a community garden and food distribution site in Forest Park.
  90. Harvest Rain Early Learning Academy – $30,000 to provide subsidized high quality early learning experiences and in person access for children of essential workers.
  91. Haven of Light International – $16,800 for online support groups and trainings that address domestic violence, racial trauma and resilience.
  92. Helping Hands for the Deaf – $6,000 for addressing food insecurity among deaf individuals.
  93. Hispanic Alliance Georgia – $50,000 for food pantry providing culturally appropriate food for the Latinx community in Hall County.
  94. Historic Westside Gardens ATL – $20,000 to address food insecurity and increase access to local, fresh, healthy food in the Westside of Atlanta.
  95. HomeStretch – $50,000 to provide transitional, supportive and rapid rehousing services to homeless families in the North Fulton area.
  96. Hope for Youth – $15,000 to deliver a safe after-school program for 100 girls.
  97. Hopebound Mental Health – $15,000 for mental health services provided to students and their families at Carver High School.
  98. House of Cherith – $30,000 for the residential recovery program for adult female survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation.
  99. House of Dawn – $15,000 to provide assistance through short-term housing services, emergency assistance and mental health/childcare supports.
  100. HouseProud Atlanta – $32,500 for seniors to ensure they stay in their homes and also provide access to needed home repairs.
  101. Housing Tonight – $10,000 to assist housing vulnerable populations with housing and supportive services in Atlanta, DeKalb and Clayton counties.
  102. Impact46 dba Lawrenceville Response Center – $50,000 to re-house or prevent homelessness for individuals and families in Gwinnett County.
  103. Innovative Solutions for Disadvantage and Disability – $10,000 to provide rental and utility assistance for older adults raising grandchildren with special needs.
  104. INROADS – $50,000 for INROADS College Links program in the Atlanta market.
  105. Inspiredu – $125,000 to address digital literacy and equitable technology access.
  106. Integrated Resources for Educating and Nurturing the Elderly – $12,500 for multi-generational services via the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program for Gwinnett and Walton counties.
  107. Interactive Neighborhood for Kids – $10,000 for hands on learning experiences in a safe environment for young learners and students in North Georgia.
  108. Intown Collaborative Ministries – $10,000 to address food insecurity in the City of Atlanta.
  109. Jeremiah’s Destiny – $3,000 for in-person, safe assistance to students in virtual learning.
  110. Jesus Set the Captive Free – $6,000 to provide housing assistance to men, primarily veterans, who are vulnerable to homelessness.
  111. Ke’nekt Cooperative – $38,000 to address food insecurity in Westview and West End neighborhoods.
  112. Kennesaw Dream Foundation – $10,000 for virtual tutoring program for middle and high school students.
  113. L&J Empowerment dba The Confess Project – $45,000 to train barbers and community organizers to become mental health advocates.
  114. LaAmistad – $60,000 for virtual tutoring for Latino students throughout the greater Atlanta region, including small group support and at home learning kits.
  115. Leap Year – $17,500 to for a two-generation model reading coach program that engages recent high school graduates to serve elementary students.
  116. Los Niños Primero (Children First) – $30,000 for continued distance learning educational and leadership programs and early learning opportunities for Latino families in Fulton county.
  117. Loving Arms Cancer Outreach – $8,000 to serve medically fragile, food insecure cancer patients.
  118. E.N.S. Wear (Making Employment the Next Step) – $25,000 for workforce development training aimed at providing expanded career pathways for frontline essential workers.
  119. Making A Way Housing – $30,000 to provide emergency, permanent supportive housing for people with chronic illness and disability.
  120. Marietta City Schools – $22,625 for technology needs, tutoring and mentoring to support vulnerable students and specifically students of color.
  121. Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation – $10,000 for community-based programing that supports college access and preparation for students at Maynard Jackson.
  122. Melanated Pearl Corporation – $25,000 for homeless prevention services for families led by women of color in Clayton County.
  123. Mental Fitness 21st Century Learning – $55,000 for technology and a virtual STEAM Literacy library to help students in specific underserved communities.
  124. Mental Health America of Georgia – $27,000 for the Mental Health Academy Training Program.
  125. Mercy Seed Resource Center – $8,000 to address food insecurity in Gwinnett County and metro Atlanta.
  126. Metamorphasis Powerhouse Company – $25,000 to fund public learning classrooms designed to equip students in pathways of success through project-learning activities in STEM, grade-level reading, career and college readiness in historically underserved communities.
  127. Metro Atlanta Urban Farm (MAUF) – $55,000 for an Urban Farm and Community Garden site in College Park.
  128. Morehouse School of Medicine – $42,500 for mental health first-aid to support men of color in neighborhood barbershops within the 30314 zip code.
  129. Museum of Design/Atlanta – $15,000 to provide STEM education access free of charge during virtual learning.
  130. My Brothers Keepers Reaching Out dba I Care Atlanta – $27,000 to address food insecurity in DeKalb County.
  131. NAMI DeKalb – $5,000 to expand peer support services and educational classes for individuals, caregivers, and families in DeKalb County.
  132. Nana Grants – $20,000 for child care scholarships to children of mothers in post-secondary programs.
  133. National Coalition of 100 Black Women Stone Mountain Lithonia – $10,000 for tablets and other STEM related resources and programming for black women and girls.
  134. New American Pathways – $10,000 for targeted academic support and enrichment for refugee and immigrants students in DeKalb County.
  135. New Life Community Ministries – $38,000 to address food insecurity in South DeKalb.
  136. Next Generation Focus – $30,000 for a virtual platform that provides after school learning opportunities for students to address academic loss.
  137. Nobis Works dba Tommy Nobis Center – $10,000 for programming that addresses barriers to academic success for students with special needs and their families.
  138. Nothing but the Truth – $5,000 to provide “Weekend Food Bags” for families in Title I schools in Gwinnett County.
  139. nsoro Educational Foundation – $10,000 to assist youth aged out of foster care with housing instability.
  140. Odyssey Family Counseling Center – $20,000 for individual and group therapy, and psychiatric services for individuals/families living in south Fulton County.
  141. Odyssey, Atlanta – $10,000 to provide year round access to tutors and mentors to mitigate learning loss.
  142. Our House – $75,000 to provide homeless shelter students access to high quality early learning, in person learning supports, as well as devices and WiFii/hotspot connectivity.
  143. Paradise Atlanta Westside Enrichment Center (PAWKids) – $13,000 to address food insecurity in Northwest Atlanta.
  144. PARENTS PROSPER (Formerly Parent Avengers) – $15,000 to connect with other parents that require assistance to maintain their housing in Vine City/English Ave.
  145. Partners in Action for Healthy Living – $43,000 to address food insecurity in South DeKalb and the metro Atlanta region.
  146. Phenomenal Women’s Health – $5,000 for comprehensive health services for high risk youth and uninsured/underinsured women.
  147. Place of Hope Clinic – $50,000 for the establishment of a mobile health unit to provide services in communities served.
  148. Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church – $6,000 to address food insecurity in Cobb County.
  149. Poetic Services – $10,000 for Learning Pods in underserved communities, ensuring students have access to devices, WiFi and staff to assist with homework needs.
  150. Presencia – $10,000 for in-person tutoring programs for struggling readers in a safe and monitored environment.
  151. Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale – $20,000 for safe and supportive learning environments for children in Rockdale and Newton Counties with access to tutoring and weekly home visits with families to address barriers to virtual learning at home.
  152. Project South – $50,000 for advocacy and mobilization of student and young adult voices in response to education needs during the pandemic, and laptops, hotspots for students and young adults and an education space for students in South Atlanta to access virtual
  153. Quality Care for Children – $75,000 to ensure training, technical assistance and necessary supplies for regional early learning providers and the provision of stabilization grants and parent access scholarships.
  154. R2ISE – $20,000 for art therapy programs addressing behavioral health challenges as a result of racial trauma.
  155. Rainbow House – $20,000 for emergency sheltering for children during the day as they access virtual learning opportunities.
  156. Rainbow Park Baptist Church – $25,000 to address food insecurity through a food pantry in South DeKalb County.
  157. Rainbow Village – $30,000 for mental health and integrated health services for residents living in the community.
  158. Raising Expectations – $100,000 to provide targeted virtual support for students in the City of Atlanta and in-person support for targeted students who were falling behind based on school district data.
  159. Raksha – $50,000 to provide housing assistance and utility assistance in addition to other supportive services regionally to the South Asian community that are victims of family violence throughout the region.
  160. re:imagine/ATL – $50,000 to acquire additional equipment and access to technology to serve more students.
  161. Reaping the Harvest Outreach Ministries International – $10,000 to fund a food pantry that serves Henry, South Fulton, Clayton and Butts County communities.
  162. Rebuilding Together-Atlanta – $5,000 to provide home repairs and maintenance to ensure low-income seniors stay in their home and maintain home ownership.
  163. Reflections of Trinity – $25,000 to address food insecurity in Cobb, Fulton and Paulding Counties.
  164. Refugee Women’s Network – $50,000 to assist refugee women with homeless prevention and housing protection services.
  165. Rhema Housing – $40,000 to provide rapid re-housing, emergency support and homeless diversion services for ex-offenders, veterans and those with disabilities
  166. Ryan Cameron Foundation (RCF) – $17,500 for technology for students, self-care sessions for teachers and PPE supplies.
  167. E.E.K. Foundation – $22,000 for hands-on learning for students in grades 7 to 11 on the Westside of Atlanta, including laptops, drones, coding software and WiFi.
  168. H.A.R.E. House – $25,000 to prevent homelessness and keep mothers and their children housed and safe in Douglas and Paulding Counties.
  169. Saint Philip Child Development Center – $50,000 to provide safe care and high quality learning experiences to children aged two to five in families with parents who must return to work.
  170. Saint Philip Community Development Corporation – $25,000 to address food insecurity in South DeKalb.
  171. Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link – $12,000 to fund STEM programming, which has been the hardest content area to pivot during this virtual COVID-19 period.
  172. Scottdale Early Learning – $50,000 to provide care for school-age children of staff that are attending school virtually.
  173. Second Helpings Atlanta – $25,000 to address food insecurity in metro Atlanta.
  174. Self-Discovery: Pain, Positioning & Purpose – $10,000 for virtual trainings for youth and young adults aimed at reducing bullying and suicide.
  175. Sheltering Arms – $150,000 to provide quality learning opportunities and address learning loss for children of vulnerable families during the pandemic by providing critical childcare resources that enable parents to return to work or maintain employment.
  176. Shine Community – $50,000 to expand programs and implement new trauma-informed services.
  177. Showcase Group – $35,500 for behavioral health services and training for youth and families returning from the juvenile justice system.
  178. Sisu of Georgia – $50,000 for access to subsidized high-quality early learning opportunities and therapy for children with special needs in families who must work outside the home.
  179. SKIP Georgia Chapter – $30,000 to fund high-quality learning opportunities to prevent academic deficiency and failure among the middle and high school grade level students who are disadvantaged due to absentee parents who are incarcerated, detached or unavailable because they work multiple jobs.
  180. Smart Foundation – $10,000 for computers, laptops or tablets for low-income students who don’t have access.
  181. South DeKalb Improvement Association Education – $17,000 for virtual tutoring services for students in kindergarten through fifth grade in South DeKalb.
  182. STAR House Foundation – $10,000 for virtual one-on-one and small group tutoring to students in Fulton County.
  183. State Charter Schools Foundation of Georgia – $150,000 for technology and/or internet access for approximately 1,000 students and for remote tutoring services to support the most vulnerable students.
  184. Still Waters Learning Center – $25,000 for a mobile outreach tutoring program within apartment complexes to address learning loss and struggling learners.
  185. STRIVE Atlanta – $83,187 for hardware and tech support for STRIVE students – 50% of the current cohort indicated a need for technology support, as did 32% of alumni in the Atlanta database.
  186. Study Hall – $15,000 for daily online tutoring programs for students at Dunbar Elementary as identified by school staff.
  187. Sugarloaf Korean Baptist Church – $25,000 to address food insecurity in Gwinnett County.
  188. Supreme Family Foundation – $58,000 for provision of frozen and shelf-stable meals for seniors in metro Atlanta.
  189. Teach “O” Rea Preparatory Preschool Incorporated – $21,000 for high-quality early learning experiences and academic after-school support for economically disadvantaged students in Clarkston and Stone Mountain.
  190. TechBridge – $16,500 for learning pods for the most vulnerable students and after-school, project-based STEAM programs.
  191. Toco Hills Community Alliance – $12,000 to address food insecurity in DeKalb County
  192. Together Friends Organization – $8,000 to fund middle school math programming in Clayton County.
  193. Tri-Cities Church – $3,000 to address food insecurity in College Park, East Point and Hapeville.
  194. Trinity Outreach International – $32,000 to work with schools, particularly those that have been designated as Title 1 schools, to address food insecurity.
  195. Truancy Intervention Project Georgia – $10,000 for trained volunteers working directly with students at Dunbar Elementary to address attendance challenges to virtual learning.
  196. Ubuntu 4 Youth – $5,000 to build home libraries and a book club for English as a Second Language students during virtual learning.
  197. Vision 21 Concepts – $40,000 to provide housing to vulnerable populations in Douglasville (youth, ex-offenders, ppl w/disabilities) with housing options and services that support self-sufficiency.
  198. Vision Tutoring Educational Foundation – $25,000 to fund tutoring programming that addresses learning loss for students of vulnerable families.
  199. VISIONful Communities – $12,500 for arts-based healing focused on racial trauma.
  200. Voices for Georgia’s Children – $20,000 to grow the capacity of youth-serving professionals and organizations, and advocacy efforts to expand access to youth services.
  201. We Love BuHi – $13,000 to address food insecurity along the Buford Highway corridor.
  202. West Atlanta Community Outreach – $30,000 for childcare support for frontline works and continued internet services for families who need a safe space.
  203. West End Family Life and Community Center – $15,000 to address food insecurity in the West End and surrounding neighborhoods.
  204. West Georgia Missions – $5,000 to offer housing stabilization to individuals in arrears or that are homeless in West Georgia.
  205. Wholesome Wave Georgia – $58,000 for addressing food insecurity and increasing access to fresh, local, healthy foods in our region.
  206. Women Are Dreamers Too – $37,675 for virtual STEM educational content.
  207. Wylde Center – $10,000 for virtual programing and curriculum enhancements, providing hands on learning and at-home kits for STEM aligned lessons.
  208. YMCA of Metro Atlanta – $200,000 to continue providing 1) Campus Connections, 2) out-of-school programming to reach low-income students of working families and 3) trauma-informed care so staff members and counselors can better serve their students.
  209. Young Entrepreneurs of Atlanta Foundation – $29,000 for student access to entrepreneurial skills via livestream and self pace learning guided by community experts.
  210. Young Stars of America – $25,000 for laptops, internet connectivity and space for safe learning pods.
  211. youthSpark – $35,000 for behavioral health services, mental health training, and advocacy for children affected by sex trafficking.
  212. Zaban Paradies Center – $10,000 for mental health services for families experiencing homelessness.
  213. Zion Hill Community Development Corporation – $50,000 for rapid re-housing and emergency assistance in South Fulton.

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 Mission 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: or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Media Contacts:

For United Way United Way of Greater Atlanta

Chad Parker, 404.358.5055

There’s no denying the tremendous impact COVID-19 has had on residents in Greater Atlanta — particularly those who are food insecure.

The pandemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus only amplified that need in underserved communities, disrupting access to food for thousands of children and their families.

This past week, United Way of Greater Atlanta, in partnership with Coca-Cola, hosted a Week of Service to meet the needs of those residents most greatly impacted by COVID-19.

About two weeks into March, major cities around the country began shutting down any non-essential businesses in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus, an infectious disease, which is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever, and in severe cases, difficulty breathing.

United Way had previously halted in-person events and volunteer opportunities but began offering safe and socially-distanced on-site volunteer events, as well as virtual and DIY opportunities in the months since Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp rolled back restrictions on a previous “shelter-in-place” order.

This is a new way that United Way has begun to meet the needs of the community while also making sure volunteers have opportunities available based on their comfort level.

“We are in constant communication with our partners on their needs and filling in as they arise,” says Brittany Phouangphet, Engagement Specialist in the Volunteerism Department for United Way. “Projects can also be tailored to specific groups and their unique set of skills. As a valued partner of United Way for over a century, Coca-Cola engages volunteers annually. This Week of Service was a special call to action, designed to address the impact of COVID-19 on the growing issue of food insecurity in Greater Atlanta.”

Over the past week, volunteers assembled more than 1,000 meals, harvested fresh veggies and performed garden maintenance for local gardens that deliver to food banks around Greater Atlanta and also implemented an emergency operation in conjunction with the Westside Future Fund to help feed families in historic Westside of Atlanta — an area that is growing rapidly, but still has great need, Phouangphet says.

“We are seeing overwhelming enthusiasm from our volunteers, whether it is a DIY project to complete at home, or a small group on-site event that has proper safety measures, volunteers are more eager than ever to help ensure our community thrives,” Phouangphet says. “The current climate has influenced us to increase our offering of virtual and remote opportunities; ensuring both the safety of our volunteers and meeting the needs of our communities.”

Learn more about how you can volunteer in your area and donate to improve the well-being of children and families in Greater Atlanta.

Think of a child in the Fulton County School System. He’s in fourth grade, in a few years, he’ll be in middle school and before you know it, he’ll be walking across the stage with diploma in hand.

This little boy’s life hasn’t always been the easiest—his mother had difficulty keeping a full-time job until she started driving for Uber. They’ve both been living in motel rooms and temporary housing this year. Life is a struggle, but there’s enough to live on for now. Things are OK, and at least one thing has been a constant for this little boy through it all.

Each morning, he wakes up and goes to school. He may not have the same access to resources as his classmates or other children living in neighboring zip codes, but he gets the same opportunity for a quality education. This is his normal, the life he’s come to expect.

Life changed for this child on March 9, though, when it was announced a teacher in the Fulton County School System had confirmed they were infected with COVID-19. In the coming days, school systems were ordered to be closed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, shelter-in-place orders were enforced by state and local officials and children across the state were forced to stay at home.

But that created a whole new set of problems. It has been hard to get in touch with families, not all children had access to computers or the internet, parents lost jobs or had hours cut back tremendously, access to groceries, transportation and housing needs were pushed to the forefront—there were mental health issues to address, as well.

“We’ve always had these needs,” says Chelsea Montgomery, executive director of Counseling, Psychological and Social Work Services for Fulton County Schools. “COVID urgently increased our need for basic resources, and money would be critical. It’s expensive to get families in hotels.”

“We did a good job of making school meals accessible, but transportation was a challenge. Now we’re starting to see a lot more need for housing and support for COVID-related trauma.”

There are currently more than 1,300 students in the Fulton County School System who are homeless, Montgomery says. Those students and their families are spread throughout the county and are not just limited to one region.

While issues like these have always been apparent in Fulton County, the pandemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the forced shutdown of many businesses across Greater Atlanta have only exacerbated these problems. As of May 11, the infectious disease, COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever and in severe cases, difficulty breathing, has infected more than 1.3 million and killed more than 78,000 people across the United States.

As schools shut down, Montgomery says her team of social workers began hearing from homeless children, foster families and other at-risk children of their specific needs. She said there wasn’t yet a way to fulfill them. They had to act quickly.

“The school Social Workers are in constant contact with families, and so are all of our Student Support Staff,” Montgomery says. “They have been checking in with families each week, and as those needs come up, the [School Social Workers] complete a request form, we have our internal reviewers take a look at those requests and we meet them.”

Montgomery was able to turn to Graham Huff with the Fulton Education Foundation to help provide funds and access for these families that needed it.

The Fulton Education Foundation was established to partner with the community to address the physical, emotional, academic and enrichment needs of all students. They have provided College and Career services, after-school programs, mental health services, early education opportunities and scholarships.

But this pandemic presented new challenges. Huff knew the need in Fulton County was great, and he leveraged previous relationships with contacts at United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to apply for money through the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

The Fulton Education Foundation was awarded grants totaling $300,000 to contribute to the costs of housing, food, transportation and therapy for students presenting the greatest needs.

“We’ve placed 36 families so far, and we’ve helped them with some rent coverage,” Huff said May 11. “We’re also helping them with hygiene supplies and mental health services. We’ve put together a great committee, and we’re doing a great job for accountability.”

Huff, who has been the President and CEO of the Fulton Education Foundation for just “over a year,” said the foundation has looked at this as a “bottom-up approach,” working to provide homeless families a place to stay first, and then pre-loaded gift cards that can be used to purchase grocery items or to pay for transportation.

This was the first funding Huff had received from both United Way and Community Foundation, he says.

“We’ve really tried to implement best practices and set the standards for this type of support system,” Huff says. “We’ve been able to put more toward support of students this year than the previous 10 years combined—we’ve received large gifts even beyond this COVID-19 grant.”

Montgomery says her school system was “bombarded” with families in need once this pandemic struck.

“We were preparing, but it happened really quickly,” she says. “We didn’t have good, safe, quick solutions.

“But Graham came and said, ‘What are your challenges?’ I got with our lead team and said, ‘This is what we need.’”

These funds provided by United Way and Community Foundation gave Montgomery, her team and families in Fulton County one vitally important thing: hope.

That’s been invaluable during this time.

“It’s really nice for my staff to know that when we talk to these families, we have a solution,” Montgomery says. “Not only is it amazing for our families, but our morale has been better. It’s incredible to know there’s not a lot of red tape or rules and that we can just provide help, and fast. It’s exactly what our families needed.”

If you would like to help more children and families across Georgia, give to United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

ATLANTA– April 1, 2020 – Noted Atlanta investor Michael Klump, founder and CEO of investment firm Argonne Capital Group, LLC, announced today a $1 million donation to the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund—a fund created by United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to help people most affected by the current pandemic. The fund has already issued close to $4 million in grants to address critical issues exacerbated by COVID-19, like food insecurity and need for rent and utility assistance, medical support and childcare.

The Klump donation will be made by Michael and his wife, Elizabeth, through The Klump Family Foundation. The donation comes alongside previously announced contributions from local corporate and philanthropic leaders including The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. A full list of funders is detailed here.

“Elizabeth and I have always been committed to the well-being of the people of Atlanta. We hope this donation can lift up our communities during these difficult times and help their citizens return to their livelihoods as quickly and safely as possible,” said Klump. “We hope that this gift encourages other local leaders to lend their support.”

The Klump Family Foundation also supports Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Skyland Trail (a nonprofit mental health organization), and several other local non-profit organizations.

“The current pandemic is revealing how interconnected we all are, and how much we depend on one another to do the right thing” says Milton J. Little, Jr., CEO and president of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “We are grateful to Michael and Elizabeth Klump and The Klump Family Foundation for showing such strong support for our community through their generous gift.”

“We appreciate this significant commitment from The Klump Family Foundation, it will help amplify our efforts to get funding into the region quickly and effectively,” said Alicia Philipp, president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “Generous contributions like this underscore the role of philanthropy in this time of uncertainty.”

Klump is the founder and chairman of Argonne Capital Group, an Atlanta-based private investment firm founded in 2003 that specializes in multi-unit restaurant, retail and service industries. The firm’s investments include significant holdings in brands such as IHOP, Applebee’s, Planet Fitness, John Deere, Sonny’s BBQ and On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina.


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 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: or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.


About the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Since 1951, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has been leading and inspiring philanthropy to increase the vitality of our region and the well-being of all residents. With nearly 70 years serving the 23-county Atlanta region and a robust team of experts, the Community Foundation expands its philanthropic reach and impact by providing quality services to donors and bold, innovative community leadership. The Community Foundation is a top-20 community foundation among 750 nationally, with approximately $1.2 billion in current assets, and is Georgia’s second largest foundation. For more information, visit: or connect with the Foundation via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter


Media Contacts

For United Way of Greater Atlanta
Chad Parker
(404) 358-5055

More than 350,000 children across Greater Atlanta are hungry during the summer months — children like Caleb.

Caleb relied heavily on Bridging the Gap, a partner agency with Atlanta Community Food Bank, and its summer meals site to have lunch daily.

At this site, he built strong friendships with other kids just like him and the volunteers who helped run the site.

Caleb’s mother, Amber, had a “really good life” until a car accident three years ago affected her legs and made it impossible for her to work. This past summer, Amber had been watching neighborhood kids at her home and had taken them all to the park where these meals were being served.

“They went down there, and they got a lunch, which was a surprise because I didn’t know it was down there,” Amber says. “That’s how Caleb and the other kids I had with me at the time met these guys, and they really liked them.”

Amber said her son went every day.

“It wasn’t just about the food,” she says. “It was about the friendliness they showed him. At that time, my husband was gone for two months, and he’s the main income. It showed [Caleb] support to be able to talk to someone else instead of just me all the time.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta launched its Silence the Growl summer meal initiative six years ago with the purpose of feeding children who are hungry each summer because they don’t have access to school lunches.

In six years, more than 230,000 meals fed children in need. United Way’s efforts have been successful. In 2019, United Way reached its goal of serving 80,000 meals. This success has allowed the program to expand year-round and because of programs like this, kids can focus on more important things — like, being kids.

United Way saw after its strategic planning meeting two years ago that the zip code a child lived in too often determined the fate of that child. United Way saw that, statistically, because of what zip code a child was born into, he or she was handed a disadvantage beyond their control. Through a set of 14 measures, United Way calculated at the time a child well-being score of 58.9.

On May 9, officials announced the score had improved in two years to 61.8. That equates to a change in the lives of more than 82,000 children in the region living in low or very low child well-being. By using the child as the lens, we can identify the big picture needs of the community, and if the child is fed, then there’s one less thing he or she needs to worry.

Amber is appreciative of all the summer meals that were given to her son.

“You have to be fed to even function on a daily basis,” she says. “Even for children to function right in their mind at anything they do, they have to have [food].

“There’s more people out there than we know. There’s more people than we think that don’t want to let anybody know they’re in that situation.”

If you would like to help us Silence the Growl across Greater Atlanta year-round, and give kids the opportunity to reach their full potential, click here.

A timid 7-year-old boy picks up a phone and dials the number for MUST Ministries.

The dial tone rings out and a woman answers on the other end.

“Can you bring us lunches?” the 7-year-old says. He’s been hungry this summer. And that’s not uncommon.

More than 350,000 children across Greater Atlanta are hungry during the summer months. The lunches they’ve come to expect each day during the school year are no longer available.

That was what led United Way of Greater Atlanta to launch its Silence the Growl summer meal initiative about six years ago with the purpose of feeding children who are hungry each summer because they don’t have access to school lunch.

MUST Ministries is an agency that partners with United Way. Community Outreach Coordinator for MUST Breier Sanders answered the little boy’s call that day.

“He wanted his family to be added on the route for delivery,” Sanders says. “A child calling, not a parent, made it feel more urgent and it hit my heart a little harder.”

Unfortunately, the family’s address was not near any route that was already operating, Sanders says. But every Monday she would knock on his door to give him food for the week.

In six years, more than 230,000 meals fed children in need through Silence the Growl. United Way’s efforts have been successful. In 2019, United Way reached its goal of serving 80,000 meals. This success has allowed the program to expand year-round and because of programs like this, kids can focus on more important things — like, being kids.

United Way saw after its strategic planning meeting two years ago that the zip code a child lived in too often determined the fate of that child. United Way saw that, statistically, because of what zip code a child was born into, he or she was handed a disadvantage beyond their control. Through a set of 14 measures, United Way calculated at the time a child well-being score of 58.9.

On May 9, officials announced the score had improved in two years to 61.8. That equates to a change in the lives of more than 82,000 children in the region living in low or very low child well-being. By using the child as the lens, we can identify the big picture needs of the community, and if the child is fed, then there’s one less thing he or she needs to worry.

Sanders says about 10 children came running to meet her at the door that first Monday. This then became her weekly routine, and it was a routine she started looking forward to.

“Delivering food to them was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that taught me that beyond food was fellowship and family,” Sanders says.

If you would like to help us Silence the Growl across Greater Atlanta year-round, and give kids the opportunity to reach their full potential, click here.

Food program gives children access to nutritious meals

By Bradley Roberts

Food insecurity is a problem in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties.

United Way of Greater Atlanta found once summer break starts, many of the more than 350,000 children in the area who participate in free or reduced school meal programs go without breakfast or lunch.

United Way created the Silence the Growl® campaign, which raises funds for partner agencies in the community that already work to combat the summer hunger problem. Through this partnership, Action Ministries and MUST Ministries are able to prepare, pack and distribute meals five days a week throughout the summer.

“It’s a lot, but it is a drop in the bucket,” says Charles Sterne, director of United Way’s Silence the Growl initiative. “Over the course of the summer program that we fund, we are serving thousands of meals.”

Sterne works on the implementation of the grant funding. He works alongside the community partners helping them secure funds that make these projects possible.

“We’re funding [Silence the Growl] and supplementing the existing programs that MUST and Action run,” Sterne said. “They are the ones sourcing the food, and so we don’t actually participate in that.”

The Silence the Growl program started in 2014, but the relationship with MUST, Action and United Way has been going on for much longer.

“The driving force behind this was campaign dollars raised outside of campaign strategy,” Sterne said. “The idea was to find a project that we could raise funds for through crowdfunding. Summer meals was identified as a potential source for that, and the reason they started the program was to address the issue.”

The partner agencies know the communities they serve. These are communities packed with people from Title I schools who benefit from those free and reduced lunches during the school year. These partners depend on large volunteer-run operations to make these meal-packing programs possible, Sterne said.

Yvonne Byars, senior director of volunteer services for MUST Ministries, oversees thousands of volunteers who prepare meals for Silence the Growl recipients.

“The summer lunch program is over the course of nine weeks, and we start that the Monday after school ends and run that all the way up through the last Friday [before school starts back],” Byars said. “That takes volunteers, donors, corporations and families, and they actually donate the lunches.”

Those lunches include a “sandwich, fruit, a salty snack and a drink,” Byars said.

Many of the volunteers will pack lunches in the MUST Ministries headquarters in Cobb County, says Ashley Allen, grant manager for MUST.

“It’s an elaborate web of logistics,” Allen said. “Some of them [volunteers] will color the bags and write something inspirational for the children. It means so much for those kids when they get those lunches.”

Allen applies for grants that support the summer meal programs. She said Silence the Growl has been one of the biggest supporters to make the programs “successful these past couple of years.”

Many of the volunteers will work multiple shifts throughout the summer, Allen said.

“Some volunteers sign up to work on this all summer long, and there are some that have a delivery route and magnets for their car,” Allen said.

Allen said United Way has been key in making the program a success.

Amy Olvey, director of Hunger Relief Programs at Action Ministries, said besides purchase, preparing, packing and serving meals, volunteers will also engage in “enrichment” activities with the kids receiving the meals.

“We have some teachers that will go out and read to the kids and possibly do an art project,” Olvey said.

The children in the community served come from Title I schools, but the meals are dispersed at apartment complexes, mobile home parks and even some community centers in various counties. Action serves more than 15 counties throughout the course of the 10-week summer period, and they’ve expanded the program to year-round in the Atlanta metro area of Gwinnett, Fulton and DeKalb counties.

Action also works throughout the year with weekend support food programs at the schools during the school year, Olvey said.

“I think the program is very impactful as far as the nutrition, but also the impact that it makes on the family as a whole,” Olvey said. “These families are working, and when kids are out for school breaks, the [family’s] budget really changes. When you have someone on that tight of a budget and they’ve got a change in those numbers, it can really put things out of whack.”

United Way, its partners and donors understand it is fundamental that a child have access to sustainable, nutritious meals. There are a lot of basic needs, but access to food is essential.

“There’s a hierarchy of needs,” Sterne said. “At the base level, there’s food and shelter, but unless a child is eating well— getting enough food to sustain and eating nutritiously, they are not going to be doing well in school. You’re not going to be seeing positive health outcomes if they are just eating junk food or fast food.
“Access to healthy food and nutrition and not being hungry is fundamental to child well-being. It’s at the heart of it.”