We’re excited to announce the 2022-2023 Young Professional Leaders (YPL) and Lead. Impact. Network. Change. (LINC) boards. The board members consist of young professionals who have shown amazing leadership throughout our community.

2022-2023 United Way LINC Board
Board Leadership

Latonya Beverly – Chair
LaDarrien Gillette – Vice Chair

Board Members

Kiana Lawrence
Mitchell Hogan
Sam Stargel
Stephanie Schnur
Tahir Temple
Terry Vilayhong
Nigel Walton

2022-2023 United Way’s Young Professional Leaders Board
Board Leadership

Keonda Banks – Chair
Jonathan Hutchins – Vice Chair
Jacob Ethel – Partnership Committee Chair
Jasmine Morgan – Signature Events Committee Chair

Board Members

Tucker Eagle
Alex Garland
Jessica Gibbs
Will Godwin
Leroy Green
Angela Hill
Tyler Johnson
Eric Jones
Crystal Lazarus
Markethia McDonald
Jasmine Mosley
Obinna Onyeaghala
Lisa Pluckebaum
Stefanie Small
Latoya Stephenson-Smith
Richard Taylor
Katherine Tipton
Benjamin Williams
Raymond Williams
Victoria Witherington

Thank you all for your service and commitment! If you would like to reach the boards, or if you would like to learn more about YPL and LINC, please email us at ypl@unitedwayatlanta.org or linc@unitedwayatlanta.org.

ATLANTA – January 28, 2022 – Wells Fargo today announced a $20 million donation to help Atlanta small business owners own more of their businesses’ assets, including property and equipment, and to enable physical upgrades to their facilities. The United Way of Greater Atlanta, in collaboration with Invest Atlanta, will distribute the funding as a mix of grants and loans in the city, with a focus on Black-owned and other diverse-owned businesses.

The donation comes from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million fund that the company created in July 2020 to help small businesses stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund has focused on racially and ethnically diverse small businesses, which have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The fund was created from the gross processing fees that Wells Fargo made from administering Paycheck Protection Program loans in 2020. Wells Fargo has collaborated with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and local nonprofits across the nation to distribute funding.

“Helping small businesses persevere through the pandemic has been a major focus of ours for the past two years,” said Charlie Scharf, Wells Fargo’s CEO. “As a company, we have a commitment to make the communities where we operate stronger, and to do it at a very local level. Making a large donation in Atlanta — one of the largest donations we’ve made from the Open for Business Fund — was important to us. We know it will make a difference for small business owners here.”

United Way of Greater Atlanta, with expertise from Invest Atlanta, will administer the $20 million donation around four initiatives:

  • Small Business Loan Fund — Low-cost loans, capped at an interest rate of 3%, are designated to help small businesses grow ownership of tangible assets.
  • Asset Building Assistance — Working with nonprofit organizations, including in south and west Atlanta, this effort will enlist experts to craft asset-building strategies for roughly 200 small businesses, such as moving from renting or leasing commercial space to owning it.
  • Façade Improvement Grants — Grants of up to $50,000 for exterior improvements for small businesses that contribute a 20% match to their project.
  • Commercial Ownership Growth — Capital to help small business owners facing rising rental costs, including down payment assistance grants of up to $200,000 to purchase commercial real estate.

“This Wells Fargo grant program gives small business owners the opportunity to grow and expand by owning more of their own assets—which can be a game changer for the financial health of any business,” said Mayor Andre Dickens. “As a former small business owner, I understand the vital role of small businesses in Atlanta’s economy and community, and we are excited to announce this program in the first few weeks of our new administration.”

“With help from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, I opened a new space in downtown Atlanta,” said Rahel TafarI, a native of Ethiopia who owns Grant Park Coffeehouse and who benefited from an earlier Open for Business Fund grantee, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs. “I have stability now, and we are looking to soon open another coffee shop and Ethiopian restaurant that I will own near Grant Park. Diverse-owned businesses like mine bring culture to where people want to work and live.”

“As a member of the House Financial Services Committee I’ve worked to help small businesses in the Fifth District Build Back Better,” said Congresswoman Nikema Williams. “I want to thank Wells Fargo for this investment in Atlanta-area small businesses and recognizing that businesses owned by Black and brown people have been disproportionately hurt during the pandemic. That Wells Fargo selected the Fifth District for this substantial investment shows the importance of the Fifth District’s small businesses and the 182,200 people they employ.”

“We are gratified to be selected for Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund program,” said Milton J. Little Jr., president and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “The Open for Business Fund aligns directly to United Way’s Economic Stability investment priority area, which is focused on ensuring that everyone, regardless of race, identity, or circumstances, has the opportunity to convert increased income to wealth.”

Atlanta small business owners interested in learning more about the program can find information here.

Open for Business Fund grantees are estimated to reach more than 152,000 small business owners nationally and will help entrepreneurs maintain more than 255,000 jobs. Roughly 85% of small business served by grantees are Black, African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American small business owners. Wells Fargo also offers a Small Business Resource Center where entrepreneurs can explore business planning, financing considerations, and practical advice.

The Open for Business Fund grant builds on the bank’s ongoing support of advancing economic opportunity for small businesses in Atlanta, including recent collaborations with organizations such as ACE, Morehouse College, and Operation Hope. Donations to these entities support programs that inspire and sustain future entrepreneurs.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets, proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of small businesses in the U.S., and is the leading middle market banking provider in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth & Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 37 on Fortune’s 2021 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy. News, insights, and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.

Additional information may be found at www.wellsfargo.com | Twitter: @WellsFargo.

Contact Information

Jacob Jordan, 470-528-8900

Jacob.jordan2@wellsfargo.com

To download program FAQs, please click here.

Atlanta has a strong and diverse business sector, many post-secondary educational institutions, first-rate nonprofits, and a civil rights legacy that has grown into a movement ─ all of which have elevated our status to one of national recognition of activism and change. And yet, structural inequities born of racism create conditions that all too often entrench youth and young adults in cycles of poverty. Atlanta is ranked number one in economic inequality, a dynamic that fuels enormous economic and human negative repercussions for our city and the ability to realize our young people’s greatest potential.

At the United Way of Greater Atlanta, we’re committed to ensuring young adults have the tools to build a brighter future. According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. Education and training programs can help young people gain these skills. Work-based learning programs can teach non-cognitive skills, provide valuable guidance and effective interventions to help establish core work-related skills. To date, we have connected over 10,000 youth to education and employment opportunities.

Now, we’re turning the tide and working to become a national model for how best to drive transformational change in addressing the multi-layered issue of youth employment. United Way has a vision to build out a Youth Apprenticeship System called CareerReady ATL focused on creating multiple pathways to economic well-being for Black, Hispanic and other youth of color and developing the talent pipeline to meet the needs of our diverse industries. And we know this initiative is necessary – based on our Child Well-Being Index, a young person’s zip code is a greater predictor of our children’s future achievements, earnings, and life expectancy than their talent, hard work, or other factors. Our goal is to create 4,000 high-quality Youth Apprenticeship opportunities within the Greater Atlanta region.

Our efforts are intentionally building programs that reach into our schools and create pipelines to good jobs through pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs connected to high demand industries that pay family sustaining wages. We are building a comprehensive workforce development initiative that will create sustainable career pathways with youth at the center. “The COVID pandemic has changed the game all the way around, from the way that we do work, to the way that we provide youth development services, including the way that we do apprenticeships. It gave us a social impetus and a drive to be able to look at marginalized youth, those furthest from opportunity, to have the networks to help support their success and progression into a career”, according to John Helton, Executive Director of Atlanta CareerRise and a close partner with United Way in the youth apprenticeship space. “The pandemic has created a drive and awareness and willingness to energize resources around this group of youth.”

This is a pivotal moment for positive impact of the future economic and community well-being in metro-Atlanta through changing the trajectory for youth and young adults. So, they choose the future they want to see for themselves and their community.

This story was previously published on SaportaReport.com.

Year-end is a great time to review important financial plans and documents. There are many tax changes being proposed now that may be in effect next year.

  • Review your projected income (including gains), deductions, and credits for this year and next and consider whether you can time your income, deductions, and credits in a way that minimizes your income taxes.
  • Review your will, trusts and plans. Ensure that you are still comfortable with your bequests and dispositions, executors, trustees, and guardians. Additionally:
    • Review the agents named under your financial and medical powers of attorney to ensure that they are still appropriate.
    • Review living wills and verify that you are comfortable with the healthcare and end-of-life-related instructions that you previously made.
    • It’s also important to communicate the location and intention of your estate planning documents with the appropriate individuals.
  • Check your beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies to ensure they reflect your wishes.
  • Maximize your IRA contributions (You can make 2021 contributions to traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs until April 15, 2022. Check contribution limit amounts.)
  • Take your required distributions (RMDs) from your IRAs (generally 72 yrs.) and make any Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs).

Charitable Giving

  • Make year-end gifts to charities, Donor Advised Funds or Private Foundations.
  • Consider if assets are an option to donate (QCDs, stocks, real estate, etc.) before December 31, 2021.

Please check with your tax professional for guidance on best actions for your life circumstances.

To learn more about how your gifts can make a lasting impact at United Way of Greater Atlanta, contact Eve Powell at epowell@unitedwayatlanta.org.

“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.

On Friday, August 13, the culmination of a monumental community effort came to life with the dedication of Gwinnett County’s first and only homeless shelter, The Resting Spot. After many years of planning, United Way of Greater Atlanta’s HomeFirst Gwinnett initiative gathered community leaders and government officials for an official ribbon cutting to commemorate the occasion and celebrate a vision realized.

The $1 million, 20-bed facility located in Norcross will house women and their children and includes a library, computer lab, dining area and landscaped courtyard for guests to use up to 90 days. Government funding along with monetary and in-kind donations from corporate partners made the shelter’s opening possible. “We are happy to finally be in position to provide women and their children a temporary place to rest and regroup while they work to secure transitional housing,” said The Resting Spot Shelter Director, Brandee Thomas. “From job training to mental health services, we are aligned with community partners who can assist families with making the transition from the shelter to stable housing.”

At the ribbon cutting, Chad Dillard, Chief Development Officer of United Way of Greater Atlanta, recognized many instrumental community leaders and organizations like the Primerica Foundation, Gwinnett County Government, and former Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman, Charlotte Nash. He also acknowledged Pat McDonough, community advocate and long-time United Way of Greater Atlanta volunteer, who championed the mission and led community stakeholders to embrace the hard task of finding the resources and partnerships to see the shelter across the finish line. “United Way of Greater Atlanta is extremely grateful for these community partners and for leaders like Pat McDonough who became the ultimate champion, connector, visionary, driver and everything else we needed to ensure The Resting Spot came to fruition,” said Chad. “United Way is grateful for your leadership.”

Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman and United Way volunteer, Nicole Love Hendrickson, discussed the complexities of homelessness citing the statistic that an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people experience homelessness in Gwinnett. “In 2017, the average age of a homeless person in Gwinnett was just 6 years old,” said Hendrickson. “Homelessness is a complex and tragic problem that has only worsened during the pandemic, and Gwinnett County is fortunate to have a partner like HomeFirst Gwinnett on the front lines addressing this issue.”

On Tuesday, August 17, the shelter officially opened and welcomed two families and four single women who were experiencing homelessness. While at the shelter residents will have access to the Norcross Assessment Center, a one-stop shop for resources and support to start their journey to better financial stability. “There is so much more work to do to address this complex problem of suburban homelessness,” said Matthew Elder, Executive Director of HomeFirst Gwinnett. “The shelter opening has been a long time coming and we wanted to make sure we were equipped and 1,000 percent ready to fully support families in need.”

To learn more about the shelter opening and experience the ribbon cutting, click here. For those who are experiencing homelessness and in need of help, please call the Norcross Assessment Center at 770-847-6765 or visit www.homefirstgwinnett.org for assistance.

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

Note: Photos used in this story were taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic

 

Marie Wood grew up volunteering with her family at local community food banks, for activities with her church youth group and for other nonprofits spread across the Greater Atlanta area.

Volunteering was something that excited her, that she was proud to be able to do—it showed her a different side of the city where she grew up.

“We went out into other communities, and that’s when you start to realize not everyone in [Greater] Atlanta is as privileged as others,” Wood says.

The high school senior jumped at the opportunity to join United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Youth United affinity group, which is a group for high school students with a passion for serving communities that creates unique volunteer opportunities for them to make an impact.

“I thought it would be really interesting and rewarding to reach out to our community and do this,” Wood, who served as a board member for Youth United, says.

Wood built “Little Free Libraries” with Youth United and attended and lead a number of other service projects at local elementary schools. She liked the connection she was able to make with a diverse group of students. But most of that took place in late 2019, she says. As we now know, the next few months would totally change what outreach at United Way looked like for the foreseeable future.

About two weeks into March 2020, the United States began shutting down restaurants, bars, gyms and schools in an attempt to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. The infectious disease, COVID-19, has now infected millions, killed hundreds of thousands and has contributed to mass unemployment across Greater Atlanta and the United States.

Even though there are now multiple COVID-19 vaccines being distributed across Georgia, the pandemic has already greatly hampered the flow of volunteer opportunities that’s become synonymous with United Way.

Volunteering in Greater Atlanta is important work, though—work that is never over. Through the week of April 18-24, we honor volunteers around the world for National Volunteer Week—people like Wood who adapted in the current climate to make sure a need was met.

Classes at Wood’s school and schools across Atlanta where other Youth United board members attended went virtual for much of 2020. Wood says Youth United started immediately trying to find new ways to volunteer while adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines.

They decided on an “Online Storytime” project where members of Youth United would record videos reading some of their favorite books. Since it began in March 2020, Online Storytime has become a favorite volunteer project, and has garnered support from many corporations in Atlanta.

“We liked it because we could serve kids, be a resource to families and parents and bring light to a time when it was all pretty scary,” Wood says. “It was an easy way to brighten people’s day.”

It was an easy way to encourage students to read along or focus on their reading comprehension skills, and volunteers could provide educational resources for parents who were balancing careers while taking care of their children at home. We know that if children aren’t strong readers, their opportunities are limited. We must give children the tools they need from the start to give them a chance to become strong learners.

Virtual reading projects were an important way for our volunteers to connect with these children. It helped further United Way’s work to improve the well-being of children in Greater Atlanta’s 13 counties—it helped us do more, together, in what was an uncertain time in our country.

“I first got connected with United Way because we align with their commitment to literacy and the [child well-being] work United Way has done the last couple of years,” Mimosa Elementary School Principal Ariane Holcombe says. “But, during COVID, we’ve had some virtual ‘read alouds.’ Prior to this pandemic, United Way has helped us with some really incredible programs where they bring in different partners for half a day to provide literacy-based experiences for the students.”

Holcombe’s school in Roswell has about 700 students, and she says the pandemic has created a number of challenges. For example, there’s a distance learning component now and teachers are dividing time with in-person students and those at home.

“As proficient as we’re becoming as teachers remotely, it’s not the same as being face-to-face,” Holcombe says. “We’re a Title I school with a large amount of second-language students, and a lot of what they acquire through language and literacy they are now missing out on.”

This is where volunteers have been able to step in and bridge a gap, Holcombe says.

“They’ve got some really great community role models,” Holcombe says. “That’s key. In a community where many of my families don’t have transportation, the community base is school, the grocery store and home. These volunteers come in—United Way seems to bring in the most diverse individuals— and they are seeing some amazing role models who are so encouraging and supportive.

“It’s nice to know there’s a small group in Roswell out there that are cheering for you even if they haven’t met you yet.”

Every child deserves the same support and opportunities, and every life we change will go on to change the lives of countless others.

Wood is weeks away from graduating now, and she’s planning to make a final decision on college soon.

“I think a lot of my work at Youth United impacted the way I look at my major,” she says. “In college, I’m looking for ways to interact with my community more and more. I’m looking for service opportunities because I believe that with personal progress comes progress as a whole.”

To continue that progress in our community, we must Unite for More. Can children, families and Greater Atlanta communities count on you?

This story was originally published Feb. 26, 2021, and it has been updated as of March 30, 2021.

 

Rev. Bronson Woods was planning to send 35 people to Ethiopia on behalf of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on March 1, 2020. That date sticks out to him for obvious reasons.

During that trip, the team was honored at the Royal Palace by the first woman elected president of the country, Sahle-Work Zewde. But back home, news of the rapid spread of the coronavirus around the world forced massive shutdowns and self-imposed quarantines by local leaders to stem the spread of the disease COVID-19.

Woods and Ebenezer ultimately halted in-person services at the church in Sweet Auburn—led by Reverend and current Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. While Woods, the Assistant Pastor for Young Adults and Outreach Ministries, couldn’t physically interact with crowds from the former church of pastor and civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., he knew the work of the church was just beginning. The pandemic wasn’t going to stop Ebenezer’s ministry.

“By March 1, the pandemic was in full effect, and as soon as it hit, we immediately knew we needed some sort of response,” Woods says. “We were able to get ahold of about 54,000 face masks and hand sanitizer, and in a few short weeks we were able to assemble those to provide that to the community.”

The church started off providing masks and sanitizer, but once testing had expanded, Woods says they were able to connect with a lab that could do COVID testing on their campus starting in early summer 2020.

“Since then, we have been testing every week,” he says. “We developed a relationship with the Fulton County Board of Health, and we now have what we call ‘Testing Tuesdays.’”

Ebenezer Baptist Church tests each Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to this, they’ve partnered with local food banks to provide food to the community as well.

 

Partnering for health equity

Woods’ church has also partnered most recently with United Way of Greater Atlanta as part of a broader faith-based initiative to expand testing, education and other resources for communities of color across South Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties.

Ebony Johnson, director of Place-Based Initiatives for United Way, says this Choose Healthy Life initiative kicked off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021. Choose Healthy Life was spearheaded in New York City roughly a year ago by Debra Fraser-Howze, who is widely recognized for her leadership work in communities of color regarding public health issues, is a former Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs at OraSure Technologies and Founder of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. Fraser-Howze is widely recognized for more than three decades of global leadership to communities of color regarding teenage pregnancy, social welfare and HIV and AIDS. She also advised two U.S. Presidents while serving on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

COVID-19 has spread throughout the U.S. and devastated the Black community, and this program is centered around churches in communities of color and their ability to provide vital information as a trusted source in their community.

“I came into the project with the goal of recruiting and onboarding church partners to serve in this initiative and help them identify community health workers to do health education and outreach,” Johnson says. “Our goal with community health workers is to make sure as many as possible come from the church in that community where it’s located. They are going to be extremely important in providing that peer-to-peer trust within the community.”

Choose Healthy Life has testing events in March at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Impact Church in East Point, Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam in Atlanta, Gateway Restoration Church in Forest Park, Salem Bible Church in Atlanta and Debre Bisrat Saint Gabriel Church in Clarkston.

Helping children and families in Greater Atlanta gain access to information and testing is one of the ways we can help address regional disparities and improve conditions in South DeKalb, South Fulton and Clayton Counties. We know that every person whose life we change or positively impact, will go on to change the lives of countless others. When we work together—pooling our resources, our time and energy—our community impact grows exponentially. United, we can do more for our community. This is important work—work that is never over.

But we can all achieve more if we unite for more.

This work is particularly important in “communities of color that are very hesitant to get testing,” Johnson says. Community health workers and trusted members of the church can help clear up misinformation and misconceptions about the virus, testing and, when the time comes, the vaccine.

“People trust people who look like them,” Johnson says. “Historically, the church has always been the cornerstone for the community. Anything and everything you need—information was shared at churches. That was where you got married, other important moments in life—all that happened at church. Faith-based institutions play an important role in the center of the community.”

Woods agrees.

“There’s something about coming to a house of faith,” he says. “It soothes your doubts and calms your fears.

“The pandemic has charged us to get to work, provide resources and be of assistance right now in this time of need. We’re not just testing folks, but we’re educating folks about the pandemic, what the masks are doing and how important these measures are.”

This effort, though, has done a lot to help people buy in to the importance of testing and vaccination, Woods says. Ebenezer took steps to provide pamphlets, have doctors on site to answer questions and the work has paid off.

More people are getting tested, taking advantage of the resources Ebenezer can provide. This is what Johnson and United Way know can happen in other communities where the number of positive test cases have been significant.

“A big part of this that’s really important to us is the equity piece,” she says. “We had a particular drive to have [Choose Healthy Life] grantees come from our Brighter Future communities… Churches represented as part of this initiative are in South Fulton, South DeKalb and Clayton counties. Data has been an important tool, and we continue to use that to make investments where we do.

“I’m really proud that we have an interfaith approach to this work.”

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