GCO honored to be listed on Atlas Network’s top 10 to watch in 2022

GCO honored to be listed on Atlas Network’s top 10 to watch in 2022

GCO honored to be listed on Atlas Network’s top 10 to watch in 2022

atlas top 10

The Georgia Center for Opportunity team is honored to be named as one of the Atlas Network’s top 10 nonprofit partners to watch in 2022. Atlas acknowledges GCO as an organization working “to make the world a better place for countless everyday people.”

Atlas’ designation focuses on our work to ensure that Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) are passed into law during the current session of the Georgia Legislature. These would allow public school funds to be used for private school tuition. Quoting Atlas:

Coming out of the pandemic and its devastating effects on educational outcomes, GCO sees the expansion of educational choice as more important and more achievable than ever before. With that perspective in mind, their campaign will push for the implementation of a sweeping educational savings account program in Georgia. These programs are an effective way of providing parents the financial means to choose the best educational option for their children, restoring hope, dignity, and prosperity.



The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

Who is the Atlas Network

The Atlas Network is a nonprofit organization that seeks to secure for all individuals the rights to economic and personal freedom through its global network of strategic partners.


BETTER Work Network is Growing in Columbus

BETTER Work Network is Growing in Columbus

BETTER Work Network is Growing in Columbus

A Network of Partners is Growing in Columbus

Columbus, Georgia has over 11,000 citizens identifying as unemployed, but the number of available jobs is over 6,000.  What’s the problem? Why are so many people not working?

Kristin Barker serves as the program manager for BETTER WORK Columbus, and provides insight as to why there’s limited job access in the area.

Through growing partnerships in Columbus, the BETTER WORK Network will meet the needs of people where it will have the most impact – in their neighborhoods. One of our partners, Jobs for Life, will utilize their sites to help address the underlying issues creating unemployment.

We know that satisfying work has the ability to restore dignity, build communities, and reduce crime.

We are excited to see so many people working together for the good of helping people.


The BETTER WORK Network will meet the needs of people where it will have the most impact – in their neighborhoods.

#GivingTuesday 2021

#GivingTuesday 2021

#GivingTuesday 2021

Giving Opportunity

The days following Thanksgiving have become jam packed with advertisements for all the product sales happening after the holiday. The volume of advertisements often becomes overwhelming and obnoxious. 

As we reflect on all we have accomplished this year—and what  still needs to be accomplished—we’re asking you to persevere through the barrage of ads and think about tomorrow. #GivingTuesday is globally recognized every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving—this year November 30th. The purpose of the day is to inspire people to give to the causes and organizations they care about.  

We’ve set a goal for $150,000, and we need your help. 

We see this day as an opportunity to help more of our neighbors and to share the impact of our work. Through your tax-deductible gift, we have been able to expand opportunities in local communities and help children and families access the education options not previously available to them. We have built onto our BETTER WORK model helping connect the chronically un- and under-employed with the resources they need to get back to work. And we have partnered with community schools, churches, and organizations providing the tools families need to build healthy foundations, allowing them to withstand the stressors of life. 

#GivingTuesday isn’t just about the dollars you donate. It’s about transforming lives. It’s about helping REAL people, and giving opportunity for success when there was no hope of a better life to be found. YOU can make the difference. Please, don’t wait until tomorrow to give. Give the gift of opportunity right now.

Additional Ways You Can Support The Georgia Center For Opportunity:



Find out how you can give to GCO while shopping this holiday season. It’s easy, fast, and fun!

Steps to set up AmazonSmile »


Kroger Community Rewards

Connect your Kroger Rewards card with the Kroger Community Rewards Program.  If you have a card, you can connect it to Georgia Center for Opportunity by going to the community rewards and searching for PF157.

Connect your card today! »


Why Recidivism Rates are Dropping

Why Recidivism Rates are Dropping

Why Recidivism Rates are Dropping

In Georgia there has been a reduction in the rate of ex-offenders returning to prison. In the most recent report from the Georgia Department of Corrections, 25.3 percent of those released from all facilities (private, state, inmate boot camps, county, transition centers) in state FY 2018 were reconvicted for a felony after three years. That number dropped from 27.7 percent previously.  In the last few years, the growing number of ex-offenders returning to a life in prison has become a more widely recognized issue among policymakers and organizations. We believe the percentage is slowly dropping due to the Second Chance program, and organizations like GCO working to help ex-offenders find stable employment, and the elimination of policy barriers that keep this population from working. 

Even so, recidivism rates are still too high. Each number—each piece of data—is a person seeking direction and purpose to succeed and be self-sustaining. Not to mention, in a time when federal spending is high and inflation is growing, recidivism is a very costly issue for taxpayers. 

It’s a common misconception government assistance programs fill the gap for this population as they reenter society. The key to mitigating the usage of assistance programs and aid in breaking the cycle of poverty and crime for many is stable employment. This might sound elementary at first, but as we move deeper into this idea you’ll see it is common sense.  

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.


  1. Jobs provide financial support

We all have bills to pay. A job provides a paycheck. However, let’s not get lost in the dollar signs. A job is more than a paycheck, too. A job is long-term financial security. Having a job allows people to plan for the future and set new life goals, essentially helping to define a person’s purpose. In a 2000 study by Christopher Uggen titled “Work as a Turning Point in the Life Course of Criminals: A Duration Model of Age, Employment, and Recidivism,” he found those over the age of 27 with a job were less likely to return to criminal activity. 

  1. Jobs provide purpose

Plain and simple, we all have the inherent need to be needed. Work allows each one of us to use our talents and gifts for positive impact. Fulfilling work allows us to play a part in a community, whether that is a community of coworkers or the actual community we live in. Every job, no matter how big or how small, has intrinsic value. A job helps us to develop daily structure, meet goals, and take our place within society. It’s not easy to go from being told when to eat and sleep to freedom. Jobs help create boundaries and play a part to keep our daily activities moving forward in a positive direction. 

In 2005, a study called  “Ex-Offender Employment Programs and Recidivism: A Meta-Analysis” found “having a legitimate job lessens the chances of reoffending following release from prison and that recidivism is less likely among those with higher wages and higher quality jobs.”

When people have a sense of purpose, they become more committed, responsible, creative thinkers. They become healthier and more passionate about serving in a way that helps others. 


  1. Jobs provide dignity

People generally obtain a large portion of their self-worth from their work. At the end of the day, no matter who we are we want to be treated with respect and equality. These are usually derived from our place of employment.

Without a job people are economically vulnerable to the cost of living and the economy’s fluctuation. Having a job and a sense of self-worth also helps reduce mental health issues among those who have spent time incarcerated. 

Those who end up in U.S. prisons are perhaps among the lowest skilled adults in society, and have a number of personal problems (health and behavioral) that render many of them difficult to employ.” 

Relationships with coworkers often provide the social structure and friendships needed for people to ease back into society and reduce the feeling of isolation.Through employment former inmates are able to receive the mental health and medical health support needed to integrate back into society in a dignified way. 


Wrapping up

GCO has dedicated much of its time and manpower to working with policymakers to reduce the barriers formerly incarcerated people face when looking for employment. To learn more about what we’re doing click here



Taking it to the Next Level

Taking it to the Next Level

Taking it to the Next Level

 It was a rainy Thursday night in Georgia, but that didn’t stop couples from gathering for a night of food and fun, and strengthening couples and marriages in their relationships.  #ElevateCouples Pop-up Event was hosted by GCO’s Family team (formerly Healthy Families Initiative) as a time to emphasize the importance of romantic relationships and keeping them thriving. Over a meal, couples were engaged in a course appetizer for the Elevate: Taking Your Relationship To The Next Level! Workshop. 

Elevate is offered to Georgia couples free of charge (as part of a partnership with University of Georgia and Project F.R.E.E.) as a time to invest in their marriage and relationships. The course is an eight week commitment from couples to discover ways to elevate their relationship to the next level. The course is offered in-person and virtually, and during this time couples are not in counseling, but lead through exercises to learn how to manage stress inside and outside of their relationship, conflict resolution, dealing with differences, and most importantly finding ways to connect to each other. It’s designed for couples of all ages (18 years old and up) who are in committed relationships and/or married. 

The pop-up event allowed couples a VIP look at what the course has to offer and how they can benefit from it both emotionally and physically. The group was able to hear one of the facilitators talk about highlights of the program and the best part of the course which is seeing couples grow. It didn’t stop there; attendees also watched a recorded testimony from previous workshop participants who explained the teachings of Elevate, and how it had a ripple effect in their family. What they learned went beyond their own marriage, but allowed for a trickle down of knowledge and modeling behavior for their grandchildren to see an example of a healthy relationship. 

To learn more about how you and your honey can Elevate, click here