Breakthrough 2019 – Outcome-Focused Programs & Measuring Success

Breakthrough 2019 – Outcome-Focused Programs & Measuring Success

Breakthrough 2019 – Outcome-Focused Programs & Measuring Success

What works and what doesn’t? That’s a basic but important question for community nonprofits to address. But more times than not, we tend to launch off hunches. We think we know what works, but we don’t know, with quantifiable data points to back it up.

At Breakthrough 2019, we were honored to hear from Heather Reynolds, who heads up Notre Dame’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO). LEO is dedicated to finding and replicating the best poverty-reducing nonprofits in America, with a specific focus on evidence-based practices. Watch the video for more.

Breakthrough 2019 – What Makes Communities Thrive?

Breakthrough 2019 – What Makes Communities Thrive?

Breakthrough 2019 – What Makes Communities Thrive?

American civil society is broken. So many Americans live fragmented lives, disconnected from the institutions and associations that once characterized American life and brought people of all economic classes together—everything from churches and synagogues to rotary clubs and bowling leagues. Today, so many Americans—particularly from the poor and working class—face life alone.

But what can be done to change that dynamic?

Defining Social Capital
Tim Carney, best-selling author of the new book Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse, shared some solutions during a keynote Q&A at Breakthrough 2019.

The problem of alienation in America extends far beyond economics—as crucial as economics are. The problems are deeply social and relational. “It’s a lack of belonging, but it’s more than that. People are disconnected and they don’t even see the point of being connected in the first place,” Tim shared.

Community Solutions
The solution? It must come locally and through individual lives. This admonition from Tim was the perfect setup for what we heard the rest of the day during Breakthrough—from local, on-the-ground organizations in Atlanta and across Georgia that are renewing civil society one life at a time.

Check back soon for more video content from Breakthrough 2019!

Breakthrough 2019 – Creating Conditions For Change

Breakthrough 2019 – Creating Conditions For Change

Breakthrough 2019 – Creating Conditions For Change

“The secret is in the soil.” 

That’s how Georgia Center for Opportunity President and CEO Randy Hicks opened Breakthrough 2019.

Randy shared the story of how Moses Coleman discovered Vidalia onions purely by accident in 1931. These onions can only be grown in a 20-county region in southeast Georgia where the soil conditions are perfect.

Randy speaking at BreakthroughRandy encouraged Breakthrough attendees to consider a different kind of soil: “The conditions of our homes and our communities.”

“It’s easy and important for us to be very aware of Georgia’s macro issues—statewide economic numbers, student performance, and criminal justice issues,” Randy said. “But we can’t just look at those issues and not consider the conditions that often have more to do with our well-being than anything else. That’s the soil.”

Watch the video and then check back soon for more content from Breakthrough 2019!

Breakthrough 2019’s Education Panel – Building Student Networks

Breakthrough 2019’s Education Panel – Building Student Networks

Breakthrough 2019’s Education Panel – Building Student Networks

The first step in the Success Sequence is to get a good education. On Wednesday, September 11, attendees at Breakthrough 2019 heard from an outstanding panel describing how schooling is key to expanding opportunities for the impoverished in Atlanta and across Georgia.

Philip Ross of Bright Futures Academy speaking at Breakthrough 2019Philip Ross, of Bright Futures Academy, shared with us how he serves his 80 students in one of the most crime-ridden zip codes in the nation. Beyond the basics of a sound education, the goal is to prepare students for the workforce with solid soft skills. “The practical life skills are paramount to success for these young people. If you don’t know how to dress for an interview, shake a hand, and carry on a conversation with a peer in the workplace, you are not going to climb the ladder. You might not even get on the ladder,” Philip said.

Ana Rector, of Youth Entrepreneurs, shared an exciting statistic: 30 percent of her graduates go on to start businesses of their own and employ others. Her organization’s chief goal is to encourage students to think entrepreneurial—even if they don’t launch a business, that type of thinking will benefit them and their future employers. “Most of our magic happens outside of the classroom—that’s where we believe students learn and thrive, and they really figure out where they fit in the world,” Ana said.

Jim Hollinsworth, of the Path Project, noted that since his organization’s founding in 2010, the graduation rate in the troubled neighborhoods they serve has jumped from 45 percent to 90 percent. “The biggest challenge we see for students to graduate is simply having people who believe in them,” Jim shared.

There is a lot more about Breakthrough 2019 yet to come. Stay tuned for more videos and recaps in the near future. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get updates as they become available.

Education designed for everyone and every learning need

Education designed for everyone and every learning need

Education designed for everyone and every learning need

Every day we are greeted by options—from the many products available through local grocery stores to the millions of apps available on smartphones. So, why would we expect anything different in education?

As Georgia’s schoolchildren head back to class this month, it’s a question worth pondering: Should education be a one-size-fits-all issue? For many students, their locally zoned and assigned school is indeed the best option. But other families need alternative options to help their children succeed.

 

Students in poverty 

Think of students like those in Atlanta’s 30314 zip code, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden areas in the country.

This small slice of Atlanta accounts for six out of every 10 murders in the city. In just this one ZIP Code alone, about 40 percent of people live below the poverty line. And the median household income is just $25,000 a year.

While we all want to see public schools improve in this area, that cause will take years if not decades. Meanwhile, more and more students will fall behind and, in many cases, into a life of crime.

For students in the 30314, we can’t afford to wait another day, another week, another month, or another year. They need options right now—options like Bright Futures Academy, a school specifically designed to give kids a solid shot at getting the good education they need to thrive in life and succeed as adults.

 

Students with special needs

Or take the example of students with special needs. In many instances, local schools are ill-equipped to handle the unique needs of these students. That was certainly the case for Cammie Alkire and her daughter, Savannah, who has had severe learning disabilities from an early age.

Cammie calls Savannah “her million-dollar child” because that’s how all of the medical care and therapies have cost over the years.

Although the Alkires support the local public school system (Cammie is a graduate of Forsyth County Public Schools), they weren’t willing to subject Savannah to another year of bullying in order to qualify for Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship.

Today, Savannah is enrolled in a small private Christian school that’s meeting her unique needs. But the Alkires struggle each month to meet the cost of her care entirely on their own.

“These are the kids who fall through the cracks. They get bullied. They turn out to be cutters. They are emotionally and mentally struggling, but not screaming loud enough to hear. And our government refuses to extend any type of financial help to these parents,” Cammie shared with us.

 

A way forward

Every child is different. That’s why we come alongside families to support the best possible choices for their children, rather than pigeonhole them into only one choice.

Learn more about what you can do.

Join our Georgia Parent’s Alliance on Facebook for updates and opportunities to serve.