Drive-Thru Job Fair Comes to Gwinnett

Drive-Thru Job Fair Comes to Gwinnett

Drive-Thru Job Fair Comes to Gwinnett

job fair

Drive-Thru Job Fair Comes to Gwinnett 

The current pandemic has made a massive impact on America’s workforce and wreaked havoc on certain business sectors. While we’re beginning to see a dip in the number of active COVID-19 cases around the country, parts of the economy are still in desperate need of finding workers. Until recently in-person meetings have been known to be the most effective way of engaging potential job seekers with jobs, but they’re not feasible in today’s environment of social distancing. Instead, organizations like Better Work Gwinnett are finding creative ways – like a drive-thru job fair – to connect businesses with job seekers.

We are excited to announce the Better Work Gwinnett Drive-Thru Job Fair on Thursday, April 1st at the Infinite Energy Center Parking Deck.

This event will connect job seekers with hundreds of full and part time jobs. Businesses will have booths set up around the ramp of the parking garage allowing job seekers to drop off resumes and learn more about each organization. Job seekers will also be able to collect information and engage with potential employers – all from their cars.  

The job fair is a result of a community collaboration among GCO, Goodwill of North Georgia, First Step Staffing, Lawrenceville Response Center, and WorkFaith – all Gwinnett County based organizations. Working together with a common goal of strengthening the community, the Gwinnett Coalition combines local resources to provide training and support services to help job seekers find meaningful work and businesses to gain valuable employees. 

For most people a job is more than a paycheck, but also provides purpose and dignity to everyday life. Unfortunately, there has been a steady rise in unemployment rates in the Gwinnett County area. Gwinnett County’s current unemployment hoovers at about five percent, which is on par with Georgia’s overall unemployment rate of 5.3 percent

“The global pandemic is impacting our neighbors,” said GCO’s Director of the Gwinnett Workforce Initiative, Jace Brooks. “When the pandemic started, Gwinnett County saw thousands of residents out of work, many of them faced housing and food insecurity. A drive-thru job fair will allow job seekers the ability to connect with potential employers while still practicing social distancing and safe health regulations. It’s been great to see local groups working together in such harmony for the good of the community. We know the job fair will be beneficial to our local residents, businesses, and economy.” 

The pandemic has produced a vanishing supply of skilled labor, and the growing local market’s demand is outpacing the supply of workers. Drive-thru job fairs in other areas have been largely successful for filling positions in various industries like, administrative, utilities, manufacturing, and warehouse work. 

To register to participate as a job-seeker, volunteer, or business click here. 



Managing Stress | HEALTHY @ HOME

Managing Stress | HEALTHY @ HOME

Managing Stress | HEALTHY @ HOME

As if the holidays weren’t enough, we’re now in the midst of another surge in the Coronavirus pandemic. 2020 has been stressful. Join licensed professional counselor, Janae Combs, as she gives us some practical advice and tips for managing stress in a healthy way.

To learn more about the Healthy @ Home series and see additional videos click here

We are driven by a belief – supported by experience and research- that people from all walks of life are more likely to flourish if they have an intact, healthy family and strong relationships.


To learn more about how the Healthy Families Initiative is active in the community, click here

Welfare Cliffs and Gaps: The role health insurance plays in upward mobility

Welfare Cliffs and Gaps: The role health insurance plays in upward mobility

Welfare Cliffs and Gaps:

The role health insurance plays in upward mobility

By Shana Burres

Cody and Estelle are a young married couple living in a suburban neighborhood. Cody has a full-time job and Estelle is a nanny so she can have their daughter with her at work. They make just enough money to pay the rent on their small home and pay their bills, but there is rarely anything left over each month. They are not middle class but they are above the poverty line, and they are facing a potential financial crisis because of health care costs.  

Cody’s work offers an insurance plan but does not subsidize the cost and the monthly premium for a family is more than their rent. Because of the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they qualify for a government-subsidized plan. The coverage is poor and the deductibles are high. They are one emergency room trip or unexpected surgery away from a dire financial situation.

Cody is working on building a part-time freelance business so they can have some savings and buy a more reliable car. But he is hesitant to promote it because too much of an increase in income will push them over the ACA’s income threshold and they will lose their health care subsidy. They still wouldn’t be able to afford the employer-sponsored plan and would lose coverage entirely. 

They are facing the welfare cliff, forced to choose between self-improvement and maintaining necessary services. If they increase their income, they are at risk of falling into the welfare gap—too much income for services, not enough income to cover the costs.

The implications of the loss of health care coverage reach into their and their daughter’s future. Health insurance, and the associated continuity of care, correlated directly with academic success in the short term and life success in the long term.  At a  basic level, health care means that students are better able to engage in their academics and miss fewer days of school.

In slightly more complex terms, lacking health insurance, along with other factors related to instability, is part of the social determinants of health. These social determinants are a cluster of lived experiences that include food instability, homelessness, and poverty. They are direct predictors of poor health and, as noted, poor health contributes to poorer academic and social outcomes. While programs or funding can often address homelessness and poverty, food instability is a reflection of the resources a family has available to purchase food. For a family like Cody and Estella’s, this may be seen as the choice between groceries and paying for an urgent care visit and a prescription for their daughter. 

For them and the vast majority of people in the United State, health insurance is the barrier to care. People who live at or below the poverty line have access to medical coverage through Medicaid. And families who live far above the poverty line can access health insurance through work or afford to pay for the premiums through the health exchange. However, the evidence shows that children who are near, but not under, the poverty line have the lowest rates of health insurance. These children and their families live in the welfare gap, a reality for many living in Georgia. This means that Georgia’s families need solutions for ongoing health care to support their long-term success.

The most effective solutions are those that acknowledge the immediate needs of families and address the need for policy change. Currently, many programs are aimed at the individual or involve community-based interventions that partner health care with social service delivery systems. And these programs can be useful and effective as solutions to the immediate needs of families living in the welfare gap. Unfortunately, these health management programs do not address the upstream institutional, systemic, and public policy drivers of the distribution disparities. 

Georgia’s families deserve upstream solutions that address the welfare gap and support their efforts to be participants in their health care and long-term outcomes. Three interconnected approaches offer equitable and proven access:

Untether healthcare from employers

According to the US Census Bureau, approximately 55% of people have access to health insurance coverage through their employer. This tethering of health insurance to employment leads to disruptions of coverage due to job loss or change. Therefore, untethering healthcare from its connection to employment would allow people to pursue jobs, education, or entrepreneurship free from the limitation of health insurance access or cost. 

Make shopping for health insurance easier

As cost is the most significant factor influencing people’s access to health insurance, the second approach is to make shopping for health insurance the same as shopping for any other type of insurance. Individuals could compare coverage, cost, and other options across multiple providers, which would empower them to choose the product best suited to their particular needs. Currently, most people have little to no choice in which insurance product they receive from their employer and the cost is more closely related to the company’s ability to negotiate a favorable contract than it is to the types of benefits the employees need. 

Offer government subsidies that do not create welfare cliffs

Of course, employers often also subsidize a portion of their company health insurance plan, and subsidies are one of the ways insurance is made more affordable for their employees.  The third approach, government subsidies, would ensure these benefits are equitable and accessible to the whole population and not reliant on an employer. While government-funded health insurance already exists and subsidies are available through the ACA marketplace, the current method does not address  welfare cliffs or close the welfare gap. Therefore, the policy should be updated to a means-tested  eligibility system that eliminates marriage penalties and the breakpoints that contribute to the welfare cliff. 

For our couple, Cody and Estelle, this new approach to health insurance would allow them to gain sufficient coverage for their whole family without spending a disproportionate amount of their income on health care costs. It would allow Cody to build his freelance business and improve their quality of life without fear of losing health insurance while their income grows. 

Every person in Georgia deserves to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Access to healthcare is a necessary component of their success. These three approaches will remove barriers to access, equalize costs, and ensure support is available to those who need it. 

Shana Burres is an educator, foster parent, and speaker. She holds a Master’s degree in education and, as the former executive director of DASH Kids, is a fierce advocate for equitable outcomes for children of all backgrounds and experiences. Shana currently is an adjunct professor, learning development consultant, and her local Mockingbird HUB home for foster families and their youth.


Based on the most recent 2015 data, this report provides an in-depth look at the welfare cliffs across the state of Georgia. A computer model was created to demonstrate how welfare programs, alone or in combination with other programs, create multiple welfare cliffs for recipients that punish work. In addition to covering a dozen programs – more than any previous model – the tool used to produce the following report allows users to see how the welfare cliff affects individuals and families with very specific characteristics, including the age and sex of the parent, number of children, age of children, income, and other variables. Welfare reform conversations often lack a complete understanding of just how means-tested programs actually inflict harm on some of the neediest within our state’s communities.

We could all use a good laugh right now, right?

We could all use a good laugh right now, right?

We could all use a good laugh right now, right?

We’re excited to announce that  comedian and inspirational speaker Michael Jr. will be joining us as a keynote speaker for Breakthrough Online 2020.

Known as one of today’s most gifted comedians, Michael Jr. brings laughter and understanding to audiences all over the world. Michael has spent a significant portion of his career making laughter commonplace in uncommon places such as homeless shelters and prisons. 


Now, Michael Jr. tours the country using comedy to inspire audiences to activate their purpose and live a life fulfilled.


Megan and teacher at table

Breakthrough is a way for you to share your work, explore new ideas, and connect with other organizations that are making an impact in our communities. This collaboration of ideas is why the Georgia Center for Opportunity exists and we are excited to have you join us.

Also joining us to speak at Breakthrough: Gov. Brian Kemp

Impressive line-up of panels

We all could use a good dose of inspiration, now more than ever. That’s exactly what you’ll get with our breakout sessions:

  • Education: The challenge of virtual learning in the COVID-19 era
  • Employment: Job creation through community collaboratives
  • Family: Personal wellness during the pandemic
  • Development: Nonprofit fundraising in 2020

Register today: Thursday, November 5, 8:30am to 4:00pm EST
We’re excited to offer Breakthrough in a new virtual format as we continue to partner together for a better Georgia. Join us!

How Second Chances Impact Communities

How Second Chances Impact Communities

How Second Chances Impact Communities


By Kristin Barker

We must begin to see past our biases and speak life into those who have fallen.

I recently had a mini-awakening. We were interviewing a young man who was a convicted felon. He was given a second chance to move into a job about one year ago with a company full of champions who were able to recognize his immense on-the-job potential early on. They continue to outwardly encourage him, help him as he maps out his future path, and openly show him their appreciation. The support he receives from his managers and the Human Resources team is phenomenal. But I knew this going in.

This was not the awakening. The company is Columbus Water Works in Columbus, GA. As a core company value, they believe in providing great opportunities and giving second chances. This is not because the business itself is looking to gain, although it does gain a lot, but because their corporate culture encourages this as the right thing to do. This company is a Hiring Well, Doing Good partner in part because of this important core value that we share, so this was also no surprise to me. This was not the awakening.

As Kevin spoke about responsibility, he also shared his desire to influence others so they would begin see that opportunity does exist. As he continued, I saw a spark ignite in his eyes.

When he shared how he will encounter someone at a gas station and encourage him or her not to give up, it was clear that his influence on the community that surrounds him is a direct extension of the individuals who have nurtured and encouraged him since his incarceration. The responsibility he feels to share what he knows from his own experience is more valuable than any economic equation can measure. What he now knows without a shadow of a doubt is that there is hope and that he has value!

Our communities need to understand and appreciate Kevin and others like him. We must begin to see past our biases and speak life into those who have fallen. The poverty of community is just as important (if not more important) than economic poverty, and the butterfly effect I am describing is always at play either in a positive or in a negative way.

Every one of us decides daily who we will lift up and who we will allow to continue to fall. We choose every day whether we will contribute to the strength of our community by respecting and showing that respect to the weakest of our neighbors. The alternative is to fail to speak hope and to perpetuate hopelessness. As a result, this weakens our communities. 

If we, collectively, determine to see the value that is inherent in others and begin to express this belief proactively and personally in an open and vulnerable way, the same spark that I saw in Kevin today will begin to catch fire in others who have no hope. Our communities will grow stronger and healing will follow. 

As for me, I am thankful. I am thankful for the opportunity to meet Kevin and to hear his story. I am thankful to learn from his experience. I am also thankful to know the great leaders at Columbus Water Works who live their corporate values on the job every day. Above all, I am thankful to live in a community where potential is abundant, people generally support one another, and opportunities abound for most. My greatest hope is that tomorrow, those opportunities will abound for all!



In the first paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we explore the need for a welfare system that starts with the assumption that natural support systems, including individual work and a reliance on family and community assistance, should be the primary sources of help when individuals face financial need. This report demonstrates how the current system does not meet these assumptions and points to the need for reform.


In the second paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we explore the new system as we imagine it could be, give guiding principles, provide a general framework for how the reformed system can function, and establish preliminary steps needed to implement the vision.


In the third and final paper of our three-part series presenting a vision for systemic welfare reform in Georgia, we propose the creation of new, consolidated program modules (including their structure, design, and expected outcomes) to replace current, disjointed programs. We go on to present a structure Georgia’s governor and executive agencies could adopt to effectively and in relatively short order implement a reformed system.


Medical assistance programs have long needed reforms to address high prices and lack of access. Despite the fact that federal policy tends to dominate medical assistance programs, states do have some flexibility to enact reforms. This study explores how states – and particularly Georgia – have flexibility and can experiment with Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve access, lower costs, and streamline the system to better serve those in need of assistance.


Georgia has suffered from higher unemployment rates and lower high school graduation rates than the national average for many years. This report takes a look at the trends driving those problems and the potential solutions, including apprenticeships, that could lead to greater economic mobility for young adults.