Choosing to be Grateful

By Barrett Coker Krise, senior philanthropic advisor

By Barrett Krise, Senior Philanthropic Advisor at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

By Barrett Krise, Senior Philanthropic Advisor at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

There was a recent op-ed article in the New York Times that discussed the importance of choosing to be grateful. The simple act of deciding and following through with a conscious feeling of gratitude not only has a positive impact on yourself, but also positively impacts those around you. It has the power to increase our happiness—apparently it also can increase our waistline, but what else is new?

When so much of the noise and clutter surrounding us is counter to the very thing it purports to commemorate (it is called Thanksgiving after all) it’s easy to forget why we celebrate. Perhaps this Thanksgiving we do need to make the choice to be grateful. We are grateful and we are thankful. Thankful to have family and friends. Thankful to have food on our table. Thankful to be able to do something for someone who needs it.

I’m particularly thankful to work at the Community Foundation. This time of year, we’re inundated with ads for Black Friday and entreaties to buy, buy, buy. But I get so many phone calls asking me for volunteer ideas for families over the holidays—try the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Open Hand or Crossroads Community Ministries. I get emails asking for suggestions for how to have a conversation with kids about being thankful and giving back—consider doing a family values exercise to share what matters to you and see where your values align. I have conversations about who to make a gift to that will have a real impact on an organization—take a look at Extra Wish, these real, tangible wishes include everything from backpacks and yoga mats to MARTA cards and electric can openers.

This year, I choose to be grateful. For family and friends, for a challenging and rewarding career, for dedicated and smart colleagues, for generous and thoughtful clients, for a vibrant and exciting community and for all of you who are part of it. What will you choose?

Happy Thanksgiving.

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The Face of Homeless Youth

In Greater Atlanta alone, we have approximately 2,500 youth living in homelessness. Unlike their adult counterparts – many of whom live on the streets – homeless youth often live with friends and family, moving from place to place, sleeping on people’s couches. But they never have a place to call home.

Two main reasons for homelessness among youth are kids and teens running away from violence, abuse and neglect at home, and youth turning 18 and “aging out” of the foster care system.

We wanted to help put a face on this issue for National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, so we spoke with one of our United Way partners, Chris Kids, and asked one of their directors to tell us a story about a homeless youth they helped. You’ll also hear from me about United Way’s Regional Commission on Homelessness to learn about our Youth Home Initiative Program that helps homeless youth and their families. Take a look:

You can watch the full interview here:

If you would like to help homeless youth find housing and get on the path to self-sufficiency, [email protected]

Elizabeth Danley - v1Liz Danley is a Project Manager at United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Regional Commission on Homelessness. She can be reached at [email protected].

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Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund Luncheon – Amping Up the Arts

By Lisa Cremin, director, metropolitan Atlanta arts fund and nonprofit bridge loan fund

It’s going to be a good one this year.

Lisa Cremin, Director at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Lisa Cremin, Director of metropolitan Atlanta arts fund and nonprofit bridge loan fund at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Producing the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund luncheon is a daunting and humbling project. Let’s face it – the audience for this big gathering are people whose daily ‘lift’ and professional gifts are focused on making great art for audiences. They are the pros. These are the artists, arts administrators, board members and investors who are the engine of the creative community.

Big news will be revealed at the luncheon. The Arts Fund is announcing $1.5M in financial grants to arts groups. These investments are competitive and coveted, and the arts organizations that receive these investments have earned them. The Arts Fund awards big dollars to small and mid-sized professional organizations because they are the breadth and depth of the arts across the metro Atlanta region. These organizations provide the joy and inspiration in our lives – giving us dance, music, theatre and visual art.

For context and enlightenment at the luncheon, we’ll hear from the great scholar and writer Steven Tepper, in from Arizona to talk about how artists and arts leaders are reshaping the relationship between art and the city. He will address the question: What is America’s next big cultural policy innovation? If you want to plug in more, there are pre-luncheon onsite seminars that include Clyde Valentín, former executive director of the Hip Hop Theater festival in New York, who is now bringing arts into all corners in the city of Dallas. And the conversation on the mandate for arts capitalization continues in a seminar led by Terri Theisen, a highly in-demand Atlanta consultant.

DID I MENTION THE ART IN THE PROGRAM? We’ve commissioned some new artistic performances that will help us make sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Join us!

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Improving Our Community’s Financial Well-Being

PiggyBank_fbI work in the financial industry. Every day I help people learn how to manage their money. So, you can imagine my disappointment when a new report ranked Georgia the third worst state in the country for financial well-being. And it’s not just low-income workers who are struggling. According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, “of those earning more than $120,000 per year, 43% are still struggling or suffering in financial well-being in 2014.”

Your financial health isn’t just important for you and your family. When you are financially healthy, you are more likely to be physically healthy, productive and contribute to the overall health of our entire community.

That’s why we at Wells Fargo have teamed up with United Way of Greater Atlanta to teach people how to better manage their money and reach their financial goals. We are a partner of the Financial Capability Network to provide one-on-one financial coaching to anyone who needs it.

A young lady who graduated from the program appeared on United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Live United Show and talked about how it changed her life. Take a look:


If you would like financial coaching, or are interested in being a coach, email [email protected].

Pam Cross Wells FargoPamela Cross is the vice president, senior community development officer at Wells Fargo where she is accountable for leading, evolving and building the social responsibility efforts for the bank. 

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The Millennial Donor Perspective – Engage Me!

By Kathleen Wagner, philanthropic advisor

By Kathleen Wagner, philanthropic advisor, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

By Kathleen Wagner, philanthropic advisor, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

I’m a millennial donor and I’m begging to be engaged.  You see, we’re not all the self-entitled brats that the media says we are. We’re actually quite a charitable generation, with 84% of us giving charitably in 2014. But times have changed and so have our motivations for giving. We might not support what our bosses support, and we may not give where our parents used to give. We are giving to what moves us, and what we want our world to be like for our children one day. We’re emotionally driven.

I’ll be honest – I’m not going to be your largest donor. With the student loan debt that followed my master’s degree and the first years of home ownership, that just isn’t going to happen. But I might be your biggest donor one day. As I continue to grow in my career, I think a lot more about charitable giving and the impact that I want to leave in this world.  Did you know that millennials represent the single largest generation in history?  In 2015, rumor has it that millennials will have more buying power than our parents, the Baby Boomers. So what does this “emotional” and purposeful giving look like and how can you engage us?

  • I give to my church. They “ask” every week and I like what they have going on. Simple as that.
  • I give to the camp I grew up going to. They hardly ever ask, but they don’t have to. They’ve given experiences of a lifetime to many kids and teens, and so when we have the ability to give—we do!
  • You’ve probably also heard that millennials are putting off having kids too. But you know what we do have? Pets. My husband and I give to our local animal shelter because we love our shelter dog.

We want to give back, but you’ve got to speak our language. So what can you do?

#1 – Make sure we know that we matter. Court us lovingly. We like to know we’re doing a good job and we’re on the right track. So THANK US in a meaningful way for our gift. Online giving has been around for a while and an automated email doesn’t make me feel like I helped. On the other hand, a personal thank you is just the ticket.

#2 – Millennials are looking for an emotional connection when it comes to giving. Give us volunteer opportunities wrapping Christmas gifts for those in need or reading to children at the library. We will be more inclined to give when we can relate that donation to specific people or places. Whether or not you use that donation for that specific family becomes less relevant—we’ve seen your program in action and we know that it works. So we want to give you money. Did you hear that? We WANT TO GIVE away our money that we probably don’t even have a lot of. YET.

#3 – Don’t bother with mail. When we get something in our mailbox asking us to give, we throw it away. The only things that we get via snail mail are bills that we hate. Those things are expensive to make, and unless they’re really dynamic, we don’t want them.

#4 – Help us share. We want to be proud of our donation—we want to tweet on Twitter and share on Facebook about the cause that we’re proud to give to. Remember, we like to show people how awesome we are. We’re selective about our online sharing, and showing something good we did is always on the top of the list. So give us the chance to give to your organization. Be legitimate and willing to accept pledges of any size. And give us an outlet to share about what we just did, so that we can tell our friends how awesome we are (and thus, how awesome you are). Chances are, they’ll want to be equally as awesome and you’ll get more pledges.

I am extremely proud of the organizations I give to, and I want to be able to support them even more in the future. I think most millennials would agree. Be patient with us. We’re not unapproachable at all – in fact, we want to be engaged. You all just need to speak our language and do it fast. If you don’t get millennials invested in what you’re doing, soon, you might not be doing anything at all.

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You Can Make Greater Atlanta Awesome

Hi! I’m Priah, the spokeskid for United Way of Greater Atlanta. And I want you to help make Greater Atlanta awesome! How? By volunteering and helping people at your favorite nonprofit. Mine, of course, is United Way, because the people there help kids like me do better in school and make sure we have a doctor to go to when we’re sick. They even help our moms, dads, aunts, uncles and other grownups find jobs so they can take care of our families.

I made a video to show you how it all works. Check it out!

Priah United Way of Greater Atlanta

Priah is the spokeskid for United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at [email protected]


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Equity, Inequality and Myth Busting

By Lesley Grady, senior vice president for community partnerships, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Lesley Grady, senior vice president for community partnerships, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Lesley Grady, senior vice president for community partnerships, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

October 12 was Columbus Day, a day set aside to celebrate America’s discovery. A few years back, some smart folks did the research and busted the myth behind the story, revealing a sad and complicated tale widely divergent from the one that prompted the national holiday. Yet the celebration continues.

This year the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta began to explore another myth about how people and communities prosper. We’re not alone. Civic leaders as diverse as Angela Glover Blackwell, Jeb Bush and Robert Putnam are introducing terms such as the “Opportunity Gap” and “Equity” into our shared lexicon. They are conceding that the long held myth of hard work and opportunity — the American Dream – does not adequately explain the staggering and growing rates of income inequality that threaten our national security.

Equity, defined as “just and fair inclusion such that all can participate and prosper”, is an essential component of equality, or the lack thereof.  This great picture illustrates the distinction:


The problem is close and personal. According to a Demos study, in Atlanta, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median African-American household and $8,348 for the median Latino household.  Also, a child raised in the bottom-fifth of income levels has only a four percent  chance of rising to the top-fifth income level.  Our region has an equity challenge that has led to staggering inequality.

Addressing income inequality will require our collective courage to acknowledge historic, pervasive biases and structures, bounded by race and class, which anchor whole families and communities in perpetual poverty.  It requires that we release the myth that providing opportunities for “more” – more scholarships, more training, more food – is all of and not just a part of the solution.  Increasing opportunities that look forward and focus on improving chances that children will attain middle-class or higher incomes in their adulthood is important and good.  But resolving the inequality of Atlanta’s African-American and Latino families who make $100,000 less than their white neighbors means we have to go further and deeper and fix the fault line that prevents all families and communities from sharing in the region’s growth and prosperity.  It means we must recognize the links between opportunity, inequality and history. It means busting a myth we’ve grown comfortable with.

As a region of dreamers, giving up myths is difficult and will demand our consideration, conversation and possibly our conversion.

For the sake of our most vulnerable children and families, its time.

Study Link:

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Joining Forces, Raising Resources: Succeeding as Partners in Business, Government and Philanthropy

The numbers are, quite simply, amazing.

Metropolitan Atlanta is home to more than 5 million people, is growing non-stop, and hosts the headquarters of more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies.

More than 96 million people a year travel through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which means that, on a daily basis, ATL hosts approximately 250,000 travelers.   That’s more than the population of Orlando, Providence, or Winston-Salem traveling through the busiest and most efficient airport in the world every single day.

Delta Air Lines, with its 1,000 daily flights from just Atlanta, travels to 326 destinations in 59 countries and employs more than 80,000 people worldwide.

Impressive, on all counts.

For every Fortune 500 company that calls Atlanta home, for every flight out of Hartsfield-Jackson, for every Delta ticket sold, there are countless Atlantans who are critical in keeping our region on a strong growth trajectory.

One of our region’s most important partners is United Way of Greater Atlanta, which invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties. As one of the largest United Way chapters in the United States, it has an annual budget of $100 million.

Offering such assistance does not come easily: it takes time, effort and money.  The City of Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson, and Delta Air Lines are stepping up to provide such resources.  On October 17th, the Mayor’s Inaugural 5K on the 5th Runway will be held at Hartsfield-Jackson, with all proceeds to benefit United Way of Greater Atlanta.

Far from being a typical 5K race, this will give runners and walkers a chance to step out on a course usually traveled only by aircraft – the 5th Runway at Hartsfield-Jackson.  The runway will be closed early that Saturday morning to allow participants the chance to set a new personal record, run with friends, or simply walk along a runway most Atlantans drive under while motoring down I-285.

A true collaborative effort, The Mayor’s Inaugural 5K on the 5th Runway proves just how well organizations such as the City of Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson, and Delta Air Lines can work together to benefit Atlanta’s residents while also raising much-needed funds for United Way of Greater Atlanta.

You, too, can join forces and raise resources by registering to run or walk in the Mayor’s Inaugural 5K on the 5th Runway.  Follow the link, register, and join The City of Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Delta Air Lines as we show how business, government and philanthropy can succeed together.

Miguel Southwell

Miguel Southwell is the aviation general manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.


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New Beginnings – The Community Foundation has Moved!

By Alicia Philipp, president of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

By Alicia Philipp, president of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

By Alicia Philipp, president of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

It is not New Year’s Day, but I have the same feeling – turning over a new leaf, new beginnings!

The Community Foundation has moved to 191 Peachtree Street after 26 years in our former space. The newness of fresh paint and a space designed for today’s work is exhilarating. Lots of collaboration and meeting space with light coming in the windows, is so important to our work. A new day!

It is also a new day in other ways. We are putting the finishing touches on a new three-year strategic plan that is bold and aspirational. We will be pushing hard to expand our philanthropic reach and impact. The metro area has so many strengths that can be built on to address some of the deep, systemic problems we face. The role for The Community Foundation as the “community’s endowment” has never been more needed. Come see our new space and come be part of our transformational work.

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3 Reasons to Work for a Nonprofit

United Way of Greater Atlanta Three Reasons to Work for a Nonprofit

I’ve been working at United Way of Greater Atlanta for about six months now. I decided to switch to the nonprofit sector because I wanted to work for an organization whose culture matched its mission.

I am extremely pleased with my decision, so much so, I’d like to encourage you to consider a nonprofit career too!

Here are three reasons you should consider working for a nonprofit:

  1. You get the opportunity to give back – It may sound cliché, but it never fails. Every time I interview someone and ask why they are interested in working for United Way – or any nonprofit – they say it’s because they want to give back. They are highly intelligent, super skilled people who could work anywhere they want, but they make the conscious choice to work for organizations that are motivated by a mission to serve others and the community. If this is your passion, and you’re looking to make a larger impact beyond what you get from volunteering or donating, you should definitely consider a nonprofit career.
  2. You work with like-minded people – The majority of people who work for nonprofits are motivated by a passion to serve. (See #1.) So you will be surrounded by people who have similar values, goals and interests. These commonalities make it easier to collaborate, innovate and integrate with members of your team, and even leaders at the executive level.
  3. You learn how to work with tight budgets – Nonprofit organizations have to be very thoughtful about every cent they spend. As a result, you learn pretty quickly how to work within tight budgets. Limited resources force you to think outside of the box to make things happen, and that way of problem solving can transfer to other parts of your life as well.

I admit. Working for a nonprofit isn’t for everyone. But if it’s something you’ve been thinking about, go ahead and jump in! There is so much you can gain, both professionally and personally.

Sara CloudSara Cloud is the Learning and Performance Director at United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at [email protected]

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