The Georgia Social Impact Collaborative’s Steering Committee is committed to addressing racism and racial inequities internally and in our work in the community to accelerate the social impact ecosystem across Georgia.

We must do and be better. We commit to listening, learning, and reflecting individually and as a group, by taking counsel with our partners and friends, and by accessing resources and expertise on racial justice and inclusive capital. We believe that racial equity will not come about without intentional action to address significant inequities in investment capital and network access, while also confronting bias, reimagining power dynamics and changing narratives.

Our hope is that others within the social impact ecosystem will join us in this work by contributing leadership, participation and equitable access to resources. 

We remain committed to inspiring more mission-driven capital to sustain an economy in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

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How can a campus achieve aggressive reductions in energy use, and reduce its carbon footprint, through efficiency upgrades? Agnes Scott College initiated the college’s Green Revolving Fund (GRF) in 2011 as a practical solution to this common challenge shared by colleges and universities that have committed to a goal of climate neutrality.

By 2015 Agnes Scott’s GRF had become a model for meeting this sustainability challenge, especially for schools with 5,000 or fewer students, by revolving more than $1 million to support energy capture and efficiency as well as water fixture retrofits campus wide. Now, five years after that first major goal was met, the Agnes Scott GRF has invested in efficiency retrofits totaling close to $2 million, including direct support for several large scale, innovative projects. Most notably, 10% of the college’s 1 million square feet of building space gained geothermal heat and air conditioning with support from the GRF. In addition, this fund has proven not only to be an incredibly effective tool to finance efficiency projects, it has also been a key element in advancing two other campus sustainability objectives: engaging our students in research to solve “real world” sustainability challenges, and creating a campus culture that supports the goal of advancing climate neutrality initiatives.

The basic concept of a green revolving fund is to establish a pool of financial resources dedicated to investing in energy and water efficiency upgrades that will generate utility cost savings. The money saved through these projects is then recycled back into the fund for future projects, resulting in a sustainable funding source for climate neutrality efforts. At Agnes Scott the GRF was designed to strengthen the college’s institutional capacity for building upgrades while ensuring that the campus will be more energy efficient. It was also designed to be managed by the campus community rather than by one department. 

Agnes Scott is a liberal arts college for women founded in 1889 and located in Decatur. The enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year was just over 1,000 students. The college’s mission statement is to educate women “to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.”  The approach that the college has taken to the GRF reflects this mission.

Sustainability and climate action are viewed by the leadership of the college as important components of Agnes Scott’s mission. In 2007 Agnes Scott was a charter signatory of Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment and in 2015 the college added a commitment to complete a Climate Resilience Plan with the surrounding community of Decatur. The college also participated as one of the first colleges to join the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, committing  to invest $1 million toward its GRF within the first three years after startup. 

Soon after signing the climate commitment, the college completed its first greenhouse gas inventory and drafted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) with a goal of climate neutrality by 2037. At the same time the Board of Trustees passed a resolution that all major renovation and new construction projects on campus would be required to achieve at least LEED Silver status. Since then three renovation projects have been completed:  The Anna Young Alumnae House (LEED Silver), Campbell Hall (LEED Gold), and Rebekah Scott Hall (LEED Platinum). The Campbell Hall and Rebekah Hall renovations benefited directly from GRF support and now operate on 100% geothermal HVAC.

The GRF has been a major driver in helping Agnes Scott College reduce its energy and water consumption and in the college’s efforts to achieve climate neutrality. Results include:

  • As of the 2017-2018 school year the college has reduced its emissions overall by close to 30% and emissions per full-time student by 39%.
  • Projects funded thus far funded by the GRF save the college an estimated total of $1 million in avoided water and energy expenses. 
  • Six individual student internships have brought students from different academic departments to the Center. These are often students that may not have had a sustainability focus previously. 
  • Moreover, the educational objective of the GRF has given many more students the opportunity to engage in environmental and sustainability issues and to wrestle with trying to create the right balance of environment, economics and equity as they make decisions. Students participating in the GRF Committee have made valuable contributions to proposal discussions, and have influenced the decision-making process with inventive solutions. 

At Agnes Scott the innovation investment of the GRF is truly seen as a tool for college improvement. It builds trust. The improvements from GRF projects, while not always flashy, have made the Center for Sustainability better at showing that climate mitigation takes a community approach and involves projects ranging from lighting upgrades to solar panels.

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Susan Kidd is the Executive Director of the Center for Sustainability at Agnes Scott College. In addition to the attention that the GRF has received, Agnes Scott’s overall sustainability profile has increased recently. The college received its STARS Gold rating in 2018 from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and then in 2019 received recognition for data accuracy in the Sustainable Campus Index that was released by AASHE. In 2020 Agnes Scott was ranked 13th in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges. This marked the first time Agnes Scott has been ranked in the top tier, and is the only college with fewer than 5,000 in the top 15. Agnes Scott also earned a top performer award for energy conservation from the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge in 2019.

Alongside Mission Investors Exchange (MIE), which held its 2020 conference virtually (instead of the originally planned location in Atlanta), GSIC hosted a session on place-based impact investing in Georgia on May 22. With over 75 participants, we witnessed a deep interest in understanding how impact capital can support investment in improved outcomes in our communities. Below is a short read-out of the conversation:

Mark Crosswell, GoATL Fund (Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta) and the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC)

  • Gave background on the GoATL Fund, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s place-based impact fund, which deploys low-cost debt through financial intermediaries for social outcomes in alignment with the Foundation’s strategy to increase equity of opportunity.
  • GoATL started with $10 million in capital from the Foundation and began raising capital from its donors in 2018. With almost $12 million in total capital, GoATL has committed over $9 million, mostly to scale affordable housing, minority-owned small businesses and quality education through metro Atlanta’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs in Georgia.)

Jennifer Barksdale, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation

  • The Babcock Foundation transitioned to a 100% mission-aligned portfolio in the last several years. It has required each investment be made in accordance with their ESG Policy, which is updated regularly to consider new screens (such as private prisons).
  • To approach place-based work, the Babcock Foundation invests through CDFIs with grants, loans and credit enhancements. The Babcock Foundation does not make direct investments due to staff capacity requirements.
  • In response to COVID-19, the Babcock Foundation doubled unrestricted cash grants to all grantees, extended grant periods, eliminated interest on Program Related Investments (PRIs), forgave 20% and extended the maturity of all PRIs due this year by one year. The result is a doubling of their 2020 payouts. (See blog.)

Tracy Kartye, Annie E Casey Foundation

  • The Casey Foundation has allocated $200 million to its social investments, which began in 2002, before the term “impact investing” was coined. They invest both through CDFIs and directly into projects. They are very selective about their direct investments due to limited staff capacity.
  • Much of the Casey Foundation’s strategy in Atlanta has been around the Pittsburgh Yards development in NPU-V. It is a rare example of community-based development along the BeltLine, and it intends to provide employment opportunities and access to capital for individuals and hyperlocal businesses. To finance the $26 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) project, the Casey Foundation found both private and public investment partners.

Natallie Keiser, Annie E Casey Foundation

  • The Casey Foundation is embedded in NPU-V, Pittsburgh in particular, due to the extreme disparities in Atlanta by race and wealth. Caseyhas been a leader in promoting strategies for supporting greater equity in Atlanta through partnerships with entrepreneurs of color to build wealth, and developers to preserve and promote affordable housing, and families to minimize academic disruption.
  • Through the Foundation’s work in NPU-V, staff learned that Capitol View (a BeltLine adjacent multi-family property; photo) was for sale. Leveraging staff in both Atlanta and Baltimore, the Casey Foundation followed the Kresge Foundation’s Community Investment framework to evaluate and proceed with their investment. In partnership with HouseATL, the Casey Foundation found investment partners in Enterprise Community Partners, Invest Atlanta and others.
  • A major difference between the response to the ongoing pandemic and the last recession is the clarity around the need for emergency relief and early investment in recovery. After the last recession, the Casey Foundation invested $3 million to acquire 50 single family lots in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. With additional investment, they are exploring solutions to ensure permanent affordability.

Dale Royal, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

  • LISC opened its local office in Atlanta just last year but they have already developed a series of Financial Opportunity Centers, which are career and personal finance service centers that help low- to moderate-income people focus on the financial bottom line with integrated delivery of employment services, financial coaching and access to income supports.
  • In Atlanta, LISC is focusing its resources on building capacity of small businesses through strategies developed in other regions, as well as from their surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Right now, a major focus is on micro-lending, as micro-enterprises have the hardest time raising capital for their businesses and are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus-related lockdowns.

Local Updates:

  • The Sapelo Foundation is speaking with Albany Communities Together! (ACT!) about a PRI for their work in south Georgia. They are looking for partners to invest alongside them. Request more information.
  • Initiatives in southwest Atlanta are advancing equitable approaches to small business financing and wealth building to close the racial wealth gap, such as the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative and the Village Micro Fund.
  • SPARCC (Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge) published a guide to support an equitable and just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which can be found here.
  • Several participants commented on the interest in rural and urban funding. Many shared their excitement that Natural Capital Investment Fund is considering an expansion into Georgia.

Resources:

  • Entrepreneur Names: Asha Owens and Rebecca Kwee 
  • Venture Name: BestFit 
  • Impact Focus Area: College Success, Civic Tech 
  • Business Stage: Startup 
  • Year Venture Established: 2018 
  • Business Type: Private, Social Enterprise 

 Basic needs insecurity among college students is worse than you think. 

 Millions of college students in the U.S. rely on their school for stable access to food, housing, transportation, and work: At least 48% of college students experience food or housing insecurity, and they are disproportionately Black & Latinx, first-generation, financially independent, parents/caregivers, or working 30+ hours.  

 While the federal government invests billions of dollars annually in higher education, financial aid alone does not cover the economic, social, and psychological costs associated with persisting and completing college. Many students still struggle to meet their basic needs, and may drop out of college as a result of competing financial obligations. Additionally, because of stigma, lack of awareness, and lack of time, students underutilize the many institutional & public benefits that are available to them —  the US Government Accountability Office estimates that 57% of students at risk of food insecurity and eligible for SNAP did not collect those benefits. 

 The disparity in basic needs security among college students, as well as its impact on college persistance, is concerning given that 65% of jobs today still require some form of postsecondary education. However, 75% of low-income, underrepresented minority, and first-generation students who attend college will not graduate. 

 Redefining student success in a post-COVID-19 environment 

 We founded BestFit in 2018 to address the low college persistence rates among historically marginalized students. As graduate students at Columbia University in New York, we bonded over the fact that we both attended college without visiting in-person, and struggled to find a support system as well as access basic needs such as food or healthcare. Asha is a Columbus, GA native who left her home state to attend Brown University, while Rebecca attended Columbia as an international student from Singapore. Drawing from our past careers as software engineers and college counselors, we initially built a web platform where college students could share honest advice and insights through video stories. 

When COVID-19 struck, we’d recently relocated to Atlanta to join Techstars + Cox Enterprises’ Social Impact Accelerator, and were in the middle of a pivot. We were disturbed by the fact that many college students were displaced from campus housing with little to no warning–while low-income, rural, foster-care, and international students were scrambling to find food, shelter, and/or internet, they were still expected to complete their coursework and finish the semester. 

 This drove us to design, launch, and build our free resource portal for displaced college students within a week. Our web platform helps students design their own safety nets by leveraging college, community, federal, and philanthropic resources all in one place. We’re building the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource portal for college students, and our team is hard at work updating resources on a weekly basis.  

Students can use BestFit to: 

  • Find verified local and national resources for food, healthcare, transportation, financial assistance, and other basic needs; 
  • Determine eligibility and next steps;  
  • Submit resources they’ve found useful; and,
  • Sign up for weekly updates on newly added resources. 

In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve found the urgent need to expand our target population beyond college students to anyone facing a basic needs gap. After initial feedback from students, colleges, and community-based organizations, we’re developing a version of BestFit that helps any organization better connect their constituents to resources they need, when they need them.  

 Now, our goal is to scale our technology as a tool for building more equitable and resilient communities. 

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BestFit empowers college students to find and access the help they need, right when they need them, so they can focus on what matters—graduating. They are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator (powered by Techstars). The company is actively seeking organization, city, and corporate partnerships for their recently launched community resource tool. Please reach out to them at [email protected] for more information. 

Other ways to stay updated: 

  • Instagram: @bestfit_app 
  • Twitter: @bestfit_app 
  • Sign Up through Website: http://best-fit.app  

 

In 2017, PadSplit launched as an innovative new model providing affordable housing for workers who have been unable to keep pace with the city’s rising rents, which according to RentCafe have increased by 65 percent in the last decade. In the three years of its existence, PadSplit has now housed more than 1,000 individuals, called “members,” throughout metro Atlanta. These members average $21,000 in annual income and typically work in hourly roles such as grocery store workers, security guards, restaurant employees, teachers and other posts that keep a community running.

Before PadSplit, these community workers had few, if any, reasonable housing options that were close to job centers. This lack of choices often led to individuals sleeping in airports or cars, being exploited in unsanitary extended stay motels or living far away and cobbling together 2-3 hour long commutes just to get to a job.

With years of experience in affordable housing, PadSplit’s founder Atticus LeBlanc realized there was a better model that could align incentives for workers, property owners and even cities. In launching PadSplit, LeBlanc showed other owners how taking existing, unused housing stock could create shared housing experiences that include private bedrooms, furnishings, utilities and healthcare access, alongside weekly, not monthly, rent payments. Having fixed costs made it far easier for individuals to budget and save, and all the while, property owners saw an increase in profitability and cities didn’t need to leverage tax subsidies for housing. The model did, in fact, align incentives and was working. PadSplit’s members report an average savings of $516 per month, as well as shorter commute times and improved credit ratings.

Fast forward to today and the Covid-19 crisis, where many of these same community service workers are now laid off, furloughed and unable to leave homes for public health and safety. Knowing that PadSplit’s member base would be severely impacted by the crisis, the organization quickly sprung to action to help its members ride out the crisis in the following ways:

  • Seeking grants: To date, PadSplit has raised more than $60K in funds that help members who cannot afford to pay their rent costs. 
  • Reducing fees: To cover all its bases, PadSplit reached out to all property owners and worked to negotiate lower rates to make it easier for members who could pay something, as well as allowing grant donations to last longer.
  • Providing emergency services: PadSplit is coordinating with other social impact organizations, nonprofits and companies to provide food, groceries and even toilet paper!
  • Offering healthcare: And, PadSplit is actively working to remind its members that they each receive 24/7 access to Teladoc services, in case anyone requires medical attention.

As the crisis continued, PadSplit didn’t just stop with the above plan. The organization layered in additional services for members to better position themselves when the economy re-opens. At the beginning of April, PadSplit began an employment assistance program that matches a member’s skills with available jobs, and they’re scraping job postings for any companies that are urgently hiring. 

All of this quick action has given PadSplit’s members peace of mind and allowed PadSplit to continue its own operations and prepare for growth in the coming recession. For more information about PadSplit, including how to rent out an available room in your home, visit PadSplit.com. Or, if you’d like to donate to keep hourly service workers housed, visit here.

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PadSplit, Inc is Public Benefit Corporation based in Atlanta, GA

 

  • Entrepreneur Name: Mario Cambardella
  • Venture Name: ServeScape
  • Impact Focus Area(s):  Landscape and Environment
  • Business Stage:  Startup
  • Year Venture Established: 2020
  • Business Type: Private – Landscape Consulting 

There is a disconnect between people and the natural environment. We get in our cars, park in our garages, work in our offices, and repeat. Yet even in our status-quo, there is a longing for connection. This is especially true as we struggle with the disruption to our social fabric caused by COVID-19. In a time where disconnect from people makes us feel isolated, we are searching for a tangible anchor; something that grounds us to our sense of place, gives us hope, and spreads joy.  

For me, this occurs when I am connected to the natural world.  For example, when I see the seed that I planted is sprouting, or the tree that I planted is blooming. Instantly, in the midst of instability, I feel rooted as I realize that the choice I made to care for a plant will serve the entire landscape with beauty and resiliency. In other words, my action directly contributes to the environment that I want to create.            

This is the foundational idea behind ServeScape. ServeScape seeks to bridge the disconnect between humans and nature by making it easier for people to create their own beautiful and resilient landscapes. This is done through leveraging technology to perform plant curation; a novel concept in the relatively antiquated landscape industry.  

Previously, plant suppliers and landscape professionals were stuck using old technology to account for inventory, make sales, and find the best plant. This was a slow process where plant inventory sat in the nursery for months, sometimes years, before being moved. Using our online marketplace, individuals and landscape professionals can shop real-time plant pricing and inventory.

In addition, ServeScape’s extensive plant attribute index allows for customers to design a multi-functional landscape by choosing a plant with an array of desired characteristics. These tools provide a systematic approach to meeting the needs of suppliers, landscapers, and individuals all on one website. Once the order is submitted, ServeScape uses our network of Georgia-grown plants and suppliers to deliver the plants right to your door. This system allows for you (the customer) to have full control over the environment you want to create for yourself, or your client, and ensures you are receiving the best plant at the best price.    

At ServeScape, we recognize that a healthy ecosystem is dependent upon the connectedness of each individual part that makes up the whole. While our mission is to connect people with place through plants, we believe that large-scale social impact is dependent on multiple missions sharing the same vision for a more sustainable, socially just, and resilient future. We are excited to be a part of the GSIC conversation and look forward to serving your scape!

 

Goodr has joined forces with Atlanta Public Schools to provide emergency food to APS students at five meal distribution sites during closure. Students will be able to access prepared meals from 10am-12pm Monday – Friday.

This includes: Douglas High, Cleveland Avenue Elementary, Bunch Middle, Sylvan Middle and Phoenix Academy at Crim. Goodr is also working closely with Atlanta Public School Board members to develop a plan that goes further to deliver food directly to apartment and housing communities thus eliminating any transportation barriers that will prevent students from accessing food during this closure.

  • Ready-to-eat meals will also be available at Loaves & Fishes at St. John Orthodox Church at 543 Cherokee Ave. SE Atlanta, GA 30312 from Monday – Friday from 9AM -10AM.
  • As of Monday, March 16th, all APS families can report to one of the five sites from 10AM-12PM to receive a bag of shelf stable grocery items from Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Goodr Founder and CEO, Jasmine Crowe said in a statement, “Goodr is experiencing a massive uptick in requests from nonprofits, families, and senior homes for food. At the same time, several of our client venues are having events and initiatives get canceled. What we know for sure is that with schools across the nation now closed, people being asked to work from home, and the growing number of people out of work – food is one resource that is critical at this time.”

On March 13th alone, Goodr was able to distribute over 90,000 pounds of food from three major sports arenas, event venues, schools and offices. They were able to deploy drivers in minutes, clearing refrigerators and freezers to feed the need. This rescued food served people in need across four counties. 

Building on that momentum, Goodr created a short list of ways you can help “Do Goodr:”

  • One-Time Pick-ups: They’ve enabled one-time pick-ups to help get food to more people. Don’t let good food go to waste. If your office or venue has food to donate – Goodr can pick it up today! Visit them online at www.goodr.co to get started.
  • Sponsor a Pick-up: Goodr serves a massive non-profit network nationwide and if you want to pitch in and help, you can sponsor a pick-up allowing them to do more good. Visit them online at www.goodr.co to get started.
  • Join us: Goodr will be hosting pop-up grocery stores in the Atlanta community over the next two weeks, you can join them as a volunteer. Text DOGOODR to 33777.
  • Spread the word: Please don’t let good food go to waste while our neighbors are hungry. Share Goodr’s services with your network and let them know how they can help!

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Goodr provides a secure ledger that tracks an organization’s surplus food from pickup to donation, delivering real-time social and environmental impact reporting analytics. The Goodr model aims to provide a triple-win solution by improving an organization’s bottom line through charitable tax donations, reducing its greenhouse emissions from landfills and getting its edible surplus food to local communities in need.

 

This post originally appeared on The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s blog on March 17, 2020.

 

March 25, 2020

ATLANTA – With children out of school, businesses temporarily closing, performances shuttered and workers being laid off, there has never been a time where community support and financial resources have been more badly needed. United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta are announcing the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

The new fund will support those most vulnerable to the economic and health-related impacts caused by the pandemic. The Community Foundation is committing $1 million and United Way of Greater Atlanta is contributing $500,000 to seed the fund. Additional dollars will be sought from individual donors, corporate partners and foundations.

Funds raised will focus on providing crucial services to high-risk audiences including seniors, families with children who normally receive free or reduced meals at school, families in need of childcare, homeowners and renters at risk for eviction, and hourly/low-wage workers.

“United Way and our partners at the Community Foundation are uniquely positioned to quickly and effectively identify areas with the greatest need, activate and connect people to resources,” said Milton Little, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “We are committed to securing and supporting the community safety nets needed for Child Well Being in these unprecedented times.”

“The Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2019 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey revealed that 46 percent of families in metro Atlanta do not have $400 on hand in case of an emergency and this crisis will only amplify that vulnerability,” said Lita Pardi, interim vice president at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “Bolstering support of our nonprofits addressing these needs is essential, and funders are working together to quickly support the residents and communities in our region.”

Individuals and families impacted and in need of support can contact United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2-1-1 Contact Center. There are many ways to connect to 2-1-1 including by phone, chat, email or mobile app. 2-1-1 is a valuable resource that is available 24-hours and 7 days-a-week.

To donate to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, click here.

 

UPDATE: Since this article was posted, the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has received an additional $10 million from two renowned Atlanta institutions: $5 million from The Coca-Cola Company and $5 million from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation (read more here).

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About United Way of Greater Atlanta
United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way chapter 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 FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram.

About the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Since 1951, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has been leading and inspiring philanthropy to increase the vitality of our region and the well-being of all residents. With nearly 70 years serving the 23-county Atlanta region and a robust team of experts, the Community Foundation expands its philanthropic reach and impact by providing quality services to donors and bold, innovative community leadership. The Community Foundation is a top-20 community foundation among 750 nationally, with approximately $1.2 billion in current assets, and is Georgia’s second largest foundation. For more information, visit: cfgreateratlanta.org or connect with the Foundation via FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

 

UPDATED: Monday, June 23 at 10:00 am

With so many concerns about the impact of isolation amidst the current COVID-19 crisis, we thought it would be helpful to roundup what resources are available today. We’ve pulled this list from our partners at ACE, AWBI, CCI, Invest Atlanta, Start:ME and others. Thank you to everyone working so hard to support small businesses in our community! 

A summary of where we find ourselves: “50% of Americans work for or own a small business. Many of these are local face-to-face Main Street services — restaurants, bars, coffee shops, barbershops, hair salons, auto repair shops, and dry cleaners that are living on the brink. The average small business has 27 days of cash flow and for many restaurants, it’s more like 16 days. For these businesses, shutting down operations for even a few days risk running out of cash. And, “when you run out of cash, as a small business you’re dead,” says Karen Mills, former Administrator of the SBA.” (The New Localism) 

We’ll try to keep it updated but things are moving so quickly, that we need your help! If you hear of anything not on this list, please email [email protected] and we’ll update it as quickly as possible. 

To stay updated on COVID-19 news:

 

PUBLIC SECTOR PROGRAMS

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The President signed the CARES Act into law on March 27, 2020. The law created two new SBA programs:

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Provides cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally-guaranteed loans to employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. Loans are eligible for forgiveness. Application forms, which you can submit with a participating SBA 7(a) lender starting on April 3, came out on April 1.
    • If you think you are eligible (run a for-profit or non-profit with fewer than 500 employees) and interested, contact your bank or qualified lender as soon as possible; these funds are available on a first come, first served basis and are likely to be exhausted quickly.
    • If you do not currently have a banking relationship or your bank is not participating in the program, Heavy.com is maintaining is a list of banks currently participating in the program.
    • If you have applied for a PPP loan, consider adding your experience to the COVID Loan Tracker – a project led by a small business in Miami to assess the experience of other small businesses trying to access this capital.
  • Small Business Debt Relief Program:  Provides immediate relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans and microloans for six months. You may participate in this debt relief program and apply for a PPP loan.

The CARES act created a new payroll tax credit up to $5,000 per employee who earns at least $10,000, the Employee Retention Credit, to encourage employers to encourage eligible employers to keep employees on their payroll, despite experiencing economic hardship related to COVID-19. Find more information on the IRS website. If you pursue a PPP loan, your business is not eligible for this tax credit.

The act also provides for an advance of funds through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which is listed below.

For more information, please review this resource from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Nonprofits are also eligible for the programs included in the CARES Act; you can find a guide on how to access these funds through the National Council of Nonprofits.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

Working capital loans available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquacultural businesses and most private non-profit organizations.  Through the CARES Act, businesses can request an advance of $10,000 after completing an EIDL application. You may have both EIDL and PPP loans, but they may not be used for the same purpose.

Applicants can apply online, where they can find additional disaster assistance information and download applications. To get more information, applicants can contact SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800.659.2955 or [email protected]. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call 800.877.8339. Completed applications can be mailed to U.S. SBA, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. 

The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Kennesaw State University is available to answer questions and help address any concerns about cash flow, payroll, marketing, the effect of the COVID-19 virus business and keep you up-to-date on the latest on the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. To schedule a teleconference appointment with one of our consultants, email us at [email protected] or call 470.578.645 

SBDC also produced a Guide to Conquering a Business Crisis that could be helpful in cash management, pricing and cost containment, supply chain management, and marketing.

SBA Express Bridge Loan (EBL) Pilot 

The EBL pilot program allows SBA Express Lenders authority to deliver expedited SBA-guaranteed financing on an emergency basis for disaster-related purposes to eligible small businesses, while the small businesses apply for and await long-term financing. If you are a current borrower of SBA products, find more information on the SBA website and contact your lender to determine whether or not you are eligible for this funding.

Invest Atlanta Continuity Loan Fund — Funds for the loan fund have run out

To ensure the viability of city businesses and to help sustain employment, Invest Atlanta has established a Business Continuity Loan Fund (BCLF) with $1.5 million of funding from the City of Atlanta. The fund will offer small businesses zero-interest loans to address a lack of working capital and cash flows as a result of reduced consumer demand, the ability to fulfill product or service orders and other economic conditions. If you have immediate questions, please contact [email protected] or visit their website. 

City of Decatur Emergency Small Business Loan Program

The City of Decatur, Decatur Development Authority and Legacy Decatur have made $500,000 available for zero-interest loans to Decatur-based businesses severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for loans up to $25,000 will be open from May 5 to May 15. If the program is oversubscribed, they will use a lottery system to allocate the loans. For more information, check out their program guide.

City of Atlanta Grant Relief Funds:

  • Strength in Beauty Fund: Cosmetology professionals impacted by the pandemic can apply for up to $1,000 in no-strings-attached grant funding. Apply here.

SBA Counseling and Training 

If you need a business counselor to help guide you through the current uncertainty, contact our regional Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) or SCORE membership chapter.

To find a local resource partner, visit the SBA website.

UGA’s SBDC has put together a fantastic page outlining the resources above, which you can find on their website.

 

NONPROFIT SECTOR PROGRAMS

ACE Small Business Loans — DeKalb Co. loans

ACE offered current borrowers payment deferments on existing debt and has opened up applications to access additional capital to get through the next few months. Supported by various capital providers, ACE will be making loans for three programs at the moment:

  • PPP Loans: ACE is going to process a limited number of SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications when the program reopens for Georgia-based businesses only. They are accepting applications for loans between $10,000 and $75,000. ACE is currently referring clients to 1st Choice Credit Union, as they have run out of PPP funds.
  • DeKalb County Small Business Loans: This program is designed to provide below market rate fixed asset financing to new and existing small businesses who want to do business in DeKalb County. Find the application on their website.
  • Fulton County Emergency Loan Program: ACE is currently working on the abundance of loan applications that they received for this loan program. Their application process is ON HOLD for now while they process the applications to see if there is still funding available.
  • Development Authority of Fulton County Business Contingency Loan Program: ACE is currently working on the abundance of loan applications that they received for this loan program. Their application process is ON HOLD for now while they process the applications to see if there is still funding available.

See a letter penned by Grace Fricks, ACE’s founder and CEO, to the small business community on their website.

Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is an authorized SBA 7(a) lender and is accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program. Applications are ON HOLD. For more information, go to their website.

LISC Grants for Small Businesses — PPP loans; check their website often, as new grant and loan funding will arise irregularly

LISC announced in a May 4 email that they would be processing PPP loans through immito, their small business lending subsidiary. Learn more.

The LISC Rapid Relief and Resiliency Fund will inject much-needed, flexible resources into historically under-invested communities. These are the places that are suffering most from the economic fallout gripping our nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. LISC aims is to raise up to $100 million in grants, loans and other investments for the Fund. LISC has raised several million dollars, with additional capital committed daily. The applications cycles are irregular and have shifting guidelines, so check their website regularly.

The programs and applications can be found on their website.

Please visit their website for further information or sign up for updates and notices here or email [email protected] to sign up. And follow their Pay It Forward Live concert series to show your support for small business with some of the biggest names in music.

COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund  — Funds have run out

The Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative launched a grant program for small businesses in Atlanta. To combat risks and offer financial stability to small businesses in Southwest, Southeast, and Northwest Atlanta, a COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund will be offered to qualifying businesses. Grants ranging from $2,500 – $25,000 will be awarded cover employee salaries, rent, supplier expenses, and technical assistance for up to 3 months. Learn more!

Small Business Assistance Corporation (SBAC) COVID-19 Recovery Loan Program  — Funds have run out

To assist small businesses impacted by the current outbreak, SBAC, a Savannah-based CDFI, is offering 3-year, 6% debt of up to $50,000 to businesses that have lost revenue due to COVID-19. Visit their website for more information.

LiftFund Grants for Small Businesses  — Grants funds have run out

The past few weeks have been uncertain and difficult. Supported by the Truist Foundation, LiftFund is offering grants to small businesses. Find more information on their website.

Restore ATL Fund

Supported by the CareSource Foundation, the Metro Atlanta Chamber is accepting applications for $5,000-10,000 grants to Black-owned small businesses in Atlanta. Learn more.

Georgia COVID-19 Emergency Relief for Farmers

A joint effort from Georgia Organics, the Food Well Alliance, Community Farmers Markets, Wholesome Wave Georgia, Global Growers and The Common Market Southeast, The Farmer Fund was created to support farmers in need. While originally created to address natural disasters, stakeholders have activated the Fund to support farmers affected by COVID-19. Find more information at their website.

Start:ME COVID-19 Small Business Resilience Support

Emory University is currently raising $20,000 to re-grant to graduates of its Start:ME micro-business accelerator program that operates in East Lake, South Atlanta and Clarkston. To donate or get more information, check out their website.

Center for Civic Innovation COVID-19 Response

CCI is looking to support its fellows and residents to help cover gaps faced by community leaders of organizations and efforts that are addressing inequality in Atlanta. Learn more at their website.

Kiva 0% Loan Program

As always, global micro-lending platform Kiva is offering 0% loans up to $15,000 to U.S.-based small businesses. While Kiva is rather industry-agnostic, they will look to have you fundraise for the loans first from your network over a 15-day period and then their wider circle over a 30-day period. For more information, visit their website.

The Red Backpack Fund

The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation is opening up a grant application for female entrepreneurs. The Foundation will make 1,000 grants valued at $5,000 each. Each month, we will accept additional applications. The portal will open for applications again on May 4, June 1, July 6, and August 3. Check out their website for more information.

Seed Commons COVID-19 Worker Response Fund

An organization that supports co-operative financial intermediaries, Seed Commons is raising funds to support worker owned businesses affected by the current COVID-19 crisis. For more information, please visit their website.

The Giving Kitchen COVID-19 Fund

A James Beard-award winning organization for its humanitarian work providing financial assistance to food industry workers struggling with illnesses, The Giving Kitchen started a COVID-19 Fund to provide financial assistance to food service workers either diagnosed with COVID-19 or under mandatory quarantine. Learn more.

With so many restaurants laying off staff due to lost revenue, The Giving Kitchen has a list of resources for those facing non-medical emergencies. You can find more information on their website.

Sweet Relief COVID-19 Fund

While they usually provide grant funds to musicians struggling with illness, disability and age-related problems, Sweet Relief launched a COVID-19 Fund with the support of a generous donor. Funds are limited but available to musicians struggling to make ends meet due to illness or lost revenue due to cancellations. Visit their website for more information.

Save Small Business COVID19 Fund

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is providing $5,000 grants to businesses in distressed areas that have between 3 to 20 employees. For more information, check out their website.

Hello Alice $10,000 Grants

Hello Alice is offering $10,000 grants being distributed immediately to small business owners impacted by coronavirus, as part of our broader mission to ensure Business for All. In addition to funding, grant recipients will receive ongoing support from the Hello Alice community. Find more information on their website.

Regional Grants for Nonprofits 

The National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) put together this helpful map that can help nonprofits source local COVID-19 funding. So far in Georgia, several foundations have announced COVID-19 recovery funds: 

Check out this map to see which counties each community foundation covers.

PRIVATE SECTOR PROGRAMS

WellCare Health Plans Inc. Community Resource Grant

Supporting organizations in Cobb County, WellCare is identifying those that have creative, innovative, local solutions that address social service barriers impacting vulnerable populations due to COVID-19. Grants will be funded between $500-$1,500 and applications are currently open on their website.

The Small Business Relief Initiative

A partnership between GoFundMe, Intuit and Yelp (and individual small donors!), the initiative will be issuing $500 matching grants to qualifying businesses that raise at least $500 on GoFundMe. To increase their available matching capital, which is at $1.5M at 3pm on 3/27, go to their website. To set up a page for your business, you can sign up on GoFundMe’s website.

MainStreet Mainvest Initiative

Allows businesses affected by coronavirus to qualify for an immediate, interest-free $2,000 loan when they launch a capital raise on the platform. Check it out.

Honeycomb Crowdfunded Small Business Relief Loan

Community-sourced loans for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Find more information on their website.

Honeycomb is also providing “Loyalty Bonds,” a unique form of gift cards. Customers buy the bonds, and for every $100 they purchase they receive $130 in gift cards divided into four equal parts over 24 months. That way, customers will frequent your business at least four times in the next 2 years. Check it out.

Facebook Grants for Small Businesses 
Facebook for Business knows that businesses may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. They know that a little financial support can go a long way, so they are offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during business during this challenging time. Click here for additional information. 

Salesforce Care Small Business Grants

To help keep businesses afloat during the ongoing pandemic, Salesforce will be offering small business grants of $10,000 to provide capita from a pool of $5 million. These grants will support small businesses as they work to replenish materials, pay salaries, or adapt their business model to overcome these challenging times. The grant application will be available to US businesses in mid-April. For more information, check out their website.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Grants and Loans

JPMC has made commitments totaling $50M in grants and $50M in lending, with several pledges to nonprofits (such as Feeding America) and investment theses (such as zero interest loans for Entrepreneurs of Color Fund and Ascend participants) announced. For more information, visit JPMC’s Impact page or contact [email protected].

JustCapital

Many corporations are changing internal policies, such as adjusting hours of operations, sick leave, and customer accommodations. Others are providing funds to community relief funds. To view what Fortune500 companies are doing, check out their website.

The Booz Allen Foundation Innovation Fund

A $1 million Innovation Fund to help nonprofits, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, innovators at colleges and universities, and startups and small businesses harness the power of data, technology, and diverse intellectual capital to improve COVID-19 relief efforts and make a difference, The Booz Allen Foundation wants to surface the most innovative solutions and empower the individuals and organizations behind those solutions to drive their development and implementation. Learn more on their website.

Black Business Relief by We Buy Black and Shea Moisture — Application closed

Leading the effort to help shape the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, specific to the negative impact on black owned businesses, Black Business Relief is providing business grants to We Buy Black’s top black businesses, which are in jeopardy of going bankrupt or closing. Find more information on their website.

Unsung Businesses by SheaMoisture — Application closed

To kick off the first $100,000 of funding, we want to award small minority businesses that have been stepping up to support their communities during the recent COVID-19 crisis. Find more information on their website.

Independent Contractor Assistance

Google Tips on Working from Home 

The Grow with Google Remote Work hub includes resources and free tools to help your teams works smoothly, and help you stay connected to the communities you serve. Google built a new helpful site for small businesses with additional tips and recommendations to navigate during this time of uncertainty for their employees and customers. You will find information on how to: 

  • Work from anywhere: Best practices for effective communication and collaboration while working remotely and meeting via video conferencing. 
  • Teach from anywhere: Support virtual learning and host workshops from anywhere using collaborative tools. 
  • Learn from anywhere: Share training content through digital resources so that the people in your community can access online courses and curriculum. 

 

Ways Atlanta-based Businesses are Responding to COVID-19 

  • Rimidi: Launching a new app to accelerate patient screenings for COVID-19 
  • ExamMed: Offering its telemedicine platform services for free for 3 months to healthcare providers 
  • Physician 360: Providing on-demand video consults with doctors 
  • Jigsaw Interactive: Giving its intelligent virtual classroom software to schools 
  • Kabbage: Launched an effort to help any small business register to sell e-gift certificates 
  • Valor Ventures: Launching a 3-week virtual pitchfest, which kicks off Friday, March 20 
  • Goodr: Partnered with APS and several corporations to facilitate food donations to those in need
  • PadSplit: Already managing affordable housing to many low-wage frontline workers, raised funds for emergency financial assistance, provided access to Teledoc, and delivered bulk cleaning supplies to tenants
  • Sharecare: Launched a centralized online destination for people to easily access the latest developments and medically verified guidance about COVID-19
  • Partners for Home: Coordinated the use of hotels for housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, among other important initiatives
  • Sock Fancy: Shifted manufacturing from socks to cloth face masks (buy one, donate one!)
  • Topstitch: Owner Leigh Metcalf posted her face mask sewing instructions online for mass use
  • Tikkun Olam Makers: 3-D printing face masks for heath care and frontline workers
  • Atlanta Beats COVID: Coordinated group of ad hoc volunteers stitching and printing PPE (over 5,000 pieces and counting!)
  • Atlanta Face Shields: Start-up group making 3-D printed face masks for health care workers
  • ATLFAMILYMEAL: Activating restaurants to make and deliver meals to laid off hospitality employees
  • BestFit: Curating a list of resources for those needing support (financial or otherwise) through the pandemic
  • Groundfloor: Offering an interest bonus of 4% to investors on their residential real estate platform
  • Health Connect South: Compiled requests for donations and volunteering for hospitals and health care workers across the South
  • Community: Seeking volunteers to sew protective face masks for donation to Piedmont Hospital; also selling face masks (buy one, donate one!)
  • Creature Comforts: Raising funds for their Get Comfortable program to support their agency partners in Athens and Atlanta
  • Old Fourth Ward Distillery: Making hand sanitizer for first responders with the support of Southern Company
  • Hope Springs Distillery: Making hand sanitizer available to order and donating to first responders
  • Moonrise Distillery: Offering FREE hand sanitizer to the public
  • BioIQ: Released a COVID-19 saliva test
  • OXOS: Developed a portable, in-home method to aid in diagnosing, monitoring, and clinical decision making for COVID-19 patients
  • The Dad’s Garage: Joined Twitch to provide some laughter through isolation during their Social Distancing Spectaluar!
  • MailChimp: Providing free domains for 5 years, free services for impacted small business (fill out this form) and grants of $100k each to Goodr, Center for Civic Innovation, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Keep Oakland Housed, and New Story Charity

ATDC compiled a list of how their member companies have shifted gears to deal with the ongoing pandemic. Check out their website.

 

By: Ian Cohen, TARA Education Technologies

March 4, 2020

 

“Data in education.” Whether you are an experienced educator or just an average community member, when you hear that phrase, I am willing to bet that only a single thing comes to mind – test scores. Standardized tests, SATs and ACTs, unit tests, end of course tests and so on and so on.

And now that I have listed those few examples out, you are likely thinking about how you either hated those tests, how education is ruined by those tests, or how the rest of the post is going to be about the ills of testing overall, as if no one has argued that ever before. Truth be told, a simple Google search of “testing is bad” produces >1,000,000,000 results in 0.63 seconds – so maybe that topic is a little tired.

But I don’t want to talk about testing. I want to talk about data.

And specifically, how little data is actually gathered and leveraged when it comes to teaching and learning in our current education system.  

When I began my career as a high school teacher, my job was to teach 180 9th grade students World Geography over the course of a semester. The information to be covered is determined by the state department of education and is broken down into, in this instance, 6 standards with various elements for each. And conveniently, the state even goes further to provide teachers with “Teacher Notes” which dive deeper into what needs to be taught. My job as the teacher was to ensure that students “mastered” this material as evidenced by the assessments, or tests, they take throughout and at the conclusion of our semester. These assessments yield are coveted test scores.

But here is the challenge. None of those resources help me – or any other teacher for that matter – figure out how to teach the subject. I can break down content and information as well as the next person, but how do I actually engage students in a learning experience that enables them to develop and maintain an understanding of that information or skill and its significance?  

That is teaching – having a diverse arsenal of strategies (i.e. discussions, simulations, experiments, exercises, etc.) is critical to being an effective educator. And understanding which students will respond to which strategies and having the ability to apply them when needed is what makes a master educator.

So – in addition to a strong grasp of subject content – it would seem that two critical components to teaching must be:

  1. Possessing and implementing a wide variety of engagement strategies effectively.
  2. Understanding your students to the degree at which you can apply a variety of strategies most effectively.

This brings us back to our original problem around data and mistakenly assuming that “test scores” are the only type and form in which data can and should present itself within education.  

For example, one of the greatest shortcomings of test scores is that they are lagging indicators, meaning they only can tell us what already happened, as opposed to leading indicators which can help us predict success. Sure, many places have benchmark assessments and “checks for understanding” throughout a course to check progress and effectiveness – but all of those “checks” are lagging indicators as well.  

But herein lies the opportunity.  

As a local friend and teacher coach recently told me, “you have to plan for data,” meaning that you have to understand what data you want and then ensure that you use the tools and methods that will enable you to capture that data. If we shift the paradigm about what data we want, then we may be able to truly revolutionize education.

What if every teacher had a tool – a kind of virtual assistant – that could do this for them?

And that is where TARA comes in. On the surface, we address a fairly simple problem – improving the lesson planning process that teachers and schools use to ensure alignment, rigor, and accountability. We replace document-based processes with an interconnected platform that assists teachers while they create a lesson by providing them with a bank of engagement strategies, best practices, and resources to choose from. The interface is simple – just click, drag, and drop – and saves teachers anywhere from 30-60 minutes per plan.

But the true innovation of what TARA is – and will become – is centered around the data we are gathering for our teachers and schools. Over time, as we amass more and more leading indicators and incorporate greater levels of research and machine learning, TARA will become every teacher’s best friend. A true smart assistant that can analyze a class roster (i.e. student learning styles, past success, student responses, etc.) and teacher style to suggest the most effective learning experience.  

And this will go well beyond just what strategies to utilize. We will enable schools to entirely reimagine their operations – everything from student groupings and teaching assignments to teacher coaching and professional development to room temperature, lighting, and layouts.

With TARA, we can truly realize the vision of a “smart school.” And not a one-size-fits-all approach like many current school models and platforms. A school shaped by on the ground context and stakeholders that maximizes the potential of our human capital instead of replacing it – while maintaining the highest possible expectations and support for our kids and the future.

 

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Ian Cohen is the founder and CEO of TARA Education Technologies based in Atlanta, GA. TARA recently completed a school pilot program and is available for free trial at www.taraedtech.com. The company is actively seeking school and organization partnerships for the 2020-21 school year. Please reach out to them at [email protected] for more information.