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Former Atlanta Schools Chair to Oversee Community Development for Housing-Education Nonprofit

ATLANTA TRIBUNE — Atlanta-based nonprofit Star-C Communities, which bills itself as an education model with an affordable housing solution, has named former Atlanta Board of Education Chair Courtney English as its first Director of Community Development.

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By The Atlanta Tribune

Atlanta-based nonprofit Star-C Communities, which bills itself as an education model with an affordable housing solution, has named former Atlanta Board of Education Chair Courtney English as its first Director of Community Development.

“As we continue to strengthen our model and expand into additional apartment communities in Atlanta, the time is right to have an experienced professional spearheading our outreach to education organizations, community partners, funders and others interested in the nexus of education and housing,” says Audrea Rease, executive director of Star-C, which focuses on health and wellness programming and onsite afterschool enrichment. “Courtney has the experience, vision and energy to lead that charge, and we are excited to have him on board.”

English has long championed the idea that community needs must be addressed for students to thrive. While Chair of Atlanta’s School Board, the District launched partnerships to open four additional school-based health clinics. Recognizing that Atlanta’s school system, one of the largest landowners in the City, also had a mobility rate that topped 20 percent, he appointed the Atlanta Public Schools Affordable Housing Task Force to transform vacant school buildings into affordable housing units.

“The conversation around improving education must include housing, healthcare and ensuring that the basic needs of students and their families are met. Star-C is on the cutting edge of that work and is well-positioned to become a national model” English says. “I am both humbled and excited to help share what we have accomplished thus far, strengthen and grow this model and learn from and collaborate with others.”

In addition to his eight-year tenure on the Board of Education, English has worked for an education technology company, served as assistant director of Project Identity at Morehouse College, and taught 7th grade social studies at the B.E.S.T. Academy through Teach for America. He hold’s a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Morehouse and a master’s degree in Organization Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University.

“Courtney has been a friend to Star-C and we’re excited to add him to the team, focusing on refining strategy, polishing policy, cultivating myriad alliances and  evolving our education framework,” says Marjy Stagmeier, a founder of Star-C, and a partner in TriStar Real Estate, a commercial real estate investment and asset management firm. She also Chairs Star-C’s board.

English’s many accolades include being named one of Atlanta Magazine’s “Next in line to lead the region” in 2015, a “New History Maker” by the Atlanta Tribune (2016), an “Outstanding Georgia Citizen” by the Georgia Secretary of State (2019), a speaker at various national conferences and has served as a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Emory University and Spelman College.

Now in its 4th year, Star-C is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that operates an education model with an affordable housing solution. Star-C’s pilot program, at Willow Branch Apartments in Clarkston, has propelled Indian Creek Elementary, formerly one of the lowest performing schools in Georgia, to a status of “Platinum Performer” by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement in Georgia for three years.  Star-C now operates its wraparound services at three other metro affordable housing communities near high-need elementary schools. Star-C also partners with other entities to ensure resident needs are met in its communities including Morehouse Medical, Oakhurst Medical Centers and Georgia Power.

This article originally appeared in Atlanta Tribune

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PRESS ROOM: SunTrust Foundation Awards $2.7 Million in Grants to Winners of the 2019 Lighting the Way Awards

ATLANTA TRIBUNE — The SunTrust Foundation announced the winners of the 2019 Lighting the Way Awards, giving a total of $2.7 million in grants to 36 nonprofit organizations across the South and Midwest, including four in Atlanta. The awards support the work of the organizations to build self-sufficient families and more financially confident communities through financial education, financial counseling, career readiness/workforce development and small business/entrepreneurship. Each nonprofit was awarded a $75,000 grant.

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(From left to right) Bill Rogers, Chairman and CEO, SunTrust Bank, and Chairman, SunTrust Foundation; Monica Kaufman Pearson, renowned Atlanta television broadcast journalist; and Stan Little, President, SunTrust Foundation, honor the winners of the SunTrust Foundation’s Lighting the Way Awards. (Photo by: newsroom.suntrust.com)

By The Atlanta Tribune

The SunTrust Foundation announced the winners of the 2019 Lighting the Way Awards, giving a total of $2.7 million in grants to 36 nonprofit organizations across the South and Midwest, including four in Atlanta. The awards support the work of the organizations to build self-sufficient families and more financially confident communities through financial education, financial counseling, career readiness/workforce development and small business/entrepreneurship. Each nonprofit was awarded a $75,000 grant.

“Every one of these nonprofits has created impactful programs to support specific needs of their communities, and it is a privilege to recognize their efforts,” said Stan Little, president of the SunTrust Foundation. “The Lighting the Way Awards illustrate our commitment to Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being in partnership with organizations that make a difference in the lives of those who need
help the most.”

The SunTrust Foundation also is committed to helping nonprofits improve their organization’s financial well-being by providing workshops, case studies and training on organizational economic sustainability. Following the Lighting the Way Awards event, winners participated in collaborative sessions about using the power of storytelling to engage their stakeholders better and demonstrate their impact in the community. Speakers included Kate Atwood, founder and CEO, B.Essential, and founder, Kate’s Club; David Eidson, president and CEO of Coxe Curry & Associates; Lucy Hall, founder and CEO of Mary Hall Freedom House and Grant Millsaps, lead consultant, The Frontier Project.

There were four Atlanta nonprofits included among the winners: Start: ME, Trinity Community Ministries, North Fulton Community Charities and Communities In Schools of Georgia.

This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Tribune.

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Morehouse College Launches Student Success Program As Strategy To Improve National Student Loan Debt Crisis

ATLANTA TRIBUNE — Morehouse College is launching a ground-breaking program that will enable graduates to pursue advanced degrees, start careers, and build wealth without being tethered to undergraduate student loan debt.

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Morehouse College (Photo by: atlantatribune.com)

Gift fund is established to pay loans, offer scholarships, and provide financial freedom for graduates

By The Atlanta Tribune

Morehouse College is launching a ground-breaking program that will enable graduates to pursue advanced degrees, start careers, and build wealth without being tethered to undergraduate student loan debt.

The new Morehouse College Student Success Program, a fund-raising and research initiative, was established by the Board of Trustees as a national investment strategy to curb student loan debt and help graduates to prosper faster. Under the Student Success Program, Morehouse will solicit and accept donations made specifically to reduce or eliminate the student loan debt of Morehouse Men, thus creating an opportunity for greater financial freedom for new alumni and their families.

Morehouse will study the impact of the cost of higher education on Morehouse Men, and the freedom of choice that alumni experience in their careers when their student loan balances are paid in full or reduced to manageable levels.

According to UNCF research, 80 percent of HBCU students use federal loans to fund their education, compared to 55 percent of their peers at other private and state institutions. HBCU graduates also borrow nearly twice as much—$26,266 on average—than non-HBCU students. And one in four HBCU students borrows $40,000 or more to attend college. At Morehouse, the student loan debt threshold at graduation is between $35,000 and $40,000.

“The Morehouse College Board of Trustees believes that student loan debt can be an obstacle in the path of Morehouse Men that can cause them to delay enrolling in advanced degree programs, working as K-12 teachers, or pursuing other interests that they are passionate about,” said David A. Thomas, President of Morehouse College. “The Morehouse College Student Success Program will provide students with a liberating gift that will wipe away or greatly reduce their student loans, allowing them to pursue their dreams and lead lives of leadership and service immediately after graduation.

“We, at Morehouse, see the Student Success Program as an important step toward improving outcomes for our graduates and addressing the income disparities that people of color experience when they are overburdened by debt.”

America’s student loan debt—now more than $1.5 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Education (more than the nation’s $1.3 trillion in auto loan debt)—can exacerbate the wealth gap that exists between black families facing generational poverty and other groups. Black households nationally have the lowest median net worth, lagging behind Asian, white, and Latin Americans respectively, according to the U.S. Census.

In its study of student loans in the HBCU community, the UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute found that HBCU students are more likely to seek loans from more costly sources and encounter more difficulties in repaying their loans in the seven years after leaving college. Repayment of student loans can be aggravated by the economic status of borrowers, labor market conditions, and factors such as a student’s educational program choice.

The Brookings Institute projects that based on current trends in student loan defaults, two in five of all borrowers—nearly 40 percent—will default on their loans by 2023.

UNCF officials agree that offerings such as Morehouse’s Student Success Program could become a new model for HBCUs and other liberal arts institutions seeking strategies to offset the stress of student debt on alumni and their families.

“Morehouse’s program to provide debt relief to new graduates is a fund-raising opportunity that should be studied and duplicated nationally,” said Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund. “The impact of such a gift, particularly for minority or economically disadvantaged families, could accelerate the growth of a more diverse and robust middle class.”

The Morehouse College Office of Institutional Advancement is in talks with a number of philanthropists, corporate partners, and other supporters who have expressed interest in donating to the new Student Success Program. Gifts are tax-deductible and will be disbursed directly to designated students or graduating classes.

“We look forward to charting the progress of those who receive generous support from the Student Success Program,” Thomas said. “We encourage those who receive gifts to pay it forward and help upcoming classes to enjoy a significant level of financial independence from student loan debt.

This article originally appeared in The Atlanta Tribune.

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Atlanta Tribune

On Our Radar: Leadership Conferences in Atlanta

ATLANTA TRIBUNE — According to a 2017 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 93% managers need training on coaching employees. Consequently, many surveyed said they felt ill-equipped to lead their peers because they were never properly trained. Studies suggest that when an employee is being led by someone who lacks efficient leadership skills, productivity in the workplace decreases and the likelihood that an employee will leave the company increases.

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By Kadejah Brathwaite, Editorial Intern

Fine-tuned leadership skills in the workplace are what separate the good from the great in business.

According to a 2017 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 93% managers need training on coaching employees. Consequently, many surveyed said they felt ill-equipped to lead their peers because they were never properly trained. Studies suggest that when an employee is being led by someone who lacks efficient leadership skills, productivity in the workplace decreases and the likelihood that an employee will leave the company increases.

Perhaps you are in this same boat and want to develop better administrative skills to boost your business. Atlanta will host some leadership summits that you should attend.

Boost Leadership with Ian Cron

Best-selling author of “The Road Back to You,” Ian Cron, will discuss the usefulness of the Enneagram personality test and how it can help professionals learn about themselves and their development as leaders. This free function will take place at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel and Convention Center on July 17, 2019.

Building Better Organizations One Individual at a Time

This one-day seminar is created for new managers who need guidance and tips on how to make a smooth transition from a successful team member to a successful manager. Attendees will discuss ways to give constructive criticism to their peers and how to effectively add value to their teams. The event will be at Cobb Galleria on July 25, 2019, and tickets can be purchased here.

Management and Leadership Skills for First-Time Supervisors and Managers

Attend this workshop on July 30-31, 2019 and learn the ropes on successful leadership techniques. This highly interactive event will provide feedback on how to build supervisory skills through self-assessment tools, checklists and a Leadership Style Analysis. Register here.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Tribune.

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