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    Morehouse School of Medicine/United Way Partnership Awarded $500,000 Grant from U.S. Department of Education to Launch Atlanta Promise Neighborhood

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    September 22, 2010

    Media Contacts:
    Frances Thompkins
    Morehouse School of Medicine
    404-756-6701
    fthompkins@msm.edu

    Erin Steele
    United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta
    404-527-3575
    esteele@unitedwayatlanta.org

     

    Morehouse School of Medicine/United Way Partnership
    Awarded $500,000 Grant from U.S. Department of Education
    to Launch Atlanta Promise Neighborhood

     

    AUCC presidents joined United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta President Milton Little (center) in 2009 at the first combined AUC and United Way Campaign. Left to right: Dr. Robert Franklin, President, Morehouse College; Morehouse School of Medicine Trustee Brian Jordan; Dr. Beverly Tatum, President, Spelman College; Dr. John E. Maupin, Jr., President, Morehouse School of Medicine; Dr. Carlton E. Brown, President, Clark Atlanta University; and Dr. David Satcher, 16th U.S. Surgeon General, Director, Center of Excellence on Health Disparities and The Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.

    ATLANTA – A coalition of Atlanta community leaders and partners led by Morehouse School of Medicine and United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to plan the “Atlanta Promise Neighborhood” in a 1.7-mile radius “wellness zone” west of Downtown Atlanta.

    The Morehouse School of Medicine/United Way partnership is one of only 21 organizations nationwide that received Promise Neighborhoods planning grants from the U.S. Department of Education. With the one-year grant, the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood partners will create a strategic plan to provide “cradle-to-college-to-career” services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children.

    “Morehouse School of Medicine and United Way have forged a unique partnership to create the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood,” explained Morehouse School of Medicine president John E. Maupin, Jr. “It is a long-term, holistic initiative that is focused on providing a safe, nurturing environment to help change the educational, health and social development outcomes for children and their families living on Atlanta’s west side.”

    This kind of long-term change is only possible through collaboration of many groups. Atlanta Promise Neighborhood community partners include the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC), Atlanta Public Schools, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Fulton County Health and Wellness Department, the Arthur M. Blank YMCA, the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation and the Georgia Family Connections Partnership.

    The Atlanta Promise Neighborhood initiative encompasses neighborhoods within 1.7 miles of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) campus, spanning seven ZIP codes. The area was selected based on a need index that took into account income, education, housing issues, population density, and signs of community distress.

    For example, of the nearly 40,000 residents living in the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood, 22 percent are children under age 18, and, according to U.S. Census estimates, nearly 57 percent of those (about 6,800 children) are living in poverty. A deeper look at communities in the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood reveals even more startling signs of distress:

    • Within the seven Atlanta Public Schools elementary schools in the target area, one in four first-graders did not pass Georgia’s reading test. By third grade, the situation does not improve. 24 percent of third-graders in the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood are not reading at grade level – three times the state average and one and a half times worse than metro Atlanta as a whole.
    • Recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor estimate the unemployment rate in the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood to be nearly 18 percent, versus 10.8 percent for Georgia and 9.7 percent nationally.
    • U.S. Census data show approximately 10 percent of housing vacant in metro Atlanta. In the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood, that figure doubles to 20 percent.
    • Data for the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood show a startling foreclosure rate of 40 percent – among the highest in the metro Atlanta area. 

    The initiative is modeled on the America’s Promise Alliance, Harlem Children’s Zone, and other programs designed to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of all children in the nation’s most distressed communities.

    “It’s important to remember that these communities have a lot going for them already,” noted Dr. Maupin. “The City of Atlanta has invested in significant redevelopment here, and there are numerous churches, schools and community organizations that are already doing their part to help families thrive. Many of these groups are involved in the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood and they will be absolutely critical to its success.”

    During the planning year funded by the grant, Atlanta Promise Neighborhood community partners will focus on a comprehensive needs assessment that includes quantitative and qualitative reviews of residents’ primary issues and needs.

    “We are thrilled to help lead this coalition,” said United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta President Milton J. Little Jr., “Together we will design a Promise Neighborhood to address specific issues such as the limited opportunities for children outside of school, and the fact that children arrive at school unprepared to learn, with health needs that haven’t been met and stressful home lives.”

    Morehouse School of Medicine and the United Way were committed to improving the lives of children within the Atlanta Promise Neighborhood zone even if the grant was not awarded, but representatives of both organizations said they are “thrilled and honored” they have earned the confidence of the U.S. Department of Education and are committed to make a difference.

     


     

    About Morehouse School of Medicine
    Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) recruits and trains minority and other students as physicians, biomedical scientists and public health professionals committed to improving the health and well-being of communities. MSM is a member of the largest consortium of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the world – the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC). For more information about Morehouse School of Medicine, visit us online at www.msm.edu.

     


     

    About United Way
    For more than a century, United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta has continued to mobilize people in our community to help tackle the issues that are too big for anyone to solve alone. What makes United Way unique is how it helps our community work together to make lasting impact on tough community problems that take all of us to solve. United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta invests in the areas of education, income, health and ending chronic homelessness. To find or give help, dial 2-1-1 or visit us online at www.unitedwayatlanta.org.

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