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Paralyzed. Some days, I sit and stare at my computer, unable to discern my next move. Before COVID-19, my days would be spent making lots of moves: answering emails, meeting with other community leaders, cooking up new ideas, looking at data, imagining that we could control outcomes. Now, I find myself sitting, thinking, breathing, waiting.

Today is Decision Day for many students entering college this fall, and a big question before us is, “What will college in the fall look like?” Will it be 100% online? A hybrid? Will the semester be delayed? Will there be some miracle that allows students to be back on campus, in dorms, classes and dining halls? Depending on the answer, we’d know our next move. But the reality is, college in the fall will likely include all of these scenarios.

Currently, Achieve Atlanta serves more than 2,000 Scholars, enrolled in more than 200 colleges and universities. We already account for so many variables, depending on where students go to college. The variables are about to multiply exponentially.

It is easy to spiral trying to predict and plan for every contingency and comfort our uncertainty with busywork. We are tempted to tame the chaos by doing. But we’re trying to resist that urge and instead search for greater clarity. Psychologist Brené Brown talks about how to manage through crisis and she reminds us that humans cannot live productively for long periods of time in fight or flight mode. Instead, using a soccer analogy, she encourages us to “settle the ball.” Only then can we look at the field before us and determine our next move.

During the last few days, it’s become clearer to me that instead of focusing on what colleges are going to do, Achieve Atlanta needs to focus on what our students need to thrive.

In any situation, our students need their physiological needs met first, then safety and security, followed by love and belonging, and hope. Our job is to determine how we can best contribute to our Scholars’ self-actualization. Some things we already know how to do well. Others, we need to improve upon. But one thing is certain: We can only be our best in service of our Scholars.

Let’s make our next move.

Be well,

Tina Fernandez
Executive Director, Achieve Atlanta
Although Georgia is in the process of reopening, our Scholars and their families are still facing financial emergencies. To date, we have received almost 500 emergency grant applications and have awarded more than $166,000.
One of our emergency grant recipients said:

“I would just like to thank you guys A LOT! Not only for what you guys have blessed me with but what you have blessed a lot of other Scholars with as well. This pandemic was definitely unexpected and left a lot of people without…or trying to make something happen with so little. But you guys have provided a way for students!! I can now sign up for my summer classes as well as finish my fall classes and finals thanks to you guys!!”

If you’d like to support Achieve Atlanta Scholars during this crisis, you can donate here.
Today is Decision Day and we celebrate all high school seniors who have made the decision to go to college! This Decision Day is unlike any other because high school seniors are committing to colleges under much uncertainty, but Achieve Atlanta is committed to supporting the new cohort of Achieve Atlanta Scholars throughout their college journey. Along with college access advocates across the nation, we will be sharing exciting Decision Day posts on Instagram and Twitter today. Seniors’ dreams will not be canceled.
To create a community of support during this crisis and beyond, we have launched two new virtual communities for our Scholars and their parents and families. For Scholars, we started a new Slack group where members can communicate with one another, provide peer support, and share resources. For parents and families of Scholars, we have launched a private Facebook group. Here, parents and families can share resources, challenges, inspiration, and network with other families supporting their Scholars through this crisis.

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Achieve Atlanta · 191 Peachtree St NE Ste 1000 · Atlanta, GA 30303-1741 · USA