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Earlier this week, I published an op-ed expressing my opposition to the University System of Georgia's decision to maintain letter grades for college students, rather than using pass/fail or credit/no credit. In the piece, I expressed my belief that now is the time to elevate the values of community and compassion above the value of individual achievement.
The irony of this global COVID-19 pandemic is that we are required to isolate ourselves from others, which has brought into stark relief how much we need one another. This week, as we’ve reached out to students, the refrain we hear over and over is “thank you.” Our students just want to talk. They are comforted that someone they’ve never met is reaching out to check on them. Those of us in social service work have an urgent desire to fix things. But sometimes, the greatest gift we can give is to bear witness to someone else’s suffering.
Pablo Neruda once wrote:

“I have been a lucky man. To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses—that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.”
Our Scholars echo this sentiment:
“Thank you guys for taking the time out to help me provide for my family. Also, for taking time out of your everyday lives to help with mine. I really appreciate all that has been and will be done for me. You are amazing people. Together we can, Achieve Atlanta. It takes a village.”
As we close out the fourth week of physical distancing, we remain united with our young people—our community—and continue to “widen the boundaries of our being.”
Be well,

Tina Fernandez
Executive Director, Achieve Atlanta
We are thankful for the donations we have received to support the Achieve Atlanta Emergency Grant Fund. To date, we have had almost 450 Scholars apply for emergency funding and we have awarded more than $131,000 to Scholars facing financial emergencies. There has been an increase in housing emergencies for our Scholars and their families, and in requests for technology equipment for coursework.

One of our Scholars who received an emergency grant said:

“The emergency grant is important because it has allowed for me to have an easier transition from my college life, where I had housing and meals provided by scholarships, to my at-home life where I no longer had a job due to COVID-19. Thanks to the emergency grant however, I was able to get my car repaired so I could start working for Instacart delivering groceries.”

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Achieve Atlanta Emergency Grant Fund so that we can continue to support our Scholars, you can donate here.
This week, we sent out a survey to Scholars to get an understanding of their greatest concerns and needs during this time. The categories where students expressed the greatest concern were academics, finances, food, and mental health. Starting next week, Scholars will have access to virtual 1:1 counseling sessions with licensed professionals. This service will also be available to our Scholars' families because we know that parent/family behavioral health impacts our Scholars' success as well.

Similarly, we know that food security continues to be an issue for some of our Scholars and their families. Next week, we plan to partner with the Atlanta Community Food Bank to host a targeted food distribution day for Scholars and their families. Please check our Instagram and Twitter accounts for updates on this distribution so that you can help us share it with others.

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