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“My mother's gifts of courage to me were both large and small. The latter are woven so subtly into the fabric of my psyche that I can hardly distinguish where she stops and I begin.”
― Maya Angelou

During this worldwide quarantine, mothers have been feeding, sheltering, nursing, teaching, encouraging and providing for their loved ones – often while holding down full-time employment. I’ve talked to mothers who have cried in the bathroom, in the garage or in the car, out of sheer exhaustion, and then have wiped their tears, straightened their backs and gotten back to the business of mothering. That’s what mothers do.
On my own team, moms are doing an extraordinary job of continuing to support Achieve Atlanta students while holding toddlers in their laps, or babies on their hips, or teenagers by the scruff of the neck.
The mothers of our Achieve Atlanta Scholars continue to bestow gifts of courage to their children, telling them that YES, they CAN do the work online; YES, they will see their dreams come true; and YES, better days are coming.
These mothers are raising, overseeing and coaching their children, looking forward to seeing their babies graduate from high school or earn a postsecondary degree. And while that won’t happen with the pomp and circumstance they’ve anticipated, I’ve seen mothers hold virtual proms and graduation parties and find ways to honor the accomplishments of their children.
So today, on Sunday, and always, let’s take a moment to remember and honor all those who have mothered us into who we are today. May we realize their hopes for our lives.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Be well,
Taylor Ramsey is the Executive Director of OneGoal Metro Atlanta, one of our College Access Partners. Prior to this role, Taylor served as VP of training and support at Teach For America, including working in close concert with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to serve summer school students and training more than 1,800 teachers. As a first-generation college student, Taylor knows the power of a postsecondary opportunity and is honored to lead OneGoal. Taylor is also mom to Ananth.

What have you been hearing from students and families?

In the early days of this crisis, students continued to ask the very practical questions that any college bound student has: “How do I get my transcripts? How do I continue with FAFSA verification? What if I haven’t heard back from a college yet?” 
Now, students are mourning the major rites of passage they are missing (prom, graduation, the last day of senior year). One student shared, “I feel a deep sadness at not being able to say goodbye to my friends and teachers – they’ve done so much for me.” Our students are experiencing real grief and loss. 
I asked students what they most need, and one APS student shared without hesitation: “I need hope. I will be devastated if college doesn’t open in the fall and I don’t know what I’ll do.”
This experience should cause us to ask why postsecondary attainment is so hard in the first place. OneGoal’s mission is to close the degree divide in our lifetime, and this pandemic should lead us all to ask if we are doing all we can to realize this, fast enough.

How have OneGoal teachers and program directors responded to the changes?
Well, first, let me take a moment to wish our OneGoal teachers and all teachers a happy Teacher Appreciation Week
Our teachers are managing their personal and family needs while adjusting to distance learning. Our program team stepped up to convert curriculum to an online format and help students on the final steps of enrollment and financial aid
Teachers have continued to work with students 1:1, attend online trainings and check-ins, and ensure this crisis doesn’t knock students off their postsecondary paths. I’ve watched students join their OneGoal class from their kitchen tables, cars, bedrooms – often with siblings and parents listening in, in the background. Despite obstacles, students are showing up so that they can continue to support one another through this challenging time and remain on their postsecondary paths.

To read more from Taylor, click here.
According to a recent Atlanta Journal Constitution article, Georgia’s Department of Labor has processed jobless claims for nearly one in three workers since mid-March, a far higher rate than the U.S. average. Unemployment has impacted our Scholars and their families. Our emergency grants have supported Scholars through this time. To date, we have received almost 600 emergency grant applications and have awarded more than $180,000 to Achieve Atlanta Scholars.
Thank you to all of you who donated to our emergency grant fund during #GivingTuesday. If you’d like to support Achieve Atlanta Scholars during this crisis, you can donate here.
Last week’s Decision Day showed just how excited Atlanta Public Schools seniors are for the next step in their educational journey. We continue to encourage seniors to apply for the Achieve Atlanta scholarship, and to date have received 1,327 scholarship applications! Next week, we will host our annual Scholar Night to welcome new Scholars –this year, we will hold the event via Zoom.
Although the class of 2020 will not have traditional graduation ceremonies, several notable leaders have collaborated to host #GraduateTogether, a series of virtual events for graduates and families that includes a primetime special with famous keynote speakers, including President Obama, LeBron James and Malala Yousafzai.
It’s college graduation season! This year, our first cohort of Scholars are graduating from four-year institutions. We are excited to spotlight a few 2020 Achieve Atlanta Graduates in today’s and upcoming newsletters.
Today, we celebrate Mary Hinton, an Achieve Atlanta Graduate who recently earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama in Human Performance & Exercise Science. Next, Mary plans to work on her master’s degree and expand the beauty business she started during her senior year. She graduated from North Atlanta High School. Congratulations, Mary!

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