Session 1: Setting the Stage
We gathered with a number of experts to introduce and discuss MailChimp Community College’s core themes. Before the session, the cohort visited the Atlanta History Center’s Gatheround exhibition. We drew on what we learned there and from pre-reading that included The New York Times’ 2013 report on geography and income inequality. The Atlanta Regional Commission’s Neighborhood Nexus program graciously prepared statistics and trends to help frame the conversation.
Session 2: Education
Four hours were barely enough to scratch the surface on this wide-ranging, highly complex topic. But our faculty gave us new ways to think about the spectrum of issues from statewide legislation to regional cooperation to the success of individual students. Before this session we read a recent article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review that shared this insight: “A framework rooted in charity alone ignores past realities that forced communities into oppressive situations, and risks reinforcing givers’ lack of understanding with rewards that recognize their benevolence.” We also learned that play is integral to student success.
Session 3: Transportation
Atlanta began with the railroad, and transportation infrastructure continues to shape its growth. Our built environment affects equity in many nuanced ways, but just one glance at the I-20 dividing line gives an idea of how transportation options shape a region. In preparation for this session we read about the “curb-cut” effect, watched a talk on 8-to-80 cities, and learned about Atlanta’s new TransFormation Alliance, an opportunity to create an equity rating for new transit oriented developments.
Session 4: Arts
MailChimp’s corporate citizenship work already serves many arts organizations and projects each year. In this session, we explored how cultural equity has the opportunity to connect neighbors and develop people. To prepare, we heard from Beth Malone of Dashboard Co-op, read a primer on the landscape from ArtsATL, and took a look at the research from Createquity.
Session 5: Homelessness
We visited Mercy Care Atlanta’s primary downtown facility and toured their mobile clinic. Our faculty helped us connect the dots between the varied and often unexpected structural forces that contribute to homelessness and all the local organizations working to curb those forces. To prepare, we studied recent findings on Metro Atlanta’s homeless population from Partners from Home and Atlanta Youth Count.
Session 6: Criminal Justice
Criminal justice issues and the cycle of poverty are deeply intertwined. Our faculty helped us see how systems that justice-involved individuals move through limit opportunity in many different ways, steering the trajectories of families for generations. Pre-work for this session included Bryan Stevenson’s talk on criminal justice, the Who Pays Report, and Vox’s exploration of life after returning from prison. We were particularly excited to hear from Kristen Daniel, the CEO of Pentorship and a former MailChimp employee.
Session 7: Just Development
“Affordable housing” is a hot topic of conversation in many cities, Atlanta included. But “just development” may be a better way to frame the issue, so that our homes and neighborhoods aren’t just affordable—they’re equitable, too. We read up about the issue locally via Atlanta Magazine and watched a video from the Urban Land Institute to guide our thinking.
Session 8: Capstone Project
For the cohort’s capstone grantmaking project, we solicited and reviewed grant applications from the organizations we’d heard from throughout the program. We narrowed the pool to 4 finalists. After a tough interview process, we made our final decisions.