Category Archives: News

Our House, Inc. Awarded Transformational $900,000 Grant

Largest Program Grant in 30 Year History of Our House

Atlanta, GA May 25, 2017:  In a powerful statement of support for the importance of early childhood education, a local foundation recently awarded Our House a grant of $900,000 to support high-quality early learning programs for Atlanta children experiencing homelessness. Over the next three years, the transformational grant will ensure that Our House achieves its strategic goals of programmatic and operational excellence. Grant funding will provide general scholarships for homeless children to attend Our House’s early childhood education program and will allow for the expansion of an existing partnership that provides daily intervention services for children with special needs.

Homelessness is a traumatic experience, and in recent years, research has become more and more conclusive regarding the effects of trauma. For children, the trauma of homelessness can cause developmental delays and behavioral health challenges that, when left unaddressed, become barriers to successful learning.

To combat the problem, children at Our House receive developmental assessments early on in order to determine their individual needs and assess the best way to prepare them for Kindergarten. Many homeless children have special needs that require intervention to be ready for school. In addition to regular classroom activities, Our House partners with The Adaptive Learning Center to provide daily intervention services for children with identified need for special attention.

Grant support will allow Our House to place a specialist from The Adaptive Learning Center at the Atlanta site for the first time, and will support continued service at the Decatur site, expanding the partnership from one site to two.

Funding will also provide scholarships to fully cover the costs of children not covered by Head Start, allowing Our House to continue to offer services at no cost for children who are most at risk of poor educational outcomes.

Our House provides shelter to live and education to thrive. The mission of Our House is to break the chains of homelessness by providing quality early childhood education and comprehensive support services for families experiencing homelessness.

Our House, Our Dreams Gala: Fundraising Announcement

1 Jackie Gingrich Cushman Gala HonoreeWith almost 350 guests in attendance, Our House’s benefit gala generated more than $215,000 –nearly 15% more than the goal! The program started off with a welcome by the night’s emcee and advisory council member, Jovita Moore. Board Chair, Aaron Danzig, introduced advisory council member and gala honoree, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, and presented her with an award for her service and dedication to Our House.

After Cushman’s remarks, Our House President and CEO, Tyese Lawyer, made brief remarks and attendees viewed a moving video presentation about the impact of Our House (view below). The live auction and fund-a-need drew spirited participation and contributed to the success of the evening.

Our House Board Member, Ellen Persons, had this to say about the event, “Having attended the Our House Gala for six years now, I can say that last night was far and away the best event yet. The space was magnificent, food was delicious, it was a great turnout, and the enthusiasm was spectacular,” which sums up the evening quite well!

Our House would like to extend a special thank you to all of our gala sponsors, patrons and hosts. We also want to recognize the Gala Chair, Vickie Hunter, and the entire Gala Committee for their hard work.  We invite you to join us next year as we celebrate 30 years of service to our community and honor community leader Stephanie Blank.

Check out the Gala video presentation below:

2017 Gala Video from Tyese Lawyer on Vimeo.

Announcing Our House, Our Dreams Gala Honoree: Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Our House is thrilled to announce Jackie Gingrich Cushman as the honoree for the annual Our House, Our Dreams Gala. We are pleased to celebrate Jackie for her work in the community and for her commitment and service to Our House.

Honorary Chair, Jackie Gingrich Cushman (center) with Our House CEO, Tyese Lawyer (right) and Michael Hertz (left), Board Member and Chair of Our House Fundraising Committee.

Gala Honoree, Jackie Gingrich Cushman (center) with Our House CEO, Tyese Lawyer (right) and Michael Hertz (left), Chair of the Our House Fundraising Committee and Gala Patron & Host Committee.

Jackie became involved with Our House (then Genesis Shelter) after her son was born. Inspired by the challenges of motherhood, she had a desire to help other families who were raising children while also grappling with temporary homelessness. For more than 15 years, she has helped Our House by serving on the board and the marketing committee, fundraising, adopting families for Christmas, and volunteering with her husband Jimmy and with their children, Maggie and Robert.

The gala will be held at 6:30 on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at the Atlanta History Center. The night will include a silent and live auction, a wall of wine and live entertainment. We had a great turnout last year and hope you will join us this year to celebrate Jackie, and to support the mission of Our House.

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Our House on 11Alive’s Atlanta & Company

Our House CEO, Tyese Lawyer, and the chairman of the Board of Directors Marketing Committee, Marti Walsh, had a great conversation with Christine Pullara of Atlanta & Company on November 16 to discuss Our House’s new look and our opportunity to match gifts up to $10,000 on Georgia Gives Day. Check out the video for all the details!

Balser Giving Circle awards $25,000 to Our House

ATLANTA – October 28, 2016 – The Balser Professional Advisors Council’s giving circle has announced a $25,000 grant to Our House, a nonprofit organization that offers children and families experiencing homelessness the tools, support, and education they need to thrive. The grant was made after the group heard funding pitches from three nonprofit organizations that had been selected via a diligent vetting process.

Our House CEO, Tyese Lawyer, answers questions during the presentation at the Community Foundation.

Our House CEO, Tyese Lawyer, answers questions during the presentation at the Community Foundation.

The Balser Professional Advisors Council is a network of professional advisors including accountants, wealth managers and estate attorneys who have demonstrated an interest in philanthropy, both personally and professionally.  The group is a joint program of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta to provide opportunities for education, knowledge sharing and networking.

Our House works to break the chains of homelessness by providing quality early childhood education and comprehensive support to families experiencing homelessness. Our House will apply the grant to facility renovations that will include private bathrooms for families to use.

“During the pitch, the group was struck by the fact that families in shelters often don’t have much private space, including restroom facilities,” said Christy Eckoff, director of gift planning for the Community Foundation. “Something we take for granted in our own homes is a luxury to families experiencing homelessness. The group was pleased to be able to contribute to making Our House feel more like a home.”

Prior to making their pitch to the council, representatives from Our House and selected other nonprofits received presentation training from the Center for Civic Innovation. Their training included a seven-hour workshop on pitching techniques plus individual coaching sessions that were sponsored by the council.

The Balser Professional Advisors Council giving circle is a way for council participants to learn more about their community and the challenges faced by local residents. Members pool funding in order to make a collective grant to nonprofits, allowing for a more significant, collective contribution.

This year, the group decided to make an impact on the issue of the opportunity gap. According to Harvard and Berkley research about the metro Atlanta region, a person born in the lowest economic quartile here has just a four percent chance of reaching the uppermost economic quartile in his or her lifetime. Through the giving circle, members explored this issue, took a tour of our region to see select nonprofits doing good work for the community and worked collectively to develop a list of nonprofits addressing the issue for consideration of their grant.

We’ve Got A New Look

Welcome to our new online home! This may be your first experience with our new brand, and we are excited you’re here to share it with us.
In 2014, Our House and Genesis Shelter merged to become one organization, serving children and families experiencing homelessness under the name of Our House. To make space for all the programs and services Our House now offers as a combined organization, we have renovated our brand to give us the right room to grow and serve. Our new tagline, “Shelter to Live. Education to Thrive.” , more fully encompasses all the work we do at Our House.

Our new brand is more than just our logo – we have a new system of thoughtfully considered visual elements that work together in harmony to communicate our work visually, and a new messaging framework to give us tools to talk about who we are and what we do.

Our House engaged branding firm Son&Sons to design our new look and feel, and we are immensely grateful for the time and attention to detail they gave while designing our new set of brand tools.

Enjoy the new online home of Our House. We hope you stay awhile and discover all our news and new features, as well as all our new brand elements.

Turner Volunteer Day

On September 15th nearly 1,400 Turner Broadcasting employees descended on Atlanta nonprofits and spent the day supporting their communities. Our House was fortunate enough to host 20 of those volunteers at our Atlanta location. In just a few short hours they were able to compile 20 welcome kits full of essential items, cook a delicious dinner for our shelter residents and add color to our walkway with an outdoor beautification project. We cannot thank Turner enough for their continued support to our families.



Our House – Atlanta Site Receives Quality Rated Ranking

After more than a year of preparation and training, Our House Atlanta is Quality Rated! Our center received a 2-star ranking, missing the top ranking by just one point. The Quality Rated program is a voluntary rating system to communicate the quality of childcare programs in the state of Georgia for parents in search of trustworthy care for their children. For Our House has a history of commitment to quality – we are proud to offer our high-quality program to families experiencing homelessness, and proud to communicate that quality through our new ranking.
The rating comes from Bright from the Start, Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning, after a rigorous application process including creation of curriculum and lesson plan portfolios and classroom observation. The 2-star rating is the most common rating. Our Decatur location also received a 2-star Quality Rated ranking more than a year ago, also missing the top rating by a fraction of a point.
To learn more about Quality Rated, visit their site here: Quality Rated Child Care

Back To School

On August 8, 110 children walked into Our House classrooms ready to learn for the 2016-2017 school year! The week prior, teachers attended training and had the opportunity to organize and decorate their classrooms to get ready to meet their new students. A number of community partners including Maggie’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill and For the Kid in All of Us, and generous individual donors made sure that classrooms were well-stocked on all the necessary back-to-school items.

While our program operates year-round, children move up to their new age-appropriate classrooms on the first day of the new school year. More than 190 homeless children will learn and grow in our classrooms over the course of this year.

Here at Our House, “back to school” is for more than just kids: on August 8, 25 adult students also attended their first day of class in our fall Child Development Associate (CDA) job training course. For the next five months, these students will take classes and learn hands-on skills to prepare them for careers in early childhood education.

Best of luck to all our students and teachers in the new school year!

More Than 3,300 Youth Are Homeless in Atlanta Area, Project By Georgia State and Partners Finds

ATLANTA—There are 3,374 homeless and runaway youth in shelters, on the streets or in other precarious housing situations in the Atlanta metro area, according to the results of a project by Georgia State University and its partners to count and assess the area’s homeless youth.

Eric Wright, professor of sociology and public health at Georgia State, announced the figures today (May 3) at a press conference with colleagues from Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Youth Spark and Street Grace.

The estimate comes from the 2015 Atlanta Youth Count and Needs Assessment (AYCNA), which was led by Georgia State. AYCNA is the first comprehensive, accurate count and assessment of the number of homeless youth in the Atlanta metro area, Wright said.

From May to July 2015, 50 Georgia State and Emory students counted homeless youth ages 14 to 25 living within Atlanta’s city limits and in suburbs around the Interstate 285 perimeter, including large segments of Fulton, Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties.

Researchers found the vast majority of youth are African-American (71 percent) and male (60.5 percent). A little more than half reported that they were born in Georgia, and just over a quarter identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The data are still being analyzed, and further reports will be issued in the coming months.

“The City of Atlanta and other organizations across the metro area have expressed a lot of concern about youth homelessness,” Wright said. “We believe that by collecting these data, we’re going to be in a much better situation to talk about the array of needs that the youth will need.

“This is a very poorly understood social problem with lots of ramifications. They are exceptionally vulnerable from a social services perspective. We’re now in conversations with several groups to see what are we going to do to address those problems in the system.”

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