Category Archives: News

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.”

Full Article

Turner Hosts Sixth Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon for Our House Families and Staff

For the sixth year in a row, Turner Broadcasting hosted Our House families for a Thanksgiving Luncheon last Friday, November 20, held this year at the Friends School in Decatur. The luncheon included all the Thanksgiving staples, from stuffing to apple pie, as well as craft projects for the kids, a family photo session for each family, and a Thanksgiving poem performance from one of the pre-K classes. At least 65 families were in attendance, in addition to a number of Our House teachers and staff, representing an estimated 200 people.

Turner Broadcasting came prepared to serve with forty volunteers from many branches of the company including CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, and TNT. The team from Turner Media provided beautiful black and white family portraits to each family. The photos were printed and framed on-site, so that families could take their new keepsakes with them. Judging from the length of the line, the families loved their photos!

We would like to give thanks to Turner Broadcasting for their commitment over many years of generous service. Thank you for putting on such a fun and festive celebration for our families and staff! The Turner volunteers also brought donations of diapers, wipes, and formula to be given to Our House families at both the Atlanta and Decatur sites. Donations like these are essential to Our House operations, and we are so grateful for this magnanimous support.

We are also grateful to the Friends School for partnering with us to provide the event space. The size of the facility was a perfect fit for our group, and the easy distance between the Friends School and Our House’s Decatur site made it convenient for many to attend.


Atlanta Women’s Foundation Awards $25,000 to Support Women at Our House

Our House is most grateful to the Atlanta Women’s Foundation for its support of our Family Advocacy and Employment Readiness/CDA job training program. The mission of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation (AWF) is to be a catalyst for change in the lives of women and girls and to end generational poverty.

AWF 2013 research on effective approaches to breaking generational poverty reports that programs that address the multiple issues low-income families face, that place an emphasis on education and that shine a path toward success have the greatest opportunity to make meaningful and lasting change in the lives of families. “Employment,” according to AWF, “is the most obvious path to success—if a woman can find a well-paying, stable career, she will be able to care for her children and set them on a better path.”

AWF’s $25,000 grant allows Our House to set the women in our Child Development Associate (CDA) job training program on a path to greater stability and work success. Working in conjunction with our Family Advocacy program, the CDA program combines classroom instruction and paid job training to prepare participants to earn the nationally-recognized CDA Credential. AWF’s grant enables us to deliver a paid stipend to program participants, provide transportation assistance in the form of MARTA bus/rail cards, as well as meet other program objectives.

Our House is most grateful to receive the support of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation as we work towards a collective vision to end generational poverty among metro Atlanta families.

Premier Organizations Serving Homeless Children Merge

Two metro Atlanta organizations that fill a compelling need for homeless children and families—Our House and Genesis Shelter—will combine operations on July 1st.

Our House opened its doors to children in 1988 and is a full-day, year-round, nationally accredited early childhood education center. It serves up to 79 children daily and offers comprehensive support services to parents experiencing homelessness. If parents without permanent housing—often single women—need to go to, look for or train for a job, that parent’s child has quality, reliable early childhood education at Our House.

Bank of America Awards $218,000 to Address Critical Needs in Metro Atlanta

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced $218,000 in grants to 13 nonprofits in metro Atlanta addressing critical needs, such as hunger and shelter to longer-term solutions that promote financial wellness through access to benefits and resources. This is in addition to the $436,000 in grants to Atlanta nonprofits announced earlier this year that support housing and workforce development and education programs.

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced $218,000 in grants to 13 nonprofits in metro Atlanta addressing critical needs, such as hunger and shelter to longer-term solutions that promote financial wellness through access to benefits and resources. This is in addition to the $436,000 in grants to Atlanta nonprofits announced earlier this year that support housing and workforce development and education programs.

“We’re working to meet the day-to-day needs of those who live and work in our community,” said Geri Thomas, Georgia market president, Bank of America. “These grants will help nonprofits continue to address Atlanta’s most pressing needs while helping individuals become more financial stable in the long term.”

This funding is part of the company’s intensified philanthropic focus on three core issues vital to the economic health of communities: housing, jobs and hunger and represents an important component of Bank of America’s lending, investing and giving activities to help advance local economies.

Our House was lucky enough to be a recipient of one of these grants. We work with metro area homeless children to receive a quality, free early education. Our Family Advocates connect parents to needed resources, offer counseling and provide referrals and support to secure outside services. The grant will help Our House continue to provide these comprehensive services to homeless children and their families.

Bank of America Corporate Social Responsibility
Bank of America’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic part of doing business globally. Our CSR efforts guide how we operate in a socially, economically, financially and environmentally responsible way around the world, to deliver for shareholders, customers, clients and employees. Our goal is to help create economically vibrant regions and communities through lending, investing and giving. By partnering with our stakeholders, we create value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive and contributes to the long-term success of our business. We have several core areas of focus for our CSR, including responsible business practices; environmental sustainability; strengthening local communities with a focus on housing, hunger and jobs; investing in global leadership development; and engaging through arts and culture. As part of these efforts, employee volunteers across the company contribute their time, passion and expertise to address issues in communities where they live and work.