Creating Welcoming Community Spaces

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by Jeff Delp

If you’ve been on social media during the past week, you’ve no doubt come across the viral video from a Starbucks in Philadelphia. In the footage, two African American men are asked to leave the coffee shop because they had not purchased anything. What followed was a debate about implicit bias in our society in general, as well as in spaces like coffee shops, especially those located in neighborhoods that have, or are, experiencing rapid change due to gentrification.

In the days that followed the incident in Philadelphia, Community Grounds received numerous alerts and tags from our faithful followers and customers. They shared how Community Grounds was one of their “safe spaces,” a place where they knew that they could come and not be judged. Several other fantastic coffee shops around town were also mentioned: Hodgepodge, Urban Grind, and others. We were honored to be included in a list of places that demonstrate welcome and make people feel like they belong.

The most meaningful comment we received was from a mother of a former student at our local Carver High School. She thanked us for always welcoming her son into our shop. She was grateful he had a place to come before and after school where she didn’t have to worry about him. And he complemented our chicken biscuits all the time! As a parent myself, I was grateful for this response because I hope my own children will have these same kinds of spaces near their schools one day.  

If you’ve ever spent any time in Community Grounds, you’ve likely been amazed by what appears to be the random assortment of people who walk through our doors. It’s not random, though. We’ve worked hard to diversify our inventory and train our staff to serve the variety of local needs. The uniqueness of our customers is by design. And I am truly grateful for a staff team who works hard everyday to make sure that no matter who walks through our doors - high school students, moms, teachers, principals, local factory workers, major donors, corporate executives, homeless men, friends, or whoever - that no matter who it is - they feel welcome.  

We hope that Community Grounds will always be a place of belonging for South Atlanta. More importantly, we hope other diverse and welcoming spaces will begin to exist in other communities as well. This community can be one of the greatest gifts we can offer our follow neighbors. Thank you for being a part of helping us create this unique coffee shop in South Atlanta. We couldn’t have done it with you!

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Celebrating 40 for 40

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by FCS

“One person can make a difference, even if it takes forty years.” - Civil Rights Activist Fred Korematsu

While not the efforts of only one person, we have seen the impact of FCS serving in Atlanta neighborhoods since 1978. More than 250 houses have been remodeled or constructed to create homes for families. Countless customers have walked through the doors of Carver Market to buy vegetables or pick up a few things for dinner. Summer after summer, kids have explored a world outside the city at summer camp. And each Christmas, parents have had the opportunity to choose and purchase affordable gifts for their children.

This is only a small snapshot of the program, relationships, and impact FCS has joyfully participated in since its beginning.

As we celebrate forty years of investment in neighborhoods, we are seeking forty new monthly donors! We invite you to join us as an ongoing, monthly supporter. Your gift will create flourishing communities where peace and opportunity abound. Will you join us? Click here to sign up and give. Here’s to forty more years of exponential impact!

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Launching 16 Businesses on the Southside!

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By FCS

“I haven’t had this much fun on a Tuesday night in ages!” laughed Christina Perry, Chief Community Officer of Purpose Built Schools, as she stood at the front with FCS Executive Director Katie Delp. Together, they were awarding certificates of completion to the 16 business leaders who comprised the inaugural cohort of Start:Me on the Southside.

Start:Me is an intensive 14-week business training program for promising local small businesses powered by Emory’s Goizueta Business School and Purpose Built Schools Atlanta. Their proven curriculum is supported by engaged and knowledgeable mentors, experienced business men and women who walk alongside the entrepreneurs for the duration of the 3-month session. Start:Me also actively connects their entrepreneurs to powerful networks and investment capital.

This week, a rowdy and celebratory showcase was held on Emory’s campus, honoring participants from the Southside cohort, as well as the other Atlanta Start:Me cohorts in East Lake and Clarkston communities. One Start:Me alum served as DJ for the event, which kept the energy high as each of the cohort sponsors stepped forward to announce names and present certificates.  

All the entrepreneurs were eager to learn who would be awarded the valuable Start:Me seed grants. Five entrepreneurs from each cohort received grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 based on votes from their peers and mentors in each cohort. The final session of the 14-week program had each entrepreneur present a five-minute pitch, detailing their business mission, experience, financial standing, and investment need. Afterwards, votes were cast and grants were awarded at the showcase.

On the Southside, we were delighted to celebrate Historic South Atlanta neighbor Kara Haygood, who received a grant to grow her dog sitting business Hay, Good Dog! South Atlanta residents Colleen Bell and Ivory Shyleen, won a grant to launch After Dark Daycar. Francoise Bonaparte, friend of South Atlanta, took home a grant to support Lay-ette, her organic baby clothing company. Additional Southside grants were awarded to Saboor Construction, led by Musa Abdus-Saboor, and Serve University, led by Brandi Rae Hicks.

Perry was absolutely correct. It was an exceptional Tuesday night! We cheered, we danced, we celebrated. And we are excited to see how these local business launch and grow from what they’ve learned through Start:Me.

FCS is grateful to partner with Purpose Built Schools Atlanta and Goizueta Business School to support two future cohorts on the Southside. Applications for round two of Start:Me will be available in October 2018.  

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