February 5th Virtual Transform Westside Summit: “Youth Development on the Westside”

The first Virtual Transform Westside Summit of Black History Month featured: Shirley Anne Smith, Executive Director, Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation Cadet Program; Tangee Allen and Maria Armstrong, Co-Founders, Raising Expectations; Quincy Springs, Owner & Operator, Chick-fil-A Vine City. Moderated by Westside Future Fund President & CEO, John Ahmann, the panelists came together to discuss youth development on Atlanta’s Historic Westside and the ways their organizations help uplift young Westside residents.

Shirley Anne Smith led off the panel by discussing how the Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation (AFRD) Cadet Program is creating career paths for Westside youths after high school.

Shirley Anne Smith, Executive Director, Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation Cadet Program

The AFRD Cadet Program is a six month program for young men and women, ages 14-18, giving them a chance to work side by side with active members of AFRD. Smith explained how participation in the program not only offers a clear pathway to a livable wage but a foundation of support in achieving collegiate goals also. Learn more here.

Tangee Allen and Maria Armstrong have been going the extra mile to help uplift underserved minors for over two decades. The duo founded Raising Expectations 25 years ago to empower youths in crises by elevating academic, social and civic expectations to facilitate high school graduation and post-secondary plans.

Tangee Allen (left) and Maria Armstrong (right), Co-Founders, Raising Expectations

The organization’s 360 degree approach to youth development focuses on developing underserved students from a holistic perspective which includes personal and life skill development, tutoring, mentoring, STEM exposure, college prep and hands-on learning to improve college readiness. Learn more here.

Quincy Springs, Owner & Operator, Chick-fil-A Vine City

Quincy Springs attributes his success as Chick-fil-A Vine City’s Owner & Operator to the dedicated young staff he employs and empowers while teaching practical real-life skills as well as business savvy. From helping young people hone professional communication skills, to teaching the nuances of excellent customer service, to starting a staff book club, Springs is committed to helping mold his employees into future successful business owners. Springs also noted how Chick-fil-A continues to invest in young residents by offering the Remarkable Futures Scholarships.

Joined in conversation by legacy Westside resident and mother, Ebony Ford, the panelists emphasized the importance of working together to maximize their collective impact on the community, especially as residents continue to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.