The June 21 Transform Westside Summit featured Todd Greene, Executive Director of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC). Located in Atlanta’s Historic Westside, AUCC is the world’s oldest and largest association of historically black colleges and universities. Comprised of four member institutions – Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College – AUCC is a vibrant intellectual community with a long tradition of scholarship, service and community engagement.
Established in 1920, AUCC has close to 9,000 students across its four institutions. Each college has something different to offer, from comprehensive research to liberal arts and medical science. Greene said, “Our students are leaders. They are successful in whatever they do – whether it’s the performing arts, science and technology, or as mayors of cities.”
As for AUCC’s opportunities, Greene shared how “(AUCC) should be the locust of thought leadership in black America. We should be providing amazing educational experiences for our students, which we do. But how are we thinking about our research? There are unique opportunities that impact the African American experience, which we are laser focused on.”
The AUCC is also looking at its own role on the Westside, which Greene believes will be important for the area’s economic development.
According to Greene, many AUCC students are from low-income families and are first-generation college students. With so many professional options available to them, AUCC works to expose students to all available opportunities. As Greene said, “What are our opportunities and how do we provide our students those experiences?” AUCC also focuses on financial literacy so students are empowered both during and after their college experiences.
As AUCC looks to the future, it is focusing on data literacy and science in its programs. “We see (data) showing up in everything we do – whether it’s in retail or a government occupation. This is where the jobs are growing,” Greene said. “There will be over 2.7 million jobs by 2020 that will relate to data science and data analysis. And when we look at Atlanta, all of these companies – Home Depot, The Coca-Cola Company and more – are all looking for workers who have this type of skill set. This is an important field for us to be working in … This is where the jobs of the future are.”
He went on to share how AUCC’s leaders are thinking about its facilities and footprint across the Westside; how they can design its campuses in a way that benefits students and the Westside community. “Our environment is unique. Our community is unique, so we’re thinking about that. We want to create a place of discovery.” With this being the vision for AUCC, Greene said they are exploring all possible options for the campus, from potentially creating a new meeting and conference center to having more common spaces where people can come together. “We want to honor and connect our communities in ways they weren’t before,” he said.
Greene then opened the floor to questions from attendees. One Summit attendee asked if AUCC recruits students through its athletic programs as well as through coordinated summer outreach. Greene answered that AUCC does use its existing athletic programs to recruit and is “laser focused on making sure the athletic programs are great.” He also said a number of existing summer recruiting programs are underway.
When asked about AUCC’s role in the Westside redevelopment efforts, Green shared that AUCC is tuition dependent so it must rely on innovative partnerships in order to play a role in redevelopment. And he noted it’s an important role to play, because “our students deserve excellence.”
Asked by another attendee how AUCC distinguishes ideologies across its four different member schools, Green responded that each member institution has its own traditional identities as to what it offers, and that together they have the opportunity to move forward collectively without compromising each identity.
When an attendee questioned Atlanta Technical College’s role in AUCC, Greene clarified that while the college is not an AUCC member institution, the institution “is at the table and part of thinking and planning” for the AUCC.
The last question addressed whether AUCC is pursuing any partnerships to address youth literacy, and Greene answered that while AUCC is focused on higher education, it understands literacy is a barrier for many to seek higher education. “There must be a partnership for us to figure this out,” he said.
Devotion with Sharmen Gowens
Sharmen Gowens, CEO of the YWCA of Greater Atlanta, opened the Summit with a devotion message about the power of community and relationships. She shared how her community helped her through her cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment a few years ago. Now, she is passionate about lifting others up. As she said, “It is my duty to lift others up. It’s my joy, my mission.” Gowens also shared how this benefits her as CEO for the YWCA of Greater Atlanta, which works to eliminate racism and empower women.
Special Announcement: Westside Future Fund Acquires English Avenue Property to Align with Westside Land Use Framework Plan
John Ahmann and the Westside Future Fund team announced the recent acquisition of English Ave.’s “yellow store” – previously Cantrell Sodas and Sundaes. “We want to commit to building trust with the community,” said Ahmann. “We targeted this area because of the Land Use Action Plan. We’re focused on the holistic redevelopment of these four corners.”
“My parents would be thrilled to see the store they built come back to life as a community gathering place for everyone,” said Larry Cantrell. “I am proud to honor my parents’ legacy and look forward to its future plans.”
Read the official announcement.
Additional Summit Highlights and Announcements:
- New at the Summit:
- Atlanta Technical College (ATC) Recruiting: ATC is bringing its Wednesday Works recruiting and enrollment event, which is typically hosted on the ATC campus on Wednesdays, to the Summit. Representatives will be on-site during the Friday morning Summits to discuss how prospective students can get started at ATC. Those who apply at the Summit will have their ATC application fee waived.
- Free Shuttle to the Summit: Beginning July 19, a free shuttle will do scheduled pickups on the Westside to help residents get to the Summit. Pickup times are 6:50 a.m. at At-Promise Center (740 Cameron Madison Alexander Blvd., NW) and 7 a.m. at Hollis Innovation Academy (225 James Brawley Drive, NW).
- Next Summit Date: There will be no Summit on July 5 due to the July Fourth holiday. Summit events will resume Friday, July 19. Register here.
- The next WFF Volunteer Day of Service will be on Saturday, June 22. Volunteers will help repair windows and screened doors for Westside senior citizens.
- Home Depot Gift Card Raffle: Summit attendees who are current Westside residents or who work for a nonprofit serving Westside neighborhoods have a chance to win a $50 gift card from The Home Depot at each Summit event. Congratulations to Daniel from Westside Beautification Project, the June 21 winner, pictured below.
Watch the entire Summit presentation below.
Transform Westside Summit – June 21, 2019
Transform Westside Summit – June 21, 2019 Opening Devotion: Sharmen Gowens CEO, YWCA of Greater Atlanta Featured Presentation: Atlanta University Center Consortium Presented by: Todd Greene, Executive Director The Atlanta University Center Consortium is the world’s oldest and largest association of historically black colleges and universities. Comprised of four member institutions – Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College – the Consortium is a vibrant intellectual community with a long tradition of scholarship, service and community engagement Special Event: Atlanta Technical College Enrollment Atlanta Technical College (ATC) is bringing its Wednesday Works recruiting and enrollment event to the Summit. Typically hosted on Wednesdays on the ATC campus, representatives will be on site during the Friday morning Summit sharing about how prospective students can get started at Atlanta Tech. Those who apply at the Summit will have their ATC application fee waived. About the Transform Westside Summit: Westside Future Fund’s Transform Westside Summit is held on the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month and is free and open to the public. Our audience includes a diverse group of stakeholders. Longtime neighborhood residents, community and faith leaders, heads of non-profits and corporate executives come together to share success stories and discuss challenges that currently affect our Westside neighborhoods. Meetings begin promptly at 7:15 a.m. with morning devotion,* presented by a member of the historic Westside community, and complimentary breakfast, provided by Summit sponsor Chick-fil-A. Many in our community are driven by their spiritual faith to participate in the Westside revitalization effort. The time at the beginning of our meetings is an opportunity to share various inspirational reflections. While the speakers may articulate their personal faith, it is meant to be inclusive, inspiring and meaningful. All are welcome.
Posted by Westside Future Fund on Friday, June 21, 2019