As 2022 comes to a close, let’s take a moment to share some of the many accomplishments the Georgia Center for Opportunity achieved with your help this year. Each of these wins contributes to our enduring legacy of helping fellow Georgians live a better life through the power of work, education, and family.
While we’re proud of the year’s progress, we’re also incredibly grateful for your support. Let’s take a look at what we’ve done together.
BETTER WORK is a core part of the GCO’s mission to help vulnerable populations gain the skills needed to thrive in a job and a career. In 2022, we made big strides forward in growing this program.
Our BETTER WORK chapters in Gwinnett County and Columbus experienced significant growth this year. Over 400 people applied to the programs, and we recruited 95 employer partners and 42 mentors. We also began offering on-site service at local cooperative ministries.
Dovetailing with our mission to help our neighbors thrive through work, we seek to reform the social safety-net system to ensure that it doesn’t punish people for working. A large part of this has been through our work on benefits cliffs, which unfairly punish people for moving up the economic ladder. On this front, we rolled 12 states into the program at BenefitsCliffs.org, which now covers one-third of the U.S. population. We also presented to national audiences on benefits cliffs: SNAP congressional testimony, the American Legislative Exchange Council, State Policy Network annual meeting, the Heritage Foundation, True Charity Summit, and the Kentucky legislature benefits cliffs joint committee.
We launched a project in Missouri and North Carolina to advance social safety-net reforms in those states. Additionally, we recruited a congressional sponsor to introduce a bill allowing all states to integrate workforce development into their welfare programs. Both BETTER WORK and our benefits cliffs work are making an impact on a national scale, and we anticipate building more momentum in the coming years.
Expanding opportunity necessarily includes greater access to better education, which directly leads to better careers. During the 2022 session of the Georgia Legislature, the GCO team successfully advocated for a bill that expanded the tuition tax credit scholarship by $200 million dollars. The result: an additional 4,000+ students now have access to this important program.
We also backed a bill that would have created Promise Scholarship Accounts, which would have offered families up to $6,000 a year for approved education expenses. Unfortunately, this bill was voted down in committee, but we are optimistic similar legislation will be passed in the upcoming 2023 session. To advocate for the bill, a GCO marketing campaign resulted in 7,573 calls to lawmakers in support of the bill and 1,050 messages across 21 districts.