Holiday cheer, from our GCO family to yours!

Holiday cheer, from our GCO family to yours!

Holiday cheer, from our GCO family to yours!

To spread some holiday cheer, we put together a short, fun video of the Georgia Center for Opportunity staff sharing a little more about what makes the season so special. Get ready to hear everything from favorite Christmas movies to favorite holiday traditions, and maybe a few surprises thrown in for good measure! 

Will you support our work?

As you know, GCO is leading the charge to help every individual flourish. Our work focuses on encouraging the primary things — work, family, and education — that help people escape poverty and lead a prosperous life. People like Eddie, Frankie, Latesha, Kevin, Aidan, Megan, Qweshan, Larry, Shay, and the list goes on.

This season of giving, we ask that you consider making a donation to our organization. Your additional financial support will allow us to continue to make a positive impact in our local communities. There are more Eddies, Frankies, and Lateshas who need our help and the gift of dignity this Christmas.

While we’re proud of the partnerships we’ve made, the programs we’ve started, and the results we’re seeing, what we’re most proud of is the fact our team recognizes those we help are people. Individuals with specific needs who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity — no matter their circumstances.

 

Georgia education officials cite education loss as a top priority for 2023

Georgia education officials cite education loss as a top priority for 2023

In The News

Georgia education officials cite education loss as a top priority for 2023

 

Georgia education officials say they plan to address lost learning opportunities stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

But a leading Georgia nonprofit says state lawmakers should pass legislation to give parents more educational choices, saying the pandemic proved the “one-size-fits-all” model no longer works.

 

“We are pleased that Georgia’s public education officials are acknowledging the very real pain of learning loss, plus the pleas of parents for as wide a spectrum of educational options as possible,” Buzz Brockway, executive vice president of public policy for GCO, said in a statement. “As we head into the legislative session in 2023, there are a wide variety of ways lawmakers can help families, including by finally passing Education Scholarship Accounts that empower families to choose the very best type of school for their students.

 

Read the full article here

A look back at everything we accomplished together in 2022

A look back at everything we accomplished together in 2022

year in review 2022

A look back at everything we accomplished together in 2022

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.

 

Work

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.

 

Education

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.

“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.”

“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.”

Family

A great education and involvement in meaningful work are not sufficient. We also need healthy relationships in order to thrive. That’s why another part of GCO’s mission is to strengthen couples and families. On that front, we recruited more than 500 people to participate in relationship-enrichment training, and we offered the classes in seven public schools and seven nonprofit partner agencies. University of Georgia assessments continue to show our programs improve knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors — all best future predictors of improved relational health.

 

Looking Ahead to 2023

As 2023 approaches, we’re so excited for what the future holds. With another year comes new opportunities to help not only our fellow Georgians, but people across America to find better work, better education, and stronger family relationships. Again, we thank you for your generous support and look forward to what unfolds in the New Year.

 

What will 2023 hold for educational opportunity in Georgia?

What will 2023 hold for educational opportunity in Georgia?

HS boy with tablet

What will 2023 hold for educational opportunity in Georgia?

Key Points

  • On the House side, the leadership team has nearly universal pro-educational opportunity voting record in recent history.
  • Seventy-five percent said “students are mostly still behind due to school closures” from the pandemic, while two-thirds of parents said their students have lost learning due to the pandemic. 

  • Georgia must follow in the footsteps of states like Arizona and West Virginia, which recently passed significant new laws that expand educational access for all.

Those who support opening up access to all educational options for every child in Georgia have a lot to celebrate this holiday season. That’s because a new lineup of leadership in the Georgia Legislature increases the likelihood that our state will soon see new and innovative ways for parents to access the right and best educational option for their child.

New leadership, new opportunities

Following the results of the 2022 elections, new leadership will be taking over both chambers of the state legislature. On the House side, the leadership team has nearly universal pro-educational opportunity voting record in recent history: Jan Jones (Speaker Pro Tem), Chuck Efstration (Majority Leader), James Burchett (Majority Whip), Bruce Williamson (Caucus Chair), Houston Gaines (Caucus Vice Chair), and Ginny Ehrhart (Caucus Treasurer) all have 100% pro-educational freedom voting records.

The only member of House leadership without a perfect record on these issues is the new House Speaker, Burns. But even he only has one vote off, the 2018 vote on the Educational Savings Account, the last time a bill of this nature was voted on in the House. Burns was nominated by the Republican caucus to become House Speaker beginning in the 2023 session.

What about on the Senate side? The good news is that only one member of Senate leadership — Jason Anavitarte, Caucus Chair — voted against the 2022 bill that would have created Promise Scholarship Accounts. But Anavitarte voted “yes” on other pieces of educational opportunity legislation, including raising the tax credit scholarship cap and increasing funding for charter schools. Other top members of Senate leadership — including President Pro Tem John Kennedy, Majority Leader Steve Gooch, and Majority Whip Randy Robertson — all have 100% positive voting records when it comes to educational opportunity.

Parents want more options

A recent poll from the Walton Family Foundation found that parents who voted are deeply concerned about the direction of K-12 public education in the United States.

The poll found that 72% of voters believe “improving K-12 education” should be a top priority for state lawmakers headed into 2023. Only the economy and inflation ranked higher at 76%. 

Americans are also still deeply concerned about learning losses from pandemic-induced classroom closures. Seventy-five percent said “students are mostly still behind due to school closures” from the pandemic, while two-thirds of parents said their students have lost learning due to the pandemic. 

On average, parents said their kids missed 21 days of school in 2021 due to the pandemic. 

As for what changes need to be in store for K-12 education, in Oct. 2021 36% of voters said they wanted to see “bold changes” for schools, while that number jumped to 46% by Nov. 2022. 

Voters’ top priorities include ensuring that every child is on track in reading, writing, and math; addressing the teacher shortage; offering more career and technical education; and improving security and safety on school grounds. 




Georgia must follow in the footsteps of states like Arizona and West Virginia, which recently passed significant new laws that expand educational access for all.

Georgia must follow in the footsteps of states like Arizona and West Virginia, which recently passed significant new laws that expand educational access for all.

Expanding educational access

Throughout the 2023 session, the Georgia Center for Opportunity will be advocating for a bill similar to the one in 2022, for Promise Scholarship Accounts. Key facets of these accounts would be to enable all Georgia families to attend the school that best fits their student’s needs.

The 2022 version of the bill would have offered families up to $6,000 a year for approved education expenses. Promise Scholarships would step far beyond a typical voucher by fully putting parents in the driver’s seat when it comes to their child’s education. The funds could have been used for private-school tuition, but there would have been added flexibility depending on each family’s unique needs, extending to paying for things like tutoring, specialized therapies, or homeschool co-ops.

Georgia must follow in the footsteps of states like Arizona and West Virginia, which recently passed significant new laws that expand educational access for all.



 

Why Our Justice System Is Making More Criminals Than Preventing & Ways to Reform w/ Joshua Crawford

Why Our Justice System Is Making More Criminals Than Preventing & Ways to Reform w/ Joshua Crawford

In The News

Why Our Justice System Is Making More Criminals Than Preventing & Ways to Reform w/ Joshua Crawford

On this Heard Tell Good Talks our guest is Joshua Crawford, Director of Criminal Justice Initiatitives at the Georgia Center for Opportunity returns to Heard Tell to have a grown folks talk about crime and punishment, how our criminal justice system is making more criminals than it is preventing, the economic impact of folks with criminal records not being in the regular workforce, regulatory reforms and legislative needs, and how everyone involved needs to keep the human aspect front and center in policy discussions.