The impact on business in America has been undeniable with innovations from companies such as Uber, Netflix and Air B&B, but what makes the staff at Future Foundation truly excited, is thinking about what impact disruptive thinking can have on the non-profit world. What opportunities we have to create a ripple that affects another person’s life for the better.
How that ripple can inspire another, and another and another until it becomes a wave—a tide of energy creating change. Making the world a better place.
The Future Foundation all started as just a glimmer of an idea that, maybe, we could give something back to the communities that needed it most. Soon this idea became a commitment; we started to see our vision as a real possibility.
Then the first generation of 15 kids from our very first cohort in 2004 graduate. They go on to earn their Associates, then their Bachelors degrees. Get accepted into the National Honor Society. One comes back for Career Day and talks about the business she started.
Shawanda Edwards (shown below) is one of those kids. A native of East Point, GA , she started with Future Foundation in the 5th grade. A first-generation college graduate, she has gone on to earn her Associates from Atlanta Metropolitan College and is on track to graduate from Georgia State University with a Bachelors degree in Social Work. Shawanda is on the Dean’s List at GSU and was recently accepted into The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS).
She continues to play an integral role as a member of our second family by speaking at Future Foundation events and mentoring other youth currently enrolled in our program.
And that’s the opportunity. One ripple builds on another. That’s how extraordinary change happens. Being part of something—a second family—what does that do for the world?
Giving back is a recurring theme in the nonprofit world. No matter what the mission of the organization may be, so much of what we do, when we do it well, is based on the idea of giving back, mentoring, and helping others learn from your own experience to succeed in their own journeys.
This past Monday (August 13, 2017), I had the distinct pleasure of serving as the keynote speaker for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) National Conference in Atlanta, GA.
The reception we received after a disruptive conversation about the way poverty needs to be addressed at YNPN Atlanta clearly shows we’re working in a sector that’s primed for disruption.
The single word I wanted to focus on was “disruption.” I know “disruption” is a term you hear more often describing tech startup businesses rather than nonprofit efforts, but I really believe the way poverty is addressed is primed for disruption and Future Foundation’s story only serves to illustrate that fact.
The YNPN keynote provided an opportunity to initiate a conversation about the way poverty is addressed in America. To take a look at the Disruption Playbook we’re writing at Future Foundation and challenge leaders in our sector to break the status quo, and revamp the 50-year-old social policies and strategies that have been failing so many communities.
Since 2007, Future Foundation of Atlanta has been graduating 100% of our students in an area where low graduation rates are standard. We are proud to say the results we’ve seen since opening our doors in 2004 are undeniable. More important, we’re proud of what our students go on to do after graduation and we’re using our 13 years of success to build on what we’ve learned to fundamentally disrupt the way poverty is battled here in Atlanta, across the country and around the world.
How we do it?
The same way Uber disrupted transportation. The same way Airbnb disrupted travel. We are operationalizing a second-family model designed to make the most of existing resources.
Uber didn’t build a new fleet of taxis to deliver its service. It devised a way to mobilize people who already own cars to deliver a relevant, valued service to their customers.
Airbnb didn’t build thousands of hotel rooms. They connected people who wanted to rent out rooms to people who wanted to stay in interesting places at an affordable rate.
Both of these startup “unicorns” disrupted conventional thinking and reinvented an industry.
We in the nonprofit world so often get absorbed into “good works” thinking. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what drives us internally.
But it’s the disruptive ideas that can drive growth and success and real change in the world. It’s happening in the for-profit world, why can’t it happen in the non-profit one? Why can’t we disrupt poverty?
We are continually gathering data from our Second Family Model and partnering with a wide variety of people, organizations and resources to organize a model to create a disruptive, repeatable, scalable solution to poverty. We’re finding ways to connect existing resources to energize solutions to create opportunities utilizing the greatest asset we have in the not-for-profit sector—our people.
This shift is about relinquishing control of resources, decreasing bureaucracy, collecting real time data to improve student experiences, infusing innovative technologies into marginalized communities, and collaborating to coordinate resources in a strategically aligned ecosystem. It’s an ecosystem made up of a second family that spans the faith business, government, school system, and nonprofit communities.
Poverty statistics in America have not changed in 50 years. Judging from the response of young leaders listening to the disruption discussion at YNPN Atlanta this year, the time is now to seize the moment and disrupt our sector before other industry change disrupts our work.
Through LOVE, LEARNING and LEADERSHIP we at Future Foundation have been able to engage business leaders, government and volunteers to rally behind our work and affect change in our most vulnerable communities. Check out what we’ve been up to!
Two master barbers from Trinity Barbershop in College Park, GA came by our Future Foundation teen center and volunteered their services to our summer camp students. The results were astounding!!! Kudos to our Future Foundation staff, Xavier Alexander (program aide) for coordinating this awesome endeavor.
Robert Moore; owner/master barber
1876 Harvard Avenue
College Park, GA
Future Foundation has partnered with tech startup, Tribe, to pilot a 6-week initiative focused on closing the college and career readiness gap for children coming from low-income families. Tribe uses an online platform (Instagram) to connect high school students to professionals and facilitate career exploration and role modeling. This allows students to:
Directly engage with career content and professional mentors
Ask questions, and build relationships despite distance and place.
Guarantees a young person receives the support and investment he/she needs to be successful after high school.
Check out our students in action!
In April, Our Banneker High School kids took a field trip to the Urban Feed Store in Historic College Park, GA. The students utilized the etiquette information they learned from a previous workshop that taught them essential codes of conduct for social behavior. The owner, Ms. McQueen, conducted a Q&A session, discussed how she became an entrepreneur and highlighted her career path. She stressed the importance of a college education and the challenges she faced along her academic journey.
The restaurant customized our menus and provided exceptional service. It was an awesome learning experience and opportunity for all 21 Banneker High School students who attended.
What’s your superpower?
As students walked through the doors of Future Foundation for their last day of Summer programming, there was both a sense of relief and dismay. They had worked hard all Summer building drones, designing apps, developing math and reading skills and receiving college and career prep courses. This moment was bittersweet; students who were once strangers had become friends, and now had to wish each other farewell (at least for now).
The new school year was just weeks away and the staff at Future Foundation wanted to ensure that each youth had a great kick-off to the new semester. What better way to do this than a superhero-themed cookout? This end of Summer party theme was chosen by the staff to help students discover their own “superpowers”.
The program curriculum was modified for the day to teach students how to use their superpowers to take on the school year just like their favorite superheroes would. Each child designed their own superhero cape, enjoyed some great barbecue and ended the afternoon in with a dance celebration in honor of all that was accomplished and all that there is still left to achieve.
The Future Foundation is proud to announce that Kelly Walton has joined our organization as Chief Operating Officer. Kelly comes to us from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, where she served for three years as the Senior Director of Higher Education Partnerships. Her major responsibilities consisted of establishing the inaugural Higher Education Partnerships division and leading global efforts to develop a college-going culture for over 4 million Club youth.
Kelly also has extensive consulting experience working with various organizations in the education arena. Most recently, she worked with MDRC, as a site liaison consultant on the national evaluation of the Diplomas Now Model. Additionally, she served in various leadership positions within the secondary division for a school district in metro Atlanta.
Her strong organizational skills and attention to detail are a reflection of her unwavering commitment to serving youth through education.
Rhonda Howard, Chief Financial Officer
Rhonda Howard joins Future Foundation as it’s new Chief Financial Officer. Her experience with government grant billing, coupled with excellent knowledge of preparing financial statements, budget reports, and managing staff makes her a perfect fit for the role.
Rhonda’s strong analytical skills and dedication will no doubt be an asset to our organization as we continue to grow and expand. Her goals are to help the Future Foundation simplify our accounting process, develop and implement effective channels that can put reduce expenses and stimulate income.
Her resume is not just impressive, but is also evidence of her hard work and commitment to the organizations she has served. We look forward to working with Rhonda as she helps Future Foundation take our nonprofit to the next level.
The Future Foundation welcomes both Kelly and Rhonda to the team and we look forward to each of their contributions.
Kristina Christy, Vice President of Atlanta Community Affairs for Wells Fargo, stopped by the Future Foundation (FF) board meeting held at Pricewaterhousecoopers in Midtown Atlanta, to present a check in the amount of $17,500. The grant was awarded to the foundation to support its launch of an education research study being conducted for Woodland and McNair Middle Schools in Fulton County. 400 students will be recruited as a part of the study to validate FF’s 2.0 approach to helping underserved students make smart decisions about academics, social behavior, physical, nutritional, and sexual health—in order to prepare them for bright futures.
With the continued support of community partners like Wells Fargo, Future Foundation’s 2.0 strategy could be the catalyst needed to jump-start education reform not only for students in metro Atlanta, but for low-performing school districts across the nation.