Our 2019 Summer SIA programming kicked off on Monday June 3rd with our downtown Atlanta program. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of students and presenters to start our SIA season!


We started on Monday with team building activities outdoors, helping the group of students from schools all over Atlanta and beyond get to know one another. Our first workshop of the week was Social Entrepreneurship, led by Gene Kansas a cultural developer and professional Social Entrepreneur. Gene is the driving force behind Constellations, which is a shared workspace of businesses and nonprofits with a focus in social good.

Next, after starting the discussion about social entrepreneurship, we moved into Research and Development with Dominique Huff. Dominique is the President-Founder of Dominique Huff Enterprises and shared many helpful ways for our students to practice their research skills.

After lunch we spent some more time on team building and then jumped into Goal Setting with Dr. Rubina Malik, a strategist and a professor at Morehouse College. Dr. Malik has previously presented GivingPoint and always brings a wealth of knowledge and experience for our students.


On Tuesday June 4th we started the day with more team builders, focusing on working together and being strategic. Tuesday morning was all about project planning and event planning, and we had a presentation from Winfield Light, an Implementation Sr. Program Manager. Winfield broke down the phases and steps involved in project planning and helped our students make steps forward on their projects.

In the afternoon we headed next door to the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, where we worked with Heather Staniszewski, the Volunteer Services Manager of Atlanta-Fulton Public Library. Heather helped us understand the important of the library system, and of the AARL specifically. Our SIA students then helped in a variety of ways: writing thank you cards, helping prep buttons to be used as giveaways, stuff envelopes, file documents, and more. At the end we even had a surprise visit from the library archivist, who brought out one of the oldest books at the AARL for our students to see.


Day three, Wednesday June 5th, was all about finance! We started with a workshop on budgeting, led by Amy Gates-Stroud, GivingPoint’s Executive Director. Amy walked our SIA students through the basic budgeting process for our student’s events and projects. We spent some time researching costs related to our projects and practicing practical budgeting skills by budgeting for a week of groceries. Once budgets were established, we also talked about the development and fundraising process with Jen Booth, Communication and Development Officer for Literacy Action, Inc. Jen helped our students understand various avenues for funding such as grants, family foundations, in kind donations and more.

After lunch on Wednesday we had a panel of local leaders to share their experience and expertise with our students. Loosely structured around the topic of overcoming adversity, these leaders – Crystal Simmons, founder of Body Crystals Co, Davion Lewis, Executive Director- The RISE Schools, Timothy Kenney, Founder-Game Changers, and GivingPoint alumnae Hannah Jackson – shared their struggles and advice for our students.


Thursday June 6th was a big preparation day for our SIA students. We covered the topics of perfecting our pitch, networking, and marketing, and then started practicing for our Friday presentations.

Our presenters on Thursday were a group of awesome GivingPoint go-tos. We heard from Eric Atwood, of The Speakers Studio, to learn about all the important aspects of a pitch. In Eric’s job he works to help people be more effective communicators in all settings and is great at helping our students focus their pitch on their passion and the piece that matters most.

For networking we heard from Rony Delgarde, the founder of Global Paints for Charity. Rony was able to share how his personal experiences with networking helped him grow GPC to what it is today.

And lastly, we heard yet again from Jen Booth and her coworker Sabrina Beckham for our marketing presentation. Jen touched on all the essential aspects of marketing and communications for a nonprofit, and was able to talk about some of the projects and techniques that she has used in her position to successful market Literacy Action Network.

Afterwards, Thursday afternoon was all about practicing and preparing presentations for Friday!


Our final day, Friday June 8th, we only had one workshop, Strategic Leadership, led again by Dominique Huff who had also presented on Monday. Over the course of the week the students had reflected on their own leadership skills and what their project would require of them. After Dominique’s workshop, we jumped into presentation preparation mode.

Each student was required to prepare a five-minute presentation about their project idea and plan. They were asked to cover topics such as timeline, budget, purpose and mission, target audience, and more. On Friday afternoon, we invited family, friends, and community members, along with a panel of three evaluators, to watch our students presentations and provide feedback. Our panel included: Former State of Georgia Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler, Atlanta Public Schools Board Member Leslie Grant, and Jazz Parham from Fayette County Schools.

The student presentations went wonderfully, and the panel and community members in the room were all impressed by the amazing things our SIA students are doing. After presentations, we gathered to celebrate and recognize the hard work of the seven students in this SIA cohort. We will continue to stay in touch and support this group of young changemakers, and can’t wait to see what they accomplish over the next year.

Juliana Contrerras: Sophomore, Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School, Passion: Education through experience, Project Name: Connecting the Knowledge

Emaad Daya: Junior, The Westminster Schools, Passion: Carbon Neutrality, Project Name: Convert Carbon

Lucia Fernandez: Junior, Grady High School, Passion: School breakfast, Project Name: Food for Thought ATL

Justin Lee: Senior, North Gwinnett High School, Passion: Underprivileged students, Project Name: Our Ceiling, Their Floor

Anish Rajeev: Sophomore, Northview High School, Passion: Environmental impact, Project Name: Alternatives to Plastic Straws

Qahir Smith: Junior, North Atlanta High School, Passion: Homelessness, Project Name: HomeMore

Charisma Willturner: Junior, Maynard Jackson High School, Passion: Community connectedness, Project Name: One Seed At A Time

Congratulations to our 2019 Summer SIA: ATL cohort! We cannot wait to see what amazing things you all go on to accomplish!