#ThursdayIdeas | Junior Achievement of GA, Pro Bono Partnership of ATL, Theatre du Reve

Our #ThursdayIdeas blog series continues with three of the featured nonprofits from our just-published annual IDEAS issue of Georgia Nonprofit NOW.

Real-world education in a simulated marketplace

Stepping into the Junior Achievement of Georgia (JA) Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center, a 50,000 square-foot facility housed in the Georgia World Congress Center, is like encountering a modern city square in miniature, complete with brick storefronts and glass-box standalone shops, real corporate signage, and a faux greenspace (patterned after Centennial Olympic Park).

Evoking a traditional town market in a slick, startup-like warehouse space, the old-meets-new setting is particularly appropriate for the innovative solution JA developed for a long-standing challenge: preparing students for career success and financial well-being.

Partnering with a range of corporate sponsors like SunTrust Foundation not just to fund the Center, but to provide the personnel who animate its two on-site programs, JA conducts hands-on simulations of real-life work and budgeting scenarios. To date, more than 65,000 middle school students have visited the Center to learn about career options, workplace skills, and financial management straight from the professionals.

Building on the success of the Congress Center facility, Junior Achievement and Gwinnett County Public Schools, along with partners old and new, are opening a second Discovery Center in August. The 45,000-square-foot facility, modeled to resemble modern-day Gwinnett, will extend the JA BizTown and JA Finance Park programs to 25,000 additional middle school students annually.

Nonprofit legal advice, no retainer needed

Chances are, you’re no lawyer— and though you might have one or two on the board, they aren’t necessarily versed in nonprofit law. Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta has been filling that knowledge gap with a group clinic called the Nonprofit Legal Check-Up. In seven years,the clinic has helped more than 250 nonprofits, including Kate’s Club, Friends of Refugees, and the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership.

Working with an attorney team, each clinic-goer spends 90 minutes reviewing a checklist of the nonprofit legal issues Pro Bono sees most often, ranging from employee classification to poten tial income tax liability to bylaws. “Each noprofit comes out with a list of legal matters they need to consider,” said Program Manager Laura Hennighausen, “and we provide free legal assistance to address them.”

A student matinee that matters

Though they’ve been putting on student matinees and touring schools since 2012, Théâtre du Rêve [Theater of the Dream] took its program for young audiences a step further this year with a training partnership that gave them a deeper way to reach that audience.

When Théâtre du Rêve decided to put on a topical play called Jane, the Fox and Me, the story of a bullied Montreal girl, they knew it would take formal help to discuss the issue of bullying behavior effectively. Co-Artistic Director Park Krausen tapped a friend at the Ben Marion Institute for Social Justice to see if they could help; the Institute was excited to provide training and help develop discussion materials for the program, which they called an “insightful, powerful opportunity for empathetic learning that lingers long after the curtain comes down.”

“There was always a conversational component to our student matinees,” said ED Caitlin Roe. “But now, our artists, each trained in empathy, guide students through an interactive discussion about the themes of bullying behavior and empathy.”

They’ve delivered on what Roe called “our most valuable education partnership to date” with performances and workshops at schools and nonprofits across the city, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. Roe is also proud to report that, thanks to a dedicated fundraising drive, over half of the 1,400 kids who enjoyed their newest student program paid nothing to attend.

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