The Housing Authority has maintained long-standing relationships with key institutions, service entities, foundations, and non-profits, including the Decatur Education Foundation, the City of Decatur, the City Schools of Decatur, and the Wylde Center. DHA could never afford to fund all the needs of its residents, and these key partners enable and support DHA's residents in amazing and meaningful ways.
Decatur Education Foundation - Strategic Partner
Since 2004, DHA has successfully partnered with the Decatur Education Foundation (DEF). DEF works to:
- Help individuals or organizations implement select ideas to support youth
- Fund special initiatives from City Schools of Decatur
Host and manage scholarships and other funds for designated purposes
- Connect people and ideas with others to benefit Decatur youth
- Create or join collaborations to address needs and support programs, including the Decatur Housing Authority
The Foundation itself grew out of Decatur's neighborhoods. In the late 1990s, a group of citizens from across the city united around the idea that Decatur youth would benefit from a community organization that contributes to making local education the best it can be. The Decatur Education Foundation was incorporated in 2002, and today, it operates with a small staff and a large volunteer base. DEF and DHA work together to measurably improve the educational outcomes of low to moderate-income families in the City of Decatur, including increased access to educational opportunities, experiences, and materials. Our efforts continue to be an ongoing partnership designed to change the lives of low-income students.
DEF Opportunity Partnership - The Opportunity Partnership is a mentoring program that pairs third graders from the Decatur Housing Authority community with adult volunteers. The goal of the program is to close the opportunity gap which results in some students having fewer opportunities during their formative years. Mentors will help connect their students connect with educational and enrichment opportunities so they can explore their interests, find their passions, and develop useful life skills. Volunteer mentors serve as a matchmaker between low-income students and the vast opportunities that exist in Decatur and beyond. The program began in 2016 and is continuing into the future.
Computer Lab - The Decatur Education Foundation worked in partnership with the Decatur Housing Authority in 2015 to raise funds to improve the educational technology available to City Schools of Decatur students who live in the communities managed by the Decatur Housing Authority. Enhancing technology and providing educational intervention at an early age will help students to bridge the digital divide and achieve greater excellence in education. Decatur Education Foundation and DHA raised $21,000 in funds to renovate two DHA Computer Labs (Main Lab and Teen Lab) located in DHA's Community Resource Center. The funding provided fifteen (15) desktop computers and widescreen monitors, two (2) laptop computers, a movable 60" Sharp Aquos Electronic whiteboard, and color printers for the use of our students in the STAR Afterschool Digital Learning Program. Microsoft Office 2013 was included with each computer. DHA undertook the upgrade of the two Computer Labs with new paint, counters, furniture, and inspirational artwork.
Scholarships - DEF partners with DHA to provide educational opportunities for low-income families in DHA's affordable housing, including college scholarships. DHA works with students to assist in the submission of the required documentation and information. DEF and its members review and make determinations of eligibility. Numerous students from DHA's affordable housing communities have been awarded scholarships and laptops from DEF.
Georgia Teen Institute (GTI) - GTI is a youth leadership program for Youth Action Teams throughout Georgia that begins with a summer training program and continues with year-round support. DEF funded $4,000 to support DHA's youth to secure access to this program.
Let's Make Man Initiative - DEF and DHA partnered to take 24 low-income youth to the Gathering to Reclaim Black Manhood in Savannah, Georgia in April 2017. The program provided excellence in training, developing and empowering Black Men that Rebuild and Transform the Black Family and Community. DEF funded most of the travel costs ($1,425) and DHA staff coordinated the trip as a part of our partnership.
DEF Board - The DEF Board consists of dedicated members of the Decatur community who are committed to excellence in educational opportunities. There are four ex-officio (non-voting) members of the Board including; the Executive Director of the Decatur Housing Authority, the Chair of the Board of Education, the Superintendent of the City Schools of Decatur, and the City Manager or another appointed representative of the City of Decatur. This direct relationship enables effective partnerships and communication.
Each of these partnerships with the Decatur Housing Authority have furthered educational achievement and provided greater access to education thereby measurably improving opportunities for the success of low income students in Decatur.
City Schools of Decatur - Strategic Partner
The City Schools of Decatur (CSD) has partnered with the Decatur Housing Authority since 1999 years in the provision of afterschool services to low income families in DHA's affordable housing. DHA and CSD's educational partnership was forged to serve low-income kindergarten through fifth grade students in the DHA communities of Swanton Heights, Allen Wilson, and Trinity Walk with a safe place to go after school, a place where they could receive a nutritious snack, and receive tutorial assistance relevant to their CSD schoolwork. The initial purpose of the afterschool effort was the need to address the achievement gap for low income minority students in Decatur. The STAR program has done an outstanding job with accomplishing these goals through strong leadership, professionalism, dedicated personnel as well as a rigorous commitment to the students in the DHA community.
DHA supports the STARs Program with the facility, utilities, technology, supplies, and three personnel (one full-time and two part-time staff). DHA also supports the teacher's salaries in with an additional DHA-funded $5.00 per hour that is paid as a bonus at mid-year and year-end.
CSD has provided funding to DHA to operate the STARS Afterschool Program as follows:
1999 - $21,200
2000 - $21,200
2001 - $21,200
2002 - $21,200
2003 - $21,200
2004 - $21,200
2005 - $21,160
2006 - $25,900
2007 - $25,900
2008 - $25,900
2009 - $25,900
2010 - $25,900
2011 - $25,900
2012 - $25,900
2013 - $25,900
2014 - $25,900
2015 - $25,900
2016 - $25,900
2017 - $35,320
2018 - $36,421
2019 - $3,088
2020 - No funding due to COVID-19
2021 - $48,976
Total - $579,865
The STARS Afterschool Program furthers educational achievement for students and measurably improves the academic success of low-income students in Decatur due to the tutoring, enrichment, and technology instruction offered to the students. In addition to the STARS Program support, CSD's partnerships with DHA have included some innovative concepts.
- CSD supported DHA's revitalization of the Gateway community into the Trinity Walk community. CSD allowed children of relocated families to continue their attendance at the CSD schools after they had moved out to allow the revitalization to proceed. DHA provided families with a transportation stipend to assist students with their attendance in the schools.
- DHA's supported CSD by allowing CSD professionals to park on the DHA Gateway property during the rehabilitation of its CSD's offices located on West Trinity Avenue.
- DHA participated actively with CSD in its efforts to resolve local issues in the school system, including director participation in the Early Childhood Education Task Force, Elementary Facility Planning Steering Committee, Disproportionality Task Force, Elementary Boundary Steering Committee, and other informal task force meetings.
City of Decatur
The City of Decatur is DHA's strategic partner in affordable housing and supportive service activities in Decatur including, MLK Service Day, Recreational Activities, Summer Camp, Facilities Access, Storm Water Management, and Housing Development Efforts. DHA works with the Active Living, Police Department, Fire Department, Children and Youth Services, Downtown Development Authority, and Economic Development.
Active Living - Decatur's Active Living Division provides leisure and support services that contribute to the quality of life of the citizens of Decatur, including DHA's youth and seniors. Active Living enables DHA to utilize the Ebster Gym and recreation facility.
Decatur Police - The Decatur Police Department actively support DHA with youth programming and the National Night Out (NNO) activities. National Night Out is a celebration to bring awareness of crime prevention to our community. This annual event at two sites, Allen Wilson and Spring Pointe and attracts nearly 500 residents, youth, and community partners to the celebration. NNO demonstrates the continued commitment by everyone to stand together to promote crime and drug awareness, safety and neighborhood unity.
Children and Youth Services Division (CYS) - CYS provides programming for children in K-8th grades (5-14 years) during out of school hours. CYS operates nine afterschool sites during the school year, "All Day Camp" programs during school breaks and a variety of day camp and enrichment camp programs during the summer months. CYS supports DHA students and children by providing access and scholarships for camps.
The mission of Wylde Center is to educate, cultivate greenspaces and build community in the areas we serve. The Wylde Center, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, accomplishes this through educational programs, events and greenspaces that actively engage youth, families and individuals in their environment, health and community, and that develop skills in environmental science, sustainable urban living, organic gardening, health, and nutrition. The Wylde Center provides one of the largest youth environmental and science education programs in metro-Atlanta, including the Decatur Farm to School program, Atlanta Farm to School, Healthy Living by Healthy Growing at the Decatur Housing Authority, and science program and field trips linked to Common Core standards.
The Wylde Center joins with the Decatur Housing Authority to cultivate hands-on learning experiences where youth, adults, and seniors can stay active, learn where their food comes from, and learn to make healthy food choices. The two entities have been working together for over five years on joint efforts and look forward to future endeavors. The gardening efforts are located in Decatur, Georgia at the Allen Wilson, Swanton Heights, and Trinity Walk I & II Communities.
The Wylde Center joins with the Decatur Housing Authority to cultivate hands-on learning experiences where youth and seniors can stay active, learn where their food comes from, and learn to make healthy food choices. A garden has been included in the Allen Wilson II (Oliver House), Allen Wilson III, Trinity Walk I, and Trinity Walk II communities and will be managed by the Wylde Center team. In addition, edible landscape may be introduced into the site as a component of the overall nutrition and gardening effort. Bushes, such as blueberries, may be an effective way to integrate food education into the built environment.
The Wylde Center's garden-based education program gets youth and seniors into local gardens to teach them about food origins, healthy living, and the science of agriculture. Participants plan, harvest and prepare meals while learning the nutrition benefits of fresh foods. As we expand their knowledge of how their food goes from farm to table, we empower them to take responsibility for their food options and their health. Dynamic days in the garden provide myriad outdoor activities for youth to work together and build relationships not only with the garden, but also with each other and their community.
A recent quote from 12-year-old participant from the Decatur Housing Authority was as follows, "I told my little brother what type of vegetables we planted. He actually wanted to start being in the garden club. When he found out that he was too young for this program he asked my grandmother if we could start gardening as a family. I hope we do because then I could do more stuff with my family. I think we could plant things we cook around the house like garlic, tomatoes, and lettuce. The garden program helped me to learn that you can actually grow the things we use in the kitchen. Being in the garden actually made me feel healthy!"
Fund Raising Successes
The Housing Authority continually seeks to maximize its relationships with its partners in order to supplement program funding needs resulting from federal budget cuts. Additional funding is allocated annually by the DHA Board of Commissioners in the operating budget to allow for technology support expenses. Additionally, Decatur Computer Help, a local small business, has provided technology support for eight years without any price increase which has been a tremendous help.
Grants have been secured from various sources to support resident services.
- In 2010 as a result of a grant submitted by Decatur Recreation Center on behalf of the Decatur Housing Authority DHA received a $10,000 grant from United Way of Greater Atlanta to update one of the technology labs. This particular lab is not only utilized by the elementary and middle school students in the STAR After-school program but also by any resident at the four Housing Authority low-income housing properties.
- In 2011 the Housing Authority allowed Tyler Perry Filming Production Company to perform part of their production at Swanton Heights. At the conclusion of the production the movie company donated five used computers. This equipment was used to establish the Teen Center Technology Lab.
- In 2012, DHA was awarded a grant by the Decatur Beer Festival to supply books for our youth.
- In 2014, the Decatur Education Foundation awarded a $1,500 grant to purchase seven electronic tablets to enhance the digital skills of our youth in our STAR afterschool program. Also in 2014, the Decatur Rotary Club awarded a $1,000 grant to DHA for four more electronic tablets.
- Grant writing continues and residents benefit from the skills of DHA's staff in securing grants as well as the effective partnerships with supporting agencies, foundations, and institutions in Decatur.
FUNDING FOR RESIDENT SERVICES
DHA and the Decatur Housing Initiatives Corporation [DHA's 501(c)(3) nonprofit] aggressively pursue funding opportunities and grants. Recognizing the limitations of securing ongoing and continuing grant sources, DHA's Board authorizes funding its resident services activities from its earned development fees, unrestricted resources, entrepreneurial housing activities, and direct funding (as eligible) from federal funding sources.