Aims to Provide Career Learning Opportunities for Students, Reduce Unemployment Gap for Professionals
ATLANTA, August 11, 2021 – Today, the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) is launching guidance aimed at equipping the regional business community to take action to improve educational outcomes and invest in metro Atlanta’s Black workforce. The two playbooks – Education and Workforce Development, respectively – represent the third and fourth focus areas for the ATL Action for Racial Equity initiative announced in February, a multi-year, multi-step program designed to help address the ongoing effects of systemic racism impacting the Black community.
“In every phase of our children’s education journey, it’s critical that we offer opportunities for Black students to see the multitude of paths and careers available to them,” said Katie Kirkpatrick, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “By applying ATL Action for Racial Equity’s step-by-step approach to our work with education institutions and workforce partners, we’re laying the groundwork for a stronger, more diverse workforce in the coming years.”
Access to high-quality, engaging classroom experiences is critical for Black students to become eager learners. According to Learn4Life, the region’s education partnership, 32% of Black third graders are at reading proficiency compared to 71% for white third graders. This gap continues to post-secondary completion, where 65% of Black students are completing their college degrees compared to 82% of white students. If these educational opportunities aren’t open to all students from the start and don’t provide support to Black students to pursue their passions in post-secondary education, the result is a less diverse talent pipeline and continued disparities between Black and white unemployment rates and household income.
“We can take immediate action to increase diversity within the workforce through smart funding and business partnerships, but the key to long-term success is in the classroom where our partnerships can thrive and shine a light on our students’ potential,” said DeKalb County School District Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris. “We’re proud to partner with the Metro Atlanta Chamber to ensure all of our students have the same access to enriching and engaging learning experiences that set them up for long-term success.”
Workforce development serves as the initiative’s cornerstone, with corporate policies, inclusive economic development and education – the initiative’s other three focus areas – serving to build and support the Black workforce of the future. The education playbook offers an outline to drive collective impact, from increasing the number of Black students aged 0-5 in high-quality early learning programs, to offering more work-based learning opportunities such as internships and apprenticeships for historically under-resourced schools and communities, to increasing the number of Black students achieving bachelor’s degrees.
“At Mailchimp, we strive to be good corporate citizens and have a unique opportunity to draw from Georgia universities and help students put the skills they’re learning on campus to work in real-world situations,” said Lain Shakespeare, senior director of corporate citizenship at Mailchimp. “We’re more than proud to support ATL Action for Racial Equity and do our part to develop a more diverse talent pipeline.”
The workforce development playbook ties the initiative’s first three playbooks together, offering guidelines to support the Black workforce in metro Atlanta by decreasing the unemployment gap between Black and white populations in the next three years.
“Metro Atlanta is the proud home to a diverse and workforce, and it is the responsibility of our business community to nurture this next generation of diverse talent,” said INROADS President and CEO Forest T. Harper, Jr. “Connecting underrepresented students with high quality work-based learning and wealth growing career opportunities is crucial to our region’s future as we seek to close the racial wealth gap in our communities.”
MAC’s Longstanding DEI Commitment
As the leading voice for the region’s business community for 161 years, MAC has been a driving force in our region’s growth and success. Over the last two decades, the organization has built a strong history of using its influence and expertise to advocate for issues that touch race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. MAC has fought for a new state flag that represents every citizen, helped shut down discriminatory legislation tied to religious freedom and adoption rights, and driven the passage of historic funding for public transit expansion, among other efforts. With ATL Action for Racial Equity, MAC promises to elevate diversity, equity and inclusion as business and community imperatives, providing guidance, resources and accountability measures that generate meaningful outcomes and contribute to efforts aimed at dismantling systemic racism – one of our nation’s most pressing problems.
For more information on ATL Action for Racial Equity powered by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and to take action, visit www.ATLRacialEquity.com.
About the Metro Atlanta Chamber
The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) serves as a catalyst for a more prosperous and vibrant region. To advance economic growth and improve metro Atlanta's quality of place, MAC is focused on starting, growing and recruiting companies to the 29-county metro Atlanta region. The Chamber is also focused on expanding the region's innovation economy by promoting and strengthening connections to drive Atlanta's innovation and entrepreneurial culture. MAC is committed to being an active voice for the business community, serving as an advocate for a competitive business climate and promoting Atlanta's story. For more information, visit www.MetroAtlantaChamber.com.