Monday, August 27, 2012

YouthUSA Targets Acworth as New Market

"Discovering God's New Possibilities” for Our Street, USA


YouthUSA National Director Yvonne Griswold, an economist for the federal government, met with Acworth Youth Achiever Mariasonniah Smith (center) and her sisters to talk about Money-n-the-Bank goals.

By Stephanie and Eric Stradford

AMWS, August 26, 2012, Acworth, GA - Economists for a national public charity are “paying attention” to new market investment opportunities for Our Street, USA.

Mariquel E. Smith, 11 and Desiree L. Moore, 20 of Acworth are attracting national attention to their hometown through their vision for “fellowship” with “a whole village” of caring adults. The latest candidates for THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS are local residents who “believe I can achieve whatever I believe I can achieve.” Last year, Mariasonniah Smith, 13 of Acworth, leveraged her Money-n-the-Bank goals to a $1000 fellowship commitment from Youth Achievers USA Institute. Mary-Pat Hector, 15, a youth activist from Jonesboro also qualified for benefits in 2011.

New candidates and recent winners visited Acworth’s historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church for an “Open House” event. YouthUSA Director Yvonne R. Griswold, an economist for the federal government, joined asset managers and mentors to add value to vision for the Acworth community. “Any inclusive vision for America’s future must consider economic needs where Americans live, learn, work and worship,” said Griswold.

The Reverend Leela Brown Waller, pastor for the Bethel congregation, kicked off a season of "Discovering God's New Possibilities." Ironically, the congregation worships at the intersection of Bell and School Streets, a metaphorically significant crossroad marker for church (Bell) and state (School).  “I’m so glad you’re here to see our Acworth community during construction so that you can witness the new possibilities after God completes His plan," said Waller.


GAME ON! The Reverend Leela Brown Waller, Historic Bethel AME Church’s new pastor is also a former cheerleader for the Atlanta Falcons.

Established in 1864, The Bethel AME Church congregation originally shared a church building with the Zion Hill Baptist Church. Members built the current structure between 1871 and 1882.

Registers of Historic Places promote Bethel and Zion Hill as “home to small African American congregations.” The Cobb County Landmarks and Historical Society reports, “this church structure is threatened by lack of funding for repairs.”

Waller’s commitment to "Discovering God's New Possibilities" sets a positive tone for local kingdom building at a time of global economic uncertainty. Her “cheerleader spirit” may prove to be just the right prescription for economic healing on Main Street, USA. Just across the tracks from Bethel’s historical community, Acworth City officials are at work on a vision of the city’s future.

Road construction at Bell and School Streets offer evidence of “new possibilities” on the way. Bell and School Streets are at the heart of future enterprise. The State of Georgia has designated the City of Acworth’s Redevelopment Area as an “Opportunity Zone.” The designation allows any existing business or a business that locates into zone to apply to the State for a $3,500 job tax credit.

ACWORTH'S EMPOWERMENT: Mayor Tommy Allegood (front/center) and Acworth city officials value faith in their vision of the community’s future.  New possibilities are being discovered where Americans live, learn work and worship.

Local job creation is at heart of this community’s vision of its own future. Church and State working together is already adding value to vision for Acworth. Up the road from Historic Bethel is the Roberts School Community Education Center where YouthUSA is “discovering” common vision for Positive Youth Development. The Acworth Achievers after-school youth program primarily serves low income youth from the surrounding community. The program, run by the city’s parks and recreation department, partners with local schools to improve learning outcomes. At the same time, schools as well as churches struggle to meet needs with declining assets. Financial services professionals say that while lingering economic downturns can generate investor concern, they can also generate investment opportunities.

YouthUSA has been mapping assets in Acworth seeking answers to economic issues.  Acworth’s youth are like buried treasure for the region’s economic. BB& posted, “When the economy is in a slow-growth or no-growth mode and the stock market shifts dramatically up or down with little warning, what’s the best plan of action? The answer, in most cases, is “It depends…”


The most effective approach to economic inclusion is learning to earn.  YouthUSA’s approach starts with financial literacy and integrates diverse components—endowments, investments, insurance, savings for education, home, and small business ownership. Cross generational wisdom invested by caring adults offer insight on retirement, credit, charitable giving, tax and estate planning for a unified, coordinated strategy.

YouthUSA beneficiaries depend on partnering banks, charitable foundations and friends to value their futures as assets for economic recovery. Each qualifying youth commits to a vision of his or her own future as an asset and, therefore, not a liability to their community. YouthUSA’s expanded definition of community considers needs beyond geographic boundaries, connecting local needs to a wealth of resources. To partner with this new market for community reinvestment, contact YouthUSA at

Friday, August 10, 2012

In It To Win It!

YouthUSA winners offered positive alternative to negative values

by Stephanie and Eric Stradford

AMWS, August 10, 2012, Virtual -- The rapidly eroding race for President of the United States, fueled by negativity, banked by conflicting ideals and evinced by high cost advertising, pitting America against America has taken its toll on America’s future.

Two name-calling, back-biting rich guys, fighting over occupancy of a public housing project, brings shame and dishonor to that which WE THE PEOPLE envision as One Nation Under God. It needs to stop…NOW!

Somewhere in the quantification of yesterday’s national negative political debate, there’s a negative $15.9 trillion national debt. Unless someone can spin positive value from negative political campaigning, that practice impedes the process of making America work. It needs to stop…NOW!

Youth Achievers USA Institute, a 501c3 public charity, promotes an inclusive "vision of the future" for citizens in America's economy. The bottom line is clear to leaders with enough common sense to pay attention. Some youth have access to inheritance, endowments, or trust funds that offer a hand up in pursuing their American dream. Others still perceive theirs to be a dream deferred. YouthUSA hopes to demonstrate, on a small scale, that an inheritance can be developed for historically disadvantaged as well as mainstream Americans. The demonstration engages youth beneficiaries as “assets for independence.”

The Federal Assets for Independence (AFI) program provides five-year grants to nonprofit organizations and government agencies that empower low-income families to become economically self-sufficient for the long-term. Grantees provide financial education training on money management issues, and they assist participants with saving earned income in special matched savings accounts called Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). Participants use the IDAs to accumulate funds with the goal of acquiring a first home, post-secondary education, or starting up or expanding a small business.

Economist Yvonne Griswold provides leadership to caring adults interested in managing community assets where they live, learn, work and worship. Her own testimony as a YouthUSA beneficiary adds substance to hope for “believing I can achieve.” The 2007 graduate of Southern University of Baton Rouge holds a masters degree in economics and serves as an economist for the U.S. Government. As Task Force Chair for THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS, Griswold provides executive counsel on ways and means for sustaining “the whole village.”

YouthUSA economic development programs seek to engage local communities in developing youth as future “community assets.” Financial incentives encourage measurable Positive Youth Development by matching community investments in qualifying beneficiaries with program funds from the sponsoring 501c3 public charity.

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, a collaboration of twelve federal departments and agencies that support youth, has created a definition of positive youth development: Positive youth development is an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths' strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.

New applicants to THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS and their caring adult supporters are being invited to join Griswold’s Task Force as part of a YouthUSA board leadership program. The Task Force will also discuss YouthUSA fellowships as part of a $5 million development fund.

“I’m so excited to be a part of a community of people who are excited about our youth,” said Griswold. Griswold’s enthusiastic interest demonstrates community reinvestment and challenges future leaders to “pay attention” when somebody wants to invest in you.

JOIN US NOW -- America's Future Begins Today at YouthUSA