Now in its ninth year, the Four for the Future Awards, co-sponsored by Georgia Trend magazine and UGA, recognize communities and regions that have worked across public- private sector and nonprofit boundaries to address challenges in ways that will lead to improved quality of life. These partnerships demonstrate effective collaboration, leadership and innovation, and offer the promise of long-term community benefits. The 2021 recipients are:

Washington County Branding Initiative

Washington County and its eight communities have a lot to offer but did not have a unified brand identity, tools or message needed to maximize promotion, marketing and economic development efforts. The Carl Vinson Institute of Government was commissioned by Archway Partnership on behalf of Washington County to facilitate a countywide branding process and create a brand identity. Vinson Institute graphic designers took the information provided by county residents and created a visual identity that captured the county’s diverse and unique sense of place. Each community designed its own logo to fit within the county brand. The county now has tools to use for recruiting industry and the Chamber of Commerce has a brand message to attract tourism, enhance marketing and aid local merchants.

Barrow County Grow It Know It

A needs assessment conducted by UGA showed that teachers in Barrow County were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about farm to school programming. However, there are significant barriers to starting the programs, including a need for teacher training, support for starting and managing school gardens, securing garden materials and supplies, coordinating cooking activities, and integrating farm to school programming into the curriculum. The Office of Service-Learning partnered with Barrow County Extension, Georgia Farm Bureau, and Barrow County School District to launch Grow It Know It (GIKI), an experiential training program for educators to learn a food- and garden-based curriculum. Since 2018, 53 Barrow County educators have participated in Grow It Know It training, serving 1,239 students in 2019-2020. UGA received a $150,703 USDA grant to support the Barrow County farm to school effort through GIKI.

NewTown Macon Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy

The nonprofit NewTown Macon, which focuses on economic and cultural development in downtown Macon, saw that many people trying to start new businesses needed coaching to help them find funding. Current and aspiring business owners also needed leadership and entrepreneurial skills. So NewTown Macon reached out to the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development for help. Fanning faculty designed curriculum for the NewTown Macon Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and facilitated the first class in fall 2018. Over four sessions, participants focused on leadership skills critical to carrying out a business vision, and learned more about business plan development. Participant Scott Mitchell, owner of Travis Jean Emporium, reported that his revenue increased in the months following the academy. Also, Mitchell became more involved in the business community, which he said also opened doors for his business.

Camden County Coastal Green Infrastructure

The Camden County Extension office regularly experienced flooding when it rained. In addressing that problem, Camden County and Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant created a demonstration site to support educational outreach and engagement. Using grant money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund the project and assistance from state and local partners, Camden County Extension now has a 262-square-foot bioretention cell that manages more than 14,000 gallons of water annually. The bioretention cell not only addressed the county extensions office’s flooding problem, but provided a new teaching tool to help local residents learn about stormwater management. In addition, a UGA Public Service and Outreach Student Scholar, who interned with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, helped design the cell and coordinate construction training for Camden County’s Public Works Department—a valuable experiential learning opportunity.

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