Orange Duffel Bag Foundation (ODB) founded by Echo Garrett and Sam Bracken in February—named for the orange duffel bag Bracken carried all his possessions in as a homeless teen. Students at Chrysalis Experiential Academy raise funds for first donation during May, National Foster Care Month. Chrysalis’ director Richard Becker, 20+ years educator, pilots ODB’s curriculum—based on the 7 Rules for the Road in “My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change.”
ODB’s focus: To provide life plan coaching via certified life and executive coaches to at-risk youth, award ODB graduates a laptop computer to bridge the digital divide, and provide ongoing advocacy and to raise awareness about the barriers at-risk youth face in their quest to become self-sufficient.
- ODB pilots program with a class of 26 youth in foster care ages 15-19. In partnership with the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) and funded with stimulus money, the goal to see if ODB’s new coaching methodology improves the educational outcomes of the youth. Proves beneficial and continues to have a remarkable impact on these youth through ODB’s ongoing advocacy. ODB youth advocates and local community partners help teens and young adults get part time employment, stay in stable housing and provide ongoing support to stay on track in pursuit of postsecondary education.
- Partnership solidifies with GA DHS.
- ODB Board elects Mike Daly, business consultant specializing in developing business plans, inaugural board chair.
- Pursuit begins for key postsecondary education and community partners identified in ODB 3-year strategic plan.
- Coverage on CNN, 11 Alive News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Financial audit.
- ODB conducts a second pilot class, honing the coaching curriculum, expanding it to a 12-week after-school program, achieving additional positive outcomes for at-risk youth.
- ODB Board elects Diana Black, nonprofit grant writer and community development specialist, Officer, Vice President
- Partnership solidifies with Clark Atlanta University; research students evaluate the ODB program’s outcomes making the coaching methodology and curriculum evidence-based.
- Partnerships solidify with Utah DHS and the University of Utah; ODB provides programming during a 2 night 3-day Utah youth in foster care event; a condensed version of the 12-week after school program. Receives local media attention, letters from the Governor of Utah, and letters of support from Utah’s DHS leadership indicating the positive impact the programming had on their youth.
- Coaching sample to Higher Education Institute for teens in foster care.
- Presentation to siblings separated through foster care during Camp to Belong Georgia.
- Charter member of the Georgia Youth Opportunities Initiative; serves on education committee.
- Partnerships solidify with University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute, Clark Atlanta University, and GA EmpowerMEnt with whom TANF funding is applied for and received.
- 50+ key funding sources identified and qualified creating “hit list” of 20 delivered to Board.
- Pilot class of the 12-week after school program is delivered in Utah; 17 youth graduate.
- Nonfiction book curriculum based on wins 5 national awards for Best Young Adult Nonfiction and Best Self-Help and 2 international awards for Best Book Design.
- Partnership with University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute results in award of partial funding from the state of GA (TANF After School Funds) for 12-week coaching program after-school to 90 Georgia youth (3 classes).
- The Board of Regents College Access Challenge Grant leadership committee awards ODB partial funding for a pilot project serving an additional 75 youth in 2013. One class each in Macon, Atlanta and Columbus.
- Partnership solidifies with Boys and Girls Club GA Alliance; presents and partners with Alliance for the annual Teen Summit (over 400 teens).
- 5 classes graduate thus far (3 Atlanta, 1 Macon, and 1Columbus) with high percentage of seniors achieving high school education and many onto college.
Advocacy and local community partners help grads with part time employment and pursuit of postsecondary education.
- Financial audit.
- Conversations begin with United Way and The Community Foundation of Atlanta; both highlighted in the 3-year strategic plan, and both have eligibility requirements; 3 years in business and audited financials.
- More than 1,000 youth in foster care receive orientation to the ODB coaching and the “7 Rules for the Road” by year-end.
- State of Georgia recognizes success of 2011 and 2012 classes graduated with award of partial funding to deliver the program to another 75 youth in 2013 (3 classes). By year-end 2013, over 300 of Georgia’s at-risk youth will have participated in the ODB’s 12-week Coaching Program…300 in less than 2 years!
- Board of Regents College Access Leadership team invites ODB to join.
- 6 classes (150 youth) scheduled for 2013: 3 with CACG, 3 with TANF. Partial funding for each class; class locations: Macon (3 Classes), Atlanta (2 classes), Marietta (1 Class)
- Bibb County school district: 2 classes — 1 homeless teens; 1 high-poverty teens.
- Bibb County Superintendent requests ODB to present at school district Board meeting.
- ODB begins developing Strategic Plan to help homeless teens gain access and additional support for postsecondary; began work with GA DOE homeless liaison; State Director, Dr. Charles Barker.
- KSU identified as a leader for this Strategic Initiative to help homeless teens.
- Partnership solidifies with Carrie Steele-Pitts home for United Way grant, CCC – Coaching for College Completion; awarded funding from UW.
- ODB meets with Katie Jo Ballard, Educational Advisor to the Governor, to request funding. Two proposals under review.
- Bibb County DJJ requests a proposal from ODB for 2 classes of 20 youth each to provide coaching for young adults who are felons.
- Alabama DYS requests 2 classes for incarcerated youth at Mt. Meigs, Alabama — October 2013 and February 2014.
- Board of Regents CACG awards ODB partial support for 3 additional classes in 2014.
- Columbia University graduate film students create multi-media experience based on ODB and Board member Lydia Joyner’s story. “My Sky is Falling” performed in New York City before members of the United Nations, business and world community leaders; MIT partners with technology to measures participants’ emotions; written up in Wired.
- “My Orange Duffel Bag” wins the Arlene Eisenberg Writing that Makes a Difference award from the American Society of Journalists & Authors, awarded every three years to the book that’s made the biggest difference in people’s lives.
- ODB continues partnerships with Georgia Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs and Camp to Belong Georgia.
- Parade confirms a feature article about ODB, its programs and graduates who are youth in foster care.
- Sam Bracken accepts invitation to keynote Kennesaw State University’s Founders Week – 50th Anniversary Celebration of KSU. Coach Bill Curry, who coached Bracken at Georgia Tech, to attend — significant media attention expected. ODB to be featured as a Partner and Charity of Choice for KSU’s “Homeless Awareness Week.”
- 2013 National Pathways to Adulthood conference in Baltimore, MD: ODB presents outcomes and evaluations, and how creating community partnerships can achieve collective impact!
- ODB Grads Dedrick Leonard, Joshua Washington and Maggie Magness, Mike Daly and Diana Black present student outcomes and ODB program evaluations. Anthony Reeves from Georgia’s Georgia Youth Opportunity Initiative (GYOI) presents Jim Casey’s Youth Opportunities Adolescent Brain Research and the work of Georgia’s strategic partners representing GYOI.
- 1st Annual ODB Golf Classic fundraising event at The Governor’s Towne Club, Acworth, Georgia
- Coaching to College Completion Pilot Program (CCC) is launched in partnership with Georgia State University, Atlanta Tech, United Way, Carrie Steele Pitts Home, and Governor’s Office for Children and Families
- Comcast and ODB Volunteer Ginger Schlanger create ODB’s first Public Service Announcement video to be aired on Comcast owned cable channels throughout Jan. 2014.
- RocketHub crowd funding campaign launched: Create global awareness and goal to raise $30,000 to support ODB’s 2014 after school coaching classes, laptops, meals, and scholarships
- 2013 National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth National Conference in Atlanta, GA : ODB presents outcomes and evaluations, and how creating community partnerships can achieve collective impact!
- Presenters: Diana Black (ODB), Mike Daly (ODB), Marcy Stidum (Kennesaw State University) , Dr. Lana Wachniak (Kennesaw State University), Dr. Thea Moore (Fort Valley State University) and Keri Rowe, Bibb County Homeless Liaison Program Manager.
- ODB is selected as a recipient of the Rollins School of Public Health and the Goizueta Business School at Emory University’s 2014 Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award, which honors organizations and individuals working to correct injustices in society.
- ODB is featured in the Dec. 15, 2013, issue of PARADE.