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Report: Region volunteering, not voting
Civic health report finds metro Atlanta a mixed bag in civic engagement
Alicia-Philipp-president-of-Community-Foundation-for-Greater-Atl-at-Conyers-Rotary-IMG 7455
Alicia Philipp, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta - photo by Michelle Kim

Metro-Atlanta, including Rockdale and Newton counties, does well when it comes to volunteering or charitable donations and participating in school and sports groups, but civic health is lagging when it comes to political participation or social connectedness within the geographic area, according to a report from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.

Alicia Philipp, president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, spoke to the Conyers Rotary Club Thursday and challenged the members to think back. "How many of you can remember doing a favor for one of your neighbors, or the last time you signed a petition?" she asked.

To take a pulse on the area's civic health, in 2012, the Foundation partnered with 20 states and four cities in producing a national survey of civic health. For the metro Atlanta region, the Foundation looked at volunteering, group participation, social connectedness, electoral participation and political action.

The survey found Atlanta ranked an impressive 6th in volunteer participation compared with 51 other metropolitan areas in the country for having 28 percent report informal or formal volunteer participation. The survey also found at least half of metro Atlanta residents, as well as half of Georgia's residents, donate $25 or more to charitable causes.

"We've got to make sure in everything we do, we're educating the next generation in philanthropy," said Phillipp.
Metro Atlanta also has a healthy rate of group participation, 41 percent, ranking 5th out of 51 in school group participation and 11th out of 51 in sports group participation. However, many are not serving in leadership positions in those groups, Phillipp reported. Metro Atlanta ranks 35 out 51 for that category.

In social connectedness, metro Atlantans lagged compared to other metro areas. It ranked 36th out of 51 for eating dinner with household members; about 87 percent. Outside the home, less than half talk to their neighbors and even fewer, about 13 percent, have done a favor for a neighbor.

They survey found an even wider gap in political engagement. While metro Atlanta ranks 9th in the people expressing opinions on the internet, it ranked 34th out of 51 areas in people actually going to the ballot box and voting in local elections. The survey found about 31 percent vote in local elections, and 10 percent express political or community opinions on the internet. About 13 percent contact public officials.

The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, which covers 23 metro Atlanta counties and 5.5 million residents, administers and guide philanthropic funds, gives grants - 5,500 grants totaling $131 million in 2013 alone, works on strengthening nonprofits, practicing and teaching organizational excellence, and advancing the public will on issues, according to Phillip.

Some of the $680,000 in 79 grants given in Rockdale include grants to Rockdale Emergency Relief (about $198,000 since 1998) and Conyers Rockdale Council for the Arts (about $198,000 since 2000).

For more information, go to . For a copy of the report, go to


In other Conyers Rotary business:

Interact Club students Nichole McIntosh of Rockdale County High School and Teju Faminu of Heritage High, were named the winners of the $500 Interact Club scholarship.

McIntosh, the daughter of father Terry McIntosh and mother Areida Wyatt, is heading to Spelman to study child psychology.

Faminu, the HHS valedictorian and daughter of Ade and Ife Faminu, is heading to Georgia Tech to study computer engineering.