5 years of Groundbreakers: What our alums are doing now

For the fifth anniversary of our Atlanta Magazine Groundbreaker Awards, we gathered updates from some of our past Groundbreakers honorees

2015: Smart Growth
Founder Chris Appleton and his team have kicked off the EnRoute program, a public art project that explores issues of access, mobility and public transportation. Four murals are planned at MARTA stations along the north-south and east-west rail lines. The first, by artist Fahamu Pecou, was completed at King Memorial station this summer.

PATH 400
The 5.2-mile Greenway Trail part of Buckhead’s Trails and Greenways remains under construction, with about half of the project completed, including the first contiguous mile from Lenox Road to Wieuca. Initial agreements are now in place to connect the path to the Lenox MARTA station, and to extend it almost thee additional miles into Sandy Springs.

Avalon, a mixed-use development in Alpharetta, has completed Phase I and will reveal its next phase in the spring of 2017. A bike share station was recently installed for guests. And in the last year, they’ve witnessed 12 marriage proposals take place on the grounds.

The City of Decatur
Decatur has officially gone green with a new High Performance Building standard that went into effect last November. Under this new standard, all buildings are required to obtain a green building certification, which more than 50 single-family houses and townhomes and four apartment buildings have already earned. The city has also undertaken several large-scale projects to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists, including a crosswalk facelift coming this fall.

Atlanta BeltLine Lantern Parade

Photograph by Steve Eberhardt

Chantelle Rytter
In addition to the BeltLine Lantern Parade, for which the city expects 60,000 attendees this year, Rytter has launched lantern parades in Grant Park, Decatur, and this year Sandy Springs. In June, the inaugural event, themed “Take it to the River,” featured floating lanterns on the Chattahoochee.

Jeremy Dahl, aka Machete Man
Since last fall, Dahl has been hard at work at the Fernbank Museum, clearing out the invasive plants from the 65-ace Fernbank Forest. He and his four apprentices also have continued their woodpecker conservation work and have begun a training program for local teachers who want to teach students how to collect their own scientific data.

Other 2015 finalists: Paces Properties, the Imperial Hotel, Clark Howard and Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, SCADpad, MARTA CEO Keith Parker

2014: Education
The arts education arm of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre served more than 43,000 students and teachers during their 2015-16 season. They’ve also added three new initiatives: the Family Performances Series of popular children’s programs, a performing and visual arts college fair, and and a Director’s Bootcamp for fine-arts educators.

Fugees Academy

Photograph by Dustin Chambers

Fugees Academy
Last May, the Academy celebrated a milestone: its first graduating class of three seniors, Babba, Ogbai, and Ganaro. Thanks to support from the Drexel Fund and the Logan Family Foundation, Fugees Academy is exploring how to replicate their model and build a national network of schools serving refugee children.

Rollins Center for Language and Literacy
Since 2014, the Rollins Center has launched the Cox Campus, a free online teacher-training site that has so far benefitted more than 11,000 educators across Georgia and beyond. With grants from the Kellogg Foundation, the Belk Foundation and others, the center is also training more than 200 elementary school teachers in Atlanta Public Schools, with a focus on building young students’ language and critical thinking skills, vocabulary, and world knowledge.

Enrollment has increased by more than 23 percent since we last heard from Odyssey, a six-week summer program held on the campus of The Westminster Schools. Odyssey is strengthening the academic rigor of the program by hiring new teachers and incorporating a STEAM curriculum—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math—at all grade levels. They have also launched Odyssey Career Quest for seniors, partnering with executives at several of Atlanta’s leading corporations to give students the opportunity to participate in boardroom discussions.

Other 2014 finalists: The Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Emory and Georgia Tech’s Biomedical Engineering Program, IS3D Educational Software, Midtown Buzz, READing Paws, VOX Teen Communications

2013: Health and Wellness

Georgia Organics Farm to School Program

Photograph by Ben Rollins

Georgia Organics Farm to School Program
More than 50 school districts across the state—including nearly every district in metro Atlanta—now participate in this program, whether by creating school gardens, serving local produce in the cafeteria, or incorporating garden-based lessons into the curriculum. Last April, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Burke County, where she commended the state’s farm-to-school efforts and planted a school garden.

Northside Hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant Program
Northside’s program has continued to improve survival rates for transplants in which the donor is not a total match, and their approach has been adopted by many hospitals around the world. Today almost half of the transplant patients at the Northside receive bone marrow from a donor who is just a 50 percent match.

Indego Shepherd Center
In the past three years, Indego, a robotic device that allows people with paraplegia and mobility limitations to stand and walk, received CE Mark, the European approval for medical devices. And in late 2015, just before they earned FDA approval for rehabilitation and personal use in the U.S., the VA also announced that they will cover Indego for veterans who qualify.

Other 2013 finalists: Cancer Wellness, DETECT, Neurotrack, the Proctor Creek Project Partnership, Spelman College’s Wellness Revolution, C.J. and Kelli Stewart and L.E.A.D., the TEDDY Study

2012: Big Ideas
Atlanta BeltLine
Since 2012—the year the BeltLine opened to the public—construction has commenced on the Westside Trail and the Eastside Trail extension, a Streetcar System Plan has been adopted by City Council, and work has been completed on the Southwest Connector Spur Trail, the Gateway Trail, and a skate park at Arthur Langford Park. Next year, Atlantans can expect to stroll the newly completed Westside Trail for the first time.

Rosalyn Carter and the Carter Center Mental Health Program
The Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, which help journalists accurately report on mental health issues, have expanded to Colombia, the UAE, and Qatar. And as part of a three-year project in Liberia, the program worked alongside the country’s government to create a corps of 166 locally-trained mental health clinicians, whose work was particularly critical during the Ebola crisis.

Enterprise Innovation Institute
EI2, Georgia Tech’s development incubator for startups and entrepreneurs, welcomed its first corporate innovation center, Panasonic Automotive Systems, to Tech Square in 2012, and has since partnered with nearly a dozen other firms including Delta Air Lines, the Home Depot, AT&T, and Southern Company. In May, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the Institute will continue to operate the Minority Business Development Agency-Business Center Atlanta, with a five-year grant totaling nearly $1.5 million.

Harriet Robinson

Photograph by Gregory Miller

Harriet Robinson and GeoVax
Dr. Robinson, GeoVax’s chief scientific officer, continues to work on the HIV/AIDS vaccine that earned her a spot on our inaugural Groundbreakers awards. Her work, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health, is projected to enter two additional human trials in in fall 2016 and fall 2017. GeoVax has also broadened its research and development efforts to include an Ebola vaccine, and most recently a Zika vaccine.

Children’s Healthcare Strong4Life Program
Since 2012, the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life Program has remained committed to reversing Georgia’s childhood obesity epidemic. To date, CHOA has reached nearly 1 million children and families. In 2016, Strong4Life is focused on helping new parents through a major advertising campaign targeting millennial moms and dads.

EUE/Screen Gems
In July 2015, Governor Deal appointed Kris Bagwell, executive vice president at EUE/Screen Gems Studios Atlanta, to the Georgia Film Music and Digital Entertainment Advisory Commission. Bagwell also continues to serve as the chairperson and founder of the Georgia Studio Alliance. The studio is getting a new 20,000-square-foot lighting and grip facility along with a new partnership with MBS Equipment Company.

Other 2012 finalists: Ponce City Market, arts patron Louis Corrigan, GATSBII and the Georgia Tech Human Factors and Aging Laboratory, Georgia State University, K. Rashid Nuri and Truly Living Well