Making an Impact: Donor Support Enhances the Student Experience

Donor gifts and foundation and government grants awarded to the Utopian Academy for the Arts Charter School Network are making a significant impact in teaching and learning. 

The funds raised have helped UAFA to enhance its academic and arts programs district wide. Now UAFA students have greater access to creative spaces and tools of the trade to use as they study theatre, dance, film, journalism, coding, art, animation, and music performance and production.  

UAFA secured more than $600,000 in grants and contributions from benefactors during the 2022-23 school year thanks to the benevolence The Goizueta Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, The Zeist Foundation, Netflix, and our loyal Giving Tuesday donors. 

Leading the fundraising efforts, Elisha Byers, UAFA’s Director of Strategic Initiatives said securing more resources is imperative for the network’s strategic growth. Byers organizes UAFA’s annual fundraising campaigns and assists in grantwriting for the district. 

“Utopian Academy for the Arts has received generous support from our parents, our Partners in Education, and our friends in the business, entertainment, and philanthropic communities this academic year,” she said. “We are appreciative of the monetary and in-kind donations. We hope our loyal donors will continue to invest in Utopian Academy and its outstanding students, as well as partners with us as we seek new benefactors nationally and within the communities that our growing footprint will serve.” 

Here’s how donor gifts have impacted the student experience at UAFA in 2022-23:   

The Linda Faye Stevenson Black Box Theatre: Utopian Academy for the Art’s professional stage for showcasing the arts was funded by $175,000 in contributions from supportive families and generous friends and benefactors. In its first year open to students, the theatre hosted the annual school musical plus more than 150 classes, concerts, dance recitals, academic ceremonies, art exhibits, screenings, and other performances. The theatre, which seats 220 people, was built in a multi-purpose room near the elementary and middle school cafeterias. The space was transformed with floor-to-ceiling black curtains, theatrical lights, a 24-foot stage, and a professional sound system. The construction of the Black Box Theatre was made possible by gifts from AEI Painting Contractors, The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation, Elizabeth Baptist Church/Reach 100, The Society Incorporated, Perkins & Will Architect Firm, The Kelin Foundation, and Giving Tuesday 2021 donors. 

Laptops for Rising Stars: UAFA freshman Diamond Sanders was awarded with an Apple laptop for her outstanding work as a film production student. Sanders also has served as light and sound manager for numerous productions at the Linda Faye Stevenson Black Box Theatre throughout the year. The laptop was contributed by Jenkins & Roberts LLC, a College Park law firm in business for more than 35 years. 

Donations and Grants from Private Foundations: In addition to the financial gifts, the Utopian Academy for the Arts was provided with hands-on learning opportunities and/or other support:

from our friends at The Ludacris Foundation/Microsoft, the Atlanta University Arts Collective, the Atlanta Music Project, Fine Arts & Crafts Entrepreneurs, Dicks Sporting Goods, Lake Spivey Golf Club, Morehouse College, and the Atlanta University Center. Unity Technology, The Zeist Foundation, Morehouse Lab School AUC Arts Collective and Lake Spivery Golf Club.

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