Former for-profit school makes philanthropy its mission

Catherine Chandler became an Atlanta Habitat for Humanity homeowner in 1999. Almost 20 years later, the grandmother of 10 and employee of Columbia Residential along with a team of volunteers set about the task of fixing up her home.

As part of the A Brush with Kindness program (ABWK), students and faculty from the Art Institute of Atlanta arrived with paint, ladders and tools at Chandler’s home in Glenrose Heights to give the house a fresh look and fix minor repairs.

ABWK is an exterior home preservation program that provides eligible homeowners with painting, landscaping and minor repair services to the exterior of their homes to make sure the homes remain safe and well-preserved.

The collaboration is part of The Art Institute of Atlanta’s “be the exception” initiative.

“The Art Institute of Atlanta now prides itself on being a nonprofit institution – and leaving an impact on our community – and the world – it is our driving point,” said AiA’s President Newton Myvett.

Founded in 1969, the Art Institute system of schools has struggled in recent years as for-profit institutions came under scrutiny. Enrollments declined, students who questioned the worth of their Art Institute degrees filed a lawsuit and as many as 15 schools were scheduled to close in 2015.

Last year, Dream Center Education Holdings, a philanthropic organization in Los Angeles with ties to a Pentecostal church, purchased AiA and 30 other AI schools.

Since then the school has engaged in a number of philanthropic initiatives and has created a range of programs to help prepare high school students for college.