In Fulton County, social safety net relies on nonprofits

Credit: Jim Gaines

Credit: Jim Gaines

Social services grants will fund more than 167 nonprofit groups this year

If you need help, there’s a good chance Fulton County funds a nonprofit agency that provides the service you need.

On May 17, commissioners approved distributing nearly $8 million to 167 nonprofit groups this year under two annual grant programs that fund much of the county’s social services.

The organizations provide services for children, the disabled, homeless, seniors and veterans, including economic assistance and physical and mental health. For more information, visit

Leaders from more than two dozen of those agencies gathered Wednesday for a thank-you ceremony and continental breakfast at the Chattahoochee Nature Center’s Ben Brady Lakeside Pavilion.

Other Georgia counties provide “base-level” services but Fulton does more through public-private partnerships with nonprofit agencies, Commissioner Bob Ellis said.

“We’ve gone well beyond what our mandate is to do,” he said.

The Community Services Grant Program has become an important part of the county safety net, serving more than 900,000 Fulton residents since its beginning, said Pamela Roshell, county chief operating officer for Health, Human Services & Public Works.

“Your services prevent families from sliding further into poverty, further into despair,” she said.

Economic and social services, while valuable on their own, also impact people’s overall health, Roshell added.

Some elements of the Community Services grant program have existed for many years but its current form was created in 2016, Ellis said. Since then the county has distributed about $50 million, he said. The Veterans Services Program, launched last year, will this year receive $1 million for contracted services.

This year’s grant winners include Camp Kudzu, which provides programs for children with Type 1 diabetes and Clubhouse Atlanta, which offers people with mental illness structured days of work along with social programs and support.

U Hope CDC, which provides housing for adult male veterans, and Vision Warriors, a religious group that helps veterans who have substance abuse problems with housing, jobs and counseling were among the veterans’ services grant recipients.

The nature center itself is a major recipient of county funding. Ellis said the county has supported the nature center for years, and noted recent approval of about $750,000 for the center’s expansion and programs.

Commissioner Bridget Thorne said she hopes to further strengthen the grant program. Next year, the county-owned building at 4700 North Point Parkway will open as a multi-function health center, serving many seniors, she said.

Commissioners are discussing a matching center for south Fulton on Stonewall Tell Road, expected to cost $44 million.

The grant recipients were selected from many applicants through a competitive review, County Manager Dick Anderson said. Nonprofit agencies can reach residents that the county can’t on its own, he said.