Doing Good: The Study Hall motivates youth, combats hunger


As schools close for summer break, camps will be filled with kids who will explore, play and learn, In Peoplestown, a neighborhood in Downtown Atlanta, about 60 students will attend The Study Hall’s Camp Exploration, a summer camp program serving kindergarten thrugh 5th grade students in the community.

This year, the theme is “We Rise with STEAM,” focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The children will participate in activities such as field trips to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Rock Eagle Environmental Education Center, Zoo Atlanta and other destinations. The program will also include coding classes, swimming lessons and tutoring.

“Our goal is to provide a safe, supervised environment after school and during the summer for children while their parents can focus on meeting their own work and school obligations,” said Jacquetta Watkins, executive director.

The Study Hall also combats a local community challenge for parents - a lack of local full-service grocery stores that hinders their ability to provide healthy foods for their children. In response, The Study Hall provides each child with healthy meals and snacks and a hot dinner. During summer camp, the children receive two meals and two snacks daily. Approximately 95 percent of participating children qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at school.

“As part of our health and wellness program, the children also participate in our community vegetable garden. We believe that it is important for the children to learn about the importance of fresh, nutritious foods,” said Watkins.

Throughout the year, the local nonprofit provides an educational and enrichment curriculum that equips children to achieve sustained personal and academic success.

During the school year, scholars are transported from five different Atlanta Public Elementary Schools to the campus where they receive a nutritious snack followed by homework support, tutorial lessons and enrichment activities followed by a nutritious hot dinner before being transported home.

To give back to The Study Hall, the nonprofit offers a wide variety of volunteering opportunities including classroom assistant, kitchen support, gardening, facility maintenance, fundraising, marketing and more.

Founded in 1990, The Study Hall’s after-school and summer programs are designed to meet the Georgia Common Core standards in education and reinforce the lessons provided by Atlanta Public Schools. It serves approximately 150 children annually.

In other news: HomeGrown Restaurant Concepts hosted its sixth annual Morningside Mile Race and Block Party on April 17 and donated $11,000 to Virginia Highland Firehouse 19. Located in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood, Fire Station 19 has been a city landmark for more than 90 years and is Atlanta's oldest operating fire house. Since its inception in 2003, HomeGrown Charities, the charitable arm of HomeGrown Restaurant Concepts, has raised more than $275,000 to benefit local nonprofits and more than $100,000 for station 19 alone through annual events such as Breakfast with Santa and Morningside Mile.