The Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network’s Afterschool Community Champions program plays a key role in GSAN’s mission to advance, connect, and support quality out-of-school time programs to promote the success of youth throughout Georgia. Champions are a select group of Georgia leaders who commit to a year of civic engagement to strengthen community awareness, support effective programs, and bring diverse perspectives and partners to the table around out-of-school time programming.
The program provides regular offerings for professional development, leadership, and networking. During their participation, Champions develop an advocacy action plan, followed by the implementation of advocacy events with the support of a stipend. Champions also receive complimentary registration to the 2024 Georgia Afterschool & Youth Development Conference. Now more than ever, we need advocates to support programs that are serving the needs of youth, families, and their community.
Frequently Asked Questions
Champions have been chosen for 2023-24. Applications for the 2024–25 cohort will open in summer 2024. You can see the most recent application HERE. Applicants must fully complete and submit the application by the deadline. Follow-up calls are held with the strongest applicants.
In 2023, 8 out of 41 applicants were selected. In 2022, 7 out of 64 applicants were chosen. The program is purposely kept small to allow for in-depth interaction with and support to each Champion.
Champions are expected to fully participate in the program, including engaging in the following activities:
Attend the two-day kick-off advocacy training on September 21-22, 2023.
Spend 2-3 hours per month on Champion-related activities committed to advocating for out-of-school time programs and the young people they serve. Champions select an advocacy goal for the year, work on that goal, and give a presentation on progress toward that goal on the final monthly call (May 9, 2024).
Attend, participate, and perform assigned duties as an ambassador in Afterschool Day at the Capitol (February 14, 2024),
Participate in at least 75% of monthly professional development calls on the following dates. Calls are from 10-11:30 a.m.:
October 5, 2023
November 9, 2023
December 14, 2023
January 11, 2024
February 22, 2024
March 14, 2023
April 11, 2024
May 9, 2024
Champions will connect with leaders and stakeholders who care deeply about the lives of children in our state. Throughout the year, there will be opportunities to develop an advocacy action plan, followed by the implementation of advocacy events with the support of a stipend. Champions also receive complimentary registration to the 2024 Georgia Afterschool & Youth Development conference. Champions will receive monthly professional development, networking opportunities, the chance to work with GSAN on programs and initiatives, and eligibility to become part of the Afterschool Community Champions Alumni Network. At the end of a year, Champions will be better informed, more skillful advocates for sound public policy around afterschool and summer programming.
Become an Afterschool Community Champion
Please review the program calendar below. Please see the first Frequently Asked Question above for information on how and when to apply.
Afterschool Champions Alumni Network
GSAN is forming an Afterschool Community Champions Alumni Network. All former Champions going back to 2018 can participate. Members will determine specific focus areas for the Alumni Network. Broad goals of the network encompass the following: Provide opportunities for peer support, exchange, advocacy, training, networking, professional development, leadership development, peer support (giving or receiving), exposure to peer efforts and programs, interaction with policymakers, broadened perspectives, and identifying opportunities.
GSAN will support the alumni network through facilitating communications; identifying networking, mentoring, and professional development opportunities; providing a staff liaison; and seeking funding to underwrite network activities such as meetings, presentations, trainings, travel, materials, and conference registration/participation.
Watch this space for future developments and updates on the Alumni Network.
2023 - 2024 Afterschool Community Champions Class
Manager of Grants and Sponsorships
767 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30307
Since moving to Atlanta five years ago, I have worked to develop a career as a museum leader. Through many educational internships at art museums both locally and across the globe, I have developed a strong passion for sharing my love of art, culture, and, more broadly, learning with the community. I turned this passion into a career at LaAmistad, Inc., first as an afterschool facilitator and then as a grant writer. After earning my master’s in museum studies, I moved to Fernbank Museum of Natural History, where I currently work as a Manager of Grants and Sponsorships.
Director of Development
505 10th Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
Amy Johns is the Director of Development at Horizons Atlanta, charged with leading the organization's advancement program to broaden Horizons Atlanta's development, outreach and stakeholder relations activities. Prior to joining Horizons, Amy worked at The Mount Vernon School and previously, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. Originally from Virginia, Amy earned her B.F.A. from the University of Tennessee and her M.A. in Nonprofit Arts Administration from SCAD, where she wrote her thesis on designing educational programs for art museums. Amy proudly serves on the Board of the Sarah Smith Education Foundation and the BOOST Advisory Council.
Co-Founder & President
225 Cherokee Road
Athens, GA 30683
Dr. Tawana S. Mattox is the Co-founder and President of Destined Inc. This 25-year-old program focuses on summer programming and year-round tutoring in reading. Recently, Dr. Mattox completed her term on the Clarke County School Board. She served over 20 years in higher education and is currently the Education Director at Athens Land Trust overseeing the Young Urban Builders Program and managing the nationally recognized Athens Energy Opportunity Project. Dr. Mattox earned her B.S. degree from the prestigious Morris Brown College; M.S. from Georgia State University; and Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. She currently resides in Athens, Georgia.
Girls Aiming Towards Positivity
4827 Old National Highway
College Park, GA 30337
Originally from San Diego, California, Shacole A. Pearman has focused her work on building communities and leaving a positive impact on youth throughout the Atlanta area. Shacole attended Clark Atlanta University where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications. During her career she has worked for several youth serving organizations. Currently Shacole works in Affordable housing and is the Executive Director of her own non-profit organization serving teenage girls called Girls Aiming Towards Positivity. Shacole has won several awards throughout her career including the Shining Star award from the Q Parker foundation. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and dancing.
U Create Macon
200 Third Avenue
Macon, GA 31204
Charise Stephens-Merriweather is a 30-year experienced servant leader working on various projects to serve youth in Georgia. She created U Create Macon in 2019 to expose youth to the benefits of the outdoors. The program is now award-winning and known across the nation. They are currently opening a one-stop shoe Innovation Campus to serve their various programs. Charise is the mom of two adult kids and happily married to her cycling partner Alex.
Founder & Executive Director
Girls Dig Deeper Initiative
1740 Rocky Creek Road, #20094
Macon, GA 31206
Najiva Timothee is a certified leadership coach, trainer, and mentor. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Girls Dig Deeper Initiative, a girls group mentoring and youth development program in Macon. She serves middle and high school youth in school settings, communities, as well as incarcerated youth. Najiva is CEO of The Consult Table, a leadership development coaching and training business serving small businesses, companies, and industries. From 2005-2020, Najiva served as an Executive Lead for Walgreens Corporation leading Retail and Pharmacy Operations. She specialized in leadership development and performance management. Najiva is a wife and a mother of four children. She is devoted to her family and enjoys the ocean, traveling, and reading.
Co-Founder & VP or Programs
275 Decatur Street
Atlanta, GA 30312
Ty Woods has dedicated over 20 years to youth development, beginning her career as an Afterschool Program instructor and theater performer. After five impactful years, she broadened her scope to include child abuse advocacy with the VI Domestic Violence Council. When she moved to Georgia, she quickly landed her first leadership role as Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club in Conyers. Fueled by a lifelong passion for the Arts and developing the "whole child," Ty co-founded Artportunity Knocks with her husband, Chris Woods, and a childhood friend. Ty serves as the organization's VP of Programs. A devoted wife and mother, Ty balances her advocacy work with family life.
Director of Education
Springer Opera House
State Theatre of Georgia
103 10th Street
Columbus, GA 31901
DB Woolbright is the Director of Education at the State Theatre of Georgia, the Springer Opera House. DB has gained diverse experience working in schools and theatres across the country as a teaching artist, director, and designer. In 2016, DB, along with his colleague Wesley Forlines, completed a sculptural installation along the BeltLine in Atlanta named The Service Station. As a musician, DB tours and records throughout the year with artists such as The Shelby Brothers, Garrett Lee, Colin Manskar, Katie Deal, and Might As Well Records. He also serves on the board of directors of Teen Advisors, Inc.
Afterschool Community Champions Alumni
President and Founder
214 10th St Ste A,
Columbus, GA 31901
Dean of Academics, Albany Technical College
1704 S Slappey Blvd,
Albany, GA 31701
Owner/Headmaster, H.E.R.O.’s Instillment Academy
431 Jefferies Ave,
Albany, GA 31701
Samantha Moore Valentine
Georgia Parent Advisory Council
Academic and Outreach Director, Los Niños Primero
471 Mount Vernon Highway NE,
Sandy Springs, GA 30328
Executive Director, Horizons Savannah
824 Stillwood Drive,
Savannah GA 31419
Charon K Prophet
CEO, Elevation of 5C’s of Prophet
Hogansville, GA 30230