Annual Report FY 2023

Leadership Message – July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023

The mission of Georgia Appleseed is clear: through legal advocacy and policy change, we keep the state’s most marginalized children in school, in stable, healthy housing, and out of the juvenile justice system. Our work impacts Georgia’s families of today, but also generations to come, ultimately breaking intergenerational cycles of incarceration and poverty. And in protecting the state’s most vulnerable children, we also advocate for systemic change that improves opportunity for all of Georgia’s children.

How we choose our strategies to accomplish this mission, however, may not always be as clear to others. In this annual report, we share how we harness the power of data to steer our strategies and achieve the greatest impact.

Data-based decision-making was one of our founding values nearly twenty years ago and it remains fundamental today. During the 2023 legislative session, data led us to create and advocate for Georgia Senate Bill 169. Currently, expelled and suspended kids often miss weeks of instruction as they wait for their schools to schedule a tribunal to determine whether the child indeed violated a school rule. The data shows:

  • Learning loss. The 216 students served by Georgia Appleseed’s School Justice initiative averaged 18 days out of school (sometimes as many as 55 days) before their school disciplinary hearings. Almost none of these children received instructional materials during that period.
  • Increased drop-out rates. A Georgia Department of Education study found that for students in grades 8-10, missing just 11-14 days of instruction in a school year decreased their odds of graduating by more than 25%.
  • Economic costs. School suspensions cost the U.S. more than $35 billion in economic costs, over $11 billion in fiscal costs, and $24 billion in additional social costs. Lowering the suspension rate by just 1% could lead to more than $2.2 billion in social benefit nationwide. (UCLA)

Equipped with this data and first-hand experience with our FAIR project kids, we drafted and pushed for a revision of the Public School Disciplinary Tribunal Act to require timely disciplinary hearings (and limit rescheduling) and provide course materials to students waiting for disciplinary proceedings. SB 169 passed the Senate unanimously, but stalled in the House.

We look forward to re-introducing the bill in the 2024 General Assembly and seeing it through to become law. And then the real work begins of working with and supporting schools to meet the new requirements.

For us, data is not just a set of numbers; it’s a living, breathing force for positive change. We hope this report shows how data supports our work and demonstrates the exceptional returns on your investment in us as we continue our journey towards a world of practical, equitable solutions.