Seasoned Veteran Brings 25 Years of Experience as Nonprofit Executive to Organization Dedicated to Transforming Lives of Homeless Families with Children in North Metro Atlanta
Duluth, Ga., October 24, 2019 – Cheryl Carter is never one to shy away from a challenge. From the moment her career as a nonprofit executive began 35 years ago, she’s found great success in not only tackling, but overcoming challenges. From her role as Development Director for Friends of Zoo Atlanta paving the way for the raising of $25M to transition the zoo to natural habitats to launching her own company – Strategic Solutions – to aid destinations like the Tennessee Aquarium and Creative Discovery Museum, her journey to Rainbow Village almost seems written in the stars. Particularly for the time in her life when she found herself a divorced single mother of four – struggling to get by. At that time, she pledged to use her skills to help single moms and – in her new role as Success Team Leader at Rainbow Village, where many residents are single moms who recently faced homelessness – she’ll get to do just that.
With a reputation for being a change agent who isn’t afraid to dig in and do the hard work, Carter’s colorful resume also includes stints at the YMCA and Family Promise of Gwinnett. During her time at Family Promise, she became keenly aware of the issue of homelessness throughout Gwinnett County. Feeling the need to prepare the families for sustainable success, she was instrumental in retooling the organization’s aftercare program. It is here that she really began collecting data, researching empowerment methods and applying self-sufficiency metrics to her strategies. The data she collected was invaluable to learning what worked and what needed to change. She quickly discovered that “measuring the extent of homelessness is essential to combating it”.
“In moving families from homelessness to housing, you need to be intentional about your purpose and the desired outcomes,” said Carter. “With many facing systemic issues, it’s vital to change their thinking and provide them with learning experiences rather than ‘things.’ Most importantly, “we have to create interventions that allow individual participants to exercise choice in their approach to skill building and goals completion”. It’s vital that we meet them where they are and empower them to attain three main goals: to earn a living wage, build their credit and pay off debt. Beyond employment, career management and financial coaching , we also need to address other barriers to housing such as the lack of strong social support networks, physical and mental health and family well-being.
In her new role as Success Team Leader, Carter will be responsible for directing and managing Rainbow Village’s Success Coaches – who move families along the continuum towards self-sufficiency. She insists that – since Rainbow Village addresses the needs of the whole family – it’s critical to move every member of the family along the continuum simultaneously. Carter also has oversight of the youth afterschool program – where she intends to create connections between the students, parents and the school. Lastly, Carter is excited to tackle alumni programming – to collect data and measure results from former Rainbow Village residents in hopes of developing a more robust alumni program in the near future.
“I’ve never had resources and support before like I’m experiencing at Rainbow Village,” said Carter. “I’m no longer a ‘Lone Ranger.’ I’m part of a team dedicated to seeing that every graduate is prepared to successfully transition from this program and into market rate housing. I love that the Rainbow Village team also strives to ensure that when families are employed, it’s not just a job, but a career with room for growth. Earning a living wage is a vital part of breaking the cycle of homelessness and paving the way to a promising future. We want to help the families we serve see beyond the challenges and view the possibilities. When they embrace their ability to transform possibilities into realities, that’s a very important first step in the right direction.”
Carter is happily married with a supportive husband, a wonderful mother who lives nearby and four daughters – one of whom is an Advertising Executive in Manhattan, two in college at Elon University and one at home who loves to play soccer. She considers her family to be her greatest blessing.
About Rainbow Village: Established in 1991 and based in Duluth, Georgia, Rainbow Village is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization devoted to breaking the cycles of homelessness, poverty and domestic violence. Committed to serving as a “community of transformation”, Rainbow Village applies a holistic, two-generational approach to serving homeless families with children. With the goal of helping families achieve emotional stability and financial independence, Rainbow Village provides housing, early childhood education and after-school care, child and youth programming, financial planning, career counseling, workforce readiness, mental health counseling, community events and more. Rainbow Village accepts applications from homeless families with minor children throughout Georgia. To learn more about Rainbow Village, register as a volunteer or make a donation, visit www.rainbowvillage.org.