Project Planning

Project Planning

Students and filmmaker/photographer Melissa Alexander get together to plan for their project, a short film for nonprofit First Step Staffing.

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Nonprofit Partner: First Step Staffing

FSS logo

Breaking the cycles of poverty

Founded in 2007 in Atlanta, First Step currently employs 1,000 individuals and is on a mission to provide a path out of homelessness through work experience. In less than 10 years, First Step has assisted more than 7,500 individuals with their first job assignment, providing the opportunity for the community to save more than $300 million. We give preference to those who have recently experienced homelessness; military veterans; and individuals who have been previously incarcerated; while providing specific training programs to support our employees and customers.

First Step is on a mission to provide a path out of homelessness.

We aim to employ those who struggle most to break their own cycles of poverty, giving preference to those who have recently experienced homelessness, military veterans, and individuals who have been previously incarcerated.

We’re working to secure sustainable income for individuals transitioning from homelessness. Steady and sustainable income is the only permanent, reliable path out of homelessness. And we help provide that sustainable income by helping local businesses succeed.

What makes us unique?

We provide transportation to job sites, safety equipment, tools, and stable housing. We also operate a wage incentive plan, rewarding employees who consistently show up on time and prepared.

Learn more here:

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Nonprofit Partner: G.E.E.A.R.S.

Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students


GEEARS is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization operating to inspire and provide leadership for a statewide movement on quality early learning and healthy development for all children ages birth through five. GEEARS was established in 2010 to help business, civic and government leaders maximize the economic return on the state’s investments in early care and learning.

Early education benefits children, their families and their communities.

From improved outcomes to economic savings for states and communities, the benefits of high-quality early learning are irrefutable.

Georgia’s children are falling below – or barely meeting – the basic standard in reading by the end of 3rd grade. On the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test, just 34 percent of 4th graders scored at or above proficient. According to a longitudinal study commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, children who cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Access to quality early education can help put these children on a path to success, which will have positive ramifications, not just for the children and their families, but for all Georgians.

GEEARS is focused on leading and convening powerful early childhood initiatives that create public awareness while sustaining positive change.

Initiatives led by GEEARS include First 2000 Days, Frontiers of Innovation, Mayor’s Summer Reading Club, Speaker Series and Rooted to Rise.

Learn more here:

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Nonprofit Partner: Second Helpings Atlanta

Nonprofit Partner: Second Helpings Atlanta

By Madelon Morford

For this social activism project, each student was tasked with coming up with a slogan that they felt represented and reflected the mission of their organization, Second Helpings Atlanta. The mission behind Second Helpings Atlanta is to “drive out hunger 1 mile at a time”. Their website states:

90 minutes a month, that’s how long it takes to pick up and deliver a car load of nutritious food to those in need. In December 2017 Second Helpings volunteers had rescued over 1.4 million meals for hungry people in Atlanta, increasing their meals 13% since 2016.

The three driving methods that Second Helpings focuses on for driving positive change are: 1. Communicate, Convene, Collaborate, 2. Advocate, 3. Research and Innovate. By educating, informing and mobilizing stakeholders, the volunteers are able to ensure that all Georgia families receive the economic, community, and health benefits that are important, especially during the prenatal stage of pregnancy and the first five years of a child’s life. Through advocacy, the organization works for effective policies that support high-quality learning and healthy development. All of this is done through the support of evidence-based practices and research.


Learn more:

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The Screenprinting Process

The Screenprinting Process


To begin, the artist applies a stencil to a piece of fabric stretched over a wooden frame. The stencil will then block all openings except the image area. A sheet of paper is placed under the screen a coat of ink is applied on the top. The artist pulls the ink across the screen with the squeegee, forcing the paint through the open areas and onto the paper below.

Screen Prep

Preparing the Screen

Screen printing requires multiple steps. Preparing the screen is the first step. To do this, the artist takes a fine mesh fabric, such as silk, polyester, or cotton and sizes it to the frame. Excess fabric is cut away, and the edges are taped to prevent ink from leaking on to the surface. The screen is now ready for an artist to apply the stencil. There are a couple different methods artists can use to get the stencil onto the screen. These options include the block-out transfer method, the photographic transfer method, or the cut stencil transfer method.


In this image, you can see that Baker is rinsing the screen with a high-pressure spray that washes away on exposed or soft image area from the stencil that was created. The finished screen is then ready to print with paint.

Applying paint

Printing the Image

After transferring the image onto the screen, the artist places the screen in a clamp inch to facilitate the printing process. The original design is directly positioned under the screen and the artist marks with tape the spot where the paper should be consistently placed.

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In a smooth movement, the artist pulls the ink across the surface of the screen with a squeegee, forcing the ink through the openings on the screen. This method allows the artist to use quick and repetitive motion. In between the strokes, the artist uses a backhanded stroke, call the ‘flood stroke’ to prevent the ink from drying out and blocking the imaging area of the screen. If an artist wants to use multiple colors they will utilize additional screens. After the print of the original image has been printed and the ink is dry, the artist positions this dried print under a second screen. The finished print would be the product of the two screens combined after the artist uses the colors of ink that they want and stretch it across the screen with the squeegee.


Partnering Artist: Jamaal Barber

The Second Helpings Atlanta Group chose to work with artist Jamaal Barber.

Jamaal Barber, printmaker

Jamaal Barber is a creative imaginative soul who was born in Virginia and raised in Littleton, North Carolina. At a young age he was fascinated by the aesthetic images and vivid illustrations in children’s books and comic books. He soon started creating images of his own on the back of his textbooks in elementary school and on any other material that he could find. He finally answered the call to become an artist after reading about the legacy and life of Romare Bearden in high school.


In 2013, after seeing a screen printing demo at a local art store, Jamaal started experimenting with printmaking and made it his primary focus. His fine art can be seen on display at the ZuCot Gallery. It has also been included in the Decatur Arts Festival, Atlanta Print Biennial Show and at various art shows around the Metro Atlanta area. Additionally, Jamaal has done print work for Black Art in America and Emory University.

In 2004, Jamaal moved to Atlanta, GA where he now resides with his wife and  two children.




Find Jamaal online at and on Instagram at @jbarberstudio. You can also purchase his artwork at his online shop.

Keep scrolling for a selection of his artwork.


Read more about the Second Helpings Atlanta project:

Partnering Artist: Tara Olayeye

Partnering Artist: Tara Olayeye

The G.E.E.A.R.S group paired with artist Tara Olayeye.


Tara Olayeye, taraola

Tara Olayeye (aka. taraola) is a content creator, filmmaker, and video editor who has a deep love for storytelling through the mode of video. She runs the youtube channel taraola where she posts expressive and colorful short films and videos. In Spring of 2017 she co-founded Emory University’s first and only female production group, FemmeFilms, whose first film Petals won a Jury Award and Silver Tripod award at Campus Movie Fest 2017 and is currently nominated for a National Golden Tripod Award.

Find her online at , on Instagram @taraolaa, and on Youtube at taraolaa.

View more of Tara’s work below.


Partnering Artist: Melissa Alexander

The First Step Staffing Group paired with artist Melissa Alexander, known online as phylis.iller.

Melissa Alexander, phylis.iller

personal_photo-4-1000x600Having parents from the North but being raised in the South, Melissa Alexander is the best of both worlds. “Son” drops from her mouth just as easily as “y’all” and she can kick it like Tribe but will attend a Player’s Ball with Outkast. She is mama to a daughter nicknamed lowercase g and takes her role as auntie just as seriously. Constant growth is her thing and she brings that out in her work.

phyllis.iller reel from phyllis.iller on Vimeo.

Read her interview with VoyageATL here.

Find Melissa Alexander online at, on Facebook at, and on Instagram @phyllis.iller.

View more examples of her work below.


Read more posts from the First Step Staffing group below:

Global Growers’ Final Project

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Global Growers is an independent nonprofit based in Atlanta, GA. They are dedicated to increasing the number of food producers, preparing farmers to be competitive in local marketplaces, and creating access to healthy and sustainably-grown food.

The Global Growers group worked with Ross Oscar Knight (Photographer) and Robin Chanin (Executive Director of Global Growers).

The Team:

Tsion Horra, Sougbin Yim, Gabriel Andrle, Sarah Loftus, Elaine Feng, Claire Richardson, Rebecca Upton, Killian Glenn