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Project Upstream Empowers Homeless to Affect Policy Through Storytelling

Oct 21, 2021

Project Upstream is a new civic engagement program for members of The Church of the Common Ground, and it has graduated its first class of Fellows.

The cohort of eight who were already experts from their lived experience as homeless citizens – were equipped by Project Upstream to name and examine crucial issues that directly impact the homeless community in Atlanta.

The curriculum employs the art of storytelling to prepare the eight Project Upstream Fellows for their opportunity to address a panel of local officials with the power to make real policy changes to help Atlanta’s unhoused citizens.

The two months of weekly classes provided opportunities to wrestle with their truths and speak those truths to the powerful in our State Capitol. During their presentations, the fellows identified current policies that promote discrimination and accessibility issues faced daily by Atlanta’s homeless. Fellows prepared for their presentations by collecting data on issues using the tools of Participatory Action Research to become more civically engaged as they interviewed homeless residents throughout Atlanta.

The Project Upstream course is led by the Vicar of Common Ground, the Rev. Kim Jackson, and Shereetha Jackson, director of Community Engagement. The program was developed in partnership with Highlander Research and Education Center. To learn more about the future of Project Upstream, email Shereetha Jackson at