The Importance of Giving Back

Posted by Ne[x]t on 09.18.15

Often times in our day-to-day lives, we get too caught up in what we can do for ourselves. What new pair of shoes can I buy? Can I get a bigger TV? What kind of fun am I going to have this weekend? It’s not always a bad thing. But what if, just some of the time, we started thinking about what we can do for others? Our mission here is to help you step up and be what’s next and one pillar that guides us is “I will help others.” Helping others and giving back not only strengthens communities and makes us feel better, it can also help on college applications, scholarships and resumes.

We’ve heard from many of you about how you’ve been volunteering this summer including Ne[x]t members, Jessica Stephens, a sophomore at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia and Shakori Fletcher, a What’s Ne[x]t Scholarship winner and Junior at Elon University. We asked them about their volunteering experiences and what they’ve gained through serving the community.

Ne[x]t: Why is giving back to the community important to you?


Jessica Stephens

Shakori: Giving back to the community is so important to me because there is nothing more fulfilling than brightening someone’s day. I really enjoy being a part of a cause bigger than myself because it reminds me of what is truly important – and that’s using what you have, what you know, or what you can do to benefit others.

Jessica: One of the things I love most about some of the community service projects I’ve participated in is seeing the joy it brings to the people that are affected. You will never forget the experience of changing someone’s life by taking the time to utilize your skills for a greater good. What makes it even better, is that these are people who we work with, live with and see on a daily basis in the community. While a project sometimes only lasts a few hours, the impact of what we accomplished will last a lifetime for those we serve.

Ne[x]t: How does it make you feel after you’ve volunteered or completed a community project?

Jessica: After volunteering at several blood drives and actually giving blood a couple of times, I realized how it benefited people in need. What a great reward it was for me knowing that I gave blood that saved the life of another person.

Shakori: When I’ve completed a community project, I feel like I’ve gained so much perspective. I have a greater understanding of either someone else’s view, or how a certain idea fits within a larger scope. I truly believe that each service project you are a part of uniquely teaches you something new about yourself, so I really enjoy the moment of self-realization that occurs after the completion of a new project.

Ne[x]t: For those who may be looking to start volunteering for the first time, where would you recommend they start?


Shakori Fletcher

Shakori: For someone looking to start volunteering for the first time, I would recommend that he or she look for opportunities within areas that they are inherently passionate about. When you connect your passions to your volunteerism, you are automatically that much more engaged, enthused, and resourceful.

Last fall, I created a public speaking class for an after-school program for middle to high school age girls, and I now work with them each week on public speaking and overall presentation skills. I’ve always loved public speaking, so when I was able to create this program, it became an opportunity for me to not only learn more about something I’m passionate about, but to help others to find their sources of passion as well.

Jessica: I would say to let people know that you want to volunteer. Mention it first to a parent and then to family and friends. By letting people know that I was interested, I was presented an opportunity to volunteer at a recent event. Local newspapers also have many opportunities for people to get involved in their communities.

Ne[x]t: Whether it’s a monetary donation or offering up your time, giving back to your community is a rewarding experience. No matter how you do it, giving back will touch many people’s lives. Here are some examples of the causes and organizations that Georgia’s Own Credit Union is proud to support and we encourage you to see how you can get involved in any of them:

  • Action Ministries
  • The Brian Jordan Foundation
  • Children’s Miracle Network
  • Junior Achievement
  • L.E.A.D.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • United Way

You can also find organizations near your local branch by visiting

Entrepreneur Will Peterson of Otter’s Chicken

Posted by Ne[x]t on 07.04.14

“If the Colonel had our chicken, he’d be a General by now.” That’s the slogan at one of Cobb County’s recently named Top 25 Small Businesses, Otter’s Chicken. If you’ve ever been in Marietta, Georgia and driven by Otter’s Chicken at The West Cobb Avenue without stopping, you’ve been missing out on some great food.

Otter’s, as it’s called by the locals, is a family-friendly, sports-themed restaurant specializing in freshly prepared (not frozen) chicken tenders served in a variety of ways. Owner Will Peterson, a Cobb County native, recently sat down with us to chat about Otter’s, how he got started in the restaurant business and his overall entrepreneurial spirit.

i[x]: Tell us a little about yourself

WP: I grew up in Marietta where I attended McEachern High School. I went on to college at Shorter University in Rome, GA, where I obtained a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

i[x] When and where was the Otter’s franchise founded?

WP: Otter’s Chicken was founded in Nashville, Tennessee by Talbott and Stuart Ottinger, Steve Logan and Charlie Fitzgerald. The first Otter’s restaurant opened in 2003, and ultimately, the concept was expanded to include locations in three states. Peterson Foods opened its first restaurant in June of 2010.

i[x] How and when did you come to own Otter’s?

WP: I was looking at several different chicken concepts and got a recommendation from Rob Shuler (Former Auburn Football player who blocked for Bo Jackson) to come check out the Otter’s concept in Nashville. Based on that recommendation I drove up to Nashville the next day and as soon as I tried the food, I knew Rob had picked a winner.

i[x]: What decisions went into deciding to focus on chicken?

WP: The main reason that the Otter’s concept originally appealed to me was that it was a simple operation and that allowed an extreme focus on doing things right.

i[x]: What types of meals do you offer at Otter’s?

WP: We offer chicken tenders, chicken wings, chicken wraps, chicken sandwiches, chicken salads, buffalo chicken dip and fried pickles and mushrooms.

Additionally, everything on our menu can be ordered fried or grilled. We use 100% fresh never frozen, antibiotic and hormone free chicken and source all of our ingredients locally.

i[x]: Do you have any plans of expanding your menu?

WP: We have plans on adding a “Georgia’s Own” Chicken Sandwich. I can’t tell you anymore about it, but you can come to Otter’s and try it soon!

i[x]: In 2013, Peterson Foods purchased the Otter’s concept from the restaurant’s founding group and parent company. Tell us a little about that.

WP On June 11th of 2013, we finalized the purchase of the Otter’s Chicken Tenders Restaurant Concept from the restaurant’s founding group and parent company. This acquisition terminated our existing franchise agreement and gave us rights to Otter’s Trademarks and concept.

i[x]: What makes Otter’s unique from other local restaurants?

WP: In addition to great food and excellent service, we are very much a community-oriented business. We are very involved with the local schools and sports teams, and do whatever we can to give back to the community in which we do business. It’s my opinion that if you take care of your community, your community will also take care of you.

i[x]: Do you have any plans for more Otter’s restaurants?

WP: Absolutely. I plan to open another location at Kennesaw State in early 2015 and 8 additional stores in the following years.

i[x]: Can you talk a little about the work and time you put in as an owner of a restaurant?

WP: Owning any type of business take a lot of work and time. Fortunately for me however, I really do enjoy working in the restaurant business. The hours are long and the work is hard, but it is also extremely rewarding.

i[x]: What kind of advice do you have for someone starting his or her own business?

WP: Be prepared. It will become your life for a while. Everything you think and do will involve your business. There really isn’t any off time when it is yours. You need to know that the business you are starting is going to be something that you will enjoy doing.

i[x]: As the i[x] program focuses on smart money management, I’m sure that you have had to deal with your share of financial decisions. Is there anything you’ve learned from the restaurant business that carries over to your everyday finances?

WP: Nothing is more important than cash flow. You have to watch it meticulously. Make your inflow greater than your outflow. Sounds simple enough, but it is a challenge even for the Donald Trumps of the world.

Unveiling the New JA Discovery Center

Posted by Ne[x]t on 10.03.13

On August 20th, Junior Achievement of Georgia officially unveiled the new Chick-fil-A Foundation Discovery Center on the mezzanine level of the Georgia World Congress Center’s Building C. In partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County Schools, Fulton County Schools and Marietta City Schools, the experience will serve more than 30,000 middle school students annually. The new facility includes two interactive venues, JA BizTown and JA Finance Park. We recently had a chance to speak with Junior Achievement of Georgia President, Jack Harris, as well as Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, Rodney Bullard, about the new center.

i[x] When and how did the idea of building a Discovery Center in Georgia come about?

JH Concepts similar to JA BizTown and JA Finance Park started about 15 years ago and currently exist in 20 other cities through the Junior Achievement program, so we knew that we wanted to bring something like this to Georgia. Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A President and COO, had seen these programs over the years and was drawn to the idea of bringing it to Georgia. Through our work with him, we talked about the idea and about 18 months ago, plans were put together, a location was picked and we began talking to school systems in the area about their possible interest in the center.

i[x]How is the Discovery Center different from similar centers across the country?

JH The level of technology that is being used today is a major difference from other centers across the country. Technology has advanced so much in the 15 years since these centers started to open. We’re really trying to make it an interactive experience for the students.

i[x]What is the goal of JA BizTown/JA Finance Park?

JH To provide a dynamic learning experience designed to enhance metro Atlanta students’ financial literacy and build skills for personal and professional success, and to help them understand why education is important. We really want to see graduation rates and college enrollment increase in the state. We also hope to help students build basic financial and career skills. One other goal we believe will be achieved is creating exposure to high growth industries and sectors.

i[x] What is JA BizTown?

JH JA BizTown creates a unique opportunity where students are able to interact within a simulated macro-economy, and take on the role of employee, tax payer and consumer. During the visit to JA BizTown, students receive unique job assignments and work in teams at their assigned business. By the end of the simulation each student completes a day’s work, develops a personal budget, deposits a paycheck and makes purchasing decisions.

i[x] What is JA Finance Park?

JH JA Finance Park gives students the rare opportunity to experience their personal financial futures first-hand. Upon entering the center, students receive a ‘life situation’ complete with job, income, education, and family scenarios. Based on their adult persona, students visit businesses in the simulation to gather information and make financial decisions, such as managing a household budget, using banking services, and making purchasing and investment decisions.

i[x] Where will the curriculum be taught?

JH The learning begins in the classroom with four weeks of JA-provided curriculum that culminates with a full day at either JA BizTown or JA Finance Park; both simulations will be housed inside of the Discovery Center located in Building C of the Georgia World Congress Center.

i[x] Are these programs required for Atlanta-area students?

JH Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County Schools, Fulton County Schools and Marietta City Schools have signed agreements to integrate Junior Achievement’s programming into the curriculum for middle grade students beginning fall of 2013. The goal is to provide every child, no matter their background, the opportunity to develop skills to become financially independent and responsible.

i[x] How can JA of Georgia ensure that this meets Georgia education standards?

JH The curriculums were designed to be in accordance with the national education standards; ergo they align with Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and have been reviewed by Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County Schools, Fulton County Schools and Marietta City Schools to become a part of their core curriculum for middle school students.

i[x] Who is funding the JA Discovery Center?

JH An undertaking of this magnitude would not be possible without the catalyzing $5.1 million investment from the Chick-fil-A Foundation and support from Junior Achievement of Georgia’s Board of Directors. The initial funding supports the pre-planning and lease expense of the Discovery Center, allowing us to create a facility that contains cutting-edge interactive technology and realistic simulation stations.

i[x] With the innovation of the Discovery Center, what do you hope this will accomplish for JA of Georgia?

JH We really want it to strengthen the current JA structure and help be a catalyst for the overall program. We intend to develop the next generation of these simulation centers, with the ultimate vision to take them statewide.

i[x] Why did the institute select this particular age group to work with, and how do you think this experience will benefit them going forward?

JH The middle school years are some of a student’s most important years. You learn life concepts and decision making which will only benefit you in the years to come.

i[x] also had the opportunity to interview an important representative of The Chick-fil-A Foundation, Rodney Bullard. As Vice President of Community Affairs at Chick-fil-A, Inc. and Executive Director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, Rodney had inspiring feedback.

i[x] Why has the Chick-fil-A Foundation decided to invest in the Discovery Center and how do you think it will benefit the youth in Georgia?

RB The Chick-fil-A Foundation’s investment in the Discovery Center was inspired by Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy’s unwavering commitment to investing in entrepreneurship and financial literacy for young people. Truett grew up in a financially poor family during the Great Depression and credits much of his business success to lessons he learned as a young boy selling Coca-Cola and newspapers to neighbors. We want to create similar opportunities within the walls of the Discovery Center for young people to gain real-world experience that can inspire them to be financially responsible and excite them about their future careers.  

i[x] How do you see this impacting the Atlanta/Georgia economy, as this generation emerges with real-life business experience obtained from the Discovery Center?

RB The simulated city within the Discovery Center is evidence of the leadership within our real city. Business leaders and educators have created a unique partnership to create a hands-on, experiential learning center that transforms education from abstract to practical. This has enormous potential to excite children about their studies and inspire them to excel in all they do beyond the classroom for years to come as they enter the workforce.     

A Foundation of Hope & Support

Posted by Ne[x]t on 01.06.13

Most people are shocked to learn that children, even babies, can get brain tumors. But brain cancer is a harsh reality for hundreds of children in metro Atlanta. In most cases the diagnosis will turn life upside down for the entire family. Since 1983 the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children has been here for families at what will probably be the most difficult time of their lives.

From providing books that teach parents about the disease and what to expect… to treating children and their families to fun events in the midst of the grueling and lengthy treatment protocol… to helping families pay household bills when a parent must quit her job in order to care for her child… to helping with funeral expenses, for which no parent is ever prepared. The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children does all this and more for children and families in Atlanta and the southeast.

Fortunately brain and spinal cord tumors in children are not as common as most other diseases. But when they do happen, the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children is here to help families cope.

Learn more at

Youth Advisory Board Deadline Extended

Posted by Ne[x]t on 11.01.11

Hope you all had a happy and safe Halloween and didn’t get attacked by any zombies or vampires!
I wanted to let everyone know that we have extended the deadline to apply for the Georgia’s Own Youth Advisory Board to December 31, 2011 and the first meeting will be in Jan. 2012. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to make a difference in the lives of Georgia’s Youth! Not to mention, it’s a great résumé booster! So be sure to get your applications in and pass along to your friends and family. Check out all the information and apply by clicking this link.


Leaders of Tomorrow: Preparing the Next Generation

Posted by Ne[x]t on 10.18.11

Here is an article from the latest Ne[x]t Magazine featuring Leaders of Tomorrow. Take a read…

i[x] – What is Leaders of Tomorrow?
LOT – A premiere youth development and leadership program that provides high school students with diverse opportunities to recognize their potential to become tomorrow’s leaders. LOT offers a comprehensive slate of programs and activities that prepare students to go from the classroom to the board room. Students benefit from educational curriculum and cultural experiences designed to help them develop into successful professionals and productive citizens.

i[x] – When was Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) founded?
LOT – In 2002, local National Black MBA (NBMBAA) chapters in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Houston and Dallas established the Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Student Case Competition to increase student participation in LOT Program activities; improve the student’s analytical and presentation skills; and increase interaction with other students in LOT Programs across the country. The four chapters also wanted to provide an alternative resource for corporate sponsors and higher education institutions to recruit high school talent, while helping to support the goals of the LOT Program and the organization.

i[x] – What is the mission and goals of LOT?
LOT – The mission of LOT is to develop positive, socially aware, teenage professionals entering college and diverse career tracks. Our goal is to assist students in their path to success.  LOT helps students understand what it takes to get into college by helping to refine their skills to ensure they are more competitive by demonstrating excellence on standardized tests and academic performance. We also assist with bridging the resource gap by providing mentors and coaches, as well as college scholarships.

i[x] – What are the five key components in the LOT program?
LOT – Saturday Leadership Training Symposiums, National Leadership Conference, SAT/ACT Academy with Kaplan, Mentor-Mentee experiences, and Community Service projects

i[x] – Who is the target audience for the LOT program?
LOT – Any student residing in the metro Atlanta area and surrounding counties, between the ages of 14-18, committed to fully participate in the program.

i[x] – What are the qualifications for students interested in the LOT program?
LOT – Students residing in metro Atlanta and surrounding counties, age 14 to 18 with minimum GPA of 2.0. Students must submit completed LOT application before the deadline and adhere to LOT policy.

i[x] – What accomplishments has LOT had over the past year?
LOT – Increased LOT student membership 100% year over year; Established partnership with Kaplan to administer the ACT/SAT Prep Academy; Awarded more than $2500 in scholarships to LOT alumni; Provided opportunity for select LOT students to travel and participate in Case Competition, National Conference and College Tours; received more than $30,000 in corporate support.

i[x] – How much does the LOT program cost?
LOT – LOT program is FREE

i[x] – What are the demographics of the LOT students?
LOT – Currently 85 students are registered in LOT program representing 11 counties with 68% female/32% male and average GPA of 3.45 (23%-Freshmen, 22%-Sophomores, 18%-Juniors, and 18%- Seniors)

i[x] – When, where, and time of the LOT meetings?
LOT – LOT students meet the 3rd Saturday of each month from 10am to 2pm at Georgia-Pacific building, 133 Peachtree Street, NE, training center room #5, Atlanta, GA 30303. LOT schedule aligns with the school year, so no meeting in July and August.

i[x] – Is there a dress code for LOT meetings?
LOT – Yes, as future business leaders, entrepreneurs, business professionals; we encourage LOT students to dress business professional for monthly symposiums, no t-shirts or jeans are accepted unless notified in advance.

i[x] – How do I apply?
LOT – You may apply in 1 of 3 ways; 1) download the 2011-12 application from, and email to 2) mail completed application in to NBMBAA, Atlanta Chapter, ATTN LOT 2011-12, P.O. Box 54656, Atlanta, GA 30303, or 3) you may submit in person at our Kick Off Symposium, on Saturday, September 17, 2011 @ 9am.

i[x] – When is the deadline to apply for 2011-12 academic school year?
LOT  Online:  Send completed applications only to, or Mail: P.O. Box 54656, Atlanta GA 30308 or Onsite: Bring to Kick-Off Symposium, on Saturday, September 17th @ 9am.

i[x] – What if I want more information about LOT program?
LOT – Email

i[x] – Who is the LOT Leadership Team?
LOT – NBMBAA Atlanta Chapter President: Charmaine Ward
Leaders of Tomorrow Director: Taticasejuana N. Stevens
Leaders of Tomorrow Co-Chair: Diana Adoma
Scholarship Chair: BJ Webb
Case Competition Chair: Bridgette Drake
Membership Chair: Sonja Harrison
Social Chair: Tracy Moss

i[x] – How do I volunteer with LOT?  
LOT – We are always seeking subject matter experts and engaged business professionals to volunteer to share their insight and time, as well as serve as mentors and case competition coaches. Expect to invest about 4 hours a month and a background check is required. Send your volunteer request to

i[x] – How can I donate to LOT Atlanta Chapter?
LOT – Cash and In-Kind support is welcome for LOT monthly symposiums, the annual national conference, Leaders of Tomorrow National Business Case Competition, and Scholarships to LOT alumni.


i[give] Contest

Posted by Ne[x]t on 10.14.11

Hey friends! Hope you all have been enjoying this great Fall weather so far! It truly is an awesome time to be living in Georgia with football and fall festivals every weekend.

Now on to business…

We are looking for our next i[give] partner for the start of the new year and we want your help! If you aren’t familiar with i[give], it is an initiative we started to help out and give back to the Atlanta community. Each quarter we feature a cause or non-profit from the area and find ways to get involved with that organization. For 2012, we want YOU to be more involved so we want to know which cause you think we should support. Nominate your cause, non-profit, or organization by emailing with the name and a brief description. Once we collect all submissions, we will allow everyone to vote on who will be our next i[give] partner. So spread the word and send in your nominations and let’s do something good for Georgia!

Youth Advisory Board

Posted by Ne[x]t on 08.26.11

Do you:
•    Have an OPINION about how to reach today’s youth?
•    Need experience in an Out of the ordinary volunteer position?
•    Have the Commitment necessary to make a difference?
If you answered “Yes!” to all of these questions, please apply to join the Youth Advisory Board at Georgia’s Own Credit Union.

What is Georgia’s Own Credit Union’s Youth Advisory Board?
The Youth Advisory Board meets twice a quarter with our Youth Marketing Coordinator to plan events, youth communication and other projects at Georgia’s Own Credit Union. They will be responsible for the creation and implementation of these tasks at the credit union.

What are the benefits of participating in the Youth Advisory Board?
Board members gain valuable experience as part of a team in business, public relations and personal finance. Future employers, colleges and scholarship committees value this type of experience, and members will be eligible for a unique scholarship at the end of their term of service.

What is the time commitment?
Board members will meet at Georgia’s Own Credit Union (1155 Peachtree St.) twice each quarter, beginning January 2012 through June 2012.

What are the requirements?
– Must be or become a member of Georgia’s Own Credit Union.
– Between the ages of 14-25
– Be organized, dependable, professional and have solid communication skills.

Click Here to Apply

Or, download the application and mail it to:
Will Miller
Georgia’s Own Credit Union
1155 Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30309

Applications must be received by December 31, 2011

If you have any questions or need additional applications, please call 404-874-1166 ext. 7031 or e-mail

Spring/Summer Events

Posted by Ne[x]t on 04.25.11

Hope you all had a happy Easter weekend!  I’m sure most of you are preparing for finals and the end of the school year (The only thing I don’t miss about school). If you’re not in school, hopefully you are enjoying the spring!  The i[x] team is currently setting up our late spring/summer schedule and we want to see you guys!  We want to be out and about in Atlanta and the surrounding communities, but we need your help.  If you know of an event you think we should attend, please share with us in the comments!  Concerts, festivals, sporting events and everything in between.  Just let us know when and where and we will be sure to consider it while planning out the summer.  Thanks for your help!

Volunteer with i[x]

Posted by Ne[x]t on 04.12.11

Hey friends! Earth Day is just around the corner and I have an awesome opportunity for you guys to volunteer and give back to the Atlanta community.Join me on Saturday, April 16 (9am-12pm) to help the Georgia State University Student Government Association clean-up around downtown Atlanta with the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association. 

There will be free munchies and a tailgating after the clean-up. We’ll be meeting on the parking lot operated by Parking Co. of America on John Wesley Dobbs Ave. 

If you want to help out you can sign up here or email me at and let me know if you plan on helping.  Please spread the word!

*Instructions for Volunteering: Meet us in the parking lot at the corner of John Wesley Dobbs Ave and Peachtree Center Ave. betweet 8:00 am and 9:00 am on Saturday, April 16.  If you’re taking MARTA, take the south exit at Peachtree Center Station and walk east on J.W. Dobbs Ave, between the Candler Building and the Georgia-Pacific Building.

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