Coca-Cola UNITED Hosts 2024 Restoration Academy Atlanta Experience

Coca-Cola UNITED hosted 10 Restoration Academy students in Atlanta as part of the school’s Cultivating Hope program March 21-24.

Ten exceptional students from a Birmingham, Alabama-area high school were welcomed into Atlanta South Metro Coca-Cola with hugs and high fives March 21 to kick off three days of immersive experiences with Coca-Cola UNITED.

The students traveled to Atlanta from Restoration Academy, a private school located just outside Birmingham, where Coca-Cola UNITED is headquartered. Restoration Academy is supported through private donations to provide a quality, private education to children of low-income families. Its Cultivating Hope program, in which students must apply to be selected, aims to “create relevant experiences for young men and women from Birmingham who would not otherwise have such an opportunity.” Students travel to the world’s largest and most diverse cities, meeting with leaders from some of the world’s largest companies and creating lasting memories and connections with the people they meet along the way.

At the conclusion of their trip, the students were asked to describe their experience in one word. The responses ran the gamut.

Impactful. Inspirational. Recognition. Encouragement. Heartfelt. Chosen.

“No matter where you started from, you can always make your way to the top,” said Restoration Academy junior Ian Allison. “Shoot for the stars. Shoot farther if you can.”


The Atlanta Experience

Restoration Academy’s Atlanta Experience is driven by Coca-Cola UNITED’s Public Affairs and Communications team (Christy Danzy, Corporate Community Relations Manager, and Cassandra Mickens, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications) with support from the company’s East Region team. Following their arrival at Atlanta South Metro Coca-Cola, the students heard remarks and advice from Victor Ragland, Atlanta Division Vice President; Albert Cooper, Employee Relations Manager; Abby Whitmire, Corporate Senior Director, Public Affairs and Government Relations; Sandee Cosper, East Region Special Events Manager; and Brittany Futral, Atlanta Division Special Events Manager.

Restoration Academy junior Jordan Anderson said he and classmates were inspired by Ragland’s career trajectory at Coca-Cola UNITED, working his way up from a delivery merchandiser to a division vice president.

“Having the position in the company [Ragland] has with that type of backstory is amazing to me,” Anderson said.

After a tour of the Atlanta South Metro warehouse led by Warehouse Operations Shift Manager Kevian Weems, the students headed to nearby College Park Coca-Cola for a tour of its production center. The tour, led by Jason Dawson and Vincent Whaley, offered the students a close up look at how Coca-Cola beverages are manufactured. Dawson and Whaley also imparted some advice on the students post-tour.

Restoration Academy students had the opportunity to tour Coca-Cola UNITED’s College Park, Georgia production center.

“Mr. Jason told us about how we will get a few nos in our lives, but that’s okay. It doesn’t mean we’re not gifted in that area; it just means we’re not ready for that particular position yet,” said Restoration Academy junior Mariah Morris. “That really stuck with me.”

Restoration Academy sophomore Zandria Madison added, “What really stuck out to me was when Mr. Jason told us we could be anything we wanted to be if we just set our mind to it.”

In addition to learning the ins and outs of Coca-Cola UNITED, the students had the opportunity to explore city of Atlanta, visiting Morehouse College, World of Coca-Cola, LowCountry Steak and State Farm Arena, where the students watched a professional basketball game between the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets. Sporting their custom Hawks jerseys with their names printed on the back, the students were able to greet and high five the players as they made way through the tunnel to the court before tip-off.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was suited or correctly hoses to go on this trip until I experienced everything,” Allison said. “I had a great time with my fellow students and I met these amazing, loving people who gave it their all in telling us that we can have a future.”