Eight years after launching the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund and five years following the opening of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is continuing its investment in Atlanta’s Westside.
The foundation this week shared its refreshed strategy for the next decade of grantmaking in service of the Westside, including $2.4 million in new grants designed to “increase the economic mobility of legacy residents,” according to a press release. These grants, coupled with existing grants commitments this year, bring the foundation’s 2022 Westside grantmaking to $5 million.
“The foundation will focus its next investments on supporting residents in their ability to choose to stay in the thriving historic neighborhoods of English Avenue and Vine City,” according to the release. “Over the next ten years, the foundation will aim to increase the number of legacy residents experiencing financial security and increase the housing supply to meet their needs.”
“The foundation, led by our Chairman, Arthur M. Blank, has an enduring commitment to the Westside, the home of the civil rights movement. The Westside is a vibrant community with considerable change afoot. Many legacy residents, however, are vulnerable to displacement. We want to support long-term residents to be more economically stable and benefit from the improvements in the community they’ve called home for years,” Fay Twersky, president, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, said in the release. “As we spoke with residents and nonprofit leaders about how we could make the most difference we heard that legacy residents do not want to be priced out of the neighborhoods. They want to have more economic opportunity and more affordable housing enabling them to have the genuine choice to stay. We look forward to working with new and existing partners to fund high- impact, enduring solutions to protect their choice.”
The foundation’s Westside grants total $2.4 million and include:
- •$1.04 million to Westside Future Fund to support the production of affordable rental units
- Two grants to strengthen the affordable housing ecosystem on the Westside to include both rental and home ownership opportunities, $400,000 to Enterprise Community Partners and $310,000 to Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership
- $150,000 to Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation to reduce illegal evictions and increase renter protections
- $200,000 to On the Rise Financial Center to support financial coaching work in collaboration with the Westside Future Fund home ownership program and Westside Works workforce development training
- $300,000 to CHRIS 180 to support the transition of two programs connecting Westside residents to preventive and coordinated health services
“Our strategy seeks to address the fact that people will not have a genuine choice to stay as long as they experience financial insecurity and cannot find affordable housing that meets their household income levels,” said Daniel (Danny) Shoy, Jr., managing director, Youth Development and Westside Atlanta, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “The housing market on the Westside is changing rapidly, and there’s an urgent need to support nonprofit housing developers to keep pace. Launching this work in affordable housing is a top priority, and we will work alongside our partners to advance multiple solutions for renters and potential homeowners.”
In addition to housing, the foundation will also focus on financial security. This pathway will prioritize workforce development interventions as well as seek additional ways to help reinforce residents’ income so they can participate fully in their own training and career development and can withstand financial shocks, according to the release.
Westside Works is a workforce collaborative offering community-based resources, educational classes, training programming and rapid placement to meet the needs of job seekers. The foundation is supporting Westside Works to provide opportunities for residents to travel up the career ladder to achieve employment and advancement in high-demand, quality jobs.
On the Rise Financial Center helps people build financial well-being and wealth through coaching, credit building and access to safe financial products for individuals and families. The foundation will work with On the Rise Financial Center and other organizations to evaluate existing and future innovative approaches that can help residents create positive cash flow, protect them from financial shock and make informed financial decisions for their future.
Inclusive of these latest grants, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s total current Westside financial commitment over the past decade exceeds $57 million. Additionally, the foundation has leveraged more than $200 million in other public and private investments into the Westside.