By Maria Saporta
A signature event, the Beloved Benefit – planned for June 4, is being postponed until 2021.
The Beloved Benefit was launched last year by business and civic leaders to raise millions of dollars for local nonprofits focused on housing affordability and economic mobility –especially in the communities on Atlanta’s Westside.
Instead of holding the gala event at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in June, organizers of the Beloved Benefit are planning a series of “virtual summits” to galvanize the community around the pressing concerns of affordable housing and economic mobility, issues that are being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We can’t be together in person this year, but we can be together in spirit and resolve to serve others in this time of economic and emotional crisis,” said Rodney Bullard, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Chick-fil-A and executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation.
Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, was the inspiration for the Beloved Benefit, which is anchored in Martin Luther King Jr.’s concept of the “Beloved Community” – one that compels everyone to love, respect and trust each other.
The 2019 Beloved Benefit, held on March 21 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, raised more than $5 million for Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods and directly benefited 38,000 residents. About 1,900 people attended.
The event featured performances from Steve Harvey, Bruno Mars, Jeff Foxworthy, CeeLo Green and several others.
Dozens of dignitaries also were in attendance: The Home Depot Inc.’s CEO Craig Menear; The Coca-Cola Co.’s CEO James Quincey, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic, philanthropists Liz and Frank Blake, Georgia Power Co.’s CEO Paul Bowers, WestRock Co.’s CEO Steven Voorhees, former Post Properties CEO Dave Stockert, philanthropist Stephanie Blank, Congressman John Lewis, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
Shan Cooper, executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, helped plan the 2019 event and has been working on the 2020 benefit.
Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez as well as many other celebrities were supposed to be part of the 2020 Beloved Benefit program.
According to a Beloved Benefit spokesman, Lopez has tentatively agreed to perform at the 2021 benefit. But the date of that event has not yet been set because of all the variables. Because the date has not been set, no other performers or special guests have been confirmed.
From the beginning, the intent was for the Beloved Benefit to be an annual event that could generate millions of dollars for Atlanta’s greatest social needs.
“Affordable housing and economic mobility are two of the greatest threats to our nation’s overall health and well-being and must be addressed here at home – even as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis,” Bullard said in the statement.
The Beloved Benefit came together through a close partnership between Chick-fil-A and Arthur M. Blank working though his various entities, including the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and AMB Sports + Entertainment. Both Cathy and Blank have focused their philanthropic efforts on the communities west of the stadium.
“The Beloved Benefit is a great opportunity to bring awareness to critical needs in our community,” said Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Sports + Entertainment. “We look forward to hosting the event when it returns in 2021. Until then, we will continue to work hard and finding solutions to address affordable housing and economic mobility for the city of Atlanta.”
Organizers will reveal details of the Beloved Benefit’s “virtual summits” in the coming weeks.