By Maria Saporta
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is ready to accept grant applications to its $15 million Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund.
The Blank Foundation committed $15 million to help transform the neighborhoods of Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill last year when it was seeking approvals to get the new Atlanta Falcons stadium built south of the existing Georgia Dome. The city’s Invest Atlanta arm also committed $15 million from its Westside Tax Allocation District to those communities.
Frank Fernandez, vice president of community development for the Blank Foundation, announced Tuesday that it is now accepting grant applications from nonprofits interested in helping transform those communities.
“Because this is a place-based initiative, it is about finding community partners to help transform the area into what we all want it to be,” Fernandez said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “We are going to be looking for leverage. That is important. We will make investments that we believe will be catalysts for the community.”
The grants will have a rolling deadline. The first step is that interested organizations must pass the “eligibility quiz.” They must be a nonprofit entity, and they must be able to provide products or services in the designated areas. The second part of the process will be to submit an initial grant inquiry to see if their request would be a good fit.
And the third step would be a full grant application, if the organization is invited to apply, said Fernandez, who has been in his position for two-and-a-half months.
“We will favor groups that have the capacity to work with those who are already in the area,” Fernandez said, adding that they hope to be able to strike an appropriate balance of outside skill and expertise with local neighborhood knowledge and understanding.
The plan will be to post the different grant awards on the Blank website and make the process as transparent as possible. The Blank Foundation also plans to be “embedded in the community” and expects to be a partner with the grant partners.
Here is what the Blank Foundation is sending out on Tuesday:
Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund: Now Accepting Grant Inquiries
The Westside of Atlanta has a rich history, steeped in the civil rights movement, home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unfortunately, over the last several decades this once vibrant community has been overwhelmed by concentrated poverty, blight and disillusionment—leaving residents and non-residents frustrated by the lack of positive change. We at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation are committed to working with the Westside community to re-imagine what is possible and help create a place where everyone has a fair shot at a decent life. This type of transformative change will require a team effort with strong partnerships among community members, public officials and local businesses. We look forward to working together to make change happen.
Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund: $15 million Investment
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation is excited to officially open up the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund. Our $15 million investment in the Westside and its residents will help the Vine City, English Avenue and Castleberry Hill communities become safer, healthier and more prosperous. Our grants will focus on the areas these communities have said are most important to them—economic development, improved safety and lower crime, better education and a greater focus on healthy communities. These grants will be awarded to organizations that have the capacity to run transformational projects and programs that offer lasting impact. Grants will focus on:
Helping community members receive the training and opportunities they need to secure stable, good-paying jobs or start small businesses;
Creating a safer environment that will lead to lower crime and a greater sense of community;
Increasing and improving the educational opportunities available to kids in these neighborhoods;
Providing safe, quality, affordable housing for long-time residents who need assistance;
Improving the ability of local residents to live healthier lives in healthier environments; and
More broadly, connecting neighborhood residents to the socio-economic opportunities they need to succeed.
Capacity Building Program
In the next few months, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation also plans to launch a Capacity Building Program to help smaller neighborhood-based organizations increase their impact. We recognize that neighborhood residents and groups have been positively affecting the lives of their neighbors for years with limited resources and capacity. We value their contribution and want to invest in them to help grow their capacity to play a larger role in creating the transformative change we all want to see.
If you are interested in learning more about the Capacity Building Program when it is launched please click here.
Application Process The Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund grant application process is straightforward and consists of three steps: 1) taking an eligibility quiz; 2) submitting an initial grant inquiry; and 3) submitting a full grant application, if invited to apply.
By working together, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation believes that transformative change will come, connecting the Westside and its residents to Atlanta’s broader prosperity.