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Center for Civic Innovation analyzes local COVID relief funding for philanthropies

By David Pendered

A new report on equity in Atlanta’s philanthropic community provides both a snapshot of which agencies received COVID relief funding, and a conversation with Black women who lead organizations that, as a group, the study showed as receiving 18% of the $18 million in local COVID grant funds.

center for civic innovation, purpose

The Center for Civic Innovation stated its intended purpose for its analysis of COVID relief funding delivered to philanthropies in metro Atlanta. Credit: Center for Civic Innovation

The Center for Civic Innovation, an Atlanta-based tax-exempt organization, reported on Oct. 2 results of its review of the allocation of about $18 million in a regional fund for COVID relief. Two local organizations determined recipients, the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and the United Way of Greater Atlanta.

The analysis arrives as the pandemic continues, and with it ongoing efforts to address its impact. Gov. Brian Kemp on Sept. 30 ordered the Public Health State of Emergency extended through Nov. 9 – meaning it will be in place on election day, Nov. 3. President Trump was diagnosed with COVID19 and on Sunday remained at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The Center for Civic Innovation examined two categories of COVID relief funding – one closed, handled in private by the two organizations; one open to applicants.

The center’s mission is, according to its latest available tax return, 2017, “to push Atlanta to be a smart, equitable and engaged city by investing in community-driven ideas, supporting social enterprises and engaging people in dialogue and action.”

The report noted that the Community Foundation and United Way facilitated the review. The report states that this document represents the beginning of an effort that is to become an extended review of equity within metro Atlanta’s philanthropic programs. The executive summary’s first paragraph states:

  • “Almost every issue in Atlanta, from health outcomes to financial security, disproportionately threatens Black communities. This is not an accident – it is a reflection of many intentional systems and policies…..”

Highlights of the report show that:

center for civic innovation, philanthropy

The Center for Civic Innovation stated the central question intended in its analysis of COVID relief funding for metro Atlanta philanthropies. Credit: Center for Civic Innovation

  • “96% of grantees listed ‘Black communities’ as their target audience;”
  • 74% of recipients in the closed category had received funding previously, since 2015, by one of the two organizations;
  • The diversity of recipients’ executive leadership was comprised as follows: 40% non-Black female; 32% non-Black male; 18% Black female; 10%, Black male;
  • In terms of net assets of recipient organizations: Black, female-led, $296,069; non-Black, male-led, $1,360,887;
  • In terms of revenue of recipient organizations: Black, female-led, $921,037; non-Black, male led, $2,917,340.
  • Seven priority categories that received funding were: emergency financial assistance; food; health; education; housing; childcare; small business.

The center released the report and conducted a panel discussion of its findings in a virtual meeting that remains posted on the center’s Facebook page.

The center’s executive director, Rohit Malhotra, presented an overview of the report. Kyle Kessler, the center’s director of policy and research, presented the analysis and findings.

center for civic innovation, panel

Four Black female leaders of philanthropies in metro Atlanta engaged in a panel discussion led by Sagdrina Jalal, of the Center for Civic Innovation (top left), and Odetta MacLeish-White, of Transformation Alliance (bottom left). Credit: zoom

The conversation with eight Black women who lead philanthropic efforts in metro Atlanta followed the initial presentations.

The moderators were Sagdrina Jalal, the center’s senior director for programs and partnerships, and Odetta MacLeish White, of Transformation Alliance. The panelists were:

  • Lesley Grady, Chrysalis Labs, formerly with Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta;
  • Katrina Mitchell, United Way of Greater Atlanta;
  • Tene Trailer, Kendeda Fund;
  • Janelle Williams. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlnata, formerly with Annie E Casey Foundation, Atlanta.

Jalal started a conversation that would last almost two hours with this question:

  • “The data presented today clearly show that black female leadership has never been respected in this city. We as black women have been working in a system that simply wasn’t meant to contain us.
  • “My first question for each of you is: Do you feel that Black Lives Matter in philanthropy?”

Note to readers: The presentation remains available on the Center for Civic Innovation’s Facebook page.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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1 Comment

  1. Britton edwards October 5, 2020 8:51 pm

    This is so important. Thank you for reporting on this!Report


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