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GoATL investments accelerate early childhood education, job creation and housing in low income neighborhoods

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Mark Crosswell

By Mark Crosswell, managing director, social impact strategy, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

To address growing inequities in education, employment and housing, the Community Foundation’s GoATL Fund (GoATL) recently announced $1.5 million in two new investments to Reinvestment Fund. The first, for $1 million, leverages GoATL’s prior investment in Reinvestment Fund to support a growing and diverse portfolio of impactful projects throughout metro Atlanta. The second, for $500,000, will fund early childhood education (ECE) projects across the region. As part of a metro-wide strategy to invest in local partners driving social change, these investments align with the Community Foundation’s efforts to build economic and racial equity across the region for 2020 and beyond.

Specifically, GoATL’s investment will expand Reinvestment Fund’s lending for K12 STEAM education, job transition for homeless and quality affordable housing. In addition, the second investment is helping launch a new pilot program aimed at expanding the availability of high-quality early childhood education for children from underserved communities in metro Atlanta, an area of great need throughout the region.

The investment in Reinvestment Fund’s regional ECE strategy is being developed in partnership with GEEARS, Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. The strategy builds on prior work by the partners to develop ATL ACCESS MAP, which identifies opportunities to increase high-quality childcare where it’s needed most. That analysis informed a regional strategy which ultimately created the Fund for Quality – ATL as part of the Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive (PAACT), a citywide alliance focused on improving outcomes for children ages birth to 5 years in ECE deserts in Atlanta.

The Fund for Quality – ATL is raising a $5 million fund that will provide technical assistance and financing to childcare operators within the Atlanta Public Schools catchment. Reinvestment Fund has thus far raised $1.5 million from philanthropic initiatives, including the United Way of Greater Atlanta/Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation and GoATL, and is actively raising additional grant funds. These programs will initially leverage existing high quality ECE programs that serve infants and toddlers in the Washington and Douglass clusters.

This work replicates Reinvestment Fund’s successful Fund for Quality (FFQ) model in Philadelphia, which mobilized nearly $26 million in grants and loans to fund 2,500 new seats, and create 150 new jobs, for high-quality ECE operators. Atlanta’s new program was further informed by a similar fund in Washington, D.C. that raised $4+ million for early learning centers by providing training and technical assistance on facility’s layout, learning materials, furnishings and health and safety. 

Christina Szczepanski, managing director for the Southeast with Reinvestment Fund, emphasizes the goal to build stronger and more equitable communities in Atlanta. “We hope that this inspires more local investors to partner with us to support impactful projects that expand opportunities for all Atlantans to succeed,” she said.

Reinvestment Fund has invested over $40 million throughout greater Atlanta, creating or preserving 200 early childhood education slots, supporting over 1,000 jobs and creating or preserving nearly 400 housing units. GoATL’s strategic investment provides Reinvestment Fund with both cost-effective capital as well as connections to valuable local partners with deep roots in the community. 

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