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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

Going farther, together: Collaboration as a tool for impact

By Jarrod Fleming, philanthropic associate, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

If I were to ask you to sum up the last two years in one word, I am certain that adjectives such as “unbelievable,” “frightening,” or “tiring,” would surface. But if I could present another term that I believe would provide a different perspective on the last two years, it would be “reflective.” 

Unexpectedly, 2020 became the catalyst for our nation acknowledging that inequity, institutional racism and prejudice are still fresh scars that our country must address. Nearly three years later, change has begun, yet many of us notice that this process needs to be one of intentionality and patience. 

As the French artist Paul Cézanne once said, “Time and reflection change the sight little by little ’til we come to understand.” Taking Cézanne’s words to heart, in 2020, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta practiced a period of time and reflection when Frank Fernandez, our new president and CEO, joined our organization. As we reflected on the philanthropic imprint we had left on Atlanta over the past 70 years, we acknowledged that amazing work had been done, but if we wanted to make a generational impact on the communities we serve, something had to change. 

Thus, TogetherATL was born.

More than the Foundation’s strategic plan, TogetherATL is an invitation for all community partners to make use of the knowledge and resources we have gained from our city and give back in a way that promotes and secures prosperity for all.

By providing a place-based approach to our philanthropy work, this initiative will allow ALL of Atlanta to make lasting impacts in the arts, housing, leadership and workforce sectors that are the critical foundations of our communities. 

For example, in Forest Cove, a dilapidated and condemned apartment complex in the southeast Atlanta neighborhood of Thomasville Heights, the Foundation is working with more than 40 stakeholder partners, such as the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Association, to provide relocation assistance to residents. In addition, the City of Atlanta has pledged $9.1 million to assist with this relocation process, while the Foundation will serve as the financial intermediary between the City and the property management company. 

Because of this collaboration and the gracious donations from the Foundation’s donor giving circle, Spark Opportunity, an estimated 200 families will be relocated to safe, livable homes by fall.

Often, our CEO shares an African proverb to explain the importance of TogetherATL, and I believe it speaks volumes about how we see our work of equity and inclusion moving forward: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

Let’s go change our city, together.


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