Let’s create meaningful opportunities for Westside residentsDonald Ogeese, one of the graduates of the Westside Works program, got a job in the construction industry working on the new Falcons stadium (Special: Blank Foundation)
By Guest Columnist ARTHUR BLANK, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and chairman of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
We all believe in something.
In fact, I think believing in something drives all of our major moments in life.
Bernie Marcus and I believed in putting the customer above all else when we created our Home Depot values and operating principles.
I believed – and still believe – that we could promote positive change in people’s lives when we formed my Family Foundation back in 1995.
And I believe that Falcons fans will continue to Rise Up for their team and for this great city and state.
And now, I am asking us to believe in the future of Atlanta’s historic Westside neighborhoods.
These once vibrant neighborhoods have been left behind as many of the areas surrounding them ushered in social and economic resurgence. Although well-intended people and organizations have tried to create positive change, they’ve lacked the cohesion and resources to make a real or sustainable difference.
Together, we can do better.
In 2013, my Family Foundation made a promise based on belief in the residents of these neighborhoods and in the people of Atlanta. Our $15 million commitment to transformational community development in the Westside communities of English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill was the first step.
Now we are inviting others to join us in finding ways to provide these neighborhoods with what they desire: safe streets, healthy environments, jobs and places to learn.
All of these are the same things that many of us have, but sometimes take for granted.
Creating this real transformation of people and place will not be easy, and it will take time. But I believe that we have an unparalleled opportunity to step up and make a difference in people’s lives.
The $15 million we committed is just the beginning. To make lasting change a reality, we need a team effort with residents and strong partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits and government organizations, as well as local and national philanthropies.
To that end, we are gratified to see the development of the Westside Future Fund, which will help us build partnerships and create meaningful opportunities for current and future Westside residents to share in Atlanta’s growth and progress.
Over the past 30 years, I have seen first-hand what collaboration on important community issues has done to enrich this city.
We are constantly challenging ourselves to improve the quality of life for our residents and create an unforgettable experience for visitors. I believe that the time is now for Atlanta to take that same momentum and propel our Westside communities into the future with more purpose, opportunity and connection, while preserving their unique history and vibrancy.
I believe; will you?