September 21, 2021

 

Asha Owens, is one of 50 founders selected for Google for Startups program focused on high potential startups from Black entrepreneurs based in the U.S. 

BestFit, Inc., an early-stage startup addressing basic needs insecurity among college students, today announced it was selected to join the second cohort of the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, a $10 million initiative designed for Black founders, who are building great companies yet are often locked out of access to the funding that is critical to their success. 

Last year, Google for Startups gave 76 Black-led startups up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding, helping them keep their doors open, pay their employees, and focus on building their businesses. With this second $5 million investment in the U.S. Black Founders Fund, 50 more founders across the United States will receive $100,000 in non-dilutive capital, meaning founders do not give up any ownership in their company in exchange for funding. The fund also includes technical support from tools and teams across Google, including as much as $120,000 in donated search Ads from Google.org and up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits. Last year, founders who received awards went on to raise more than $50M in capital and 80% of recipients used the funding to create jobs. 

BestFit, an online platform where college students connect with basic need resources, like food, tech, and housing, is one of a select few high potential startups that the Google for Startups team has selected for this year’s nationwide cohort. 

“After participating in Google for Startups’ Founder Academy, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to apply for the Black Founders Fund. Google’s curriculum, guidance and mentorship made a huge difference in the trajectory of our company and helped us craft a stronger business strategy, improve our operations, and increase revenue,” says Asha Owens, founder, BestFit. “This support from Google for Startups comes at a critical time for our growth—allowing us to make key hires and critical product improvements. Ultimately, this enables us to scale our work in the wake of COVID-19 and ensure that thousands of students have access to programs, services, and benefits that will help them meet their academic goals, graduate, and go on to create generational wealth.” 

“The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund embodies our mission of helping underrepresented founders grow their businesses. We are excited to continue the fund and contribute funding to Black founders, with no strings attached. Black founders currently receive less than 1 percent of total VC funding,” says Jewel Burks Solomon, Head of Google for Startups US. “We heard loud and clear from the 2020 fund recipients that Google for Startups and Goodie Nation have been crucial to their success not only through funding, but through community, mentorship, network connections and technical expertise.” 

“Our advisors will be working with the founders to discuss business pain points, offer introductions to customers and investors and provide regular therapy sessions and forums to support recipients emotionally and professionally,” says Joey Womack, CEO of Goodie Nation.

BestFit uses behavioral science, cognitive science, and equity-centered design to create products that remove the burden of finding help for college students. We provide technology to colleges & nonprofits looking to address basic needs insecurity on campus and in their communities, and we work with mission-driven companies looking to create sustainable, scalable social impact. In the coming months, our goal is to increase the number of social services and programs our platform screens for, expand our network of college and nonprofit customers, and engage more corporate clients. 

 

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ABOUT BESTFIT 

BestFit is on a mission to remove non-academic barriers for students at risk of dropping out because they cannot afford to meet their basic needs like, tech, housing, and food. We empower students to build their own support systems by connecting them to on-campus, community, philanthropic, and corporate resources. In 2021 alone, we’ve connected Georgia college students to over $100,000 in tech resources and helped students determine their eligibility for ~$500,000 in benefits and social services. The team’s nationally-recognized work is funded by organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator powered by Techstars, and Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta. To learn more, please visit best-fit.app

ABOUT GOOGLE FOR STARTUPS 

Google for Startups works to level the playing field for startup founders and communities to succeed by bringing the best of Google’s products, connections, and best practices to startups. Paired with a deep commitment to create diverse startup communities, many of our offerings are designed specifically to provide underrepresented founders with access to resources and opportunities. We support startups everywhere to build something better. Because when startups succeed, we all succeed.

September 7, 2021

 

As the demand for locally grown food increases, one local organic farm is stepping up to provide the supply. Love is Love Farm, a 13-year-old organic farm serving the metro Atlanta area, has converted to a worker-owned cooperative and is scaling up operations to grow produce for institutional buyers such as Common Market SE, Emory University and Georgia Tech. The farm will also provide produce to individuals through their Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA), as well as grow flowers and vegetable seedlings for home gardeners.

To date, few local organic farms have been able to scale up to supply both institutional and individual customers. There are three dominant barriers to scaling a farm operation: 1) access to skilled labor, 2) affordable land near markets and 3) capital for infrastructure and equipment. Love is Love Cooperative Farm is addressing these challenges with some innovative approaches and partnerships.

By converting to a worker-owned cooperative structure, the farm is able to coalesce a group of experienced farmers to share in the risks, rewards and work-load and to create opportunities in the future for additional farmers to join. Officially formed in 2020, Love is Love Cooperative Farm is the vision and work of five farmers: Demetrius Milling, Monica Ponce, Russell Honderd, Judith Winfrey and Joe Reynolds. It is a unique collective of first generation farmers: multigenerational, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-class who understand that they are stronger working together to grow food, plants and flowers at scale for wholesale markets and direct to consumers. The group hopes to on-board new worker-owners as soon as 2025. Through the planning and conversion process, the group worked closely with the Georgia Cooperative Development Center to develop their legal and governance structures.

Love is Love Cooperative Farm is the first farm in the nation to participate in The Conservation Fund’s Working Farms Fund. This program assists farmers in gaining access to affordable farmland near markets. The farmers worked with The Working Farms Fund to identify and acquire a farm site that suited the farm’s needs — 70 acres in Newton County, Ga. The farmers will lease land for five years during which time the farmland is put under permanent conservation and the farmers are able to operationalize the new farm. At the end of the five years the farmers purchase the permanently conserved land at a significant discount. 

With challenges of affordable land and the skilled labor addressed, the farmers are now offering preferred shares in the Co-op to help raise the necessary capital for startup — everything from seeds to tractors to greenhouses. Using the Invest Georgia Exemption, the farmers are selling shares to Georgia Residents with up to 8% in annual dividends..  

Through these creative new approaches and innovative programs and partnerships, the worker-owners of Love is Love Cooperative Farm envision that they are not only standing up a resilient, equitable, worker-owned cooperative farm to provide produce, plants and flowers to major Metro Atlanta Markets; but they also may be creating solutions useful to other farms that want to scale operations to serve growing markets. Together with their shareholders, The Conservation Fund and The Georgia Cooperative Development Center, the Love is Love Cooperative Farmers intend to build a structure and system that will outlast any one individual and serve our local food- and eco- systems for generations to come.  

To learn more about Love is Love Cooperative Farm, becoming a shareholder or their upcoming plant sales and CSA sessions, visit their website.

 

Contact:

Judith Winfrey

404-964-5233

[email protected]

 

Photo credits: Addison Hill Photography

Imagine being able to invest in a diverse portfolio of residential real estate properties around Atlanta’s rapidly growing market that not only delivers a great return, but also empowers the people in the properties that you’re invested in to improve their lives, both financially and personally. Atlanta-based ROOTS Real Estate Exchange Fund is the first commercially motivated, community inspired Real Estate Investment Fund that focuses on investing in people through properties, not the other way around. 

ROOTS, formed in 2020 by a team of local, experienced industry experts and established executives, offers its members a residential real estate investment opportunity that is delivering excellent returns and creating new found wealth for the people who create those returns; the residents. As Daniel Dorfman, Root’s Founder says “The residents paying the rent are the ones actually paying the bills and generating the income. Don’t they deserve a seat at the table?”.

For now, Roots is a fund for “accredited investors” who want to invest with their hearts, as well as their wallets. By early next year, the fund expects to be able to allow “non-accredited” investors to participate as well, INCLUDING THE RESIDENTS who rent the properties. Until then, they’ve created very unique way for the residents to participate and build equity from the very first day they move in. 

 

 

“How does that work?”:

Roots’ exclusive “Live in it like you own it” program invites residents to treat the property as if it were their own. In exchange, the resident earns interest on their security deposit, and rental rebates for taking care of the property and fulfilling the partnership guidelines.

By doing so, their security deposit becomes a savings account that earns 5% interest as long as they live there. They will also receive rental rebates ranging between $50-$100/month that go into their ROOTS savings account, which also accrues 5% compounding interest throughout their rent cycle. 

A recent report by Prosperity Now shows that on average, a renter in the state of Georgia has only $650 in the bank. They are living on the edge of homelessness. They are one issue with their car or one medical issue not covered by insurance away from not being able to pay rent. These are working people, who are trying to succeed and making a good effort, but are stuck in the grind of living day to day, month to month. Until now, they have had very little chance of building a cushion of savings, much less owning real estate. They have both when they rent with Roots. Additionally, the Roots Member Platform will be providing additional benefits to the resident members like personal financial education courses, leveraged pricing on things like internet, cell phones, health insurance and more. 

ROOTS provides its residents the opportunity to not only make money, but to learn to save it; and eventually to invest it. 

For investors, this shift in making the resident a partner, rather than just another “tenant” is a big win as well. It helps to protect the asset, minimize turnover costs and lower vacancy rates. A few notable highlights about the fund:

  • ROOTS focuses on single and multi-family properties in growing communities throughout the city of Atlanta that will achieve healthy rental returns and have promising appreciation outlooks. 
  • All properties go into the fund fully curated and tenanted, so the return on investment is already established.
  • The properties are not subject to maintenance and repair costs, those are covered by the Managing Partners, which allows for even more consistent returns

Visit www.investwithroots.com or email the team at [email protected] to learn more about ROOTS.

Profile Summary:

  • Entrepreneur Name(s): Steven & Hannah Simms
  • Venture Name: The Rural Urban Connection (TRUC)
  • Impact Focus Area(s): Local Food, Regenerative Agriculture, Rural Economic Development
  • Business Stage: Startup in July 2020
  • Business Type: For-Profit, Holistic Management
  • Headquarters: Dunwoody, Georgia

 

The Issue

Worldwide, soils have been degraded by poor farming practices causing heavy reliance on chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to prop up crop yields. A large amount of grain crops grown are used for feeding livestock. Most beef consumed is raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) with a host of negative animal welfare and environmental impacts. 100% grass-fed beef eliminates the need for CAFOs and grain-fed livestock. Using holistic management practices on our farms will eliminate the need for chemical supports while enabling the environment to create new topsoil and capture carbon in the soil. We are only able to do this with the support of our Atlanta neighbors who want to eat our healthy, local, 100% grass-fed beef.  

 

Your Journey

Steven grew up on one of the farms we lease and has discussed this idea off and on for some time. COVID’s impact on the economy and food supply chains inspired me to start testing and pursuing this idea seriously. We have been blessed with great advice from the UGA Small Business Development Center and Start It Up Georgia, as well as from family and friends.

In April 2021, 9 months after beginning planning and researching efforts, we had our first beef ready for sale. We leased two farms, secured USDA financing, and began selling online and at the Dunwoody and Sandy Springs Farmers Markets. We are currently working on getting the word out about our local, grass-fed beef, balancing supply and demand, and moving both farms to fully regenerative agricultural practices. Our steaks have been incredibly popular, and right now we are looking for consumers and a few select restaurant and food truck clients who want to use all the cuts from our beef.

As we mature and grow, we want to scale our business to be able to create more healthy soils, preserve farmland, and raise delicious grass-fed beef all while providing quality employment opportunities.

 

Why Georgia’s Social Impact Ecosystem Matters

The Social Impact Ecosystem is crucial for encouraging more social entrepreneurship in Georgia. Building connections between the Social Impact Ecosystem and the traditional startup ecosystem may be one of the most important elements in this journey. Many new entrepreneurs may not classify themselves as social enterprises but have the desire and intent to grow a company that focuses on more than the financial bottom line. All companies have a social impact and our goal as social impact community members should be to encourage all companies to ensure this impact is positive and build a better future.

 

For more, please visit:

Please connect with us and share with your friends!  

By: Franzene Minott

 

Home-delivered meal kit services are exploding, and it’s no wonder. The now $10 Billion global industry combines the advantages of “fast food” and “slow food” by delivering easy-to-make, healthy and delicious meals to customers’ doorsteps.

For low-income families short on time to prepare dinner and a long way from fresh, healthy ingredients, a meal kit service would be a godsend—if only it was made affordable. One Atlanta-area social venture is doing just that, by inviting customers to pay only what they can.

“We know food insecurity affects millions, especially those living in food deserts without access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” says co-founder Ali Yadollahi, “we wanted to create a system where all customers received the same high quality meal kits—regardless of income levels—by making them more affordable and accessible to those who need it.”

Plateful.ly’s mission quickly resonated with the hundreds of Atlantans they have served since launching earlier this year. With a mouth-watering selection of entrees from salmon and quinoa to sirloin steak fajitas to vegetarian options like penne primavera, the customer buzz has only amplified across Yelp! and other review sites.

The American Heart Association Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund has also taken notice of the innovative service and awarded Plateful.ly a generous grant. The Fund supports local entrepreneurs and organizations that are breaking down the social and economic barriers to health equity, and they saw Plateful.ly’s pay-what-you-can meal delivery model as a great way to reach underserved communities.

When asked about the new meal kit delivery service, Portfolio Manager of the Tyson Impact Fund Max Gritzuks stated, “Plateful.ly has taken a model that has traditionally been reserved for market-rate consumers and reinvented it in an inclusive and scalable manner that increases access to affordable, healthy food for all.”

 

“Pay-What-You-Can”: Reimagining the Food Service Industry

How is Plateful.ly innovating the food service industry and attracting such a diverse customer base? 

For starters, they have no set menu prices, only a suggested price, which allows customers to pay what they can for service. This community-style service model means that paying for your meal helps pay for someone else’s. 

Their “pay-what-you-can” system provides the financial break many need to remain afloat on restricted budgets. For some, the added flexibility means paying only a few dollars—or even nothing at all—for meal kits. 

And the model has proven to be remarkably successful and self-sustaining. Despite early concerns that people may take advantage, the founders proudly share that the overwhelming majority of patrons use their services as intended without exploiting it.

“Pay-what-you-can is working and my faith in humanity, and in our Atlanta community, has been rewarded,” says co-founder Chef Hoss Yazdi. “We have been able to provide everyone who orders a wholesome, delicious meal that can usually be on the dinner table within ten minutes.”

The team believes their system works because of the value alignment between their mission and that of their customers. Their kitchens are a resource that enable people who care about helping others to make a difference. This commitment to a shared goal makes them sustainable.

 

 

Plans for Expansion

Plateful.ly is preparing to give even more Atlantans access to its kits by expanding from its Metro Atlanta service area. Since their model relies heavily on community support to be effective, they are actively sharing their mission with people, organizations, and businesses in target locations to help identify potential hot spots.

Thanks to the initial support, the social venture can continue to expand across Atlanta and serve as many communities as possible.

 

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Interested in learning more or supporting Plateful.ly expansion efforts, please visit:

Email: [email protected]

 

Healthcare Georgia Foundation is pleased to announce that Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Inc. (ACE) has been awarded $250,000 in Strategic Health Impact Investment funding. The Foundation is thrilled to establish this partnership with ACE, and applauds their attitude of service for small businesses and their surrounding communities. 

Martina Edwards, ACE’s Chief of Strategic Partnerships notes that “because both wealth and income influence health, small business is a key element in the advancement of health equity. Communities with strong small business sectors often experience better economic outcomes because they are more economically and socially engaged with and invested in its well-being. ACE is excited to partner alongside the Healthcare Georgia Foundation to help fuel not only small businesses, but also community resiliency during this extended recovery period, particularly for women, people of color, and low-income persons.”

Dr. Gary Nelson, President of Healthcare Georgia Foundation, commented on ACE’s funding, “At Healthcare Georgia Foundation, we highly value and cherish the opportunity to partner with organizations such as ACE who are working so diligently to assist communities in a myriad of ways.” Nelson continued, “ACE has proven time and again that they are committed to service that is rooted in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we are greatly looking forward to the incredible work they will do with this investment.”

Edwards acknowledged, “Like ACE, the Healthcare Georgia Foundation has been around for just over two decades supporting critical work in the state. Small business funding remains hard to obtain. This catalytic patient capital will allow us to meet underserved and diverse owned small businesses where they are, under the current conditions. Ultimately, it will aid our vision to create a ripple effect that not only has a positive impact on the individuals ACE serves directly, but also on their families, employees and communities through economic empowerment and equitable wealth creation.”

 

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About Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, charitable organization with a vision of health equity in Georgia where all people attain their fullest potential for health and well-being. Through strategic grantmaking, our mission is to enable, improve, and advance the health and well-being of all Georgians. For more information, visit healthcaregeorgia.org. 

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Inc. (ACE)

ACE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and community development financial institution (CDFI) that provides loans and business consulting services to help borrowers throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia create and grow stable businesses that generate jobs. Since 2000, ACE has loaned more than $100 million to over 1,400 entrepreneurs, who have created or saved more than 12,000 jobs in Georgia. ACE’s hallmark service is its combination of capital, coaching and connections. ACE is supported by grants and other forms of funding from banks, foundations, government entities and corporations to assist in its mission to help underserved business owners. ACE has offices in Westside Atlanta, Dalton, Rome and Cleveland, Ga., and our ACE Women’s Business Centers in Norcross and Savannah, Ga. For more information, visit https://aceloans.org/.

 

For Healthcare Georgia Foundation

CONTACT: Rachael Dempsey

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 404.653.0990

 

For Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs Inc. (ACE)

CONTACT: Martina Edwards

Email[email protected]

Phone: 470.615.1279

Healthcare Georgia Foundation is pleased to announce Carver State Bank as a recipient of the Foundation’s recent Strategic Health Impact Investment funding in the amount of $100,000. Since 2019, the Foundation has worked to identify organizations that are addressing the social determinants of health in a wide variety of ways, and has actively pursued Program Related Investments (PRIs) targeted towards the “causes of the causes” with very encouraging results. With a strong commitment towards diversity, equity, and inclusion, Carver State Bank is an ideal partner for Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s Strategic Health Impact Investment efforts.

Founded in 1927 in Savannah, Georgia, Carver State Bank is one of only 18 Black-owned banks in the United States. As a Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Carver’s mission to provide underserved communities with the building blocks to financial freedom is directly related to Healthcare Georgia’s goal of addressing the social determinants of health disparities. Carver will use the funding provided by Healthcare Georgia’s investment to make new loans for small businesses and affordable housing in our community.

President of Healthcare Georgia Foundation, Dr. Gary Nelson, commented on Carver State Bank’s award, “The Foundation is thrilled for this partnership opportunity with Carver State Bank, and we have been greatly impressed over the years as we’ve observed their tireless efforts toward enriching the greater Savannah-Chatham community.” Dr. Nelson continued, “We are looking forward to the fruits of this effort joined with Carver State Bank, and we are excited to see the impact that will be created.”

“As a mission-driven financial institution, Carver is proud to work with Healthcare Georgia Foundation in their continued and innovative efforts to address inequalities in health outcomes.” said Robert James, President of Carver State Bank. “Their investments have a tangible impact on small business and job growth in our community, and we look forward to this continued partnership.”

With this recent award to Carver State Bank, Healthcare Georgia Foundation will exceed $1.1 million in Strategic Health Impact Investments geared towards addressing the Social Determinants of Health.

 

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About Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, charitable organization with a vision of health equity in Georgia where all people attain their fullest potential for health and well-being. Through strategic grantmaking, our mission is to enable, improve, and advance the health and well-being of all Georgians. For more information, visit healthcaregeorgia.org. 

About Carver State Bank

Carver State Bank is a member of the National Bankers Association and Georgia Bankers Association. Carver is the only bank headquartered in Savannah that is certified by the United States Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and is currently one of only 18 African- American-owned commercial banks in the United States. Carver’s mission is to provide our community with the building blocks to financial freedom. As the only bank in Savannah headquartered in one of the area’s five low-income census tracts, the bank highlights the need to improve the lives of low-income individuals and residents of distressed communities.

 

For Healthcare Georgia Foundation

CONTACT: Rachael Dempsey

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 404.653.0990

 

For Carver State Bank

CONTACT: Rachelle Gregory

Email[email protected]

Phone: 310.621.5349

The Foundation is working with the ANDP Loan Fund to address health and housing disparities across Georgia 


Healthcare Georgia Foundation has made a $250,000 program-related investment in the ANDP Loan Fund to expand access to quality, healthy affordable housing — benefiting persons of color, low-income households, seniors, and other vulnerable groups across metropolitan Atlanta and Georgia. ANDP develops, finances and advocates for affordable housing at scale that promotes racial equity and healthy communities where families thrive.

“Healthcare Georgia Foundation is pleased to partner with ANDP in this investment that will address one of the key social determinants of health (housing) in such a strategic and impactful way,” said Foundation President, Dr. Gary Nelson. He continued, “ANDP has proven time and again their commitment towards equitably advancing metro Atlanta’s affordable housing options, and their unwavering desire to improve the lives of Georgia’s residents.”

The Foundation’s vision is “health equity across Georgia”, where all people attain their fullest potential for health and well-being. Healthcare Georgia Foundation looks to address health disparities, expand access to affordable, high-quality, and integrated services, promote health and prevent disease, and strengthen health nonprofit organizations, programs, and workforces. 

Investments like the funding for ANDP are made to financial intermediaries serving communities across Georgia that are certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and as such, have a primary mission of providing financial products and services to low-wealth communities.

Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s low cost capital funding will be leveraged by ANDP to help finance over 1,500 units of affordable housing, and provide more than 500 future homebuyers with down payment assistance (DPA) loans over the next five years. The majority of ANDP’s lending will benefit minority households and households earning 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) or less. ANDP’s efforts will play a critical role in addressing systemic housing disparities that compound health inequities among communities of color and low-income populations. 

“Safe, affordable housing is a paramount social determinant of health. We seek to address health inequities by financing quality, affordable housing that provides a platform of stability for people to thrive,” says ANDP President & CEO, John O’Callaghan. “Funds and capital provided by community health leaders like the Healthcare Georgia Foundation empower us to provide safer, healthier affordable housing options for our communities.” 

The ANDP Loan Fund is U.S. Treasury certified and provides much needed capital to metro Atlanta’s nonprofit and for-profit developers of affordable housing and other facilities. ALF’s financing has resulted in the renovation of over 750 formerly vacant homes since 2008, financing 6,107 housing units since inception, lending $51.3 million to projects valued at $510 million, and serving 90% of families at 80% AMI or less.  In the past three years, ANDP has more than doubled its Loan Fund’s portfolio, grown its total assets by 36% (now $10.2 million), and deployed over $10 million to multi-family, single-family, and community facilities developers in metro Atlanta.

Since 2019, Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s Strategic Health Impact Investment funding efforts have sought to identify and create partnerships with Community Development Financial Institutions who are working to address the social determinants of health. The Foundation looks forward to achieving impactful outcomes of this partnership with ANDP, an applauds their proven track record towards addressing disparities in housing.

 

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ABOUT HEALTHCARE GEORGIA FOUNDATION: Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a statewide, charitable organization with a vision of health equity in Georgia where all people attain their fullest potential for health and well-being. Through strategic grantmaking, our mission is to enable, improve, and advance the health and well-being of all Georgians. For more information, visit healthcaregeorgia.org.

ABOUT ANDP: A chartered member of NeighborWorks, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership is a nonprofit organization that develops, finances and advocates for affordable housing at a scale that promotes racial equity and healthy communities where families thrive. Now in its 30th year, the organization aims to further reduce the Black homeownership gap and increase access to affordable rentals with its “Closing the Gap: 2,000 units by 2025” campaign. Connect at www.andpi.org.

 

For ANDP

Contact: George Burgan
678-358-4427, [email protected]

For Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Contact: Rachael Dempsey
Phone: 404.653.0990, [email protected]

Announcing the Community Guarantee Pool, powered by the GoATL Fund

 

ATLANTA – June 8, 2021 – At a time of heightened need across the region, the GoATL Fund (GoATL), an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, has launched an innovative program for nonprofits to accelerate access to federal stimulus and other public contract funding. In collaboration with local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and private and family foundations, the Community Guarantee Pool (CGP) provides credit enhancements that free up capital for nonprofits, thus infusing dollars for critical services including rapid rehousing, rental assistance and mental health counseling. 

GoATL’s CGP is a pooled fund used to support multiple guarantees that allow nonprofits to more rapidly receive federal funding, which dramatically improves their ability to provide critical community services. “The CGP is the first of its kind in our region, and as it takes hold it has the potential to unlock up to $20 million in public subsidies that would otherwise go unused,” said Mark Crosswell, managing director of social impact strategies at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “Providing this service to our nonprofits across the region helps fulfill our commitment to advance racial equity while driving systems change at the local level.” 

CGP has launched with an initial $1 million in capital that will be used to issue guarantees to CDFIs in order for them to free up loan capital for nonprofits in metro Atlanta. The GoATL Fund will work closely with nonprofits and CDFIs to identify opportunities to improve the flow of federal funding to communities in need. For example, Project Community Connections, Inc. (PCCI), a nonprofit that implements solutions to permanently rehouse people experiencing homelessness into appropriate, affordable homes as efficiently as possible – often within 30 days – has recently taken on a $7.7 million government contract to support the transition of 450 families out of homelessness. In partnership with Reinvestment Fund and GoATL, the CGP will improve PCCI’s ability to perform on this contract. 

The CGP targets nonprofits that rely on substantial federal subsidies, including the funding made available through the American Recovery Plan. These federal funding subsidies are typically administered by local municipalities, which routinely experience administrative delays in making payments to nonprofits, causing severe cash flow shortages and hindering nonprofits’ administration of vital services. Also, for many government programs, the nonprofit must provide services (fronting all costs), then submit for funding reimbursement. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues due to an incredible surge in demand for nonprofit support. 

“The pandemic has caused thousands of metro area families to face homelessness or the threat of eviction, with thousands more experiencing unemployment. Demand for mental health services, quality food and rental assistance has outstripped supply. Our local nonprofits are ready to serve these families, but when the public subsidies are unduly delayed, they can’t fulfill their contracts to meet community needs. The Community Guarantee Pool was created to streamline the process, helping our nonprofits deliver while providing time for the government to provide the funding,” said Crosswell. “Alongside five CDFIs and several local foundations, we have structured this unique pilot to solve the problem through bridge funding. Along with hopes that our public partners respond by improving their processes to ensure that funding is flowing to where it’s most needed, we expect to see more sustainable funding soon.” 

Since 2018, the GoATL Fund has invested $12.25 million in local initiatives that seek to generate measurable social outcomes along with financial returns. GoATL’s investments are structured as flexible, cost-effective debt that provide impact investors a modest return while achieving social outcomes in affordable housing, job creation, education and well-being. 

The GoATL Fund invests in initiatives that address racial inequities including access to healthcare, affordable housing, economic inclusion and education. To create efficiencies and leverage even more capital, GoATL often collaborates with intermediaries like CDFIs that have the knowledge and expertise to structure larger investments to support solutions addressing critical needs across our region. 

“Many of the organizations providing services such as emergency shelter and mental health counseling are facing operating challenges during the pandemic, with increased costs and decreased revenues,” said Christina Szczepanski, managing director, southeast for Reinvestment Fund, a CDFI that brings financial and analytical solutions to community challenges. “Having the Community Guarantee Pool provide credit enhancements helps moderate risk as we make working capital loans to nonprofits providing these essential services.”

“When awarded 70% of the City of Atlanta’s CARES COVID-19 Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding in November 2020, PCCI did not have the cash on hand to execute the contract,” said Margaret Schuelke, co-CEO for PCCI. “PCCI is glad to be the first nonprofit benefiting from the Community Guarantee Pool. We hope other nonprofits are able to take advantage of the program and alleviate their financial concerns.” 

Participating CDFIs include Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP), Enterprise Community Partners, LISC Atlanta and Reinvestment Fund. Alongside the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation and The J.B. Fuqua Foundation have made commitments to the CGP. If any other foundations are interested in supporting this effort, please contact Mark Crosswell.

 

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About the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Since 1951, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta has been leading and inspiring philanthropy to increase the vitality of our region and the well-being of all residents. With 70 years serving the Atlanta region and a robust team of experts, the Community Foundation expands its philanthropic reach and impact by providing quality services to donors and bold, innovative community leadership committed to racial equity. The Community Foundation is a top-20 community foundation among 800 nationally, with approximately $1.2 billion in current assets, and is Georgia’s second largest foundation. Launched in 2018, the GoATL Fund provides innovative and flexible capital designed to scale and sustain social solutions of critical importance to our community. Started with an initial allocation of $10 million from the Community Foundation, the GoATL Fund is now open to receive new capital from the Community Foundation’s donor community. For more information, visit: GoATL Fund, cfgreateratlanta.org or connect with the Foundation via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Project Community Connections, Inc.

PCCI is dedicated to permanently rehousing individuals and families experience homelessness to a decent, affordable place to live. They operate as a team of interdependent professionals dedicated to ending homelessness in the community. PCCI provides services that promote personal and economic self-sufficiency to assist their clients to become self-sufficient so they can remain stably housed and thrive in all aspects of their lives. To promote self-sufficiency, PCCI offers workforce development classes with the goal for their clients to secure full-time or part-time employment. PCCI’s reputation for delivering quality rapid rehousing services is earned through hard work, consistency and program performance. The quality, innovation and efficiency of their work has been recognized locally, statewide and nationally.

About Reinvestment Fund

Reinvestment Fund is a mission-driven financial institution committed to making communities work for all people. We bring financial and analytical tools to partnerships that work to ensure that everyone has access to essential opportunities: affordable places to live, access to nutritious food and health care, schools where their children can flourish, and strong, local businesses that support jobs. We use data to understand markets, communities, and impediments to opportunity—and how investment and policy decisions can have the most powerful impact. Since our inception in 1985, Reinvestment Fund has provided over $2.4 billion in financing to strengthen neighborhoods, scale social enterprises, and build resilient communities. Learn more at reinvestment.com.

Media Contact:

Elyse Hammett, 404.376.5563

[email protected]

By: Josh Young, Chief of Staff

 

We are not what people expect. Since our founding, we have operated a different type of nonprofit. Homelessness continues to increase around the world, which must stop. Making lasting progress requires fresh, creative solutions. The status quo is not enough.

At each step, we continue learning from the best minds throughout the business world. Y-Combinator, the most successful startup accelerator, chose us for their program. Their mindset, experience, and excellence remain ingrained in our company’s DNA. From our operations to financial investments, we align around a single focus: make a positive impact on the world’s most vulnerable. Everyone deserves a safe home.

 

Philanthropy

There’s a lot of distrust in the nonprofit world because of the way some have misused funds. So, we did something different to rebuild that trust with donors. Today, donors want to know exactly where their money is going, so that’s exactly what we deliver.

We provide 100% transparency to everyone who donates and ensure that ALL donations to homebuilding go directly to providing a home for a family in need of shelter.

Our 100% guarantee is made possible by a private group of generous, visionary donors who completely cover our operating expenses. We call this group The Builders. This model enables us to take calculated risks on innovative projects without sacrificing our ability to provide homes for families living in survival mode. 

We have funded 26 communities with philanthropy, impacting over 2,200 families with homes in Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico, and the US. To reach exponentially more people, we have decided to take on flexible debt in the form of Impact Notes.

 

Impact Notes

Even though the families we serve live in extreme poverty, we’ve learned that a model where families pay an affordable price to own their home works best. That’s why we’ve developed a strategy to provide low-interest loans to families who need them. 

Families have the means to pay back a loan; there is a combination of reasons they can’t obtain one from banks in places like Mexico. 

  • Predatory lenders in the market of Mexico target & exploit families. 
  • Decades of being taken advantage of caused a general distrust of financial institutions, so families refuse to use traditional financial institutions. 
  • Families rely on informal/cash-based income causing banks to deny loans altogether or charge unaffordable interest rates.

The Impact Notes are an innovative, flexible debt instrument for investors who want to maximize impact and preserve capital. Using it as a tool, we can offer a lower interest rate to families at a longer-term length, allowing low-income families to afford housing.

Currently, we build homes for less than $10k each. We will provide 50% as a micro-loan to be paid back, 40% comes from New Story philanthropy, and the family who will live in the home puts 10% as a down payment. This structure allows us to secure housing for more families who need it.

 

Investing in Research & Development

Global construction is one of the world’s largest markets, yet it’s one of the least digitized sectors, second only to farming. We realized that our mission would require us to attract top talent, invest in innovative technology, and raise additional capital for the affordable housing space.

A natural progression of our R&D program, we started Hometeam Ventures. Hometeam invests in early-stage founders who are creating breakthrough technology for the construction and housing space with the hope that these startups will help us create more safe housing globally.

Hometeam’s investments focus on double-bottom line startups that: 

  • Reduce the cost of housing.
  • Increase the speed of construction.
  • Improve the quality across the construction value chain. 

A non-profit built the world’s first 3D-printed community (you can watch a documentary on this on Apple TV+) because of our investment in ICON—a construction technology company. By being an investor, we are able to bring better quality technology, creativity, and innovation to those who need it most. 

Our team at New Story is thrilled to see what the future will bring as we work to steward capital well. By offering complete transparency to our donors, growing access to micro-loans, and putting a big emphasis on research and development, we hope that we will be able to house 1M people before 2030. Will you join us?