This post originally appeared on the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta blog.

June 24, 2020

By: Jonny Newburgh, Impact Investment Associate, GoATL Fund

Small businesses are hurting. Black-owned businesses face added challenges.

In good times, entrepreneurship is tough. The most recent Small Business Credit Survey, conducted by the Federal Reserve System in early 2020, found that in 2019 only 57% of small businesses enjoyed profits and 24% operated at a loss. When lockdowns began earlier this year, researchers found that the average small business had less than one month of cash on hand, leaving both small business owners and their employees – 47.5% of the private-sector workforce – at risk.

Clearly, the good times have ended. We are currently living in a global recession during a pandemic. Due to reduced revenues, many businesses are closing permanently and many others are reducing costs, including labor costs, in a bid for survival. Programs designed to offer financial relief, such as those in the federal CARES Act, have been unable to provide the needed support to prevent layoffs and avoid unemployment from reaching historic levels. Worse, federal programs not only overlooked rural, minority and women-owned businesses, but they also did not address pre-existing barriers to capital in communities of color.

Grantmaking for small businesses seeks to address inequities in accessing capital

Knowing the impacts of the dual economic and public health crises would impact the region unevenly, the Community Foundation worked with the United Way of Greater Atlanta to fund small business and nonprofit support organizations that work with and serve primarily non-White entrepreneurs and clients . In part, our support for small businesses is a recognition of the importance of business for social purpose, a point advocated by the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC).

To date, the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has granted $995,000, and donors have invested an additional $106,600 through the end of May to organizations in metro Atlanta that form the small business ecosystem. These organizations include the Center for Civic Innovation, which has long supported entrepreneurs leading civic enterprises that address inequities in Atlanta, and both of Georgia’s Small Business Administration (SBA) Women’s Business Centers – Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) and The Edge.

ACE is also one of metro Atlanta’s leading small business Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), a nonprofit loan fund that has invested over $70 million in metro area small businesses since 1999. ACE is the largest and most impactful small business CDFI in the region. With a mission to invest in disinvested communities, in 2019 ACE invested 45% of its funds in Black-owned businesses, 37% in women-owned businesses and 16% in Hispanic-owned businesses. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census, only 6% of small businesses in metro Atlanta are Black-owned, 22% are women-owned and 4% are Hispanic-owned.

As local governments announced lockdowns, ACE began surveying its clients to determine market needs. In just 12 weeks, it provided $8.5M in emergency loan capital, including Paycheck Protection Program loans, for 300 businesses and business advisory support to hundreds more.

Our impact investments provide low-cost, flexible capital to support an equitable recovery

The Community Foundation developed the GoATL Fund, the region’s first impact investment fund, to address these disparities and support wealth building through entrepreneurship in the same communities that ACE works with. CDFIs like ACE need grants to fund technical assistance programs and to provide equity in their loan funds, but they also need investors – like GoATL – to provide capital for relending for longer term social outcomes.

Since June 2018, GoATL has invested $1.25 million in ACE. ACE has used our investment to fund SBA Capital Advantage Program (CAP) loans and to fund loans for economic relief and recovery, such as Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

In 2019, ACE funded more than 90 loans, 49% of which financed Black-owned businesses. These loans, in turn, retained or created 831 jobs.

As governments across the metro area announced lockdowns due to the pandemic, ACE began working with local governments, development authorities and investment partners to develop new financing tools, increase available capital and offer greater flexibility to borrowers until the economy recovers.

But capital markets are racist, and they require anti-racist innovations

Having recently committed to a strategic plan that advances equity of opportunity , the Community Foundation also recognized that CDFIs cannot fill every gap in the market – and that an inequitable recovery is no recovery at all.

That’s why the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund granted $250,000 to the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI), which has long been working on alternative models of investment, such as character-based lending. AWBI was  also quick to offer grants to small businesses in Southwest, Southeast and Northwest Atlanta to ensure that small businesses, especially those owned by people of color, do not fail as a result of COVID-19.

Pictured: Takes a Village Transportation, ACE loan recipient

The Georgia Social Impact Collaborative’s Steering Committee is committed to addressing racism and racial inequities internally and in our work in the community to accelerate the social impact ecosystem across Georgia.

We must do and be better. We commit to listening, learning, and reflecting individually and as a group, by taking counsel with our partners and friends, and by accessing resources and expertise on racial justice and inclusive capital. We believe that racial equity will not come about without intentional action to address significant inequities in investment capital and network access, while also confronting bias, reimagining power dynamics and changing narratives.

Our hope is that others within the social impact ecosystem will join us in this work by contributing leadership, participation and equitable access to resources. 

We remain committed to inspiring more mission-driven capital to sustain an economy in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

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How can a campus achieve aggressive reductions in energy use, and reduce its carbon footprint, through efficiency upgrades? Agnes Scott College initiated the college’s Green Revolving Fund (GRF) in 2011 as a practical solution to this common challenge shared by colleges and universities that have committed to a goal of climate neutrality.

By 2015 Agnes Scott’s GRF had become a model for meeting this sustainability challenge, especially for schools with 5,000 or fewer students, by revolving more than $1 million to support energy capture and efficiency as well as water fixture retrofits campus wide. Now, five years after that first major goal was met, the Agnes Scott GRF has invested in efficiency retrofits totaling close to $2 million, including direct support for several large scale, innovative projects. Most notably, 10% of the college’s 1 million square feet of building space gained geothermal heat and air conditioning with support from the GRF. In addition, this fund has proven not only to be an incredibly effective tool to finance efficiency projects, it has also been a key element in advancing two other campus sustainability objectives: engaging our students in research to solve “real world” sustainability challenges, and creating a campus culture that supports the goal of advancing climate neutrality initiatives.

The basic concept of a green revolving fund is to establish a pool of financial resources dedicated to investing in energy and water efficiency upgrades that will generate utility cost savings. The money saved through these projects is then recycled back into the fund for future projects, resulting in a sustainable funding source for climate neutrality efforts. At Agnes Scott the GRF was designed to strengthen the college’s institutional capacity for building upgrades while ensuring that the campus will be more energy efficient. It was also designed to be managed by the campus community rather than by one department. 

Agnes Scott is a liberal arts college for women founded in 1889 and located in Decatur. The enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year was just over 1,000 students. The college’s mission statement is to educate women “to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.”  The approach that the college has taken to the GRF reflects this mission.

Sustainability and climate action are viewed by the leadership of the college as important components of Agnes Scott’s mission. In 2007 Agnes Scott was a charter signatory of Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment and in 2015 the college added a commitment to complete a Climate Resilience Plan with the surrounding community of Decatur. The college also participated as one of the first colleges to join the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, committing  to invest $1 million toward its GRF within the first three years after startup. 

Soon after signing the climate commitment, the college completed its first greenhouse gas inventory and drafted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) with a goal of climate neutrality by 2037. At the same time the Board of Trustees passed a resolution that all major renovation and new construction projects on campus would be required to achieve at least LEED Silver status. Since then three renovation projects have been completed:  The Anna Young Alumnae House (LEED Silver), Campbell Hall (LEED Gold), and Rebekah Scott Hall (LEED Platinum). The Campbell Hall and Rebekah Hall renovations benefited directly from GRF support and now operate on 100% geothermal HVAC.

The GRF has been a major driver in helping Agnes Scott College reduce its energy and water consumption and in the college’s efforts to achieve climate neutrality. Results include:

  • As of the 2017-2018 school year the college has reduced its emissions overall by close to 30% and emissions per full-time student by 39%.
  • Projects funded thus far funded by the GRF save the college an estimated total of $1 million in avoided water and energy expenses. 
  • Six individual student internships have brought students from different academic departments to the Center. These are often students that may not have had a sustainability focus previously. 
  • Moreover, the educational objective of the GRF has given many more students the opportunity to engage in environmental and sustainability issues and to wrestle with trying to create the right balance of environment, economics and equity as they make decisions. Students participating in the GRF Committee have made valuable contributions to proposal discussions, and have influenced the decision-making process with inventive solutions. 

At Agnes Scott the innovation investment of the GRF is truly seen as a tool for college improvement. It builds trust. The improvements from GRF projects, while not always flashy, have made the Center for Sustainability better at showing that climate mitigation takes a community approach and involves projects ranging from lighting upgrades to solar panels.

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Susan Kidd is the Executive Director of the Center for Sustainability at Agnes Scott College. In addition to the attention that the GRF has received, Agnes Scott’s overall sustainability profile has increased recently. The college received its STARS Gold rating in 2018 from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and then in 2019 received recognition for data accuracy in the Sustainable Campus Index that was released by AASHE. In 2020 Agnes Scott was ranked 13th in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges. This marked the first time Agnes Scott has been ranked in the top tier, and is the only college with fewer than 5,000 in the top 15. Agnes Scott also earned a top performer award for energy conservation from the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge in 2019.

Alongside Mission Investors Exchange (MIE), which held its 2020 conference virtually (instead of the originally planned location in Atlanta), GSIC hosted a session on place-based impact investing in Georgia on May 22. With over 75 participants, we witnessed a deep interest in understanding how impact capital can support investment in improved outcomes in our communities. Below is a short read-out of the conversation:

Mark Crosswell, GoATL Fund (Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta) and the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative (GSIC)

  • Gave background on the GoATL Fund, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s place-based impact fund, which deploys low-cost debt through financial intermediaries for social outcomes in alignment with the Foundation’s strategy to increase equity of opportunity.
  • GoATL started with $10 million in capital from the Foundation and began raising capital from its donors in 2018. With almost $12 million in total capital, GoATL has committed over $9 million, mostly to scale affordable housing, minority-owned small businesses and quality education through metro Atlanta’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs in Georgia.)

Jennifer Barksdale, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation

  • The Babcock Foundation transitioned to a 100% mission-aligned portfolio in the last several years. It has required each investment be made in accordance with their ESG Policy, which is updated regularly to consider new screens (such as private prisons).
  • To approach place-based work, the Babcock Foundation invests through CDFIs with grants, loans and credit enhancements. The Babcock Foundation does not make direct investments due to staff capacity requirements.
  • In response to COVID-19, the Babcock Foundation doubled unrestricted cash grants to all grantees, extended grant periods, eliminated interest on Program Related Investments (PRIs), forgave 20% and extended the maturity of all PRIs due this year by one year. The result is a doubling of their 2020 payouts. (See blog.)

Tracy Kartye, Annie E Casey Foundation

  • The Casey Foundation has allocated $200 million to its social investments, which began in 2002, before the term “impact investing” was coined. They invest both through CDFIs and directly into projects. They are very selective about their direct investments due to limited staff capacity.
  • Much of the Casey Foundation’s strategy in Atlanta has been around the Pittsburgh Yards development in NPU-V. It is a rare example of community-based development along the BeltLine, and it intends to provide employment opportunities and access to capital for individuals and hyperlocal businesses. To finance the $26 million New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) project, the Casey Foundation found both private and public investment partners.

Natallie Keiser, Annie E Casey Foundation

  • The Casey Foundation is embedded in NPU-V, Pittsburgh in particular, due to the extreme disparities in Atlanta by race and wealth. Caseyhas been a leader in promoting strategies for supporting greater equity in Atlanta through partnerships with entrepreneurs of color to build wealth, and developers to preserve and promote affordable housing, and families to minimize academic disruption.
  • Through the Foundation’s work in NPU-V, staff learned that Capitol View (a BeltLine adjacent multi-family property; photo) was for sale. Leveraging staff in both Atlanta and Baltimore, the Casey Foundation followed the Kresge Foundation’s Community Investment framework to evaluate and proceed with their investment. In partnership with HouseATL, the Casey Foundation found investment partners in Enterprise Community Partners, Invest Atlanta and others.
  • A major difference between the response to the ongoing pandemic and the last recession is the clarity around the need for emergency relief and early investment in recovery. After the last recession, the Casey Foundation invested $3 million to acquire 50 single family lots in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. With additional investment, they are exploring solutions to ensure permanent affordability.

Dale Royal, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

  • LISC opened its local office in Atlanta just last year but they have already developed a series of Financial Opportunity Centers, which are career and personal finance service centers that help low- to moderate-income people focus on the financial bottom line with integrated delivery of employment services, financial coaching and access to income supports.
  • In Atlanta, LISC is focusing its resources on building capacity of small businesses through strategies developed in other regions, as well as from their surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Right now, a major focus is on micro-lending, as micro-enterprises have the hardest time raising capital for their businesses and are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus-related lockdowns.

Local Updates:

  • The Sapelo Foundation is speaking with Albany Communities Together! (ACT!) about a PRI for their work in south Georgia. They are looking for partners to invest alongside them. Request more information.
  • Initiatives in southwest Atlanta are advancing equitable approaches to small business financing and wealth building to close the racial wealth gap, such as the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative and the Village Micro Fund.
  • SPARCC (Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge) published a guide to support an equitable and just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which can be found here.
  • Several participants commented on the interest in rural and urban funding. Many shared their excitement that Natural Capital Investment Fund is considering an expansion into Georgia.

Resources:

  • Entrepreneur Names: Asha Owens and Rebecca Kwee 
  • Venture Name: BestFit 
  • Impact Focus Area: College Success, Civic Tech 
  • Business Stage: Startup 
  • Year Venture Established: 2018 
  • Business Type: Private, Social Enterprise 

 Basic needs insecurity among college students is worse than you think. 

 Millions of college students in the U.S. rely on their school for stable access to food, housing, transportation, and work: At least 48% of college students experience food or housing insecurity, and they are disproportionately Black & Latinx, first-generation, financially independent, parents/caregivers, or working 30+ hours.  

 While the federal government invests billions of dollars annually in higher education, financial aid alone does not cover the economic, social, and psychological costs associated with persisting and completing college. Many students still struggle to meet their basic needs, and may drop out of college as a result of competing financial obligations. Additionally, because of stigma, lack of awareness, and lack of time, students underutilize the many institutional & public benefits that are available to them —  the US Government Accountability Office estimates that 57% of students at risk of food insecurity and eligible for SNAP did not collect those benefits. 

 The disparity in basic needs security among college students, as well as its impact on college persistance, is concerning given that 65% of jobs today still require some form of postsecondary education. However, 75% of low-income, underrepresented minority, and first-generation students who attend college will not graduate. 

 Redefining student success in a post-COVID-19 environment 

 We founded BestFit in 2018 to address the low college persistence rates among historically marginalized students. As graduate students at Columbia University in New York, we bonded over the fact that we both attended college without visiting in-person, and struggled to find a support system as well as access basic needs such as food or healthcare. Asha is a Columbus, GA native who left her home state to attend Brown University, while Rebecca attended Columbia as an international student from Singapore. Drawing from our past careers as software engineers and college counselors, we initially built a web platform where college students could share honest advice and insights through video stories. 

When COVID-19 struck, we’d recently relocated to Atlanta to join Techstars + Cox Enterprises’ Social Impact Accelerator, and were in the middle of a pivot. We were disturbed by the fact that many college students were displaced from campus housing with little to no warning–while low-income, rural, foster-care, and international students were scrambling to find food, shelter, and/or internet, they were still expected to complete their coursework and finish the semester. 

 This drove us to design, launch, and build our free resource portal for displaced college students within a week. Our web platform helps students design their own safety nets by leveraging college, community, federal, and philanthropic resources all in one place. We’re building the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource portal for college students, and our team is hard at work updating resources on a weekly basis.  

Students can use BestFit to: 

  • Find verified local and national resources for food, healthcare, transportation, financial assistance, and other basic needs; 
  • Determine eligibility and next steps;  
  • Submit resources they’ve found useful; and,
  • Sign up for weekly updates on newly added resources. 

In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve found the urgent need to expand our target population beyond college students to anyone facing a basic needs gap. After initial feedback from students, colleges, and community-based organizations, we’re developing a version of BestFit that helps any organization better connect their constituents to resources they need, when they need them.  

 Now, our goal is to scale our technology as a tool for building more equitable and resilient communities. 

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BestFit empowers college students to find and access the help they need, right when they need them, so they can focus on what matters—graduating. They are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Cox Enterprises Social Impact Accelerator (powered by Techstars). The company is actively seeking organization, city, and corporate partnerships for their recently launched community resource tool. Please reach out to them at [email protected] for more information. 

Other ways to stay updated: 

  • Instagram: @bestfit_app 
  • Twitter: @bestfit_app 
  • Sign Up through Website: http://best-fit.app  

 

In 2017, PadSplit launched as an innovative new model providing affordable housing for workers who have been unable to keep pace with the city’s rising rents, which according to RentCafe have increased by 65 percent in the last decade. In the three years of its existence, PadSplit has now housed more than 1,000 individuals, called “members,” throughout metro Atlanta. These members average $21,000 in annual income and typically work in hourly roles such as grocery store workers, security guards, restaurant employees, teachers and other posts that keep a community running.

Before PadSplit, these community workers had few, if any, reasonable housing options that were close to job centers. This lack of choices often led to individuals sleeping in airports or cars, being exploited in unsanitary extended stay motels or living far away and cobbling together 2-3 hour long commutes just to get to a job.

With years of experience in affordable housing, PadSplit’s founder Atticus LeBlanc realized there was a better model that could align incentives for workers, property owners and even cities. In launching PadSplit, LeBlanc showed other owners how taking existing, unused housing stock could create shared housing experiences that include private bedrooms, furnishings, utilities and healthcare access, alongside weekly, not monthly, rent payments. Having fixed costs made it far easier for individuals to budget and save, and all the while, property owners saw an increase in profitability and cities didn’t need to leverage tax subsidies for housing. The model did, in fact, align incentives and was working. PadSplit’s members report an average savings of $516 per month, as well as shorter commute times and improved credit ratings.

Fast forward to today and the Covid-19 crisis, where many of these same community service workers are now laid off, furloughed and unable to leave homes for public health and safety. Knowing that PadSplit’s member base would be severely impacted by the crisis, the organization quickly sprung to action to help its members ride out the crisis in the following ways:

  • Seeking grants: To date, PadSplit has raised more than $60K in funds that help members who cannot afford to pay their rent costs. 
  • Reducing fees: To cover all its bases, PadSplit reached out to all property owners and worked to negotiate lower rates to make it easier for members who could pay something, as well as allowing grant donations to last longer.
  • Providing emergency services: PadSplit is coordinating with other social impact organizations, nonprofits and companies to provide food, groceries and even toilet paper!
  • Offering healthcare: And, PadSplit is actively working to remind its members that they each receive 24/7 access to Teladoc services, in case anyone requires medical attention.

As the crisis continued, PadSplit didn’t just stop with the above plan. The organization layered in additional services for members to better position themselves when the economy re-opens. At the beginning of April, PadSplit began an employment assistance program that matches a member’s skills with available jobs, and they’re scraping job postings for any companies that are urgently hiring. 

All of this quick action has given PadSplit’s members peace of mind and allowed PadSplit to continue its own operations and prepare for growth in the coming recession. For more information about PadSplit, including how to rent out an available room in your home, visit PadSplit.com. Or, if you’d like to donate to keep hourly service workers housed, visit here.

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PadSplit, Inc is Public Benefit Corporation based in Atlanta, GA

 

Our immediate reaction to the ongoing pandemic and recession was to develop a list of capital and technical resources for small businesses and nonprofits in Georgia. If you are looking for capital to sustain your operations, please visit our page on Small Business and Nonprofit Resources During the COVID-19 Crisis.

On this page, we’re looking to aggregate funding needs related to COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts that either leverage external funding, have a rotational feature or blend financial tools. If you hear of any initiative not listed below, please email [email protected].

Community-based Funds

Each of these funds either started or accelerated efforts recently to support their networks of small business entrepreneurs bringing important goods and services to neighborhoods that historically have not benefited from mainstream financial systems and have been disproportionally impacted by recent events.

  • Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI): Begun as a collaborative effort of several leading community development and foundation professionals in Atlanta, AWBI has raised capital for a small business grant and loan fund, which is actively extending capital to entrepreneurs hit hard by the current pandemic.
  • Center for Civic Innovation (CCI): An incubator and accelerator for civic entrepreneurs, CCI is raising emergency relief capital for its entrepreneurs and organizations that were on the frontlines of gentrification and revitalization before the pandemic. Given their work in already underfunded and vulnerable communities, they need support now more than ever.
  • Georgia COVID-19 Emergency Relief for Farmers: A joint effort from Georgia Organics, the Food Well Alliance, Community Farmers Markets, Wholesome Wave Georgia, Global Growers and The Common Market Southeast, The Farmer Fund was created to support farmers in need. While originally created to address natural disasters, stakeholders have activated the Fund to support farmers affected by COVID-19.
  • Metro Atlanta Mutual Aid Fund (MAMA Fund): Focused on our most marginalized, the MAMA Fund supports Black, Indigenous, and other peoples of color that have endured hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will fund personal and familial needs for those in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Cobb, Douglas, Henry, Gwinnett and Rockdale counties.
  • Start:ME: An initiative of Emory University’s Social Enterprise @ Goizueta Business School, Start:ME is a micro-business accelerator operating in Clarkston, East Lake and South Atlanta. To support the graduates of their program who have had to close or pivot, they are raising $20,000 to be re-granted in the form of emergency grants, business transition to online sales support, special learning and expert advisory sessions, and more.
  • Village Micro Fund: Part of AWBI’s community of practice, The Village is working with AWBI to provide grants and loans to small businesses in southwest Atlanta. They also operate a micro-business loan fund and provide technical assistance to micro-entrepreneurs

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)

Mission-driven financial institutions that lend in historically dis-invested neighborhoods, most CDFIs operate loan funds that have a focus on specific themes (e.g., small business, housing, food access, etc.). Like unregulated loan funds, credit unions and banks may also seek certification from the CDFI Fund, the agency within the U.S. Treasury in charge of certification. For an overview of CDFIs operating in Georgia, check out the guide to CDFIs that GSIC put together for a workshop we hosted in Q3 2019.

Loan Funds

  • Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE): The leading CDFI small business lender in Georgia, ACE operates a $30M loan fund with retail and restaurants representing roughly 50% of the fund. They are currently raising capital (grants and debt) to provide extremely concessionary, flexible capital (including PPP loans) to existing borrowers that are facing severe hardship.
  • Albany Community Together! (ACT!): Based in Albany, GA, where COVID-19 has hit hardest in the state, ACT! is a small business lender sure to be experiencing distress.
  • Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP): As a developer and lender of single- and multi-family housing, ANDP has called on funders to support the immediate relief efforts  and front-line workers in the community.
  • Community Housing Capital (CHC): CHC aggregates loan capital to finance the creation and preservation of affordable housing through its network of 245 affordable housing developers across the country. Both ANDP and NeighborWorks Columbus are in their network.
  • Community Housing Services Agency, Inc. (CHSA): Established through a partnership between the city of Savannah and local banks, CHSA had developed over 1,200 units of affordable housing since 1989.
  • Georgia Cities Foundation (GCF): A part of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), GCF works with development agencies throughout the state to support small business lending and other economic development initiatives.
  • LiftFund: A micro-business lender, LiftFund is approved as a PPP lender but has limited access to capital concessionary enough to makes the loans, which are limited to charging 1% interest.
  • Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC): A large CDFI that is newer to Atlanta, LISC is working with DeKalb County to offer concessionary lending and are looking for grants to increase their available capital. They are also working to increase funding available for micro-lending.
  • NeighborWorks Columbus: Promotes and provides access to fit and affordable housing and builds assets for financial independence for all citizens of low to moderate income.
  • Reinvestment Fund (RF): A lender of considerable capacity, RF has taken a leadership role in developing a liquidity vehicle for CDFIs that have substantive pipeline but an inability to continue lending operations due to limited cash on hand.
  • Small Business Assistance Corporation (SBAC): Savannah’s only CDFI loan fund, SBAC is no longer accepting applications for it’s recovery loan program.
  • Southwest Georgia United: Based in Cordele, Southwest Georgia United operates several community-based programs in addition to its CDFI-lending activities for small businesses and home repair. Their office has remained open but has requested clients communicate via email or phone during the pandemic.

Credit Unions:

Four of Georgia’s CDFI credit unions are members of Inclusiv (noted below with asterisk [*], a nation-wide organization of community development credit unions. The On the Rise Financial Center, based on the Westside of Atlanta, is Inclusiv’s only place-based initiative and seeks to provide financial education and access to banking. Supported by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Equifax and others, program participants graduate with a modestly-funded bank account. Credit unions, like banks, make loans based on capital available, so placing funds on deposit is the primary way to support their lending programs.

  • 1st Choice Credit Union (Atlanta) *
  • B.O.N.D. Credit Union (Atlanta) *
  • Core Credit Union (Statesboro)
  • Credit Union of Atlanta (Atlanta) *
  • Interstate Federal Credit Union (Jessup)
  • Peach State Federal Credit Union (Lawrenceville) *

Banks

Both Carver State Bank and Citizens Trust Bank are among the oldest Black-owned banks in the United States, as they were both founded before the Great Depression. Today, they are among Georgia’s most important mission-driven lenders.

  • Carver State Bank (Savannah)
  • Citizens Trust Bank (Atlanta)
  • South Georgia Banking Company (Tifton)

Community Foundations

Check out this map to see which counties each community foundation covers.

Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHCs)

Providers of healthcare services in low-wealth communities, FQHCs are seeing reduced revenues as a result of the pandemic. While the CARES Act provided funding for FQHCs for expenses related to the coronavirus public health emergency, there are additional funding needs — especially in south Georgia. A Boston-based CDFI, Capital Fund, surveyed all the regional FQHCs earlier this year. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, here are the service areas of Georgia’s FQHCs.

Along with FQHCs, School Based Health Centers (SBHCs) and Charitable Clinics, together, provide medical care to approximately 885,000 of Georgia’s uninsured, low-income and medically vulnerable residents. Immediate funding needs for these critical players in Georgia’s community based health safety net include dollars for operating support and practice adaptation. Follow the links for comprehensive listings of both SBHCs (here) and Charitable Clinics (here).

  • Entrepreneur Name: Mario Cambardella
  • Venture Name: ServeScape
  • Impact Focus Area(s):  Landscape and Environment
  • Business Stage:  Startup
  • Year Venture Established: 2020
  • Business Type: Private – Landscape Consulting 

There is a disconnect between people and the natural environment. We get in our cars, park in our garages, work in our offices, and repeat. Yet even in our status-quo, there is a longing for connection. This is especially true as we struggle with the disruption to our social fabric caused by COVID-19. In a time where disconnect from people makes us feel isolated, we are searching for a tangible anchor; something that grounds us to our sense of place, gives us hope, and spreads joy.  

For me, this occurs when I am connected to the natural world.  For example, when I see the seed that I planted is sprouting, or the tree that I planted is blooming. Instantly, in the midst of instability, I feel rooted as I realize that the choice I made to care for a plant will serve the entire landscape with beauty and resiliency. In other words, my action directly contributes to the environment that I want to create.            

This is the foundational idea behind ServeScape. ServeScape seeks to bridge the disconnect between humans and nature by making it easier for people to create their own beautiful and resilient landscapes. This is done through leveraging technology to perform plant curation; a novel concept in the relatively antiquated landscape industry.  

Previously, plant suppliers and landscape professionals were stuck using old technology to account for inventory, make sales, and find the best plant. This was a slow process where plant inventory sat in the nursery for months, sometimes years, before being moved. Using our online marketplace, individuals and landscape professionals can shop real-time plant pricing and inventory.

In addition, ServeScape’s extensive plant attribute index allows for customers to design a multi-functional landscape by choosing a plant with an array of desired characteristics. These tools provide a systematic approach to meeting the needs of suppliers, landscapers, and individuals all on one website. Once the order is submitted, ServeScape uses our network of Georgia-grown plants and suppliers to deliver the plants right to your door. This system allows for you (the customer) to have full control over the environment you want to create for yourself, or your client, and ensures you are receiving the best plant at the best price.    

At ServeScape, we recognize that a healthy ecosystem is dependent upon the connectedness of each individual part that makes up the whole. While our mission is to connect people with place through plants, we believe that large-scale social impact is dependent on multiple missions sharing the same vision for a more sustainable, socially just, and resilient future. We are excited to be a part of the GSIC conversation and look forward to serving your scape!

 

Goodr has joined forces with Atlanta Public Schools to provide emergency food to APS students at five meal distribution sites during closure. Students will be able to access prepared meals from 10am-12pm Monday – Friday.

This includes: Douglas High, Cleveland Avenue Elementary, Bunch Middle, Sylvan Middle and Phoenix Academy at Crim. Goodr is also working closely with Atlanta Public School Board members to develop a plan that goes further to deliver food directly to apartment and housing communities thus eliminating any transportation barriers that will prevent students from accessing food during this closure.

  • Ready-to-eat meals will also be available at Loaves & Fishes at St. John Orthodox Church at 543 Cherokee Ave. SE Atlanta, GA 30312 from Monday – Friday from 9AM -10AM.
  • As of Monday, March 16th, all APS families can report to one of the five sites from 10AM-12PM to receive a bag of shelf stable grocery items from Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Goodr Founder and CEO, Jasmine Crowe said in a statement, “Goodr is experiencing a massive uptick in requests from nonprofits, families, and senior homes for food. At the same time, several of our client venues are having events and initiatives get canceled. What we know for sure is that with schools across the nation now closed, people being asked to work from home, and the growing number of people out of work – food is one resource that is critical at this time.”

On March 13th alone, Goodr was able to distribute over 90,000 pounds of food from three major sports arenas, event venues, schools and offices. They were able to deploy drivers in minutes, clearing refrigerators and freezers to feed the need. This rescued food served people in need across four counties. 

Building on that momentum, Goodr created a short list of ways you can help “Do Goodr:”

  • One-Time Pick-ups: They’ve enabled one-time pick-ups to help get food to more people. Don’t let good food go to waste. If your office or venue has food to donate – Goodr can pick it up today! Visit them online at www.goodr.co to get started.
  • Sponsor a Pick-up: Goodr serves a massive non-profit network nationwide and if you want to pitch in and help, you can sponsor a pick-up allowing them to do more good. Visit them online at www.goodr.co to get started.
  • Join us: Goodr will be hosting pop-up grocery stores in the Atlanta community over the next two weeks, you can join them as a volunteer. Text DOGOODR to 33777.
  • Spread the word: Please don’t let good food go to waste while our neighbors are hungry. Share Goodr’s services with your network and let them know how they can help!

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Goodr provides a secure ledger that tracks an organization’s surplus food from pickup to donation, delivering real-time social and environmental impact reporting analytics. The Goodr model aims to provide a triple-win solution by improving an organization’s bottom line through charitable tax donations, reducing its greenhouse emissions from landfills and getting its edible surplus food to local communities in need.

 

This post originally appeared on The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s blog on March 17, 2020.

 

March 25, 2020

ATLANTA – With children out of school, businesses temporarily closing, performances shuttered and workers being laid off, there has never been a time where community support and financial resources have been more badly needed. United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta are announcing the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

The new fund will support those most vulnerable to the economic and health-related impacts caused by the pandemic. The Community Foundation is committing $1 million and United Way of Greater Atlanta is contributing $500,000 to seed the fund. Additional dollars will be sought from individual donors, corporate partners and foundations.

Funds raised will focus on providing crucial services to high-risk audiences including seniors, families with children who normally receive free or reduced meals at school, families in need of childcare, homeowners and renters at risk for eviction, and hourly/low-wage workers.

“United Way and our partners at the Community Foundation are uniquely positioned to quickly and effectively identify areas with the greatest need, activate and connect people to resources,” said Milton Little, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta. “We are committed to securing and supporting the community safety nets needed for Child Well Being in these unprecedented times.”

“The Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2019 Metro Atlanta Speaks survey revealed that 46 percent of families in metro Atlanta do not have $400 on hand in case of an emergency and this crisis will only amplify that vulnerability,” said Lita Pardi, interim vice president at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “Bolstering support of our nonprofits addressing these needs is essential, and funders are working together to quickly support the residents and communities in our region.”

Individuals and families impacted and in need of support can contact United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2-1-1 Contact Center. There are many ways to connect to 2-1-1 including by phone, chat, email or mobile app. 2-1-1 is a valuable resource that is available 24-hours and 7 days-a-week.

To donate to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, click here.

 

UPDATE: Since this article was posted, the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has received an additional $10 million from two renowned Atlanta institutions: $5 million from The Coca-Cola Company and $5 million from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation (read more here).

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About United Way of Greater Atlanta
United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way chapter in the nation, focuses on ensuring that every child in Atlanta has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. The organization invests in more than 200 programs in 13 counties through the Child Well-Being Impact Fund and works to help children succeed in school, improve financial stability of families, provide affordable and accessible healthcare and end homelessness. For more information, visit: unitedwayatlanta.org or FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram.

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 nearly 70 years serving the 23-county 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. The Community Foundation is a top-20 community foundation among 750 nationally, with approximately $1.2 billion in current assets, and is Georgia’s second largest foundation. For more information, visit: cfgreateratlanta.org or connect with the Foundation via FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.