The Foundation’s Senior Leaders travel to Atlanta to meet with Georgia-based grantees and City of Atlanta’s Economic Development team.
ATLANTA, Feb. 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Rockefeller Foundation announced that on Thursday, its president and a half dozen members of its senior leadership team met with three Georgia-based grantees, Our Village United, Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, and The Common Market Georgia, several small businesses that have benefitted from Foundation investment, local entrepreneurs, and members of the City of Atlanta’s Economic Development team. The meeting, which took place at The Gathering Spot on Northyards Blvd. in northwest Atlanta, marks the first time that The Rockefeller Foundation’s senior leaders have traveled together to one of the organization’s priority cities since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our leadership team has come down to Atlanta, a community that illustrates many of the challenges vulnerable people face in 21st century America and the many opportunities The Foundation and our grantees can embrace to advance our nearly 110-year-old mission of promoting the well-being of humanity,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Because Atlanta ranks number one for income inequality in America, we have prioritized investing in the city as part of our broader effort to advance equity and economic opportunity and expand access to healthier food in the United States.”
Making Opportunity Universal in Atlanta
The Rockefeller Foundation has invested more than $11.3 million in and around Metro Atlanta across its Equity & Economic Opportunity and Food programs since 2019. Recent collaborations include:
- Selecting Atlanta as one of a dozen U.S. cities where the Foundation invested in organizations and projects focused on breaking down barriers to capital and credit access for Black and Latinx small businesses through the The Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective (ROC).
- Supporting the efforts of Our Village United (OVU), which works with Black entrepreneurs and organizational partners to create access to funding, technical assistance, and capacity building through the Foundation’s ROC initiative. Since the 2020 grant to the ELEVATE program, a 12-week incubation program that connects solopreneurs and microbusinesses with small business and community resources, tools, and expertise within the Village Market Atlanta ecosystem, OVU has graduated 100 businesses through its program, dispersed over $45,000 in novel capital, and delivered over 200 hours of mentoring, 160 hours of direct training, and 107 hours of wellness support.
- Investing in Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), which is focused on providing economic development to underserved people and communities by supporting loans often referred to as the “missing middle” ($100,000 to $250,000) and by coupling business advisory services with lending to ensure small business owners have the business acumen to build successful enterprises. Over the last 12 months, ACE has leveraged grant funding to deploy $2.7 million in capital to 22 small businesses and provided over 167 hours total of business advisory services. Their loans have also helped business owners retain 80 employees and create 54 local jobs. In addition to its initial grant in 2021, The Rockefeller Foundation provided a grant in 2022 as part of its Economic Opportunity Coalition in support of providing diverse and flexible lending solutions and educational resources to historically disadvantaged small business owners in the Metro Atlanta area.
- Expanding access to healthier foods while building local capacity and creating more market opportunities for Black farmers and other underserved farm businesses through The Common Market, Georgia, nonprofit regional food aggregator and distributor that also supports local, sustainable small farmers. Following an initial planning contract to co-create a shared vision and strategy with several local partners, The Rockefeller Foundation awarded Common Market a three-year grant in 2022 to support a more equitable and resilient Atlanta regional food system. This includes significantly deepening Atlanta’s commitment to good food procurement and supporting Black farmers and other small- and mid-sized regional producers with capacity investments, land access, forward contracts, and technical assistance. This funding also includes sub-grants to several local and regional partners, including Georgia Organics, The Conservation Fund, Emory University’s Turned Environmental Law Clinic, and Health Care Without Harm.
Dr. Shah was joined in the visit by Natalye Paquin, COO of The Rockefeller Foundation, who joined the Foundation in December after serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlanta-based Points of Light, which was founded by former President George H.W. Bush to encourage people to change their communities and the wider world. “It is a pleasure to welcome my new colleagues to a city I’ve lived in and loved for years, and it’s a privilege to meet Rockefeller partners, and see their inspiring work, in person,” said Ms. Paquin.
Additional members of The Rockefeller Foundation’s delegation include Elizabeth Yee, Executive Vice President of Global Programs, Ashvin Dayal, Senior Vice President for Power & Climate, Mike Muldoon, Chief of Staff to the President, and Eileen O’Connor, Senior Vice President for Communications, Policy & Advocacy.