Why the Westside?
Westside Future Fund was established in December 2014 out of the vision and leadership of former Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed. Recognizing the long-term growth inequity in Atlanta’s Historic Westside, then-Mayor Reed committed to fostering transformational change through a collaborative approach.
Now is the time for our city’s corporate and philanthropic leaders to join us and make their own commitment to the Westside as we make long-term, transformational change.
Mayor Reed set the stage for this work by engaging the Atlanta Committee for Progress, a coalition of top CEOs and leaders from Atlanta’s private sector, universities and nonprofits. The group boldly embraced his charge by making the Westside Future Fund one of their top priorities, providing board leadership and early philanthropic support.
A Vision for Collaboration and Engagement
The vision was set in early 2013. Partnering with Atlanta Falcons owner and The Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank, Mayor Reed announced that the new Falcons stadium would be located adjacent to the Historic Westside and serve as a catalyst for growth and change in the storied neighborhoods of Vine City, English Avenue, Ashview Heights and Atlanta University Center.
Cementing the commitment, the City of Atlanta and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation made catalytic lead investments of $15 million each.
Chick-fil-A Chairman and CEO Dan Cathy and the Chick-fil-A Foundation were also early, momentum-building investors and have devoted significant philanthropic capital and leadership resources. In fact, Vine City is now home to the community’s first Chick-fil-A. The restaurant will not only contribute to the economic development of the area, but will create a minimum of 50-60 new job opportunities for area residents.
Many other major Atlanta-based companies have made significant foundation-setting contributions in support of the vision, such as Delta Air Lines, UPS, SunTrust, Georgia Power, The Home Depot, The Coca-Cola Company, Equifax and Cox Enterprises.
A Groundbreaking Approach to Transformation
Westside Future Fund is committed to creating and curating an eco-system that disrupts the cycle of poverty. Based on best-practice research in community revitalization, the Westside Future Fund has identified and developed plans for four areas needing simultaneous attention: safety and security, cradle-to-career education, health and wellness and mixed-income communities.
The Westside Future Fund serves as the backbone coordinating organization for this collective effort. Through its host of cross-sector partners, the effort is already charting progress, such as:
- City of Atlanta winning the highly-competitive $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhood Grant to support the development of affordable housing options
- Reducing crime by 35% since the launch of the Atlanta Police Foundation’s Westside Security Plan, which also includes the opening of the AT-PROMISE Center, a community youth crime diversion program
- Training hundreds of residents in real-world, career-path jobs via Westside Works, which has resulted in more than $12.1 million in wages earned by program graduates to date
- Improving financial health and wellness for Westside families and small businesses as a result of the opening the “On the Rise” Financial Center
- Adding green space and environmental infrastructure with the groundbreaking of Cook Park
- Adding 21 new faculty members at Hollis Innovation Academy as a result of the Westside Future Funds’ partnership with Atlanta Public Schools
- The YMCA's recently announced new headquarters, the Leadership and Learning Center, which will contain six model Head Start classrooms serving 70+ neighborhood children
- Launching the Westside Volunteer Corps, which has already deployed thousands of volunteers across the four historic neighborhoods in support of its more than 60 nonprofit partners
- Completing the Atlanta Beltline’s Westside Trail, a $42 million, 14-foot-wide multi-use trail that opened September 2017 with 14 access points and more than 40 acres of greenway
A Commitment to the People and History of the Westside
At the core of the Westside Future Fund’s mission is its dedication to the past, present and future residents of the four Historic Westside neighborhoods. These neighborhoods include the world’s largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities, have a rich historical narrative of black Atlanta academic, religious, political and business leadership, and were home to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Julian Bond, Maynard Jackson and other luminaries of the Civil Rights Movement.
The award-winning Westside Land Use Action Plan is a tangible outcome of the commitment to preserve this rich history and ensure current residents can benefit from future development. The plan calls for initiatives that reduce blight, incorporate sustainable practices and balance affordable, market-rate housing.
The commitment is also being put into action through the 2017 launch of the Westside Future Fund’s Anti-Displacement Tax Fund, funded completely by philanthropic support.
Charting a Path Forward
As the revitalization efforts gain momentum, the City of Atlanta and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation continue to set the pace. On Sept. 8, 2017, Mayor Reed and Arthur Blank announced an additional $32 million worth of investments, bringing the Blank Foundation’s total commitment to $30 million and the City of Atlanta’s total to nearly $115 million.
“What we’re doing is putting a stake in the ground for the active development of the most challenged part of the City of Atlanta. The Westside Future Fund will be vital to the future development of the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive corridor and West Atlanta community. Backed by a dynamic public-private partnership, the Westside Future Fund will work to secure a stronger, healthier future and spur job creation, civic engagement and business investment for historic Westside neighborhoods.”
– Mayor Kasim Reed
As the Westside Future Fund looks to foster the holistic transformation of the Westside’s four historic neighborhoods, it will take the support of all Atlantans, working together, to make that happen.
Browse our site for opportunities to join the collective effort to revitalize one of the City’s most treasured communities and honor the words of former Vine City resident Dr. King:
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly ... I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”
The Westside Future Fund brings together community leaders from all areas of Atlanta – business, government, and philanthropy – who believe in the future of these historic neighborhoods and are committed to helping restore their strength.
Board of Directors
We’re committed to helping Westside neighborhoods revitalize and grow. It will take all of us, together, to make that happen. As we collaborate with residents and experts on the right approach, we share our plans here.