Why the Westside?
Westside Future Fund was launched by the Atlanta Committee for Progress (ACP), a coalition of top CEOs and leaders from Atlanta’s private sector, universities and nonprofits, in December 2014. The Historic Westside has a rich cultural legacy that helped shaped Atlanta as it is today —with its historic role in the Civil Rights Movement, unparalleled concentration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the unrelenting spirit of the people who call it home. Once a populous community with more than 40,000 residents, decades of underinvestment gave way to vacant housing, underperforming schools, and lack of access to key resources that define a healthy, safe, and thriving community.
Recognizing this long-term inequity in Atlanta’s Historic Westside, the ACP committed to fostering long-term transformational change through a collaborative model of compassionate revitalization to be led by Westside Future Fund. They provided early board leadership and philanthropic support.
The City of Atlanta and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation made catalytic lead investments. Chick-fil-A Chairman and CEO Dan Cathy and the Chick-fil-A Foundation were also early, momentum-building investors and devoted significant philanthropic capital and leadership resources.
Many other major Atlanta-based companies made significant foundation-setting contributions in support of the vision.
A Groundbreaking Approach to Transformation
Since our founding in 2014, Westside Future Fund has worked with residents, community leaders, and public and private partners, to achieve progress through championing four impact strategies: community health and wellness, safety and security, cradle-to-career education, and mixed-income neighborhoods. With the threat of gentrification looming, legacy residents and community leaders outlined their vision in the Westside Land Use Framework Plan, which was unanimously passed by Atlanta City Council in 2016. A key component of the plan was ensuring that as revitalization took hold, our neighbors on the Westside would be able to live in the community they call home and participate in its prosperous future. Westside Future Fund’s Home on the Westside was created to honor this commitment.
Since its inception, Home on the Westside, our signature program, has served families through its three components – anti-displacement tax fund assistance for legacy homeowners and affordable housing, rental and homeownership, for those who have “live, work, and learn” connections to the Historic Westside. Westside Future Fund renovates properties and undertakes new construction to deliver high quality housing at deeply affordable rates. Homeownership support includes access to financial counseling and down-payment assistance. For legacy residents facing rising property taxes, the Anti-Displacement Tax Fund delivers financial relief so they can remain at home on the Westside.
We also partner with other neighborhood organizations to advocate for community health and wellness, safety and security, and efforts to holistically improve quality of life. To ensure collaboration, Westside Future Fund hosts the monthly Transform Westside Summit to bring together revitalization partners and residents in an ongoing conversation about the Westside’s future. Together, we can realize the beloved community Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be proud to call home.
Additional efforts to coordinate and accelerate initiatives contributing to the overall collective effort include:
- City of Atlanta winning the highly-competitive $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhood Grant to support the development of affordable housing options
- Reducing crime by 43% 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 $16.2 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
- 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 Westside Future Fund’s Anti-Displacement Tax Fund, funded completely by philanthropic support.
Charting a Path Forward
Since our founding in 2014, we have made progress toward a community where all can thrive. That progress is reflected in hundreds of high-quality, permanently affordable rental units, new or renovated single-family homes, and property tax relief for more than 100 legacy residents. Students have access to groundbreaking curriculum. Greenspace is expanding. Economic opportunity is on the rise.
As we look to continue fostering the holistic transformation of the Westside’s five historic neighborhoods, it will take the support of all Atlantans, working together, to make it happen. Help us continue our work including:
- Meeting our goal of 800 permanently affordable rental units by 2025 – we are halfway there and need your help!
- Delivering 200 affordable single-family homes and down-payment assistance to working class families.
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.”