July 16th Transform Westside Summit: Strategic Partners Update

Westside Future Fund CEO, John Ahmann, welcomed attendees of the July 16th Transform Westside Summit as WFF celebrated the first summit to offer in person attendance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahmann was accompanied by WFF correspondents Ebony Ford and Benjamin Earley to host the event, which returned to The Gathering Spot after more than a year. Limited capacity, social distancing, mask requirements offstage, and other safety measures were in place to protect all in person attendees.

John Ahmann, WFF President & CEO, greets summit attendees

The summit featured updates from representatives of WFF’s strategic partners, including: Jesse Wiles & Carter Coleman, APD Urban Planning + Management; Karen Rogers, Atlanta Police Foundation; AP Thompson, CHRIS 180; Bill Bolling, Food Well Alliance; Olivia Maxwell, On the Rise Financial Center; Leonard Adams, Quest Communities; Faith Porter, Raising Expectations; George Dusenbury, Trust for Public Land; and Chaundra Johnson, YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta.

Jesse Wiles & Carter Coleman, APD Urban Planning + Management

Jesse Wiles and Carter Coleman of APD Urban Planning + Management shared information about the Special Public Interest (SPI) Districts soon to be introduced into neighborhoods across the city. The SPI districts are intended to incorporate feedback from residents regarding future land use while providing residents clarity on how local changes might impact them directly.

Karen Rogers, Atlanta Police Foundation

Atlanta Police Foundation‘s Karen Rogers highlighted At-Promise Center‘s School on the Move initiative created in response to Covid-19, the development of a secondary location for At-Promise Center, and the Secure Neighborhoods initiative. Rogers noted the importance of these programs in addressing education needs for local families as well as retaining resident officers within communities they serve.

AP Thompson, CHRIS 180

AP Thompson represented CHRIS 180, speaking on how the nonprofit helped support Westside residents in crisis during the pandemic—offering food, financial assistance, and counseling to residents in need. Offering perspective regarding the city’s ‘water boys,’ Thompson said:

Atlanta has the opportunity to be home of America’s largest group of entrepreneurs under 18 years old.”

Bill Bolling, Food Well Alliance

Bill Bolling, Founder & Chair of Food Well Alliance, gave updates from the newly renovated 970 Jefferson St. NW, now home to WFF and other local nonprofits. Totaling over 70,000 square feet, the building offers a space where community members can find locally sourced food, as well as warehouse and workspace for local entrepreneurs.

Olivia Maxwell, On the Rise Financial Center

Olivia Maxwell, Executive Director, spoke about On the Rise Financial Center‘s brand new office inside The Quest Westside Impact Center, located at 299 Joseph E. Lawry Blvd. OTRFC offers services to help residents improve credit, achieve homeownership, and launch businesses to build wealth.

Faith Porter, Raising Expectations

Faith Porter, Coordinator of Project DREAM, shared how Raising Expectations (RE) helps prepare Westside youth to succeed academically and in their careers through personalized tutoring and mentorship. RE helps provide families with nutritional and other forms of support they need to combat distractions in students’ environments, as well as access to internet, computers, and other vital tools.

George Dusenbury, Trust for Public Land

George Dusenbury, Georgia Director at Trust for Public Land gave updates from the newly opened Rodney Cook Park. Trust for Public Land builds parks and preserves land for the benefit of the community. The pandemic highlighted the importance of residents having access to community green spaces. Nearly a decade after a horrific flood which left over 100 residents displaced, Cook Park is now a functional space where people can enjoy local greenery, playgrounds, and artwork while knowing the development also protects surrounding homes from the threat of future flooding.

Leonard Adams, Quest Communities

Leonard Adams, Founder and CEO of Quest Communities, spoke about the victories and challenges the nonprofit experienced during the pandemic. Adams acknowledged community members who were lost to COVID-19 and how scarcity of resources continues to present obstacles. Adams finished on a high note, sharing new developments from the Westside Impact Center and Quest’s newly launched podcast.

Chaundra Johnson, YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta

Chaundra Johnson, Director of Community and Volunteer Engagement at YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta, gave updates on the Childcare for First Responders program and how YMCA is supporting families with hunger relief, youth advocacy, senior support programs, and access to vaccinations.

Ebony Ford congratulates Home Depot gift card winner

Ebony Ford announced the winners of the gift card giveaway, courtesy of Home Depot Foundation and Goodwill of North Georgia before being joined once more on stage by Ahmann and Earley to close the show. Register now for the August 6th Transform Westside Summit here.