Although Atlanta is home to the largest charitable sector in the South, more support for grassroots activists in the city is needed, a report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy and Grantmakers for Southern Progress finds.
Based on data from 2010 to 2014, the report, As the South Grows: Bearing Fruit (36 pages, PDF), found that despite the city's booming economy and progressive reputation, low-income communities of color are being left behind, with just over 20 percent of philanthropic funding in the city going to economically disadvantaged communities (12 percent), people of color (5.14 percent), women (4 percent), immigrants (0.3 percent), LGBTQ individuals (0.05 percent), and other underserved communities. During that five-year period, only 2 percent of foundation funding in Atlanta supported policy change and power-building strategies.
The report, the fourth in a series about opportunities for philanthropy to improve the lives of underserved communities in the South, highlights the leaders of six grassroots organizations working with limited resources to help Atlanta live up to its "too busy to hate" slogan — Mary Hooks, executive director of Southerners on New Ground; Adelina Nichols, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights; Xochitl Bervera, executive director of the Racial Justice Action Center; Nathaniel Smith, chief equity officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity; Tené Traylor, Atlanta fund advisor at the Kendeda Fund; and Janelle Williams, a senior associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Atlanta Civic Site.
The report also outlines five recommendations for funders thinking about investing in Southern grassroots leaders: ensure that data used to inform priorities and strategies are disaggregated by race, gender, income, and sexual identity; recognize the difficulties inherent in organizing marginalized communities; make patient, risk-tolerant, long-term investments that enable grantees to build a movement and cultivate relationships; award general operating support grants, not just project support; and take the time to learn about the history, context, power structures, and priorities at play in the region.
"Atlanta is the philanthropic center of the South and is known as a city of prosperity and inclusiveness. Unfortunately, that reputation is not the reality for all residents of the metro Atlanta region, as many of the city's underserved citizens have been pushed to the margins in the name of progress," NCRP chief executive Aaron Dorfman wrote in a blog post. "Fortunately, there is a huge opportunity for foundations and wealthy donors to step in and support those communities."
(Image credit: Terence S. Jones)