The Rockefeller Foundation has announced Atlanta as the second participant in its Opportunity Zone Community Capacity Building Initiative.
Launched in May 2019, the initiative aims to help U.S. cities attract responsible investment in Opportunity Zones — economically distressed neighborhoods as defined in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Through the initiative, Atlanta, which has more than eighty-two thousand residents in twenty-six designated Opportunity Zones, will receive $920,000 in grants and supportive services, including $400,000 to establish and fund a chief opportunity zone officer at Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development authority.
In addition, the foundation awarded $600,000 to Cities of Service to provide Atlanta and the five other cities participating in the initiative with two AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members, who will lead and facilitate community engagement in the proposed projects and businesses and provide technical assistance to help balance the interests of investors and community members. An independent nonprofit organization, Cities of Service collaborates with mayors to improve the way local government and citizens work together.
"Opportunity Zones are the first federal incentive for community development in fifteen years and a unique opportunity to leverage private capital to help achieve Atlanta's economic and community development goals," said Invest Atlanta president and CEO Eloisa Klementich. "Invest Atlanta has been a first mover in the city with Opportunity Zones and partnerships with the Rockefeller Foundation, and Cities of Service will help us further the goal of bringing meaningful investment and greater equity to our communities."
"Cities are stronger when they work together with their citizenry to identify, develop, and implement solutions to community challenges," said Cities of Service executive director Myung J. Lee. "We are glad to be able help cities engage community members in the process to ensure that Opportunity Zones create real economic opportunity for their most vulnerable residents."