For Immediate Release
ATLANTA, GA – The TransFormation Alliance, a partnership of more than 30 government agencies, businesses and nonprofits, including the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), announced today a series of innovative grants to help infrastructure in Atlanta heal where it once divided.
TFA announced it has distributed $500,000 in SPARCC capital grants in the past year to organizations sharing its vision of revitalization in struggling communities that often don’t attract traditional investors or are transitioning so quickly that nonprofit developers are pushed out of contention.
All the projects funded underwent a screening process to evaluate their impact on racial equity, health, and ability to help mitigate climate change effects. The projects range from first-of-their-kind youth soccer fields located at public transit stations to purchases of properties that will remain affordable in perpetuity.
They represent a new way of building infrastructure with multiple benefits to enrich communities rather than the ways of the past that helped some areas but hurt others.
When “urban renewal” blasted through Atlanta in the 1960s and 1970s, rail transportation and freeways divided neighborhoods in the guise of progress but left communities of color behind. In the years since, investment and growth have favored the majority white neighborhoods to the north of I-20, and poverty has concentrated in the predominantly black neighborhoods to the south. The median household income for black households is less than one-third that of whites.
With these newly funded programs, neighborhoods have begun to reconnect in new ways.
“SPARCC has given us permission to be more honest around race and racism. That’s a game-changer,” said Odetta MacLeish-White, managing director of TFA. “It’s notable that an organization that names and leads with racial equity is thriving in the South.”
Funding has been awarded for:
Soccer in the Streets – New soccer fields in the West End are helping promote health through exercise, enhance climate resilience through transit, promote social cohesion, and create local jobs. The fields have broken down the barriers of transportation and affordability for low-income children who want to play soccer, becoming the proverbial “third space” where people gather, parents talk, kids play, and community is built, according to MacLeish-White. An additional StationSoccer project is in the pipeline in East Point.
“As we strive for an equitable playing field, it’s partners like the TFA through the SPARCC initiative that help form a collaboration that can impact positive health outcomes within communities that have long wanted access to programs that we offer. With partners like TFA, MARTA, Atlanta United Foundation and the City of Atlanta, we are able to beat the affordability and transportation hurdles affecting the communities we serve,” says Sanjay Patel, Director of Strategic Projects, Soccer in the Streets.
“TFA has been a critical partner in advancing the Atlanta Land Trust’s mission to create permanently affordable housing around the Atlanta BeltLine. ALT brings together residents, local government and the private sector to ensure that long-time residents of the city of Atlanta are able to benefit from this significant infrastructure investment. The community land trust model employed by ATL represents the systems-level change SPARCC seeks,” says Amanda Rhein, Executive Director, Atlanta Land Trust.
Southface (C.R.E.W.) – Atlanta C.R.E.W. is a free workforce development program that trains people to install and maintain green infrastructure with a cultural and artistic vision. Prior to C.R.E.W., Southface and WonderRoot partnered on a Climate and Cultural Resilience project through Enterprise Community Partners, which encouraged residents to reminisce about their neighborhood and connections to the natural environment in a powerful storytelling project, This Belongs to Us. Low-income neighborhoods are typically the least able to rebound from flooding, rising temperatures, and other results of climate change and the Southface project in partnership with the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and WonderRoot, helps existing residents and newcomers see the impact of climate over time. The project seeks to mitigate urban flooding, community and environmental stress, and displacement resulting from unsustainable land use planning, policy and investment.
“The Atlanta C.R.E.W. green infrastructure workforce development program is the result of authentic community engagement and cross-sector collaboration facilitated by the TranFormation Alliance (TFA). Southface and fellow TFA members, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance and WonderRoot, are partnering to make a sustainable and resilient impact in the Southwest Atlanta community by providing green infrastructure installation and maintenance training to 60 anticipated participants, and installing green infrastructure projects with an arts and culture lens, enhancing stormwater management and providing environmental, economic and equity benefits,” says Alex Trachtenberg, Senior Project Manager, Community Impact, Southface.
Lifecyle Building Center – TFA funds are making a 100-year-old warehouse owned by the Lifecycle Building Center safe and efficient for the creation of a retail and office facility, as well as a community gathering space for community outreach, education, and training.
Read more about Atlanta’s work on the SPARCC web site and a related blog: Infrastructure Heals Where It Once Divided in Atlanta.
About TransFormation Alliance (TFA):
The TransFormation Alliance (TFA) is a partnership of more than 30 government agencies, businesses, and nonprofits that share a vision of changing how transit and community development investments shape the future, offering all residents opportunities for a high quality of life. With the support of the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), the TFA is putting more resources toward strategies to increase equitable city planning.
About the Strong, Prosperous, And Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC): SPARCC is investing in and amplifying local efforts underway in six regions to ensure that new investments reduce racial disparities, build a culture of health, and prepare for a changing climate. The initiative’s long-term goal is to change the way metropolitan regions grow, invest, and build through integrated, cross-sector approaches that benefit low-income people and communities of color.