United Way of Greater Atlanta announced that it has created the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund to tackle the systemic issues underlying the correlation between race and zip codes, place, and equity. Funds will be invested in organizations in metro Atlanta that are primarily focused on racial inequity challenges in their communities and on a regional level.
According to the organization, nearly 500,000 children in metro Atlanta live in communities that lack the basic opportunities and resources that all children and families need to thrive. These communities are in zip codes where the majority of residents are people of color. These are also communities where COVID-19 has hit hardest, exposing the health and economic disparities resulting from years of disinvestment and structural racism.
Since 2016, United Way of Greater Atlanta has been laser-focused on addressing the reasons why Greater Atlanta sits at the bottom of the list of U.S. cities in terms of opportunity for social and economic mobility. A 2019 Bloomberg report named Atlanta “the capital of U.S. inequality” for the second year in a row. “Zipcode should not be destiny,” has been a guiding force for the organization’s homelessness, human trafficking, early learning, and workforce development priorities.
“The correlation between race, zip codes, and its effect on child well-being make it critical for United Way to address place and racial equity strategically,” said Katrina D. Mitchell, the Chief Community Impact Officer at United Way of Greater Atlanta. “The decisions and actions we make today will significantly shape the future. It is our vision that this fund will invest in structural solutions to catalyze effective, long-lasting change, address the root causes of racial inequity, and prioritize hope, healing, and care during an unprecedented time.”
United Way’s Board of community volunteers made the decision to match the first $1 million in donations to the fund to demonstrate their strong belief in the importance of its charter and its consistency with United Way’s Child Well-Being mission: to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her potential.
Priority for the fund will be given to organizations:
- Led by (executive leadership, staff, board) and focused on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities most directly impacted by structural racism;
- That are leading policy and advocacy efforts that intersect with on-the-ground civic engagement that is focused on people of color;
- That prioritize youth voices and take a multi-generational approach;
- Working on or adjacent to Racial Justice Efforts.
“The urgency for racial equity embedded in this historic moment requires innovative strategies coupled with courageous action,” said Nathaniel Smith, the founder and Chief Equity Officer for the Partnership for Southern Equity. “The establishment of the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund adds significant momentum towards the realization of a more just and inclusive greater Atlanta.
“The journey towards racial equity for current and future generations is a difficult path to follow,” Smith continued. “It is encouraging to witness United Way’s decision to choose a path seldom taken by our local civic leadership. I encourage others to choose this pilgrimage with us.”
Fund investments will be guided by an advisory committee and will utilize a racial equity impact analysis to aid in grant decisions.
Raphael Bostic, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta board member, is a key supporter of the new fund and its timeliness.
As Bostic said in an essay for a recent FRBA report, “Systemic racism is a yoke that drags on the American economy. By limiting economic and educational opportunities for a large number of Americans, institutionalized racism constrains this country’s economic potential. This country has both a moral and economic imperative to end these unjust and destructive practices.”
To donate to the United for Racial Equity and Healing Fund, click here.