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Striving toward Intergenerational Wealth on the Westside

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation continues its commitment to Atlanta’s Westside through a grantmaking strategy designed to increase the economic mobility of legacy residents. The foundation is focusing our investments on supporting residents in their ability to choose to stay in the thriving historic neighborhoods of English Avenue and Vine City. 

The on-going support for this strategy includes two new Westside grants totaling $929,600 awarded to Atlanta Land Trust and First Step Staffing – Atlanta

Incorporated in 2009, Atlanta Land Trust is an organization committed to creating and preserving housing in Atlanta that remains affordable in perpetuity for those at risk of displacement caused by gentrification. Atlanta Land Trust accomplishes this by owning the land they build on and partnering with first-time homeowners to build equity in their homes. 

The foundation grant aligns with our Westside strategy by funding the building of permanently affordable single-family homes in the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods. The homes will be constructed by Urban Oasis Development, a local Black-owned development firm, and each house will have an Accessory Dwelling Unit with Net Zero Ready environmental design. 

By including Accessory Dwelling Units, homeowners have the potential for additional income if they decide to rent the units. Renting the unit affordably also allows the homeowner to add value to the community by increasing the number of affordable rental units in the neighborhood. 

First Step Staffing is a nonprofit organization that empowers individuals out of homelessness and poverty and into self-sufficiency and economic opportunity. The clients they support include those that face employment barriers due to homelessness, criminal records, lack of experience, veteran instability, lack of transportation, mental health challenges and food and clothing insecurity.

First Step Staffing was founded in 2007 to address a gap in services for the homeless community. The organization quickly pivoted to providing a steady and sustainable income for persons experiencing homelessness, realizing the link between housing instability and financial instability. First Step Staffing has a two-tiered approach to employment with job placement as a first step and upskilling (training) as a second step to help clients earn higher wages and advance their careers in high demand trade jobs. Both steps support economic mobility through job advancement.

First Step Staffing’s largest Atlanta employer partnerships include Pitney Bowes, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Braves, Manheim, 1-800-Flowers, Indeed Flex and Integrated Marketing Solutions.

The purpose of this grant is to support hiring a full-time First Step Staffing Westside executive director to meet the growing demand for employment support services in the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods.

“Through both grants, the foundation is able to support two organizations doing model work in affordable housing and financial inclusion. We are thrilled to begin a new partnership with Atlanta Land Trust and renew our partnership with First Step Staffing because of the profound generational impact each can have for English Avenue and Vine City residents,” said Daniel Shoy Jr., managing director, Youth Development and Westside Atlanta, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

Affordable homeownership and steady employment can provide the stability that families in our community need and we hope this inspires others to invest in similar opportunities on Atlanta’s Westside.

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