The SunTrust Foundation announced today it awarded a $5 million grant to the Westside Future Fund (WFF). The grant will positively impact Atlanta’s historic Westside neighborhoods, whose footprint once housed more than 40,000 residents by supporting mixed-income housing and economic development. This will ensure that legacy residents can continue to call the historic Westside home and thrive as part of the revitalization efforts taking place.
WFF is a nonprofit formed by Atlanta’s public, private and philanthropic partners who believe in the future of Atlanta’s Westside and are committed to helping Historic Westside neighborhoods revitalize and develop into a community Dr. King would be proud to call home. The organization is committed to establishing mixed-income communities that are safe, support families, stimulate local businesses and ensure sustainability for multiple generations. To do this, WFF’s work is framed by a holistic resident retention strategy that prioritizes legacy residents’ ability to stay in their neighborhoods for generations while making housing affordable for people of mixed and fixed incomes. The SunTrust Foundation’s grant will assist with this affordable housing initiative as well as provide small business support programs to help economic growth within the Westside community.
“This grant to the Westside Future Fund is an example of our commitment to Atlanta and our ongoing support of empowering the historic Westside community,” said Bill Rogers, SunTrust chairman and CEO and SunTrust Foundation chairman of the board. “The combination of mixed-income housing, meaningful employment and local business growth transforms neighborhoods in a sustainable way, and we look forward to the long-term effect within the Westside. We’ve seen the tremendous impact that this organization has had on the community, and that’s why we chose the Westside Future Fund.”
“Thank you to the SunTrust Foundation for your commitment to the city,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “Investments such as these foster vibrant, healthy, and equitable neighborhoods that will improve the quality of life for all Atlantans through the expansion of affordable housing.”
The Westside neighborhoods that WFF has identified – English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights, Atlanta University Center, Just Us and Booker T. Washington – represent the areas of greatest need. WFF estimates that among nearly 1,600 households within this footprint, half of the residents earn less than $20,000 a year. Such depressed earnings make it virtually impossible to afford quality housing. The SunTrust Foundation’s grant will further the mission of affordable housing and local commerce within these communities. Together, WFF and the SunTrust Foundation will make homeownership achievable for more Westside residents and spur sustainable, increased annual incomes and economic flow within the community.
“I am grateful for the investment from SunTrust Foundation and the leadership of Bill Rogers,” said Richard Dugas, chairman of the Westside Future Fund board of directors. “I know firsthand of his deep personal commitment to the Westside and the long-standing engagement of SunTrust with the residents of this community.”
“The outstanding response from our philanthropic partners is allowing us to build a national model that embodies the ‘Atlanta Way,’” said John Ahmann, executive director of the Westside Future Fund. “With this charitable pledge from the SunTrust Foundation, we are continuing along a trajectory that will revitalize the Westside and protect its residents.”
This effort is congruent with the City of Atlanta’s focus on supporting small business. With its historic and emerging neighborhoods, Atlanta recognizes that small business and entrepreneurship are crucial to the city’s success and equitable growth.