The Rockefeller Foundation Announces Cities of Service as Community Engagement Lead in National Opportunity Zones Program

The Rockefeller Foundation today announced Atlanta as the newest city in their Opportunity Zones Initiative and Cities of Service as community engagement lead in Atlanta and five additional cities. Read the press release below.

The Rockefeller Foundation Designates Atlanta as Newest City in Opportunity Zones Initiative

Announces Cities of Service as Community Engagement Lead in National Opportunity Zones Program

ATLANTA – The Rockefeller Foundation and Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta, today announced that Atlanta will become the second city to participate in The Rockefeller Foundation’s Opportunity Zone Community Capacity Building Initiative. The initiative, which launched in May 2019, aims to help U.S. cities attract responsible private investment in economically-distressed communities through Opportunity Zones created in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Atlanta, which has more than 82,000 residents living in 26 designated Opportunity Zones, will receive $920,000 in grants and supportive services, including a $400,000 grant to establish and fund a Chief Opportunity Zone Officer embedded in Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta’s economic development authority. Funding will also support the placement of two AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) members who will facilitate community involvement in proposed Opportunity Zone projects and businesses; and technical assistance to help develop project pipelines that balance the interests of investors with those of existing community members.

“As the wealth gap in the United States continues to widen, we recognize how a zip code impacts the economic opportunities for a community and its residents,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation. “Atlanta has shown strong commitment to ensuring investment in its Opportunity Zones are designed with the most vulnerable in mind, and we are pleased to provide additional support to ultimately lift up these communities by enabling new pathways to economic mobility.”

“Opportunity Zones are an exciting new tool for building economic development in underserved communities. These grants will help guide us as we implement the program to maximize the benefits of job creation and neighborhood improvement in the most vulnerable areas of our city,” said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “I am grateful to the Rockefeller Foundation for this commitment that will help advance equity in our city, as we continue to build One Atlanta, and provide a level playing field for all.”

“Opportunity Zones are the first federal incentive for community development in 15 years and a unique opportunity to leverage private capital to help achieve Atlanta’s economic and community development goals,” said Dr. Eloisa Klementich, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta. “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 OF SERVICE

The Rockefeller Foundation also announced it will award a $600,000 grant to Cities of Service, an independent nonprofit organization that helps mayors build stronger, more vibrant cities by changing the way local government and citizens work together. Cities of Service will provide Atlanta and five other cities participating in the Foundation’s Opportunity Zones initiative with technical assistance and two AmeriCorps VISTA members who will lead and manage community engagement efforts in each city. Through this effort, Cites of Service will help selected cities achieve positive economic and social outcomes for their communities through community-informed Opportunity Zone efforts.

Dr. Shah continued, “It is critical for residents of Opportunity Zones to have a voice in how investment takes shape in their communities. Cities of Service is the ideal partner to help us increase and improve citizen engagement in Opportunity Zones in a number of U.S. cities.”

“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.”

Information about Opportunity Zones in the City of Atlanta, including development projects seeking investment, can be found at www.atlopportunityzones.com.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

About Invest Atlanta
Invest Atlanta is the official economic development authority for the City of Atlanta. Its purpose is to strengthen Atlanta’s economy and global competitiveness in order to create increased opportunity and prosperity for the people of Atlanta. Chaired by the Mayor of Atlanta and governed by a nine-member board of directors, Invest Atlanta’s programs and initiatives focus on developing and fostering public/private partnerships to create jobs, grow the economy, revitalize neighborhoods, attract investment, spur innovation and encourage entrepreneurship. To achieve these goals, Invest Atlanta leverages the benefits of bond financing, revolving loan funds, housing financing, tax increment financing and tax credits.

About Cities of Service
Cities of Service is a nonprofit organization that helps mayors build stronger cities by changing the way local government and citizens work together. We help our coalition cities tap into citizen insights, skills, and service to identify and solve critical public problems. Founded in 2009 by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cities of Service supports a coalition of more than 270 cities, representing more than 73 million people across the Americas and Europe. Visit us at citiesofservice.org and follow us on Twitter @citiesofservice.