New Report Highlights Work to Expand Opportunities for Communities of Color in Atlanta

Posted May 13, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Young father with son in Atlanta

Atlanta has been rec­og­nized as one of two Amer­i­can cities, along with Wash­ing­ton, D.C., where African-Amer­i­can res­i­dents are far­ing the best eco­nom­i­cal­ly. Yet it also leads the nation in income inequality.

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, Chang­ing the Odds: Progress and Promise in Atlanta, high­lights sev­er­al inno­v­a­tive poli­cies and approach­es com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers are using to ensure all res­i­dents can access the oppor­tu­ni­ties nec­es­sary for them to ful­ly con­tribute to, and ben­e­fit from, the city’s grow­ing economy.

The report offers rec­om­men­da­tions for action that neigh­bor­hoods, city and state gov­ern­ment, non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions and the phil­an­thropic and pri­vate sec­tors can take to advance these efforts and estab­lish more equi­table path­ways to edu­ca­tion, hous­ing and employment.

Read or down­load the report

Though progress is being made, we must con­tin­ue work­ing to ensure all Atlantans — no mat­ter their race or where or how they grow up — can real­ize their full poten­tial,” said Kweku Forstall, direc­tor of Casey’s Atlanta Civic Site. This report offers a blue­print. It shows what’s pos­si­ble when we invest in the tal­ents and strengths of African-Amer­i­can res­i­dents and remove the bar­ri­ers that stand in their way.”

The report is a fol­low-up to 2015’s Chang­ing the Odds: The Race for Results in Atlanta, which found that Atlanta’s tremen­dous eco­nom­ic growth often excludes African-Amer­i­can neigh­bor­hoods and oth­er com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. The 2015 report also high­light­ed large dif­fer­ences in edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment and house­hold assets between African Amer­i­cans and white residents.

Since then, some progress has occurred. For instance, high school grad­u­a­tion rates for African-Amer­i­can and Lati­no stu­dents have risen by 21 and 20 per­cent­age points, respec­tive­ly, since 2014.

But in oth­er areas, stark dis­par­i­ties per­sist. The unem­ploy­ment rate for black Atlantans is near­ly five times high­er than the rate for white city res­i­dents. Incomes of Atlanta’s African Amer­i­cans are only one-third of their white coun­ter­parts. In addi­tion, some 76% of African-Amer­i­can chil­dren and 40% of Lati­no chil­dren in the city live in high-pover­ty areas — while only 6% of white chil­dren do.

Atlanta is one of two civic sites, along with Bal­ti­more, where the Casey Foun­da­tion has a spe­cial con­nec­tion and long-term com­mit­ment to child and fam­i­ly well-being. The Foun­da­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly focused on a set of neigh­bor­hoods south­west of down­town — Adair Park, Capi­tol Gate­way, Mechan­icsville, Peo­plestown, Pitts­burgh and Sum­mer­hill — called Neigh­bor­hood Plan­ning Unit V (NPU‑V).

Along with high­light­ing key pol­i­cy pro­pos­als and on-the-ground work, the report offers sev­er­al rec­om­men­da­tions to com­bat sys­temic inequity in Atlanta. They include:

  • halt­ing the dis­place­ment of cur­rent res­i­dents and ensur­ing that Atlanta offers suf­fi­cient hous­ing to peo­ple of all incomes;
  • sup­port­ing res­i­dent engage­ment and estab­lish­ing inclu­sive deci­sion-mak­ing practices;
  • pro­mot­ing local poli­cies that improve hous­ing con­di­tions for chil­dren and families;
  • pro­mot­ing both afford­abil­i­ty and qual­i­ty of ear­ly learn­ing programs;
  • advanc­ing racial equi­ty in Atlanta Pub­lic Schools through pol­i­cy, prac­tice and fund­ing allocation;
  • sup­port­ing entre­pre­neurs of color;
  • expand­ing sup­port for job seek­ers and cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for them to gain paid, hands-on learn­ing to devel­op the skills employ­ers need; and
  • work­ing with com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to under­stand how major rede­vel­op­ment projects will affect their neigh­bor­hoods and ensur­ing cur­rent res­i­dents derive the great­est ben­e­fits pos­si­ble, includ­ing job and career opportunities.

We all have a role to play in advanc­ing this work and ensur­ing our city is a place where every­one can thrive,” said Janelle Williams, a senior asso­ciate at Casey’s Atlanta Civic Site, who over­sees eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ty ini­tia­tives. Res­i­dents and com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ers are work­ing to dis­man­tle the deeply root­ed inequities that pre­vent African-Amer­i­can and Lati­no fam­i­lies from access­ing the same oppor­tu­ni­ties and resources as their white counterparts.”

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