The Center for Civic Innovation Partners with the Sara Blakely Foundation To Invest in 10 Female Social Entrepreneurs in Atlanta


The Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) is excited to announce a partnership with the Sara Blakely Foundation that will support 10 women-led social enterprises and impact businesses in Atlanta. This one year fellowship will invest in the businesses and leadership development of each entrepreneur. These women represent business leaders that are creating both economic and social impact in our city.

Meet these boss women representing the inaugural cohort for this program:

  • Rutu Chaudhari, The Dharma Project, is a yoga instructor that brings her practice of self care to public servants.

  • Susanna Spiccia, re:Imagine/ATL, works with teens to create content for teens on a variety of topics.

  • Marian Liou, We Love BuHi, is a place-maker, bringing attention, support and dignity to immigrant owned businesses on Buford Highway.

  • Beth Malone, Dashboard, runs an experimental art agency that produces exhibitions in dynamic spaces to re-imagine experience. 

  • Tiffany Ray, Generation Infocus, is changing the way we view STEAM education in Atlanta Public Schools.

  • Abiodun Henderson, The Come Up Project, Inc., is breaking the cycle of incarceration by training at risk youth in agribusiness.

  • Monica Campana, Living Walls, uses art to connect to the places around them and to spark community conversation.

  • Yasmeen Sabir, Carver’s Produce, is creating a food hub in the heart of Atlanta to increase the lifespan and the distribution channels of our food.

  • Malika Whitley, Chop Art, runs arts programs for homeless youth in Atlanta.

  • Kristen Daniel, Pentorship, develops a customized training curriculum for re entering citizens returning from prison.


We’re so excited to see the impact that these women have on our city! Stay tuned for updates

from this cohort here on our blog.

Sara Blakley welcoming the women!

Designing Solutions: Georgia State University Partnership

The Center for Civic Innovation’s Westside Innovation Lab hosted its final showcase of social entrepreneurs in November, but the fruits of its labor are still manifesting. Throughout the 6-month fellowship, the Westside Innovation Lab partnered with Georgia State University’s Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design under the lead of two professors, Jefferey Boortz and Bryan Perry, to offer experiential learning to senior design students and free brand booklets to our eight fellows

Announcing the 2016 Civic Impact Awards Winners!

The Center for Civic Innovation held Atlanta's second annual Civic Impact Awards on Thursday, December 8, 2016. CCI launched the Civic Impact Awards to celebrate the people who put in the time and energy day in and day out to change the lives of other people for the better. Without them, the story of Atlanta is incomplete. At the Civic Impact Awards, we announced winners in each category! 

Westside Innovation Lab: A Recap

Six months ago, the Center for Civic Innovation launched the Westside Innovation Lab. The neighborhoods on the westside of Atlanta are home to some of the richest history, talent, and community collaboration in the city--in the country, if you ask us. We know the best solutions come from the residents and communities themselves. That’s why we launched the Westside Innovation Lab, a process to identify and support community-driven and community-built ideas and interventions within neighborhoods on the westside of Atlanta.

Leadership Breakfast: Atiba Mbiwan

The Center for Civic Innovation hosted Atiba Mbiwan, Associate Director of the Zeist Foundation, for our monthly Leadership Breakfast. Atiba is a well-known figure in Atlanta’s community development circles, but many in Atlanta don’t know the many stories of Atiba’s childhood and earlier years that he shared with us. 

Inclusive Growth in the Digital Economy

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Last week, the Center for Civic Innovation hosted Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth and Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation at Georgetown University. They are on a multi-city listening tour, devoted to discussions on building inclusive growth in our modern, digital economy.

The Atlanta stop focused on the creative economy, equity, and the digital divide. Craig Vosburg, President of Mastercard North America, opened the event.  “Inclusive growth is one of the defining issues of our time. We see an important role for Mastercard and our partners to help connect everyone to the networks that power the modern economy."

Two panel discussions followed.

The first focused on bridging the gap between the creative and tech sectors. Bitter Southerner co-founder Chuck Reece facilitated a discussion between some of Atlanta’s most community-minded creatives, Courtney Hammond of Dashboard, Amanda Sabreah of Partnr, Lain Shakespeare of Mailchimp, and Matt Weiss of A3C Hip Hop Festival and Conference.

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

“In Atlanta, we separate the tech and artistic communities. It’s easy to stay within your four walls. We need to merge,” said Partnr‘s Amanda Sabreah, one of the panelists. “Get out of your four walls!”

Lain Shakespeare, Corporate Citizenship Manager at Mailchimp, shared insight on how Mailchimp’s fresh take on corporate philanthropy, by allowing arts organizations to take risks. 

There’s an opportunity for us to invest in small, medium-sized arts organizations… Founders focus so much on outcomes, but why can’t we focus on the creative process?

The second panel of the day focused on equity in economic growth. The Beeck Center’s Sonal Shah facilitated a discussion between Mike Carnathan of Neighborhood Nexus, Duriya Farooqui of the Atlanta Committee for Progress, Grace Fricks of ACE Loans, Lesley Grady of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and Nathaniel Smith of the Partnership for Southern Equity.

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Photo courtesy of the Beeck Center

Sonal Shah mentioned that so often, when she suggests bold, innovative action in the public policy world, she’s met with hesitation. “What if these ideas fail, people ask me. But we’re already failing so often to meet our public policy goals.”

Nathaniel Smith of the Partnership for Southern Equity reminded the audience that public budgets are reflections of society’s values. “You cannot talk about economic justice without talking about structural racism. Making America great again for some is making white supremacy work again.”

Lesley Grady of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta shared her perspective with the audience as a philanthropic funder. “Too often we forgot who the poor are.” Grady reminded the audience that data is very important, but that you can’t box everyone into a data set or forget about folks’ individual differences.

This event was one stop on the Center for Inclusive Growth’s “On the Frontlines of Inclusive Growth” tour.

Bringing together local businesses, think tanks, policymakers, thought leaders and other influencers in cities across the US, the Center for Inclusive Growth will publish findings from this tour and develop programming to promote inclusive growth in the U.S. during 2017 and beyond.

Additional Resources

Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth
The Beeck Center
Partnership for Southern Equity’s economic inclusion report
Hypepotamus - Discussing the Gap Between Creative and Tech
Atlanta Daily World - Investing in Diversity is Vital for Building Inclusive Economies

2016 Civic Impact Award Finalists!

The Center for Civic Innovation launched the Civic Impact Awards to celebrate the people who put in the time and energy day in and day out to change the lives of other people for the better. Without them, the story of Atlanta would be incomplete. We are thrilled to announce the finalists for Atlanta’s second Civic Impact Awards!

Small Business, Big Impact: 
CompostWheels: building resilient local food systems by recycling food nutrients between urban consumers and local urban farmers
PREP Cook | Create | Connect: building and supporting small food businesses in Metro Atlanta by providing state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen space, resources, food procurement and guidance
Torinity LLC: developing and implementing community and civic outreach programming of the future

Moving the Needle:
Atlanta Community Food Bank: engaging, educating, and empowering Atlanta to fight hunger
Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation: creating safe and stable homes and families by inspiring attorneys to fight for equal justice
Youth Spark: advocating for youth who are in need of legal and adult protection in abusive and exploitative situations

Investing in Innovation: 
Decatur Education Foundation: harnessing community resources to provide educational and enrichment opportunities for all Decatur youth
Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation: Advancing The Herndon legacy to educate, mentor, and equip the next generation of entrepreneurs
Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative: providing unprecedented access to the human, educational and financial capital to empower early stage company-building entrepreneurs, who happen to be women

Innovation in Government:
Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability: embedding sustainability best practices into Atlanta city government and across the community
Atlanta Regional Commission: working with local, state and federal governments, as well as businesses and nonprofit partners, to prepare the metropolitan area for a prosperous future
Fulton County Registration and Elections: working to promote early voting and ensure that all voters are enfranchised

Good Troublemaker: 
Kwajelyn Jackson: working to achieve reproductive justice, which will be achieved when all people have the economic, social, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality, and reproduction
Phi Nguyen: working through Vietnamese Voices to increase civic engagement among Vietnamese Americans and all underrepresented communities of color
Jonathan Rapping: working to end mass incarceration through his organization Gideon's Promise, building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalized communities

Creative Impact: 
Jessica Caldas: creating space for conversation and reflection on topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault, and mental health through art and bringing together of different perspectives
Moving in the Spirit: a dance program for youth that combines modern dance training with performance opportunities, social-emotional learning, mentoring and leadership development
Out on Film: Atlanta's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender film festival
Spark Corps: a design non-profit specializing in branding and design strategy for non-profits and social impact organizations

Corporate Civic Impact:
Creative Mischief: a full-service branding and marketing agency committed to improving our Atlanta community by helping non-profits that are understaffed and underfunded achieve their visions
King & Spalding: a 130+ year old international law firm that annually partners with more than 40 nonprofits, investing over than 4,200 community service hours and 17,000 pro bono service hours in areas including domestic violence, homelessness, and asylum seekers
Wayfield Foods: providing great and nutritious food at the lowest price while empowering and educating our community about healthy living.


A huge congratulations to these amazing finalists! Winners from each category will be announced at the

Civic Impact Awards
Thursday, December 8, 6:00 p.m.
M. Rich Building

To join CCI in celebration of Atlanta’s most dedicated movers and shakers, 

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for the Civic Impact Awards as well. To learn more, please visit our website.

Announcing the Food Innovation Fellows!

The Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) is thrilled to announce the second class of Food Innovation Fellows in partnership with the Food Well Alliance! CCI first partnered with the Food Well Alliance in 2015 to launch network and tools to support entrepreneurs, educators, and community organizers engaged in connecting food growers to consumers to build healthier communities.

Food Well Alliance is committed to supporting their current and future Local Food Grant recipients. In order to build an alternative, healthy food system in Atlanta, we need financially viable and sustainable local food enterprises. The fellowship provides vital professional skill development for early stage local food and farming organizations.

The 2016-2017 Food Innovation Fellows are:  

  • J. Olu Baiyweu, Eyedrum GalleryThe Eyedrum Rooftop Garden to be a fully functioning, production garden growing a variety of herbs, flowers, and vegetables through the calendar year (3 seasons), that hosts a small farmer's market and a Pick-Up-Point CSA site for 20 or more community members in South Downtown.

  • Jasann Gilliam, Gilliam's Community GardenThe mission of Gilliam's Community Garden is to improve community health in the Oakland City neighborhood and adjacent areas area through greater availability of fruits, vegetables, poultry products, nutrition education, and increase social capital through its urban farming outreach efforts at local elementary schools.

  • Haylene Green of the West End Community Urban Garden: They are alleviating poverty through sustainability starting in the West End by bridging the gap between seniors and youth through urban gardening.

  • Brent Hall of Freewheel Farm: Freewheel Farm is a diversified urban farm committed to growing the highest quality Certified Naturally Grown produce for residents of Atlanta, turning vacant lots into thriving food oases.

  • Nuri Icgoren of Urban Sprout Farm: Urban Sprout Farm is building an agricultural hub on an organic farm and nursery.

  • Sagdrina Jalal of the Georgia Farmers Market AssociationThe mission of the Georgia Farmers Market Association is to strengthen farmers markets and increase food access in communities across the state by providing guidance to producers, technical assistance on market management, and healthy food access and education to consumers.

  • Joe Reynolds of Love is Love at Gaia GardensLove is Love Farm aspires to demonstrate that young, landless farmers can build a successful farming operation and actively serve the good food movement through mindful land stewardship.

  • Yasmeen Salaam-Sabir of Carver's Produce: Carver’s Produce aims to establish an effective food hub that increases our local agricultural economy, develops a healthy supply and demand of sustainably sourced produce, and increases food security within low access areas.

  • Chris Theal of Small Farmer at Larger: Small Farmer At Large supports Atlanta's local food movement by providing professional farm and garden services, and rejuvenates West Atlanta vacant lots into viable market gardens.

  • Noreen Whitehead of Georgia Women in Agriculture: Georgia Women in Agricultureworks to empower socially disadvantaged women in rural and urban areas to gain available local and federal agricultural resources.