Center for Civic Innovation Raises $100,000 Fund for Local Impact Investments Focused on Food Access

ATLANTA, July 28, 2015 – The Center for Civic Innovation announced that they have raised a $100,000 fund to make investments focused on new or different ideas that increase the supply and/or demand of healthy, affordable foods in Atlanta’s most underserved neighborhoods. The investment pool is made up of contributions from Invest Atlanta, Arby’s Foundation, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and after a showcase of the projects last night, a surprise $15,000 contribution from the office of Mayor Kasim Reed.

On Thursday, July 23, 2015, the Center for Civic Innovation hosted a showcase of 10 social enterprises with ideas to improve food access in Atlanta. These enterprises were a part of the Center for Civic Innovation’s pilot incubation program called Civic Labs. Each social venture gave a five minute pitch followed by questions from an expert panel. In the end, the crowd chose three winners in the categories of best pitch, most innovative idea, and idea with the greatest potential for impact. The winners were:

  • Best Pitch: Grow Where You Are, with an initiative to flip abandoned and blighted property in southwest Atlanta into community-owned farms and community centers
  • Most Innovative Idea: Maitu Foods, with a program to provide healthy and affordable foods to pregnant and postpartum women in the West End
  • Biggest Potential for Impact: Fruit Forward Orchards, with an initiative to plant fruit trees across Atlanta

Information on the three winners, as well as the other participating ventures, can be found on the Center for Civic Innovation’s website.

Through contributions and investments from Invest Atlanta, Arby’s Foundation, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Center for Civic Innovation raised a fund of $85,000. During the event, Mayor Kasim Reed was so inspired by the entrepreneurs that he committed to an additional $15,000 to the pool to bring it to $100,000.

“The City of Atlanta is proud to support the Center for Civic Innovation as they continue to address our city’s most pressing civic challenges,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “The work of these social enterprises will help to ensure that communities across Atlanta will have better access to healthy, fresh and more affordable food.”

In attendance were high level executives across industries in Atlanta. Mayor Reed was joined by Theia Washington Smith, director of the mayor’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. In addition, councilmembers Kwanza Hall and Cleta Winslow joined in support. Remarks were made by Kyle Waide, the new CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and Dale Royal, president of Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc., an Invest Atlanta entity that provides New Markets Tax Credit funding to projects revitalizing underserved neighborhoods in Atlanta.

“These entrepreneurs symbolize the innovative spirit we have in Atlanta and demonstrate the commitment Invest Atlanta and our city have in facilitating creative solutions to real issues,” said Dale Royal of Invest Atlanta. “By investing in these entrepreneurs and their innovative strategies, we empower them to build stronger and healthier communities for all Atlantans.”

Other supporters included Paul Brown and Kate Atwood of Arby’s, Ann Cramer and David Eidson of Coxe Curry, Alicia Philipp, President of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and John Bare of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

The Center for Civic Innovation helps local government agencies and nonprofits find new and different ideas to tackle local social challenges. At their 3,000 sq ft. location in South Downtown Atlanta, they host public workshops, trainings, advising/mentoring programs, and coworking space for problem solvers in the city. The Center for Civic Innovation also advocates for increased civic participation in local decision making, from neighborhood elections to development projects like Underground Atlanta.

The Center’s main program, Civic Labs, invests in entrepreneurial solutions that save money or generate revenue for public institutions. The program also emphasizes authentic community engagement. Their pilot Civic Lab, in partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Invest Atlanta, and Arby’s Foundation, will invest in up to 10 pilot programs focused on increasing food access in Atlanta. The Civic Labs program offers a 4-6 month acceleration process for ventures and in the end, the Center for Civic Innovation facilitates contracts between struggling public agencies and social entrepreneurs.

“We are an R&D lab for the city. All other industries test new ideas before they go public,” says Rohit Malhotra, executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation. “There’s no reason the social sector should not do the same.”



Elyse Klova
Center for Civic Innovation



Boulevard Food Cooperative aims to create and foster an uplifting community that promotes food security, educational opportunities, healthy lifestyles, individual dignity, and participation.


The Center for Family Farm Development's mission is to empower low income farmers and consumers to create sustainable, local solutions to the issues of market access and food insecurity that result in a decrease in diet related disease and chronic poverty both communities.

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Crave It Foods is a  mission-driven company providing nutritious farm-to-table freshly prepared meals for children in schools. Disrupting traditional school cafeteria lunch, Crave It Foods is a C-Corporation, founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 2011 and launched products and services in 2015 with nutritious food to combat diet related illness in children. Its aggressive growth model can serve 1,500 meals per day in 2015 and 6,500 meals per day in 2016.

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To scale local food with self-reliant yet interrelated cooperative networks regenerating and stewarding our commonwealth: A strategic system leading to a just, nurturing economic paradigm

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Grow Where You Are inspires sincere citizens to grow quality, clean food locally in beautifully designed systems that support ecology, encourage economy and improve human health.

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Improving food access and community health by partnering with neighbors to produce healthy, affordable, FUN prepared foods and beverages.


The Harvest Project’s mission is to empower Atlanta-area youth to take leadership in educating their communities about food, nutrition, and food justice. Harvest ATL sees youth as creators of dynamic food and health programs, managers of community focused food enterprises, and as the designers of innovative solutions to the food access issues facing their own neighborhoods.


Fruit Forward Orchards creates community orchard projects to feed, teach, and inspire a better quality of life through direct access to nutritious fruits and berries grown close to home.

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To honor the art of food rituals. To serve humanity utilizing the bounty of Earth and following the blueprint set by Nature of abundance and efficiency. MaituFoods works to develop culturally appropriate and accessible educational materials that highlight the benefit of healthy nutrition through a plant based diet.

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Patchwork City Farm's mission is to work with local landholders - public and private - to create a sustainable, naturally grown local food system that is accessible to all.

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