Sara Blakely and the Center for Civic Innovation Join Forces Again to Invest in Atlanta-based Female Civic Entrepreneurs

On May 10, 2018, the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) once again teamed up with Sara Blakely, founder and CEO of Spanx, to invest in eight women entrepreneurs with products, services, and programs that solve civic and social challenges in Atlanta. These women will become part of CCI’s Civic Innovation Residency program. Now in its second year, the one year intensive program aims to strengthen the operations and leadership of entrepreneurs with proven ideas that tackle challenges in the social sector.

Each woman will receive capital to support their salary, health care, and product development, in addition to classes, coaching, mentorship, and work space in the Center’s offices in South Downtown. They join 10 women from the inaugural Civic Innovation Residency program, totaling 18 Atlanta-based, female civic entrepreneurs supported with more than $300,000 of investment.

“These women represent the greatest assets of our economy –– our civic problem solvers,” Rohit Malhotra, founder and executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation, said. “Each of their businesses exists to solve a specific systemic challenge, and their success will create ripple effects for generations.”

“I am proud to support a new class of female entrepreneurs here in Atlanta. They are the new guard of social change – operating at the intersection of entrepreneurship and philanthropy,” said Spanx founder and CEO, Sara Blakely. “I am inspired by the work they are doing and excited to see what their futures hold!”

Meet the 2019 Civic Innovation Residents

  • Terri-Nichelle Bradley | Brown Toy Box: Inspires black children to pursue careers and hobbies where black people are typically underrepresented.

  • Jasmine Crowe | Goodr: A sustainable food surplus management company that leverages technology to combat hunger and reduce waste

  • Nedra Deadwyler | Civil Bikes: Curates culturally connected and relevant stories to engage people with place.

  • Jenn Graham | Civic Dinners: Uses technology to bring diverse people together to break bread and have a structured conversation that builds empathy and trust.

  • Tiffany LaTrice Williams | TILA Studios: Empowers black women to create and showcase their art.

  • Trish Miller | SwemKids: Aims to eliminate negative perceptions and barriers to swimming proficiency for black children and their families by equipping them with the skills to have a healthy and safe relationship with water.

  • Charnette Trimble | Westmont Estates Community Action Group: Seniors living in Westmont Estates are able to Age in Place with dignity by connecting them to government home repair programs

  • Samantha Watkins | Urban Perform: A non-profit organization making exercise accessible and affordable to the underserved communities of English Avenue, Vine City and Washington Park in Atlanta.

The 10 graduating women entrepreneurs from the inaugural class are:

  • Monica Campana | Living Walls: creates intentional, thought-provoking public art to inspire social change and activate public spaces.

  • Rutu Chaudhari | The Dharma Project: brings mindfulness and yoga to communities and organizations that experience high levels of stress and trauma.

  • Kristen Daniel | KnewSkill: designs and creates learning experiences that enable brilliant people with complex life journeys to thrive in a new world of work.

  • Abiodun Henderson | The Come Up Project: puts into practice a holistic approach providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to our formerly incarcerated that live in underserved communities.

  • Marian Liou | We Love BuHi: supports and strengthens the cultural diversity of Buford Highway through storytelling, special events, and advocacy.

  • Beth Malone | Dashboard: specializes in artist-led & human-centered design projects. We believe that arts-forward environments celebrate and connect diverse communities and empower its members to thrive economically.

  • Tiffany Ray | Generation InFocus: seeks to provide each child with equal, rigorous, relevant, and engaging STEAM driven educational opportunities that prepare them to enter into 21st century STEAM careers.

  • Yasmeen Salaam | CARVER’S Produce: creates a healthy supply and demand of fresh and natural food products in food insecure communities.

  • Susanna Spiccia | re:imagine/ATL: empowering the next generation of storytellers through film and digital media

  • Malika Whitley | ChopArt: provides dignity, community, and opportunity to middle and high school aged youth experiencing homelessness through multidisciplinary arts immersion and mentorship.

“I always knew I would be willing to do anything to build the vision, but I had no idea how much I needed the consistent encouragement, validation and support I have gained from this life changing fellowship,” Susanna Spiccia, founder and Executive Director of re:imagine/ATL, said. “It has broadened my perspective, and given me the energy I have needed again and again to keep pushing forward. My gratitude goes deep and wide for Sara.”

Sara Blakely, has publically committed to strongly supporting and elevating the work of female entrepreneurs. In Atlanta, she follows the trend of this city’s history by investing in not just any women entrepreneurs –– but ones fighting for social change.

The Center for Civic Innovation was established in 2014 in response to Atlanta national designation as the country’s most unequal city. Since then, the Center’s focus has shifted to hosting community conversations about city-wide challenges, investing in new ideas with the promise for better outcomes and influencing public policy by advocating for and demonstrating better channels of engagement between residents and policymakers. Since its creation, the Center for Civic Innovation has invested more than $1.5M in almost 70 new ideas led by local civic entrepreneurs.

“Civic Entrepreneurship is in Atlanta’s DNA,” Malhotra said. “We’re just shining a light on the people who are on the ground, doing the work.”


About The Center for Civic Innovation:
The Center for Civic Innovation invests in outcome-driven and community-led ideas that create systems-level change. Launched in 2014, the focus of the Center for Civic Innovation remains to lead community-wide conversations on issues of inequality, to invest in entrepreneurial ideas in the social sector, and to strengthen civic engagement so people’s voices and ideas remain at the center of public decision-making. Over the past 2.5 years, they’ve invested over $1.5M of new capital into 69 entrepreneurial, community-led ideas.

About the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation:
Since its inception in 2006, the Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation has donated millions to charities around the world, focusing on charities that empower underserved women and girls. In 2013, Sara Blakely became the first self-made, female billionaire to sign the Melinda and Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half her wealth to charity. While many of the world’s resources are being depleted, one is waiting to be unleashed: Women. The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation is on a mission to support women and help them SOAR through education, entrepreneurship and the arts.