Chick-fil-A, Coca-Cola and the city of Atlanta announced a $7.5 million donation to a nonprofit that provides job training in Westside Atlanta.
The City of Refuge is a Christian organization that helps residents with jobs, youth development, emergency housing and health care access.
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made the largest investment so far in the group's $25.5 million capital campaign.
Notorious ZIP Code
Cathy has been involved in the group and the Westside for many years, but said he's embarrassed as an Atlanta native that leaders haven't done more for 30314, which he calls the most notorious ZIP code in the state.
"From broken homes to unwed mothers to HIV/AIDs to high school dropouts to homicides to incarceration, it just goes on and on,” Cathy said. “This is the epicenter of the worst of Georgia. It’s right here in this area and we cannot stand aside any longer.”
A New Job Center
City of Refuge will use the $7.5 million in funds to build and operate a 20,000-square-foot job training center and culinary academy.
The center will be used to teach low-income Atlanta residents career skills in the auto industry, retail, the culinary arts, landscaping, security services and HVAC installation and repair. The center is expected to be complete in September 2019.
City of Refuge also plans to launch a small business incubator and accelerator for aspiring entrepreneurs and a computer-coding academy for young adults.
The city of Atlanta and Coca-Cola are each investing $1.25 million. Funding from the city will come from the city of Atlanta’s general fund and Invest Atlanta.
Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said the company’s donation to City of Refuge marks the official launch of its #5by20 program in the United States.
“We start now in the United States here in Westside, in this ZIP code, with our #5by20 program to empower 5 million women economically around the world and we’re at 1.3 million now,” Kent said. “I see that the best years of this great Westside story are ahead.”
Kent said the funding would allow for vocational training of at least 500 women and 200 men. The program connects women with NGOs for training and then provides small loans so the women can distribute and sell Coca-Cola’s products and other consumer products.
Praying For Forgiveness
Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy closed the event with a prayer asking God for forgiveness for neglecting Westside Atlanta for so long.
"Father, I pray that all of Atlanta will hear this cry, will stand in the gap and hold hands and build a bridge across Northside Drive,” Cathy said. “So that together we can come to the aid of people who are hurting big time. Their family members are incarcerated, they've got family members who are being shot and killed, with grandmothers that can't live afford to live in their houses anymore. We stand ashamed and apologetic that we’ve left this situation as it is for far too long.”