The Community Benefits Plan

Yesterday the Atlanta City Council voted to approve the final Community Benefits Plan.  This is the outcome of 9 months of work which began at City Council in March of 2013 where we were included as part of legislation creating the Community Benefits Plan.  The attached Infographic CHNA INFOGRAPHIC gives insight to the actions since that date.

The full Community Benefits Plan is available at this link but may have minor tweaks after this version which is marked final

You may have questions about “next steps” in the process.  The following answers are based on responses provided in Public Meetings and Public Documents.  These are being provided to the Neighborhood and the New Board Members in an effort to provide a smooth transition as they undertake the next steps in this matter.

Which neighborhoods are covered under the Community Benefits Plan?

Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill, Marietta Street Artery and Downtown

How much money is available?

There is $15 Million allocated from the Westside TAD (Tax Allocation District) and $15 Million from the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund (Blank Foundation)

What’s the Difference in the two funds?

Westside TAD dollars must be spent on what is commonly known as “sticks and bricks” or capital projects within the Westside TAD boundaries.  See Invest Atlanta reference document to this fund here

The Blank Foundation dollars are to be allocated per the direction of their board and are typically supportive of more “soft skills” type needs .

Example:  A health center is acquired for the neighborhood (funding by Westside TAD) and needs ongoing staffing (Blank Foundation).

Can the Westside TAD be expanded?

Please look to community leaders to undertake any measures to expand the Westside TAD.

That’s not a lot of money for a new stadium.

The original amount of dollars has never changed.  The City is looking for these dollars to be “leveraged” or increased through additional public/private partnerships.

What specific Castleberrry Hill Projects are included in the final Community Benefits Plan?

No specific projects are included for any neighborhood in the final document.  General project ideas  like these are included:  Development of Commercial Districts, Development that Activates Area Adjacent to NSP, Improved Transportation Connectivity, Promotion of Hospitality Industry) are cited in the agreement (available at link listed above)

How do will specific projects get funded?

Applications will need to be made to either the Blank Foundation or Invest Atlanta in a process that will be published early in 2014.  Those projects that fit the general priorities of the Community Benefits Agreement and lie within the neighborhood may be put forward on a competitive basis with other neighborhoods requesting funding for their projects.

How long will it take?

The public comments from Invest Atlanta at the last Transportation Committee meeting suggested that applications will be accepted for around 3 months and then funding will begin within the next three months.

Will everything be funded right away?

No.  Public comments from Invest Atlanta suggest at this time that there will be three rounds of funding taking up to 36 months.

Do I have to have a non-profit for 501c3 to apply?

No.  Not for Westside TAD development (sticks and bricks) type projects.  (see guidelines at link above)

Yes. For Blank Foundation “social” type projects.

I just started a 501c3 but I don’t have my paperwork back from the IRS yet.  Can I apply?

According to public comments and grant guideline information distributed as part of the Community Benefit Plan process, the 501c3 must have been in existence for more than a year.

I don’t know how to write a grant.  Can I get some help?

Yes. The Community Benefits Plan provides for grant resources (up to 40 hours at $50.00 per hour) for approved resources.  The applicant will need to pay a $100 application fee and choose from the resource list.

What improves the chances of a project being funded? 

Sustainability.  Projects requiring an initial injection of cash that demonstrates a move towards self-funding and sustainability over a period of time.

Proven Track Record.  Those with a 501c3 or for profit entities with a track record of success (including multiple years of tax filings) will have the greatest opportunity for being funded.

Partnerships.  Partnering with non-profit groups already doing engaged in Castleberry Hill could be a powerful way to demonstrate a track record and/or sustainability.  Examples for Castleberry Hill might include:  Atlanta Historical Preservation Society or Flux

Leverage.   Projects that have leverage means they have dollars derived from multiple sources and the financial request from one of the two funds is only part of the funding.

What about developers?

Developers that have projects to propose for the community should have additional funding available (private capital of their own and/or lending set up) for their projects.

Example:  Someone wants to take a vacant lot and put mixed development on it.  They should be prepared to demonstrate the project needs about 20-30% from the Westside TAD and has 70 to 80% of their funding otherwise secured.  This creates the “leverage” for bringing additional funds to the community.

Where do I get more information?

Visit the Invest Atlanta website and look to your elected community leaders to educate the neighborhood and provide updates as they become available.