First Step News

Stand Together Foundation Invests in 10 Atlanta nonprofits


By: Maria Saporta, Contributing Writer, Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Stand Together Foundation, a national poverty-fighting initiative partly funded by the Koch family, has made a grand entrance in Atlanta by investing in 10 local nonprofits.

The Atlanta cohort of 10 nonprofits was launched May 20th at a summit held at the City of Refuge. They are now part of a national network of 141 “high-performing” organizations that are transforming communities across the country.
Atlanta is only the second city to have a regional cohort of nonprofits. The Dallas cohort launched last year with 12 nonprofits. For the next six months, the 10 Atlanta nonprofits will receive business training and be part of a mentorship program.

Evan Feinberg, executive director of the Stand Together Foundation, said Atlanta was picked because it is a center for social innovation.

“We are excited to work with partners in Atlanta developing some of the most effective solutions to the complex problems of poverty,” Feinberg said. “Their incredible work helps people transform their lives, and our goal is to simply help them help more.”

In the fields of addiction recovery, mental health and trauma, Stand Together selected Murphy-Harpst Children’s Center in Cedartown, and Wellspring Living in Atlanta.

The Georgia Justice Project was selected for its work with the prison population and issues of reentry and second chances.

The two nonprofits selected in the workforce development area were Every Woman Works and First Step Staffing.
Five nonprofits were selected in the field of youth and education – Bearings Bike Shop, Bright Futures Atlanta, HOPE (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education), Kidz2Leaders and re:imagine/ATL.

In a telephone interview on May 21, Feinberg said Stand Together began in January 2016 to create a national network of entrepreneurial nonprofits.

“The vision is to break the cycle of poverty,” Feinberg said. “We believe the way to drive social change in the country is not top down but bottom up. It’s got to happen with one social entrepreneur at a time.”
Feinberg added that one of the big opportunities of the Atlanta cohort will be “to build a peer network” both in Atlanta and as part of the larger national group.

Stand Together standard grant s $25,000 plus other program-related expenses. But some in the network have received multi-year, multi-million dollar grants.

“Our bottom line is the number of lives transformed,” Feinberg said. “We are looking for dynamic leaders. We are looking for organizations that have the potential to do more than they are doing now.”

The Koch funding network was led by Charles Koch and his interest to invest in “initiatives that break barriers.”
About 700 business leaders from around the country support the Stand Together Foundation, which has grown dramatically in the past three years. It gave away $8 million in 2016; $21 million in 2017 and $40 million in 2018.
“The partnership with Koch Industries and the Koch family has been very exciting along with 100s of the other business leaders who are investing in the effort,” Feinberg said.

Charles Koch and his brother have received national attention for their conservative political beliefs and influence.
Feinberg, however, said there is nothing political about the Stand Together Foundation, which is based in northern Virginia. Instead the foundation tends to invest in the development of human capital.

“We don’t view poverty as a material problem,” Feinberg said. “We are investing in human beings. We believe they can do extraordinary things. We are looking at transforming lives.”

Koch Industries has a large presence in Atlanta as the parent company of Georgia-Pacific. Feinberg said Georgia-Pacific leaders were helpful, and he credited Rakesh Chauhan, president and CEO of Banyan Investment Group who also is a donor, for helping put together the Atlanta cohort.

For the next six months, the 10 Atlanta nonprofits will receive business training and be part of a mentorship program.