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Atlanta Hawks, foundation investing $40 million in Black-owned businesses

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The Atlanta Hawks and the Ressler Gertz Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Hawks Principal Owners Tony Ressler and Jami Gertz, are committing $40 million into Black-owned businesses to create sustainable wealth and economic opportunity in the Black community.

The investment plan includes a long-term, comprehensive plan to provide financial, marketing and educational resources to Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the city of Atlanta.

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The Ressler Gertz Family Foundation has committed to giving $5 million to the Herman J. Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RCIE), the largest non-profit centre for Black entrepreneurs in the nation, to expand its reach and provide financial support to local Black-owned businesses through increased access, opportunity and exposure as well as expanding future RCIE programming.

According to the foundation, the gift will also increase RCIE’s ability to provide Black entrepreneurs access to corporate partners and capital as well as utilization of all Hawks marketing channels. 

The Hawks, on the other hand, announced a plan to expand their diversity and inclusion program with a $25 million commitment over the next decade. The NBA Players Association and the Hawks Foundation have also pledged to commit $10 million to provide economic opportunities within Atlanta’s Black community.

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“Systemic barriers have prevented the Black community from pursuing the educational, employment, and business opportunities necessary to fully contribute to and benefit from our growing local economy,” said Ressler in a written statement.

“Jami and I take our responsibility as owners of a professional sport franchise in the great city of Atlanta very seriously—and with that responsibility is a commitment to devote resources to organizations that are making tangible, impactful change. In my career, I have built and supported many businesses, and I believe that the access to mentors and capital, opportunity to market products and services, and exposure to customers that RCIE provides is invaluable to the growth of the Black business community in Atlanta. We look forward to adding our resources, connections, and platform to this brilliant organization and its mission,” he added.

“Forging pathways to equitable opportunities that help create and accelerate Black-owned businesses across our nation matters more than ever before. That’s why the partnership between the Ressler Gertz Family Foundation and Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is momentous,” said H. Jerome Russell, president of H. J. Russell & Co. and chairman of RCIE.

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This is not the first time the Ressler-Gertz Family Foundation has donated to support Black businesses. The foundation recently teamed up with Atlanta Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon to invest $65,000 in small Black-owned businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.


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