On a typical summer night in Atlanta, more than 3,300 homeless youth ranging in age from 14 to 25 years old sleep on the streets. Many are young women.

Across the city, major clusters of homeless youth have formed, with a significant population in Atlanta’s Westside, a 10-minute walk from Coca-Cola’s Global Headquarters. Westside is a historically important area of Atlanta, yet the community has suffered, and the neighborhoods and its residents are confronting high rates of poverty, unemployment and crime. The impact of the declining quality of life on the Westside is particularly devastating to homeless youth, who are faced with unthinkable challenges.

For organizations assisting homeless youth and supporting those transitioning out of homelessness, their task looms large, but their work is critical in helping build capacity of individuals and ultimately strengthening and boosting resilience of these communities.

The Coca-Cola Foundation has a long history of supporting Coca-Cola’s hometown and communities in need. Recognizing an urgency on the city's Westside, The Coca-Cola Foundation released a micro-grant Request for Proposal (RFP) this summer, seeking to fund organizations focused on empowering women and girls across four neighborhoods: Atlanta University Center, Ashview Heights, English Avenue and Vine City.

“Westside is a special place in Atlanta, and it needs support,” said Helen Smith Price, president of The Coca-Cola Foundation. “We solicited proposals for these grants because we wanted to be intentional and strategic in supporting organizations making a difference in the Westside community.”

Covenant House Georgia and Back on My Feet Atlanta, emerged from 40 proposal submissions from organizations addressing critical needs in the community. 

Covenant House is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving homeless, runaway and trafficked youth. Back on My Feet combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.

Covenant House will receive $42,000 from The Coca-Cola Foundation to expand outreach hours and connect with an additional 200 homeless girls in Westside. The team will invite the young women to enter the crisis shelter and utilize services including therapy, housing and life-skills classes. Outreach is critical, as it allows Covenant House to create relationships and familiarity with homeless youth, which builds trust and increases the likelihood these girls and women will enter the shelter.

Back on My Feet will receive $8,000 from The Coca-Cola Foundation to expand its mentor-focused running team and financial literacy and professional development skills training courses to accommodate additional homeless participants. After a participant shows dedication to participating in early morning runs, they are invited to enter the “Next Steps” program, which provides adults with financial literacy training and professional development skillsv to help transition from shelter to independent living situations and secure higher-wage employment.

Collectively, the two organizations will impact the lives of 250 women and girls in Atlanta’s Westside, helping increase their safety, strength and skills to better prepare them as they progress in life.