The Coca-Cola Company has pledged $500,000 to The Atlanta Women’s Foundation (AWF) to help girls and women develop skills needed for economic self-sufficiency. Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent made the announcement during his keynote address at Numbers Too Big to Ignore, the organization’s annual fundraising luncheon.

"When we look locally at the very real needs for women's economic empowerment and growth in our own community, our goal is to build on previous work with The Atlanta Women's Foundation in a way that inspires others," Kent says.

The $500,000 grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company, includes a challenge that will match, dollar for dollar, up to $250,000 in contributions made to AWF initiatives through October 27, 2012. Another $250,000 is to support programs that help girls between the ages of 8 and 18 make positive choices about education, careers and lifestyle.

Ongoing Challenges

The AWF produced a stirring video in 2009 illustrating some the problems area females faced and highlighting issues the organization tries to address. Since it was founded in 1986, AWF has engaged in public advocacy and granted more than $10 million to 250 nonprofit organizations serving women and girls. The Coca-Cola Company has previously awarded nearly $800,000 to AWF for sponsorships, general operating and program support.

Overall, in 2011 The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation have contributed nearly $9.3 million to strengthen Atlanta's community through environmental, fitness and nutrition, educational, arts and culture, and civic initiatives.

Women and Girls: A Solution to Fighting Global Issues

The grant comes at a time when there is growing recognition among the world’s corporate leaders, aid organizations and the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff that focusing on women and girls will be effective in the fight against global poverty and extremism. A recent New York Times article, "The Women's Crusade, "reported on this situation, noting that foreign aid is increasingly directed toward women. "The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren't the problem; they're the solution," wrote reporters Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

“As we look ahead, women will play a transformative role in shaping our global economy and society over the next decade," Kent says. "The real drivers of the 21st century will be women. They are already the most dynamic and fastest-growing economic force in the world."

The Coca-Cola Company is striving to help women to thrive beyond the Atlanta area. Last year, the Company announced its 5 by 20 program, an initiative to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs throughout its global system by 2020. A key step in achieving this commitment is a new partnership with United Nations Women to provide training, mentoring and access to financial resources to women-owned businesses that are part of the Coca-Cola family.