In a pledge to commit to expanding resources for Black entrepreneurs, the Ressler Gertz Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Atlanta Hawks’ principal owners Tony Ressler and Jami Gertz, in a partnership with the team, has announced a financial initiative to help those in the Atlanta Black community.
The long-term, comprehensive plan will be providing financial, marketing, and educational resources to Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the city of Atlanta. This initiative will help to create greater economic opportunity in the Black community. The Atlanta Hawks franchise has also announced plans to increase investment in its Diversity & Inclusion and Corporate Social Responsibility/Community Development departments.
The Ressler Gertz Family Foundation is committing $5 million to the Herman J. Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RCIE), which is the largest nonprofit center for Black entrepreneurs in the nation. The funds will help to expand its reach and provide financial support to local Black-owned businesses through increased access, opportunity, and exposure and will also be expanding future RCIE programming.
“Located in the heart of Atlanta and founded by one of Atlanta’s most successful, entrepreneurial families, RCIE is one of the most innovative organizations that is providing real solutions for Atlanta’s Black community and contributing directly to the growth of Black businesses, jobs, and wealth. 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.”
“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. “We are bringing a relationship that incubated 50 years ago with my father Herman J. Russell, as an initial owner of the Atlanta Hawks, to a progressive platform—where the relationship between the Hawks’ current principal owners and Atlanta’s leading Black business and civic family will help amplify, advocate, and activate Black economic empowerment through entrepreneurship. We are incredibly grateful for Tony, Jami, and the Hawks’ generous donation and contributions as they come alongside our efforts to realize an exponential impact in Black prosperity.”
The Hawks Foundation has also pledged $10 million, in a partnership with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), to support greater economic empowerment in the Black community. The team has also announced plans to grow its commitment over the next decade with an $11 million investment, including hiring a newly created VP of D&I Programming position to expand on its current award-winning programming.
As the team is committed to providing safe spaces and services for under-resourced communities, the Atlanta Hawks has also increased its commitment to community programming by enhancing current programs, partnerships, and donations with a minimum of $14 million over the next decade.