Coke donates $1.8 million for downtown Atlanta projects

To celebrate 130 years in its hometown of Atlanta, Coca-Cola is donating $1.8 million to causes designed to make improvements in the city’s downtown heart.

The beverage giant is giving $1 million to the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s efforts to expand Centennial Olympic Park, the beverage giant said.

The GWCCA is trying to raise $25 million to enlarge the downtown greenspace — one of the city’s main tourist attractions — including purchasing the Metro Atlanta Chamber building so it can be demolished and turned into more park land.

“There is no better way to celebrate 130 years of Coca-Cola than to give back to our hometown,” Coke CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement.

“While Atlanta has always been and will always be Coca-Cola’s home, the Centennial Olympic Park District is our neighborhood,” he said. “For decades, we have continued to invest in improving the area around our headquarters to support the continued growth of tourism, business and residences right here in our backyard.”

Coca-Cola’s headquarters is just down the street from the park on North Avenue and its World of Coca-Cola attraction is on the park’s north side.

Coke also is donating $500,000 to the PATH Foundation in its goal to connect Centennial Olympic Park to the city’s westside neighborhoods with new bike and pedestrian trails and improved landscaping.

Others receiving portions of the Coca-Cola donation:

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights: $250,000 for Operation Inspiration, a program that underwrites admission fees for students attending metro Atlanta Title 1 schools.

Atlanta Union Mission: $50,000 for vocational training and life stabilization skills programs for women living at My Sister’s House.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta: $30,000 for new 2016 exhibits.