Blank Foundation’s grant to CARE assists economic, disaster programs

CARE has helped these women in Tanzania form micro businesses to help their families. CONTRIBUTED BY MARY KATE WILSON / CARE
CARE has helped these women in Tanzania form micro businesses to help their families. CONTRIBUTED BY MARY KATE WILSON / CARE

Two Atlanta giants, CARE and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, have teamed up to aid international programs that promote economic development, particularly for women and girls, and provide humanitarian assistance for people affected by natural and man-made disasters.

The three-year $6.8 million grant to CARE represents the most significant expansion of the foundation’s philanthropic efforts in the international arena.

Previously, the foundation has made grants to CARE for various disaster relief funds in Nepal, the Philippines, Haiti and Pakistan.

This, however, “is the first time we’ve made a proactive international grant aimed at international development and improving the lives of people,” said foundation President Penelope McPhee. “It really grew out of Arthur’s interest in helping his children understand that the world is bigger than what we see in our day-to-day lives. We have the passion, the resources and the commitment to be our brother’s keeper — not just at home but around the world.”

McPhee said CARE already had the global experience, and there was a long relationship between Blank and CARE USA President and CEO Michelle Nunn and her father, former Sen. Sam Nunn.

The family foundation was established by Blank, a prominent Atlanta businessman and philanthropist, who is also owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United.

The investment will impact over a million women through CARE’s micro-savings programs “while also ensuring that CARE can reach more people facing emergencies with life-saving assistance,” Michelle Nunn said in a release.

While natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes get the lion’s share of attention, “for most people in America, what’s happening in Yemen is not high on the radar. The gift from the Blank Foundation will allow us to adjust course with the changing nature of humanitarian crises,” Nunn said. “An early response allows us to tell the story to bigger international donors so they will invest.”

Specifically, the money will be divided this way:

Pennies to Power, which empowers women and communities to take charge of their economic futures, will receive $5.49 million; and the Humanitarian Surge Fund, which will double the number of emergencies where CARE is able to respond, will receive $1.3 million.

Since 1998, the foundation has made 331 grants for combined domestic and international disaster relief of more than $5 million, including matching gifts to employee contributions. One of its partners has been the Clinton Global Initiative, founded in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton, and McPhee said there is interest in doing more work in the Caribbean.

Much of the foundation’s work has been in the United States, particularly in metro Atlanta, where it has invested in education, parks, youth development, the arts and community redevelopment.

Just recently, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation said it would donate $17.5 million to the development of the Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry that will connect the park to the Beltline, making it the largest one-time private donation to the Beltline.

CARE will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year.

In addition to awarding the grant, Blank will serve as honorary co-chair of the new Atlanta Committee for CARE, part of a nationwide network of committees that will foster empowerment programs for women and girls.