Georgia Tech Partners with City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office to Launch Center for Urban Research

Posted November 10, 2022

The Georgia Institute of Technology and the City of Atlanta Office of the Mayor are partnering to launch the Center for Urban Research, focused on developing collaborative solutions to address socio-economic inequities in urban areas—bringing academic expertise across the state to the work being done on the ground.

The Center’s mission is to build mutually beneficial partnerships with university, community, non-profit and municipal leaders across the city to support community resilience and sustainability, leverage private and philanthropic investment for research and programming, provide policy analysis and recommendations, and increase non-profit capacity.

“Atlanta has been at the forefront in the fight against social injustice and the fight for equity and opportunity,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. “It is in that spirit that the Atlanta community leverages our power at the local level to directly address economic inequities and lack of upward mobility. Thank you to Georgia Tech, Atlanta’s HBCUs, and the many partners involved in the Center for Urban Research, which will allow our city to demonstrate to the nation the immeasurable value of investments made in urban communities.”

“We are excited to launch a center dedicated to eliminating racial equity gaps in our city by improving the conditions in our most distressed neighborhoods,” said David Edwards, founding director of the Center, and policy advisor for neighborhoods at the City of Atlanta. “Atlanta has an abundance of academic expertise in this space, and we look forward to leveraging all of the faculty and student resources our universities have to offer in support of our work in the field.”

The Center will serve as a research, evaluation, and reporting hub to develop cutting-edge research on community development based on the Atlanta experience and best practices from around the world. Former Mayor Shirley Franklin, Integral CEO Egbert Perry, and CARE USA CEO President Michelle Nunn are among those who have agreed to serve on the center’s Advisory Board. The Center’s work will also be guided by a Scientific and Planning Advisory Committee comprised of scholars from across Atlanta’s academic community.

“Georgia Tech’s new Center for Urban Research will create a collaborative space where faculty experts will work alongside municipal, community, and nonprofit leaders to strengthen and support the people of our city at the neighborhood level,” said Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera. “This combination of scholarship, research, and outreach will develop solutions that address the daily needs of our hometown citizens — housing, quality of life, education, opportunity, and more — in an effort to reduce inequity and build resilience everywhere.”

With its well-established history as a center for the advancement of civil and human rights and institutions dedicated to the development of Black leaders, Atlanta is a perfect city to pioneer strategies to tackle racial inequality in our cities.

The new Center has hit the ground running and is already supporting several City of Atlanta projects including neighborhood improvement planning, developing an Atlanta Thriving Neighborhood Index, evaluating place-based public safety programs, assessing the equity of property tax assessments and more. Current target areas include the Hollowell Corridor, Campbellton Road Corridor and Thomasville Heights.

The Center’s public sector partners include City of Atlanta agencies, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, Atlanta Public Schools, Atlanta Housing and MARTA. Community partners include the Atlanta Regional Commission, United Way of Metro Atlanta, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta and Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Faculty and researchers from Georgia State University, Morehouse College, Emory University, Spellman College, University of Georgia, AU Center and Kennesaw State University will collaborate on research and service on the center’s scientific advisory and planning committee.  

For local government partners, the Center will provide policy expertise and guidance, long-term continuity by maintaining the “long view” and serve as an execution arm for advancing racial and economic equity goals.

The Center will provide a central source of guidance and expertise for neighborhoods in the development of their improvement strategies and bring infrastructure, partners, and resources to support the implementation of those strategies.

For the academic institutions, the Center will provide an avenue to advance community improvement and racial equity goals in partnership with local government agencies, provide a “public policy makers-space” for research and implementation of community development ideas, and provide real-world experience for students and faculty.

For the philanthropic community, the Center will ensure collaboration among non-profits operating in the community development space, increase the capacity of non-profits and other NGOs serving the community, provide a central clearinghouse for data and research to measure outcomes and improve performance, and demonstrate best practices and scalable strategies that can be replicated in other cities.

The Center will be housed within the School of Public Policy in the Ivan Allen College.

“We are honored to host activities that will have positive, real-world impact in the community we call home,” said Kaye Husbands Fealing, Dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. “We are excited to get started.”

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Megan McRainey