The Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) has graduated their second class of women entrepreneurs in partnership with Sara Blakely, founder and CEO of Spanx.
Over the past year, CCI provided the women with business and strategy advising, leadership coaching, mentorship, and workspace in South Downtown. In addition, they received a seed investment from the Sara Blakely Foundation.

CCI and Sara Blakely also announced an investment in a third class of nine additional women-led enterprises, totaling 27 Atlanta-based, female entrepreneurs that have received support over the last three years.

“We are so proud to partner once again with Sara Blakely to invest in female entrepreneurs who are changing the way we value and approach problem-solving in Atlanta,” Rohit Malhotra, founder and executive director of the Center for Civic Innovation, said. “They are a reminder that the greatest way to meaningfully grow our local economy is to invest in the ideas and leadership of women.”

At the program’s graduation and induction ceremony on May 10, Blakely shared the news at the office headquarters with a room full of Spanx team members from across the company.

“Today is about announcing new women who are coming into the Center for Civic Innovation mentorship program in partnership with SPANX,” Blakely said. “You are women who were selected for your courage, your ability to make things happen and to bet on yourself. Today is about this entire SPANX family and the support of CCI – to say, we’re betting on you too.”

Meet the nine women-led ventures that CCI and the Sara Blakely Foundation are investing in:

Quyionah Wingfield | Cool Moms Dance Too: Uses dance movement therapy activities to improve the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of families.

Erin Croom | Small Bites Adventure Club: Helps children discover, love and eat their fruits and vegetables through the Taste Test box, a subscription service that is shipped directly to educators in schools, childcare, and afterschool programs.

Rachel Willis | Elevating Equity: Aims to eliminate race and income as predictors of student success by providing bias training and instructional tools for educators.

Kristina Smith | Hope For Youth, Inc. (HYPE): Increases interest in computer science among high school girls of color by providing coding instruction, as well as leadership and global exposure opportunities.

Mamie Harper | Carrie’s Closet of Georgia: A mobile donation collection service providing clothing, toiletries, and other needed items to children removed into foster care and foster caregivers

Mikala Streeter | The LIFE School: A progressive high school in Atlanta’s west side where each student works through a custom, project-based learning plan designed around their learning styles, interests, and goals.

Akissi Stokes | WUNDERgrubs: A micro-insect farm that provides farmers with grubs used as livestock feed, waste management, and fertilizer.

Carol Bowman | Learning in Color: Aims to improve student morale and academic outcomes by utilizing color theory to enhance school environments.

Starr Davis | The STARR Institute: Seeks to provide long-term housing solutions for young girls who are survivors of sexual abuse or exploitation.

In addition, the graduating 2019 class includes the following entrepreneurs:

Terri-Nichelle Bradley | Brown Toy Box: Inspires black children to pursue careers and hobbies where black people are typically underrepresented.

Jasmine Crowe | Goodr: A sustainable food surplus management company that leverages technology to combat hunger and reduce waste

Nedra Deadwyler | Civil Bikes: Curates culturally connected and relevant stories to engage people with place.

Jenn Graham | Civic Dinners: Uses technology to bring diverse people together to break bread and have a structured conversation that builds empathy and trust.

Tiffany LaTrice Williams | TILA Studios: Empowers black women to create and showcase their art.

Trish Miller | SwemKids: Aims to eliminate negative perceptions and barriers to swimming proficiency for black children and their families by equipping them with the skills to have a healthy and safe relationship with water.

Charnette Trimble | Grandmama’s House: Provides seniors with workshops that connect them to house repair programs and resources to help pass their wealth on the next generation.

Samantha Watkins | Urban Perform: A non-profit gym in Vine City that makes exercise accessible and affordable to everyone.

The Center for Civic Innovation was established in 2014 in response to Atlanta’s national designation as the country’s most unequal city. CCI’s goal is to bring innovation to the public sector by investing in community-driven solutions to inequality in our city. Over the past three years, CCI has supported and invested in more than 80 civic entrepreneurs across neighborhoods. In addition, CCI works to strengthen civic participation in the city by educating and evaluating existing systems of engagement.

“Civic Entrepreneurship is in Atlanta’s DNA,” Malhotra said. “We’re just shining a light on the people who are on the ground, doing the work.”

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.