The Ressler Gertz Family Foundation has announced a $5 million gift in support of the Herman J. Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RCIE) as part of a long-term, comprehensive plan to provide financial, marketing, and educational resources to Black-owned businesses in Atlanta.
The commitment from the foundation, the primary philanthropic vehicle of Atlanta Hawks principal owners Tony Ressler and his wife, actress Jami Gertz, is part of a $40 million investment in local African-American entrepreneurs and their businesses and will be used to expand RCIE programming, which includes mentoring, networking, and access to capital.
Ressler said, “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…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.”
Ressler further said, “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.”
Recently, the Hawks Foundation committed $10 million to the NBA Foundation in support of its efforts to advance economic empowerment in the Black community; $11 million over ten years to grow its Diversity and Inclusion commitment, including hiring its first vice president of D&I programming; and $14 million over ten years to create safe spaces in and services for underresourced communities.