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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Clark Atlanta University, Inc.


Atlanta, GA

Project Name

Clark Russell Entrepreneurship and Technology Ecosystem (CREATE)



Award Amount


According to 2010 U.S. Census Data, Southwest Atlanta is 93 percent African-American and has an unemployment rate of 16 percent — more than double the national unemployment rate. Its median household income is $32,833, only 59 percent of the median household income for Metro Atlanta. Twenty percent of housing units are vacant. Child poverty rates in neighborhoods across Southwest Atlanta range from 20-86 percent. And residents across Southwest Atlanta – particularly low-income people of color – are less likely to have access to fresh food, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission. Southwest Atlanta continues to suffer from high unemployment, generational poverty, disinvestment and environmental degradation. When combined, these economic and environmental challenges – often referred to as “social determinants of health” – have been shown to increase rates of disease and premature death.

Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is launching a groundbreaking university-community initiative: the Clark Russell Entrepreneurship and Technology Ecosystem (CREATE). Partners in this initiative are the United Negro College Fund, and local community partners the Herman J. Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RCIE) and the Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW). Project CREATE will support entrepreneurs using STEM innovations to build healthy local food systems, create jobs for the innovation economy, and develop entrepreneurial opportunities in Southwest Atlanta.

CREATE connects the research and education capacity of CAU, the 3D printing lab at CAU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development, the entrepreneurship and lab-to-market training expertise of RCIE, and the world-class urban farming innovations developed at TLW. Together, as an innovative proof-of-concept and commercialization pipeline, CREATE will transform local food systems in the region and beyond. Over the next three years, CREATE will develop and launch an innovative platform that will economically transform Southwest Atlanta into a vibrant, inclusive entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem supporting approximately 50 new entrepreneurs in creating 400 jobs in local food system technology enterprises.