Participant Spotlights

Participants from the Atlanta Institute for Social Justice share their experiences:


Carmen Mays

I wanted to create a new dynamic between myself and finance that is based in empowerment instead of fear so I can translate it in a way that is culturally recognizable and beneficial to my community. I want to take something from obscure and distant to warm and manageable so those often left out or exploited can reposition themselves to participate in finance more equitably.

Understanding capital's neutrality is key to imagining methods of deployment that foster liberation, because I now realize there are no rules. I can literally just create a new mechanism that is human centered and I intend to! We can't let investors and institutions be the only ones that are allowed to assign value. Worth exists in abundance in our communities whether Wall St. recognizes it or not. And when we show up knowing this, we can negotiate from a position of power and demand instruments and projects that work for us, too.

I left the Institute with reignited passion. Imagination is so powerful and it is often the first thing to be suppressed in traditional financial education. But here it's brought back in order to create tools to build a more equitable system. Saying to someone, "Imagine if...", is both an act of love and liberation. We will build what we believe. I'm so glad I did this. I am honored to have been chosen. Keep bringing knowledge that will allow us to make our imagination our reality.


Chandra Farle

As a leader in a racial equity organization focused on advancing shared prosperity through energy, development, health and economic inclusion, I have been very interested in gaining a better understanding of the role that capital and finance play in community development and how that knowledge can support stronger advocacy. I do not understand all of the mechanisms [of using capital as a tool for social change], but I do have a foundation that I can use to build more knowledge about how I might be able to leverage these tools to support community wealth building. Also, I feel more comfortable engaging in conversations that include discussion of capital and finance and am eager to more deeply explore how capital and finance can expand access to clean energy projects that can reduce high energy burdens and build community wealth for disenfranchised communities.

We have to transform the financial ecosystem in a way that redirects capital towards community-based wealth building. Also, return needs to be redefined in way that can begins with eradicating poverty and the string of societal ills that are borne from poverty and produce the barriers that the majority of people face to personal wealth building.

After the workshop, I understood that capital and finance are simply tools. Tools that I could actually access versus things that I would never be able to leverage. It really democratized these topics for me in a way that was very powerful and informative for my work and larger visions. The workshop was awesome! I am VERY interested in learning more about the Climate Finance workshop and bringing that to the South.


Nafeesah Robinson

I attended the Institute to get educated on what Transform Finance for “Social Justice" was and how could we as an organization/community could benefit from it. I attended the institute without a finance background. I had no idea what to expect. By day two, I was excited to share this training with NDWA as well as other community leaders I'm affiliated with.

I'm interested in how we could use capital to shape how the future of our neighborhoods look. Also, by using high unionization levels to leverage our net worth as a lower working class of color. By creating a training models to educate the public about how we could use finance as a tool. Understanding that there are different levels to learning.Thank you! I need to learn more.


Nedra Deadwyler

I have a social venture that would like to grow and scale and had been thinking about ways to work in a collective to either restructure our local system and/ or share money for collective growth. Money systems, banking and finance are overwhelming and I needed a model that would support myself and others. There are several models to look deeper into and see how they align locally, work collaboratively with others to build, and inspire new possible funders towards our projects because of the value they bring, not only possible monetary returns.  

Transform Finance’s approach helped me to realize that I knew more about the financial system which I considered it to be intimidating. The 2-day class was helpful in several ways distilling the current system, infusing social justice goals, identifying current resources and reimagining future possibilities. Transform Finance can help by continuing to engage with us in the process of formalizing our models, providing data or support information to achieve proof of concept, and keeping the local areas connected.