The Cable Company Helping Atlantans Get Some Fresh Air

Atlanta scores pretty low when it comes to urban green space, but some big things are happening. One company commonly associated with flipping channels is making large grants toward creation of more outdoor opportunities. 

Back in June, the Trust for Public Land released its 2014 ParkScore Index, a ranking of the country’s 60 largest cities and their parks. The news wasn’t great for Atlanta, which received a low score for the third year in a row— 44/100 and ranking 42nd. But the city is actually making some headway, and one of the funders behind the climb toward a greener city is the James M. Cox Foundation. 

Related - James M. Cox Foundation: Grants for Parks & Gardens

It's the corporate funder of Cox Enterprises, which started in Ohio but is now headquartered in Atlanta. While Cox is one of the country’s largest cable providers, it actually owns several businesses in media, communications, and marketing, with around 50,000 employees nationwide. The company’s foundation has given between $4 million and $7 million annually in recent years, with one of four priorities in Conservation and Environment.

While the foundation will make grants anywhere the company operates, its emphasis is in Atlanta, and some of its biggest grants over the years have been to improve green space and trails in the city.  

For example, in May, the funder announced it would make a $5 million grant to develop the Atlanta BeltLine. This is one of the country’s larger urban redevelopment efforts, a rails-to-trails project that seeks to create 22 miles of parks and paths along an old railroad corridor that circles the city. Following the low ParkScore rating, the Trust for Public Land parks director did point out that the BeltLine is an example of some “wonderful things” happening in Atlanta. 

Related: The New Golden Age of Urban Parks Philanthropy (And Its Controversies)

Another big grantee in this arena has been the PATH Foundation, an Atlanta developer of multi-use trails that has been around for more than 20 years, funded by Cox since the early days. The largest grant the organization has received from the funder was a $5 million commitment in 2012. Cox Chairman Jim Kennedy has said that PATH is his favorite local charity. The nonprofit has also landed big grants from the Kendeda Fund and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation.

To learn more about the foundation’s environment funding, and the locations the company operates and will make grants, check out our profile, and the Cox website.