GKFF’s Elevate East℠ initiative works collaboratively with residents, community-based organizations and public and private entities to invest and support immigrant families living in East Tulsa. Home to some of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city, East Tulsa has quickly become a beacon for immigrants and refugees looking for a welcoming place to settle in the Heartland. Anchored by thriving commercial corridors and unique cultural assets like Plaza Santa Cecilia, East Tulsa is one of the fastest growing areas in the region. Since launching Elevate East℠ in 2022, GKFF has partnered with organizations like Tulsa Global District and Uma Tulsa to provide crucial resources to eastside residents. Elevate East℠ funded programs and services seek to be comprehensive and wide-ranging in order to enable neighborhood residents to elevate the conditions of their neighborhood.
Inspired by the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone, GKFF’s efforts in the Kendall Whittier neighborhood focus intensely on the birth-to-college-to-career pipeline, collectively called the Growing Together effort. GKFF believes that a safe, quality home environment is a significant factor in breaking the cycle of poverty for children and their families. In 2013, GKFF partnered with McCormack Baron Salazar, a nationally respected developer specializing in revitalizing economically distressed urban areas, to develop the 128‐unit mixed income Kendall Whittier West Park Apartments. In addition, GKFF renovated Kendall Whittier’s public park and collaborated with the University of Tulsa to build 20 graduate student units as well as non‐profit offices within the West Park development. The success of these projects has spurred further development through construction of affordable, for‐sale, single family homes, $12 million of investment and 160 new jobs in the adjacent historic shopping district, and a planned 100‐unit second phase of the mixed‐income West Park apartments. GKFF is hopeful these combined efforts will create a successful revitalization model that can be adapted and applied to other struggling neighborhoods in Tulsa.
GKFF’s InvestNorth initiative is a collaborative effort to drive transformational opportunities for families and children in historically Black, North Tulsa neighborhoods. Building on the 36th street north’s proud and rich black history and the aspirations of the Whitman and Hawthorne neighborhoods, InvestNorth is channeling resources into core focus areas, each designed to uplift the community and honor the legacy of its heritage. Deepening the impact of foundation investments, Educare 2 and Peoria Mohawk Business Park, InvestNorth has launched placemaking actives with organizations like the Phoenix Development Council, expanded youth development activities with Crossover Community Impact and the McLain High School feeder pattern, increased affordable housing options with Habitat for Humanity, and executed a community led process to beautify Chamberlain and Berry parks alongside Tulsa Parks. InvestNorth seeks to work alongside residents and neighborhood-based organizations to bring their aspirations for their neighborhoods to life.
Tulsa's Arts District
GKFF has invested nearly $100 million in a number of revitalization projects in Tulsa’s Arts District as part of its mission to enhance the quality of life in Tulsa and spur economic development in the core of the city. In 2009, GKFF sponsored a series of community visioning sessions where residents, business owners, property owners, city planners, artists and others joined together to create a plan to guide the future development of Tulsa’s Arts District neighborhood while maintaining the area’s authenticity as an arts district with historic character. In March 2010, the final plan was released. Since then, the Foundation has built more than 50 apartments for teachers, artists and entrepreneurs in the area. The Mathews Building includes art and museum institutions including the Woody Guthrie Center, 108 Contemporary, Philbrook Downtown and the University of Tulsa Zarrow Center for Art and Education. Guthrie Green, an urban green space and performance stage, brings the entire Tulsa community together for free events such as movie nights, yoga, Sunday concerts, food trucks and fitness. GKFF is a leader in the use of historic and new market tax credit projects to develop restaurants, retail, apartments, and green spaces.