East Lake was a popular vacation haven for Atlanta’s affluent families in the early 1900s and continued to attract golfing enthusiasts who wanted to play at East Lake Golf Club, where golfing legend Bobby Jones played his first and last rounds of golf. By the 1960s, the golf course and the community began to fall into disrepair, and, in 1970, a public housing project called East Lake Meadows was constructed on what had been East Lake Golf Club’s No. 2 golf course. Over the next two decades, the area continued to deteriorate and was nicknamed “Little Vietnam” by local police because of its high crime rates and drug trade.

The East Lake Foundation was established in 1995 by Tom and and Ann Cousins to help transform the East Lake neighborhood and create new opportunities for the families who lived there. Working with neighborhood residents, government and public and private partners, the Foundation developed a holistic model for community revitalization and created a new community,The Villages of East Lake, on the site of the former public housing project. The success of the East Lake Initiative has served as the blueprint for a national model of holistic community revitalization through Purpose Built Communities. Today, there are numerous Purpose Built Communities across the country — all of which are successfully creating opportunities for residents and building strong, economically diverse communities.

Timeline

  • 1904 East Lake Golf Club opens
  • 1928 Land is purchased for a second course
  • 1963 Tom and Ann Cousins establish the CF Foundation for charitable giving
  • 1970 East Lake Meadows opens on the site of the second course of East Lake Golf Club
  • 1971 Eva Davis founds the Tenants’ Association at East Lake Meadows
  • 1990 Atlanta is selected to host Centennial Olympic Games in 1996, and future Atlanta Housing Authority President Renee Glover would use the upcoming games as leverage to gain funding for public housing improvement projects
  • 1992 HUD grants the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) $33.5 million for the East Lake Meadows renovation
  • 1993 A New York Times article asserts that 70% of prisoners in New York state come from 8 neighborhoods in New York City, profoundly affecting Tom Cousins, who then purchases East Lake Golf Club
  • 1994 East Lake Golf Club is closed for renovation; Rees Jones begins restoration of the historic Donald Ross course, and work begins on the clubhouse using the original plans
  • 1994 CF Foundation, Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA), and representatives from the East Lake Meadows Tenants’ Association begin weekly planning meetings to create a Master Plan for the community
  • 1995 East Lake Community Foundation is formed with Greg Giornelli as Executive Director
  • 1995 East Lake Meadows Residents’ Association approves Redevelopment Cooperative Agreement
  • 1996 Relocation of East Lake Meadows residents begins, and continues through 1999
  • 1997 Phase I of construction begins, including 182 residential units, 91 of which are financed with both public housing and tax credits
  • 1997 Goodwill begins providing job training for East Lake Meadows residents who plan to return to community; the program continues through 2005
  • 1997 Construction begins on first nine holes of Charlie Yates Golf Course (CYGC)
  • 1997 East Lake Community Foundation begins offering GED classes through partners
  • 1998 Phase I of construction of The Villages of East Lake is completed, and the first group of former East Lake Meadows residents return; half of the units are public-housing assisted, and half are market-rate
  • 1998 Charlie Yates Golf Course opens; Tiger Woods participates in Dedication Ceremony
  • 1998 East Lake Golf Club host the PGA Tour’s TOUR Championship
  • 1998 Drew Elementary closes, and Charles R. Drew Charter School applies to be Atlanta’s first charter school
  • 1998 The Villages of East Lake’s Resident Services begins offering life skills training, resume building, and job training opportunities – this program continues to serve the community today
  • 1998 Capital campaign begins for the Educational Village, which includes Drew Charter School and the East Lake Family YMCA
  • 1998 East Lake Golf Club hosts the PGA’s TOUR Championship for the first time
  • 1999 Atlanta Public Schools approves the Drew Charter School application
  • 1999 Villages of East Lake Phase II commences with construction on 360 residential units, half public housing assisted/tax-credit units and half market-rate units
  • 1999 Construction begins on second nine holes of Charlie Yates Golf Course
  • 2000 Villages of East Lake Phase II opens
  • 2000 Drew Charter School opens in its temporary location, serving 240 students grades K-5
  • 2001 The East Lake Sheltering Arms Early Learning Center opens
  • 2001 Drew Charter School opens in a new $17.5 million, 105,000-square-foot facility, serving 600+ children in grades K-6
  • 2001 The East Lake Family YMCA opens its doors; the facility is adjacent to Drew Charter School
  • 2001 Publix opens the first neighborhood grocery store to serve the community in 30 years
  • 2001 Charlie Yates Golf Course back nine is completed, and it opens as an 18-hole executive-length course
  • 2001 East Lake Golf Club hosts the U.S. Amateur Championship
  • 2002 Drew Charter School adds a 7th grade level, expanding enrollment to 700 students
  • 2003 Drew Charter School adds a 8th grade level, expanding enrollment to 780 students
  • 2004 East Lake Junior Golf Academy joins national First Tee program and becomes First Tee of East Lake
  • 2005 East Lake Golf Club is named the permanent home of the PGA Tour’s TOUR Championship
  • 2005 East Lake Community Foundation changes its name to East Lake Foundation
  • 2007 The Cox Pre-K Program, a partnership with the Speech School’s Rollins Center for Language & Learning, opens at Drew Charter School
  • 2008 Drew Charter School opens the innovative Literacy Center to close the achievement gap for students who are below grade level, while helping average students exceed grade level standards
  • 2009 The Georgia Pre-K program begins to replicate Drew’s early education model to improve literacy in 20 additional sites across the state
  • 2011 East Lake Early Learning Academy opens at the East Lake Family YMCA
  • 2013 Drew Charter School Senior Academy opens in its temporary location, serving 9th grade students
  • 2014 Drew Charter School Junior and Senior Academy building opens, serving 9th and 10th grades
  • 2014 East Lake Foundation launches East Lake Healthy Connections
  • 2015 East Lake Foundation launches Start:ME East Lake Entrepreneurship Program
  • 2015 Drew Charter School Junior and Senior Academy adds 11th grade
  • 2016 CF Foundation sells three properties at the corners of 2nd Avenue and Hosea Williams
  • 2016 Drew Charter School Junior and Senior Academy adds 12th grade
  • 2016 East Lake Foundation launches East Lake Women’s Alliance
  • 2017 Drew Charter School’s Charter is renewed for five more years through 2022