Carol Naughton has been a leader in community revitalization for more than 20 years and was a founding staff member of Purpose Built Communities. As president, she leads the consulting teams that support revitalizations in 16 cities, as well as the teams currently vetting opportunities in additional cities, including several in metro Atlanta.
With unbridled enthusiasm, Jonathan Ashford arranged nine plastic foam cups around the rug of the Columbia Parc community center and sank putts on his makeshift course as if his dinner that night depended on it. A day earlier, Jonathan, 9, and his friends in the First Tee of Greater New Orleans, a program that introduces young people to golf, played three holes on the South Course at Bayou Oaks. It is a public golf facility that opened on April 21, several hundred yards from where Jonathan and his mother live. His days of having to putt into coffee cups are numbered.
On Saturday, May 20, a transformation 20 years in the making will be complete when the first-ever senior class graduates from Charles R. Drew Charter School, Atlanta’s first public charter school. Out of 82 students, 100 percent are not only expected to graduate, but have already been accepted to college.
With its Frank Lloyd Wright-like glass and stacked-stone architecture, the $45 million Drew Charter Junior and Senior Academy looks more like a high-end resort than an inner-city school in what was once Atlanta’s worst neighborhood. The front door is just a pitching wedge from the 13th tee of East Lake Golf Club, the home course of Bobby Jones that has hosted the Tour Championship since 2004.
Engineering students at Drew Charter School are putting the final touches on a device designed to prevent hot car deaths. They’ve been working for months to develop a three-step warning system that uses a temperature gauge, infrared technology, ignition and weight sensors to detect the presence of a baby left alone in a hot car.
Charles R. Drew Charter School is gearing up for class of 2017’s graduation, celebrating its first “cradle-to-college pipeline in the East Lake community” over the next few weeks of May. Class of 2017 is a total of 82 students who have been “an integral part of the neighborhood’s holistic revitalization led by the East Lake Foundation.”
On April 21, Bayou Oaks City Park South Course . A little more than a driver-5-iron from the third green stands 685 units of mixed-income housing spanning 13 city blocks complete with schools, recreation and support services on the site of the former St. Bernard public housing development. Columbia Parc is the first community after the East Lake Foundation to implement what is now called the Purpose Built Communities model of neighborhood transformation that has expanded to 16 other communities. At Columbia Parc, there is a 26-month waiting list to live there.
The East Lake neighborhood that people know today is not one and the same of 25 years ago. Formerly overrun with blight and crime, the community has seen a resurgence and revitalization, offering a safe place for families to live and grow.
Much of this transformation is thanks to The East Lake Foundation, a community nonprofit whose mission is to redevelop the area through mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education, and community wellness.