East Lake Foundation Announces $1.1M Donation to Launch the Tom Cousins and Billy Payne Leadership and Service Program at Drew Charter School

The East Lake Foundation announced today a $1.1M contribution to develop and launch the Tom Cousins and Billy Payne Leadership and Service Program at Charles R. Drew Charter School. The donation is from Rob Johnston, the immediate past Chairman of the TOUR Championship and a decades-long member of the East Lake Foundation’s Board of Directors.

“Tom and Billy were mentors to me both personally and professionally, and they introduced me to the miracle at East Lake,” said Rob Johnston. “These visionary leaders inspired me to think beyond the horizon. I sincerely hope to prepare all Drew students for greatness – beyond what is provided in their academic careers – so I am thrilled to fund the creation of the Tom Cousins and Billy Payne Leadership and Service Program. I have known these two iconic leaders all my life and am honored that they will be forever linked by their lifelong commitment to humility and humanity.”

The Tom Cousins and Billy Payne Leadership and Service Program will give all students at Drew exposure to leadership skills and personal networks. By introducing students to leadership, ranging from CEOs to middle management, Johnston aspires that this program “will encourage these students to rise above their comfort zone.” This program that is poised to impact thousands of students will forever honor the legacies of Tom Cousin and Billy Payne, two extraordinarily gifted leaders and philanthropists.

The program is rooted in its tenets to provide experiences, exposure, and education for all students, specifically centered on the fundamental importance of leadership and community service. Meaningful partnerships with local organizations, service field trips, a guest speaker series, the Dreamers Mentoring Program and service leadership scholarships are just a few ways the Tom Cousins and Billy Payne Leadership and Service Program will increase and develop student leadership.

“The Tom Cousins and Billy Payne Leadership and Service Program gives a nod to two influential leaders, without whom Drew Charter School wouldn’t exist today,” said Peter McKnight, Drew’s Head of School. “We are grateful for this donation, which will allow us to enhance existing service and leadership opportunities across Drew’s Junior and Senior Academies, and also establish new programs and access for our students to enhance their leadership skills.”

About Drew Charter School

Charles R. Drew Charter School opened in 2000 as the City of Atlanta’s first public charter school. Drew’s innovative Project-Based Learning approach with an integration of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum and a strong foundation in literacy helps all students reach their highest potential. Serving more than 1,900 students in grades Pre-K through 12, Drew represents the cradle-to-college pipeline in the East Lake community and is an integral part of an equitable, holistic neighborhood revitalization led by the East Lake Foundation. For more information, please visit https://www.drewcharterschool.org/.

About East Lake Foundation

Founded in 1995 by developer and philanthropist Tom Cousins, the East Lake Foundation collaborates with public and private organizations to provide tools and equitable opportunities that enable Atlanta’s East Lake residents to build a better future through its integrated model for community revitalization.

The East Lake model includes cradle-to-college education at Drew Charter School and its early learning partners (Atlanta Speech School, the East Lake Family YMCA, and Sheltering Arms East Lake); mixed-income housing at The Villages of East Lake; and community wellness through its Resident and Community Support Program and partners’ programs including The First Tee® of Metro Atlanta at the Charlie Yates Course, Start:ME East Lake, a micro-entrepreneurship program with Emory University, and the East Lake YMCA’s East Lake Healthy Connections. This approach to building a strong community not only helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, but also creates a place where people of all ages and incomes choose to live.

The redevelopment of East Lake has become a national model for integrated and holistic community redevelopment in 27 additional neighborhoods across the country through Purpose Built Communities. For more information, please visit www.eastlakefoundation.org.