Purpose Built Communities, a non-profit consulting firm working to end urban poverty, welcomed Vice President Joe Biden in March to Atlanta’s East Lake community. The visit was co-hosted by the East Lake Foundation whose work has transformed this neighborhood and is the premiere example of how the Purpose Built model can revitalize an entire community.
Vice President Biden visited the East Lake Early Learning Academy at the East Lake Family YMCA, one of the two early entry points to East Lake’s pipeline of high-performing schools that educates children from birth through high school. The East Lake Early Learning Academy serves children from birth to three years old, preparing them for pre-kindergarten with the social, emotional and literacy development skills needed to learn at high levels. High quality early learning is a core part of the cradle-to-college education pipeline of the Purpose Built Communities model for neighborhood revitalization. Vice President Biden also spoke with Purpose Built’s senior leadership about the community revitalization efforts in the East Lake neighborhood as well as across the United States.
“I was honored to meet with Vice President Biden this morning. We explained Purpose Built Communities’ holistic approach to community revitalization and our work with local leaders nationwide,” said Carol Naughton, senior vice-president, Purpose Built Communities. “Our model includes mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education and community wellness. This has proven to be successful here at East Lake and our goal is to support more communities across the United States as they implement the model.”
The successful revitalization of the East Lake neighborhood began in 1995 and has shown consistent and remarkable improvement due to the dedication of community leaders and residents alike to transform their neighborhood. Today the results are striking:
- Education: Almost 99 percent of fifth graders now meet or exceed state reading and language arts standards, and 100 percent meet or exceed math standards. The neighborhood elementary school that originally ranked last out of 69 elementary schools in the city is now the top-performing elementary school, while the middle school is the third highest performing middle-school in the Atlanta Public Schools system
- Employment: Five times more adults work or are in job training in the community than in 1995
- Surrounding neighborhood: After experiencing nothing but disinvestment for decades, the revitalization attracted some $200 million in additional commercial investment including new grocery stores, banks, new and more varied housing options, neighborhood retail and restaurants
- Safety: There has been a 73 percent reduction in total crime, 90 percent reduction in violent crime and the crime rate in East Lake is now 50 percent lower than the overall city crime rate
“The East Lake Early Learning Academy at the East Lake Family YMCA is a critical partner in the East Lake Foundation’s cradle-to-college education pipeline. It provides our youngest learners the tools and resources to start ahead and not behind in their effort to be productive and engaged citizens in the future,” said Daniel Shoy Jr., president, East Lake Foundation. “Vice President Biden’s visit helps bring a national spotlight to the East Lake Foundation and Purpose Built Communities’ efforts to expand opportunity and access for children in communities across the country.”
In addition to its work with East Lake, Purpose Built has partnered with leaders in communities across the country in the effort to transform neighborhoods and stop the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Offering its expertise and guidance, without cost, to leaders in cities including Birmingham, Ala., Charlotte, N.C., Indianapolis, Ind., New Orleans, La., Omaha, Neb., Rome Ga., and Spartanburg, N.C., Purpose Built is helping struggling communities implement a proven model for success that can provide an end to poverty, substandard education, unemployment, health disparities and other challenges that threaten urban America.