by Katie Delp
What makes a healthy, vibrant community? It’s impossible to answer this question with just one word. Thriving neighborhoods need transportation options, good schools, safe sidewalks, access to healthy foods, libraries, active residents, mixed income housing, community spaces and engagement, quality jobs, and more. After decades in community development, we at FCS know there is no silver bullet for ending poverty or transforming a neighborhood.
Instead, communities change when a wide variety of stakeholders listen to the local residents, invest in the area, and stay committed for the long haul. We have been working in Historic South Atlanta for many years, strategically addressing many neighborhood concerns like affordable housing, job creation, and community spaces. But one area has presented a barrier to our community flourishing: education.
For years, we’ve watched as our local schools have failed to serve our neighborhood children well. And as our housing program has grown and our listings have increased, we’ve seen over and over again how their poor performance has prevented new neighbors from choosing our community.
FCS has participated in education efforts throughout the years. We’ve run after-school programs, we helped launch a charter school, and we’ve tried to support local schools when possible. But it hasn’t been enough. And we know we cannot meet every need that our neighbors express are important to them.
That’s one reason why we’re so grateful to partner with other organizations. For education in South Atlanta, we’ve been so glad to work with Purpose Built Schools Atlanta, who has made a 15 year commitment to our neighborhood elementary, middle, and high schools. This month, they began their leadership in the elementary and middle schools and we’re already hearing neighbor feedback about how much the school culture has changed seemingly overnight.
It’s a joy to support their work in any way possible, bringing our strategic partnerships in alignment with their education expertise with far exceeds what we could do on our own. When effective partners can bring their flagship programs and work together, it can truly benefit the community as a whole. It’s an exciting season for Atlanta Public Schools and our neighborhood, and it’s fun to watch all the changes flourishing in South Atlanta!