The Phillips Collective

A cradle-to-college education pipeline + mixed income housing + new resources and services + community quarterback = a transformed neighborhood. That’s the successful formula used by Atlanta-based Purpose Built Communities to revitalize a blighted Atlanta neighborhood, and it’s the model adopted by the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, the community quarterback for the Phillips Collective (formally called the Wendell Phillips Neighborhood Initiative).

“It’s a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization model,” says UNI Executive Director Dianne Cleaver. The model seeks to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by transforming neighborhoods of concentrated poverty to mixed income neighborhoods with a high quality school at the center.

UNI has been working with Purpose Built on the effort for the last four years and, in 2016, became the 15th member of the Purpose Built Communities network, joining cities like Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Fort Worth in working to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty by building strong, economically diverse communities.

Additionally, UNI has acquired options on a large number of parcels in the Wendell Phillips Neighborhood. The plan is to bring an array of quality mixed-income housing to the area to reduce concentrations of poverty. UNI and the neighborhood are partnering in planning for the mixed income housing and the addition of “community wellness” services.

The Purpose Built model was developed in the 1990’s as an effort to transform a poverty-ridden Atlanta neighborhood, East Lake Meadows. Today, the once-grim neighborhood boasts excellent early childhood education centers, a high-performing pre-K through 12 charter school, a YMCA, mixed-income housing, and a strong sense of community. Violent crime has decreased by more than 90 percent; employment of low-income adults has increased from 13.5 to 100 percent for those who are work eligible (not elderly or disabled); and the charter school – Drew Elementary – went from worst to among the best performing schools in the district.