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).
In 2016, UNI 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. That successful formula has been adopted by UNI, the community quarterback for the Phillips Collective.
UNI took its first step in implementing the Purpose Built model with the opening of Kansas City Neighborhood Academy (KCNA), a neighborhood charter school with a strong emphasis on literacy, project-based learning and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).
KCNA opened its doors Aug. 2, 2016, welcoming more than 130 students Pre-K through second grade. A month earlier, the school received grants of $1 million from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and $600,000 from the Hall Family Foundation for instructional support.
UNI has also acquired options on a large number of land parcels in the Wendell Phillips neighborhood, with the goal of bringing quality mixed-income housing to the area and reducing concentrations of poverty, as well as adding community wellness services.
The Purpose Built model was developed in the 1990s to help transform the poverty-ridden East Lake Meadows neighborhood in Atlanta. Today, the neighborhood boasts a high-performing Pre-K – 12th grade charter school, a YMCA, mixed-income housing and a strong sense of community. Violent crime rates have decreased by more than 90 percent, while employment of eligible low-income adults has increased from 13.5 to nearly 100 percent.