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Building a Neighborhood of Economic Opportunity in Atlanta

This four-page case study (2014) from The Intersector Project outlines how cross-sector collaboration was used to transform the East Lake Meadows community in Atlanta, Georgia.

From the Intersector Project

In 1995, in the East Lake Meadows public housing complex located four miles from downtown Atlanta, only four percent of residents earned incomes above the poverty line. The unemployment rate was 86.5 percent, and the neighborhood was home to a multi-million dollar drug trade with a crime rate 18 times higher than the national average. Less than 10 percent of children attending the neighborhood elementary school met basic proficiency standards in math by fifth grade. In 1993, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) a $35 million grant to renovate the crumbling housing stock of East Lake Meadows. Renee Glover, who had recently joined AHA as President, realized that merely renovating housing would not create a safer, more prosperous community. Concurrently, Tom Cousins, Founder of Cousins Properties, Inc., formed the East Lake Foundation to support and lead an integrated and holistic community approach which would provide mixed income housing, cradle-to-college education, and community wellness resources through public and private partnerships. Along with Carol Naughton, a real estate attorney for AHA, and Greg Giornelli, the Executive Director of the East Lake Foundation, and neighborhood residents, Tom and Renee catalyzed a collaborative effort to transform East Lake Meadows. This model and its success led to the development of Purpose Built Communities – a national network that redevelops distressed communities in cities throughout the United States.


“Cross-sector collaboration isn’t merely an option but a necessity to create neighborhoods where everyone can thrive. The necessary skill sets, funding streams, and leadership aren’t found only in one sector, but live in all sectors; collaborations allows for better coordination, more efficient use of resources, and greater impact. The revitalization of East Lake in Atlanta is a strong example of the power of cross-sector collaboration. Purpose Built Communities is helping leaders around the country use the model developed in East Lake to build healthy, sustainable neighborhoods with pathways to prosperity for the lowest income families.”— Carol Naughton, Senior Vice President, Purpose Built Communities

This case study, authored by The Intersector Project, tells the story of this initiative.

More about The Intersector ProjectThe Intersector Project
The Intersector Project is a New York-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to empower practitioners in the government, business, and non-profit sectors to collaborate to solve problems that cannot be solved by one sector alone. We provide free, publicly available resources for practitioners from every sector to implement collaborative solutions to complex problems. We take forward several years of research in collaborative governance done at the Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School and expand on that research to create practical, accessible resources for practitioners.

Follow on Twitter @theintersector.

Resource Link: http://intersector.com/case/eastlake_georgia/ (Download the case study PDF here.)

This resource was submitted by Neil Britto, the Executive Director at The Intersector Project via the Add-a-Resource form.

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