We’ve dug in to a new future for Kipp Woodson Park Academy and the Grove Park community! On Sept. 10, Atlanta Public Schools and the Grove Park Foundation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony marking the construction of a brand new school site, a YMCA Early Learning Center, and a school-based health clinic.
This historic, $51 million investment in the Grove Park neighborhood is the result of a partnership between the community, Atlanta Public Schools (APS), the Grove Park Foundation, KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools, and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. This represents the first major step in a series of investments in the health, arts and affordability in the Grove Park neighborhood intended to boost health, equity, affordability and economic mobility.
This partnership, and the investments partners are bringing to the neighborhood, are following the Purpose Built Communities model of holistic revitalization, creating deep, durable, and permanent channels of affordability and opportunity for all residents, with a focus on building health and wealth for existing residents.
“The district and the students, families and members of this community have looked forward to this day for several years. And it brings tears to our eyes to finally see actual progress – actual turning of dirt – on a project that will truly transform this school and this community,” said Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. “In our world of education, a great partner is precious and rare, and we have been fortunate to have a number of them working on this project. So many thanks to all of our friends in the Grove Park Foundation, KIPP, the YMCA and others for making this project possible.”
Since 2016, the Grove Park Foundation has been serving as the “community quarterback,” coordinating the efforts of the community and all the partners in a long-term, holistic revitalization effort. More specifically, the Grove Park Foundation has raised more than half of the funds to leverage APS’s investment to construct the new K-8 school building for KIPP Woodson Park Academy and is partially funding the development of the health clinic.
In the spring of 2018, APS and KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools entered into an agreement to become partners at Woodson Park Academy, where KIPP is bringing their successful college-preparatory model that emphasizes strength of character and a culture of achievement and support. KIPP Woodson Park Academy will continue to serve as a public neighborhood school — open to all students living in the school’s zone. The partnership began in the 2019-2020 school year in the school’s existing facility and is the largest partnership of its kind for KIPP nationally. The new school building will open in the fall of 2020, as will the early learning center and health clinic.
“Today is a great day for the children and families of Grove Park,” said Debra Edelson, executive Director of the Grove Park Foundation. “The investments we are making today will not just benefit today’s children and families, but generations to come. We are here with our partners because we all believe that every Atlantan has the same right to a great education, economic mobility and great health outcomes. This is the path to true equity. We are grateful for the residents and leadership of the Grove Park neighborhood, and our partners APS, KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools, and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta who have locked arms together on this journey.”
“We are honored to be participating in this partnership alongside Atlanta Public Schools, the YMCA, and the Grove Park Foundation,” said Kinnari Patel-Smyth, KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools’ Executive Director. “We look forward to honoring and partnering with KIPP Woodson Park Academy students and families on their journey to college and a choice-filled life.”
As part of this new campus, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta is investing in both the education and health of the neighborhood by building a new early learning center that will serve 65-90 children, newborn to 6 years old. A co-located, school-based health care center funded by both the YMCA and Grove Park Foundation, will ensure that the children served on the campus, and their families, receive critical services that will support their ability to achieve to their highest potential.
“We firmly believe that, in order for our city to succeed, we must first invest in our youngest citizens, equipping them with the knowledge, resources, and skills needed to reach their full potential,” says Lauren Koontz, President & CEO of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. “This exceptional collaboration and campus at Grove Park is designed to give children a best-in-class early learning experience and work alongside families and the community to bring renewed opportunity to Grove Park.”
The historic Grove Park neighborhood on Atlanta’s Westside embodies the character, growth and challenges common to this neglected side of the city. Residents are rooted in the history of this once vibrant, middle-class African-American family neighborhood, yet they have experienced years of disenfranchisement, increasing poverty and crime, and the deterioration of community resources and infrastructure.
About the Grove Park Foundation:
The Grove Park Foundation is working with the residents of the Grove Park neighborhood and partners to create a cradle-to-college quality education pipeline, secure and increase affordable housing for Grove Park residents, and improve community wellness – physical, financial, cultural, and social. The foundation accomplishes this as a “community quarterback,” leveraging community assets and connecting needed partners, programs and resources to an underserved neighborhood that is experiencing high unemployment, high poverty, low resources and intense development pressure. The goal is to break the generational cycle of poverty by creating wide and sustainable paths out of poverty for low-income residents.
About KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools
KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools is a local non-profit network of ten college-preparatory public schools educating 4,600 elementary, middle, and high school students. Our schools are part of the free public school system and enrollment is open to all students. At KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools, our mission is to equip students with the academic skills, scholarly habits, and character traits necessary to be successful in college and the competitive world beyond. For more than 15 years, KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools has been preparing students from educationally underserved communities for success in college and in life. To learn more, visit www.kippmetroatlanta.org, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/KIPPMetroAtlanta, on Instagram, and on Twitter @KIPPMAC.
About the YMCA of Metro Atlanta:
The YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta’s mission is to promote healthy spirit, mind and body. The Association consists of 18 membership branches, 13 early learning centers, more than 50 afterschool program sites, two stand-alone youth