Working at Purpose Built Schools Atlanta (PBSA) has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. I have been lucky enough to be involved in many big projects in Atlanta over 30 years, but I’ve never been involved in something more important than this work. The PBSA team has an inspiring and unyielding commitment to the students, families, and communities we serve.
The importance and generational impact of this work cannot be underestimated.
A recent study showed that since 1989, family wealth where households had a college degree increased 89%. Family wealth where the head of households did not have a college degree was flat with a 0% increase.
We all know the stakes are even higher for our kids, being born into extreme poverty and facing all the inequities that come with growing up poor and Black in America. It is a privilege to work in an arena where the stakes are so high, amongst such dedicated, talented individuals whose work is truly making an impact. There are so few people working in this space – the turnaround space – because so many others have given up. Let’s be clear: the team at PBSA has taken on the hardest job in education. There are few, if any, examples of sustained turnarounds of long-term underperforming schools.
Purpose Built Schools Atlanta is showing it is possible.
The APS-PBSA partnership has resulted in strong student growth, more stable schools with student-centered cultures and increased caregiver engagement, and unprecedented equity-based investments with more than $20 million invested in family support programming since 2016. Based on the Challenge Index and graduation rates, PBSA’s schools are among the most improved in APS over the last six years. Overall, our schools are more stable; we have achieved a 13% decrease in transiency. We have a better student culture and reduced out-of-school suspensions 40% across all four schools prior to the pandemic. Our parents are more involved with attendance at parent-teacher conferences having more than doubled. We are creating more opportunities for our students with advanced pathways, honors classes and AP classes, enrichments, interventions, and more. In short, our students are much better off than they were six years ago.
Check out our recent report Progress with Purpose that goes deeper into our success.
While there is still much work to be done, we have built a strong foundation, and I believe PBSA’s new CEO, Mike Davis, will not only sustain the success of this organization; he will push it even higher. Mike is an energetic and highly accomplished leader.
I’m not going far. I am transitioning to Chair of the Board of Directors where I’ll work closely with Mike and continue to lead fundraising efforts to support the Student and Family Support Program. I am also excitedly looking forward to my new role as a first-time grandparent and spending more time with my family.
I will forever be invested in the important work and mission of PBSA.