The Purpose Built Schools leadership team has a proven record of helping improve schools in historically high-poverty neighborhoods.
Not far away in Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood, some of the members of our leadership team helped open Drew Charter School in 2000, providing the cradle-to-college education pipeline for the holistic community revitalization of the East Lake community in southeast Atlanta. It took years of building trust, a willingness to do things differently, and a creative approach to instruction and family support.
When it launched in 2016, Purpose Built Schools was a “startup” focused on growth, adding four schools — Thomasville Heights Elementary School, Slater Elementary School, Price Middle School and Carver STEAM Academy — and 1,600+ students, building on the Purpose Built Schools Model with its roots in Drew Charter School and the broader East Lake revitalization effort.
In less than five years, across four schools that comprise the highest poverty feeder pattern in Georgia and that serve a population that is nearly 100 percent students of color, Purpose Built Schools has reduced suspensions by 32 percent, lowered transiency by one fifth, and increased caregiver attendance at parent-teacher conferences by 17 percent. It’s no accident that at the same time three of our four schools have increased student achievement by more than 93 percent of all schools in Georgia. Through this work, Purpose Built Schools is explicitly identifying and mitigating the negative impacts of systemic racism that are barriers to life-changing opportunities.
This early success is encouraging; but these gains are fragile. Turnarounds take approximately 10 years, which is why the organization is constantly thinking about how to keep building on success.
Over the past year, we have been working to create a strategic plan to guide us in shifting from a startup mindset to spotlight organizational sustainability. This plan will lead us in further refining our model to improve, sustain and achieve excellent student outcomes in a traditional public school setting and in light of the unique challenges faced by families in the southwest Atlanta community.
The process included countless stakeholders–the partners who support educators’ work in the classroom, community members, our staff, families, and others.
The goal of this recent strategic planning process was primarily to provide direction to the organization in achieving that improvement and sustainability over the next three to five years, with an imperative to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic in a stronger position.REVIEW THE FULL STRATEGIC PLAN