Purpose Built Communities is proud to welcome its first Network Member from the state of Florida, LIFT Orlando. Founded in 2012, LIFT Orlando consists of business leaders partnering with residents to break the cycle of poverty in an area just west of Downtown Orlando. After exploring how the business community could help solve some of the city’s most complex social problems, LIFT Orlando was born as a business-led initiative to leverage their collective influence and resources to bring about lasting community transformation for the most vulnerable citizens.

The neighborhoods in LIFT Orlando’s focus area are rich with African-American history including many long term residents who broke through the barriers of racial and economic inequality in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s to achieve success. Yet, this was also an area with a high concentration of chronic poverty, joblessness, homelessness, and crime.

Inspired by the reconstruction of the Orlando Citrus Bowl stadium seated in the heart of the community, these civic-minded business leaders saw an opportunity to engage the community and leverage the project to ignite positive neighborhood transformation for nearby families.

After conducting the largest urban neighborhood survey in the city, with over 1,500 door-to-door interviews and dozens of community gatherings they encountered an unprecedented level community engagement. Ultimately, LIFT Orlando was able to begin to identify the will of residents and engage a team of neighborhood leaders. The collaboration has already led to many successes, including a dramatic increase in participation by children in the surrounding neighborhoods in the Florida Citrus Sports free summer camp, from 3% to 97% from one year to the next.

The result of these extensive engagement efforts is the formation of a resident-led council representing the neighborhoods around the stadium, now known as the Communities of West Lakes. The combination of their hopes and dreams paired with the evidence based strategies of the LIFT Orlando board have produced a holistic approach with plans for a cradle-to-college education pipeline, mixed- income housing, community health and wellness and long-term economic viability.

“We are extremely excited to join the high-performing organizations in the Purpose Built Communities Network working to break the cycle of poverty through holistic neighborhood revitalization,” said Eddy Moratin, Executive Director of LIFT Orlando. “With the strong support of civic and business leaders and the community we are committed to doing the long-term work necessary to create a healthy neighborhood where everyone can thrive.”

Board Chair of LIFT Orlando, Tom Sittema, shakes hands with Purpose Built Communities Executive Chair Shirley Franklin after signing the Network Member Agreement. Credit: LIFT Orlando
Board Chair of LIFT Orlando, Tom Sittema, shakes hands with Purpose Built Communities Former Executive Board Chair of Purpose Built Communities after signing the Network Member Agreement. Credit: LIFT Orlando

“LIFT Orlando has done an outstanding job working with the community to identify the needs of the neighborhood and its residents and has taken a thoughtful and sophisticated approach to holistic revitalization,” said David Edwards, CEO of Purpose Built Communities. “We look forward to working with them and learning from them over the years to come.”

Eddy Moratin will be one of the speakers at Purpose Built Communities Sixth Annual Conference, which will be in Fort Worth, TX from October 5-7.

For more information about LIFT Orlando and the emerging Neighborhoods of West Lakes, visit www.LIFTOrlando.org.