During the Summer of 2023, Purpose Built Communities hosted the 2023 Truist Foundation Racial Equity Ambassadors cohort in Atlanta for a two-day immersive experience in racial equity. The transformative fellowship program equips Purpose Built Network Member staff with the necessary tools, training, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to drive racial equity within their communities. The Ambassadors’ visit included a deep dive into Network Members Focused Community Strategies (FCS) and East Lake Foundation’s work in historic South Atlanta and East Lake, respectively, and a day of training, providing them with firsthand experiences and insights to further their racial equity journeys.
Day One: Immersion
The tour continued with a stroll through Carver Market and Community Grounds. Adjacent to FCS, the affordable grocery and coffee shop thoughtfully reflects South Atlanta residents’ needs and interests. Ambassadors then experienced FCS’s mixed-income housing initiatives, including accessory dwelling units throughout the neighborhood. Witnessing the tangible impact of FCS’s work on the community provided a deeper understanding of the importance of trust, strategic partnerships, and resources for achieving equity.
Next, Ambassadors embarked on a bus tour of the East Lake neighborhood where they visited more mixed-income housing options, including the Villages of East Lake and the future site of the Trust at East Lake, a residential community of forty affordable townhomes developed through a community land trust. The group also had the opportunity to explore vibrant community gardens and other local resources – all of which have worked strategically together to revitalize the neighborhood.
The Ambassadors hopped off for a stop at Charles R. Drew Charter School which has implemented innovative educational and administrative practices driving equity. Examples include its Parent Equity Committee, designed to identify and close equity gaps affecting students and their families, and its Office of Culture and Equity, which helps the school maintain diversity and its investment in equitable education in East Lake.
They finished the day at East Lake Family YMCA with East Lake Foundation leadership staff, Jennifer McCrary and Catherine Woodling. Ambassadors were engaged in discussions with Jennifer and Catherine as they shared the process the organization uses to consistently center and prioritize the residents’ needs, and how they evolve the neighborhood’s story and its unique history.
Day Two: Equipping Change Agents
The Ambassadors continued their training with Purpose Built partner, Interaction Institute for Social Change. The immersive workshops focused on strategies, best practices, and practical tools to drive meaningful change within their organizations and communities. These sessions emphasized the importance of long-term commitment, collective action, and engaging with community members to address systemic barriers and how to effectively promote racial equity.
The Truist Foundation Racial Equity Ambassadors Tour was a transformative event, providing Ambassadors with immersive experiences, engaging dialogues, and valuable insights and strategies that will inspire them to continue their journey towards creating inclusive and thriving communities.
Ambassador Chaniqua Major, Communications Manager at Network Member organization Lift Orlando shared, “Words can’t express how grateful I am for the opportunity I had to connect with the other participants in this cohort. I felt seen, heard, and appreciated. I hope to cultivate such a space for people I work with and do life with when digging into complex conversations.”
Purpose Built Communities’ commitment to racial equity and equipping Network Members with the necessary tools for impact reflects our dedication to meaningful change and a future where everyone can exist safely, live fully, and thrive infinitely. Learn more about how we work and where we thrive.