The Westside Future Fund (WFF) and Atlanta Public Schools (APS) have formed an official partnership to improve education outcomes on Atlanta’s historic Westside.
The commitment of the collaboration is to develop and sustain a cradle-to-college pipeline of STEM-based “innovation” schools in the target neighborhoods of English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights and Atlanta University Center.
The Westside Future Fund, a not-for-profit organization with the mission to reinvigorate community growth by coordinating and accelerating efforts to elevate the quality of life in Atlanta’s historic Westside neighborhoods, will work directly with APS to execute the strategy, focusing on Hollis Innovation Academy (Hollis) – the STEM-based, K-8 school that opened in 2016 – as the pilot. Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 52,000 students across 88 schools.
To support the execution of the agreement, signed by Westside Future Fund executive director John Ahmann and APS superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen, the Westside Future Fund has pledged to raise approx. $16.4 million over five years. On the heels of the agreement signing, The Coca-Cola Foundation and SunTrust Bank Charitable Irrevocable Trust – two of the Westside Future Fund’s philanthropic partners – each announced a commitment of $1 million.
Among other improvements, the funding will allow Hollis to hire 21 additional teachers and instructional paraprofessionals this school year, nearly doubling the school’s current instructional staff. Additionally, the partnership strategy includes support for extended school days, experiential learning, professional development for faculty, and social and emotional counseling for students and families.
In addition to The Coca-Cola Foundation and SunTrust Bank, the partnership has received support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The Chick-fil-A Foundation is also a philanthropic supporter of Hollis Innovation Academy.
The WFF was established in December 2014 by the Atlanta Committee for Progress (ACP), a coalition of top CEOs and leaders from Atlanta’s private sector, universities and nonprofits in partnership with Mayor Kasim Reed.
Michael R. Hollis Innovation Academy is a PK-8 model in the Atlanta Public Schools. Hollis opened in 2016 and began by servicing PK-5 and adding a grade level each year – using framework guided by GA Tech CEISMC and the rigorous EL Education model to focus on relational character building and preparing students for college and career.