The Powerful Combination of Human, Social and Financial Capital in Neighborhood Stabilization

What do you get when you put together community residents with vision; faith and community based organizations; City, State and Local Government; churches; local non-profits; and local corporate and employee philanthropy in the highest mortgage fraud and blighted community in Atlanta? A collaboration of human, social and financial capital that can impact people, places, a community and the world.

Sustainable Lakewood, a community-based organization, has a vision for the neighborhood and went to ACoRA (a city, state and federal man-aged program left over from the Clinton empowerment zone funding) and requested a grant. Unbeknownst to Sustainable Lakewood, The Fuller Center, a faith based organization, also applied for the same funds. The Fuller Center won the grant but Sustainable Lakewood did not give up. Using a community benefits framework, The Fuller Center and Sustainable Lakewood brought together their visions and decided to bring their human, financial and social capital together to develop a five year partnership. Their joint vision in Lakewood Heights is to re-create community through sustainable practices.

Stanley's Home Before RenovationsThe results to date: four church congregations (Central Congregational Church of Christ, Atlanta Foursquare Church, The Atlanta Church of Christ and Richmond First Baptist Church), the Urban Land Institute, Atlanta Development Authority Employees, Home Depot Employees (200 of them), Heery International employees, Hands on Atlanta, City of Atlanta, Fulton County Court community service workers, the Atlanta Tool Bank, the YMCA, The City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department, Clark Atlanta University’s Environmental Justice Center, Charitable Connections, Inc., Sustainable Lakewood, The Fuller Center for Housing of Greater Atlanta, Inc., an artist, and two designers, Kim Lacey of HGTV’s curb appeal and Tina Arnold, President of Sustainable Lakewood took adopt-a-block to a whole new level.

Stanley's Home After RenovationsHow did it start? With a seed grant of $250,000, of which only $70,995 was spent: half for acquisition, and half for administration. How long did it take to impact four streets and a City Park? Less than a year. How much human capital? About 3000 person hours. What is the result to date? Seventeen vacant and abandoned houses cleaned up, boarded up and beautified with murals; one revitalized home with a new homeowner; five repaired houses with colorful new paint and landscaping; a community garden; painted benches; new beautiful trash containers throughout the neighbor-hood; hundreds of tires removed, trash cleaned up on entire streets, several new renters and homeowners, new community classes on recycling and sustainability, a new Lifecycle Building Center business with re-purposed building materials for sale, and a new interest in being neighbors, holding each other accountable and taking care of each other and the community.

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