Carter Center Update

The Atlanta Project begins Phase II
The Atlanta Project announced it will extend its work through 1999. According to Jane Smith, the program's director, the overall goal of the programs Phase II will be to increase percentages of: students who graduate from high school on time, low-income students in Head Start or pre-kindergarten programs, children immunized by age 2, and welfare recipients leaving public assistance to find gainful employment. "The residents told us that TAP was making a difference in their neighborhoods and that we must continue the work we began," said Smith.

Founded by former President and Mrs. Carter, TAP has helped Atlanta's neediest communities gain access to the resources needed to tackle a wide variety of problems. Over the last five years cluster communities across Atlanta repeatedly discovered that the most important and far-reaching issues facing them concerned children and families. Therefore, Phase II will focus on collaborations with state and local programs aimed at improving opportunities for families and will work closely with the Georgia Policy Council for Children and Families. Cluster area offices will be established in Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties, replacing the original 20 neighborhood sites.

Additionally, a data and policy analysis staff will establish criteria for measuring success-identifying problems that arise in the collaborative proces and evaluating specific activities. They also will provide information that is accessible, understandable and useful for neighborhood residents, nonprofit service providers and public policy makers. TAP will have computers available at the Carter Collaboration Center on Ponce de Leon Avenue and in each of the three cluster area offices for use by involved residents and local groups supporting program efforts.

"The basic strategic approach of TAP for the next three years remains as before," said Smith. "That approach is to empower communities to find solutions that work best for them and to help them be catalysts for collaborative efforts supported by partnerships among residents, corporations, universities and public agencies."

According to Smith, Phase II will build on the many successful partnerships TAP has already established. One such example is a joint effort between the cluster community of Therrell and its corporate partner, United Parcel Service (UPS).

Striving to address the escalating problem of violence in their neighborhood, Therrell residents and UPS employees worked together to get local schools, the YMCA, the Optimist Club and the local police precinct to help raise funds and establish "The Family Tree"-a family-oriented resource center, operating out of Therrell High School. This nonprofit organization provides academic and recreational programs for local youth and their families and will continue its work throughout Phase II.

Because TAP continues to be of great interest to other cities also grappling with problems of urban revitalization, The America Project, established in 1993, will still serve as a clearinghouse of TAP-related principles, methodology and experiences. "The America Project has become a major voice in the national debate about what constitutes effective community-building strategies," said Elise Eplan, the program's administrator. "As such, it serves as a crucial source of information that proves very useful to communities across America."

In his 1991 speech announcing The Atlanta Project, President Carter said, "The difficulty of creating and maintaining improvements in the inner cities has been demonstrated repeatedly. In many ways we are exploring uncharted territory, with no guarantee of success, but we will not permit the uncertainties and known difficulties to deter us." Five years later, we begin Phase II with very much the same sentiment.

Creel McCormack is associate director of public information for The Carter Center.

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