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
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
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