Woodlawn revitalization: Ending the cycle of poverty through education, housing and wellness

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The Woodlawn Foundation was founded in 2010 by Mike and Gillian Goodrich to be the lead organization for the holistic revitalization of the Woodlawn community.

Their mission: end the cycle of poverty in the Woodlawn Community.

Below is a video describing the impact the Foundation is having on people’s lives.

The progress the Foundation has made over the past seven years is remarkable.

Their initiatives focus on education, high-quality mixed income housing and community wellness.

Education

In the area of education, five schools comprise the Woodlawn Innovation Network (WIN). Recent success include 80% of WIN schools showing double digit gains in student proficiency in at least one area on the 2016-2017 ACT Aspire state exam. Nearly 100 Woodlawn High School students have combined to earned more than 640 college hours through Early College. Woodlawn High School’s college readiness rate increased from 31% to 46 % between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Putnam Middle School improved student achievement and was removed from the state’s failing schools list in 2016.

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Woodlawn High School, photo by Hunter Nichols

“We want to create a cradle to college to career pipeline for all Woodlawn’s children,” stated Bernard Chandler, Woodlawn Foundation’s Education Director

Housing

Woodlawn’s homes and neighborhoods are being transformed. The Foundation’s innovative Housing Rehabilitation Program has renovated to date 83 homes, fixing plumbing, roofs, floor stabilization and electrical needs.

“We’ve done 83 homes (rehabilitated) but that is only scratching the surface. If we had more funding we would be able to reach more residents and do more repairs. It raises the quality of life for and individuals and a family,” said Joe Ayers, Woodlawn Foundation’s Real Estate Director.

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Joe Ayers, Woodlawn Foundation’s Director of Real Estate

New affordable homes have been constructed as part of the overall housing initiative. The Park at Wood Station is a mixed income townhome development that provides high quality homes to 64 families, and The Cottages at Wood Station are 12 newly constructed single family homes that share a common greenspace.

Wellness

Working through the Woodlawn Innovation Network, the Foundation established the Managers of Community Partnerships program to ensure families and students have access to high quality health service, wellness programs, healthy foods and day to day amenities.

One of the program’s most successful programs is the Jones Valley Teaching Farm Urban Farm Labs. Located at all five Woodlawn schools, students learn how to grow and harvest their own fruits and vegetables then sell it to the local community.

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Woodlawn Executive Director Sally Mackin

“I’m thankful for the past support and incredible relationships that have allowed us to make great strides in the Woodlawn community, but our work here is far from complete,” says Sally Mackin, Executive Director for Woodlawn Foundation. “A charitable contribution from you this holiday season will help ensure that we can continue to build a strong community through our homeowner and community wellness initiatives and break the cycle of poverty here in Woodlawn.”

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.