Woodlawn Foundation

Woodlawn Foundation is the lead organization for the Woodlawn United comprehensive community change effort. Having a lead organization is one of the unique features of the Purpose Built Communities holistic revitalization model. Woodlawn Foundation focuses solely on the shared vision of Woodlawn United partners and works to: improve communication among partners, eliminate duplication of efforts, and leverage resources.

The History

Woodlawn, a historic neighborhood in Birmingham, AL, runs for 15 blocks along the rail line that brought tens of thousands of workers to this post-Civil War boom town. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the area around the original Wood family farm grew into a community where working-class families moved to find jobs, raise healthy children and educate them in good schools.

The Challenge

The junction created by the construction of Interstate Highways 20 and 59 disrupted the fabric of the Woodlawn neighborhood and over the years it succumbed to familiar patterns of urban neglect. Houses stand vacant. Many families who remain in Woodlawn live in poverty. Crime rates are high and graduation rates are low.

A Purpose Built Community

Woodlawn United has adopted the Purpose Built Communities framework of holistic community revitalization that includes a cradle-to-college-to-career education pipeline, a mixed-income housing strategy, and a strong network of services, community facilities and amenities that ensure community wellness.

This holistic model was implemented and proven successful in the Eastlake community of Atlanta, Georgia and has been adopted by other Network Member neighborhoods across the country. Woodlawn United is the eighth member of Purpose Built Communities and the only in Alabama.

Many issues have contributed to the challenges facing our urban neighborhoods and there is not one solution. All of the issues must be addressed with a strong emphasis on authentic community engagement and capacity building among the residents and stakeholders in the neighborhoods.

The model recognizes that one organization cannot do this work alone. It does require a lead organization but also a strong collaboration of diverse partners committed to a common vision.