Our Commitment to Children & Families
With a commitment to children and families and a focus on health and education, in 1994 they selected the Edgewood neighborhood and established the first school based pediatric clinic in Georgia, under the guidance of Dr. Veda Johnson, at Whitefoord Elementary School.
The Zeist Foundation initiated this public private partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools because Whitefoord Elementary School Principal Dr. Betty Blassingame recognized that student success required strong community partnerships and Emory University Medical School was a willing and resourceful partner.
This initial foundation investment was a catalyst for a community based approach to philanthropy that has transformed Edgewood into a safer neighborhood where families with children and youth have a greater chance to be successful.
From the school based health centers operated by Whitefoord, Inc. to the affordable housing offered at the Retreat at Edgewood, the foundation’s place based philanthropy has evolved to serve families in poverty and stay true to the Brumley family vision.
In 2019, with the support of community stakeholders past and present, the foundation composed an insightful summary of the first quarter-century of placed based philanthropy benefitting Edgewood residents and beyond- “Highlights and Reflections-The Zeist Foundation’s 25-year investment in the Edgewood Neighborhood.”
Education Innovation Strategy
Over the first two decades, the foundation learned many lessons and two of them led to an expansion in geographic scope and education innovation.
School Based Health Centers
After 15 years of supporting the school based pediatric clinics at Whitefoord Elementary and Coan Middle schools, the foundation committed to replicating the school based health center model across the state of Georgia with Dr. Veda Johnson leading the way.
In 2009, The Foundation awarded Dr. Johnson, along with Dr. Terri McFadden, a multi-year grant to develop the PARTNERS for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health (formerly the Urban Health Program within the Department of Pediatrics at Emory with the intent to increase access to quality primary health care and to improve the delivery of primary care health services for at-risk children and adolescents living in the Atlanta Metropolitan area and throughout the state of Georgia. The Foundation continues to support PARTNERS as it expands its statewide network.
Cluster Collaboration & Innovation
In recognition that the children living in the Edgewood neighborhood would follow a path through the Maynard Jackson HS cluster, in 2013 the foundation expanded its education investments and collaborated with other place based funders, such as the Annie E. Casey Foundation Atlanta Civic Site and the CF Foundation, to support the Atlanta Public Schools in this cluster.
More importantly, this cluster framework was not limited to the traditional schools in the Jackson cluster, but included the three charter schools – Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, Drew Charter School and Wesley International Academy. While Atlanta Public Schools has since closed our two neighborhood schools, the other schools in the cluster continue to embrace an education innovation culture and nonprofits working within the cluster are also collaborating for the greater good of children, youth and families. One of our most notable collaborative grants is the CREATE teacher residency project which has received state and federal grants to continue to expand across the district.
Retreat at Edgewood
In partnership with the affordable housing developer Columbia Residential, the Zeist Foundation was able to maintain affordable rental housing in the Edgewood neighborhood with the creation of the 140 unit scattered site, townhome style development known as the Retreat at Edgewood.
The families that moved into the Retreat at Edgewood apartments have been supported by a network of nonprofits.
Through investing in housing and connecting it to health and education, the foundation has strengthened its commitment to children, youth and families in the Edgewood neighborhood.
Edgewood Community Learning Garden & Center
Edgewood Community Learning Garden was designed to enhance the experiences of the school aged-kids and create a sense of community in Edgewood. The Foundation partnered with the Wylde Center to manage the garden and programs. In 2016 the Foundation built the Edgewood Community Learning Garden Center to engage schools in field trips as well as community to host classes and cooking demonstrations.