Peachtree Road United Methodist and Atlanta Public Schools have both been such important parts of my life for virtually my entire life. So it’s special to see those worlds merge in the form of a new partnership between PRUMC and APS’ new PreK-8 Hollis Innovation Academy in Vine City. Thanks to Beth Spencer for her leadership at church and Principal Diamond Jack for hers at Hollis! Proud church member. Proud Board member. – Matt Westmoreland, PRUMC & APS Board Member

An incredible opportunity has been presented to Peachtree Road United Methodist Church. We have a chance to call on our rich history of outreach, while creating a new tradition of community service. In the next year our church will partner with some of our city’s leading foundations, corporate citizens and civic leaders to help revitalize the neighborhoods of the Westside.


This effort comes from a shared interest for the citizens of Vine City, English Avenue and Castlebury Hill.  Over the decades, these areas have become increasingly isolated from opportunity.  The once-middle-class neighborhoods have fallen victim to drugs, crime, attrition and unemployment, and a cycle of generational poverty has set in.  PRUMC has been able to do some good through our partnerships with City of Refuge and Feed My Lambs, and now we can do more.

The goal of the Westside revitalization is to bring skills and training to the potential that each Westside resident has as a child of God.  This idea was spearheaded by the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Westside Future Fund led by Mayor Kasim Reed, and the Chick-fil-A Foundation led by Dan Cathy and Rodney Bullard, to assure that as the new Falcons Stadium rises up, the surrounding neighborhoods do as well.

This long-term commitment will begin a new chapter for residents of the Westside.  The neighborhoods will have access to a new Pre-K – 8th STEM Academy, Habitat for Humanity homes, police-in-residence, a Beltline extension, and much more.  We are proud to be part of a collaborative effort that reminds us what it is to be a good neighbor in our great city.  And we invite you to join us where “hope meets opportunity.”

Many PRUMC members are already involved in this great initiative. John Stephenson of Chik-fil-A helps advise the Westside Future Fund, and Matt Westmoreland is on the Atlanta Public School (APS) Board.

In an area where 25% of the student population is homeless and 100% qualify for a free lunch program, it is critical that children – and adults – be equipped with knowledge and the skills to apply it in the future.  Many institutions involved in the Westside revitalization will be dedicated to sustainable education.  Peachtree Road will be included in that focus and help realize the short and long term goals of a new Pre-K – 8th STEM School.

Over ten years ago, PRUMC pioneered a backpack outreach program when the need was great and the effect was impactful.  After thoughtful consideration and a study confirming a large number of similar programs in the metro area, we will retire our backpack drive and pioneer new opportunities for those in greater need.

We recognize that serving this STEM school is a sustainable initiative and will be shifting our efforts to fulfilling the needs of this school and community.

With a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), this innovative school will also incorporate “EL” principles to their curriculum.  If you are familiar with Outward Bound you will recognize such EL teachings as self-discovery, responsibility and service.

APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen, and APS Principal Dr. Diamond Jack are determined to bring positive change to the Westside area through education.  This school will serve the children of the Westside, and also offer GED classes and community outreach for adults.

Teacher, coach, strategic planner, principal. Dr. Diamond Jack will bring 14 years of experience in urban education to the new STEM school.

The new STEM school, the Hollis Innovation Academy, is named for Michael R. Hollis, an African American entrepreneur who graduated from Washington High School on the Westside. When the academy opens, it will serve grades Pre-K through 5th, and grow one grade each year until it becomes Pre-K though 8th.  To create an immediate sense of community when school starts, students will be organized into “houses.”  Each house has special characteristics and students will strive to thrive in those areas.  The first houses will be:

Pre-K/K:    Somnio House (Dream):  Dreamers, Doers & Designers

1st/2nd:    Obuduro House (Persist): Perseverance, Purpose & Progress
3rd/4th:    Amity House (Friend):  Friendship, Respect & Collaboration
5th:    Virtus House (Worth): Honesty, Integrity & Responsibility

The school will also offer P.E., Art, Drama, Foreign Language and special labs to enhance their STEM education.  The labs will be:

Pre-K/K/1st:    Curiosity Labs
2nd/3rd:    Environmental Labs
4th/5th:    Technology Labs

With innovation and participation we can help change the future of this community and write a “new Westside Story.”  Please see our Next Steps and consider what opportunities you can bring.

It will take a committed community effort to realize this great vision – and we are halfway there.  We are working with a great team that is dedicated to opening doors for all people  of our city.  Join us!  To get involved in Our Westside Story, contact Beth Spencer at 404.240.8234 or


$25 Science Fair Materials
$50 Case of Copy Paper
$100 Learning Lab Supplies
$250 School Box Teacher Gift Card
$500 Grand Opening Sponsorship


Opportunities to help right now

Supporting Teachers
Science Fair Materials to all students
School Box Gift Cards to all teachers
Copy Paper to staff
Office Supplies to staff
Volunteer at large
Mural painter (by numbers)
Global Mission speaker
Green Team gardener
Supporting Students

Guest Speaker
Guest “Audience”
Great Day of Service partner
Supporting Families

Christmas Kindness partner
Adult GED teacher


Hopes for future projects

Sponsorship of:
Teacher Lounge
Playground & Ball Field Renovation
School Beautification



The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. 
Isaiah 35:1

The Hollis Innovation Academy Launch Team includes:

Atlanta Public Schools
Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
Atlanta Housing Authority
Carnegie Mellon
Chick-fil-A Foundation
Communities in Schools
Friendship Baptist Church
Georgia State University
Georgia Tech University
Home Depot
Morehouse College
Peachtree Road United Methodist Church
Raising Expectations
Spelman College
Washington Alumni Association
Westside Community Alliance