PURE Academy, a leading institution providing students with outstanding education, athletic, and living experiences, today announced its expansion plans and the commencement of renovations on a new campus. This strategic move is a testament to PURE’s commitment to meeting the needs of the community, enhancing urban boarding school programs, and contributing to the improvement of the overall neighborhood environment.
Rather than opting for a new construction on its existing campus, PURE Academy has chosen a sustainable and community-focused approach. The institution will embark on a phased renovation project at an established North Memphis high school located at 3925 Chelsea Avenue. This innovative strategy involves the revitalization of three existing buildings, totaling 60,000 square feet, along with the incorporation of a spacious three-acre area to accommodate a regulation size football field. Every portion of the property will be transformed to support PURE Academy’s focus areas. Planned amenities include a garden, outdoor community and learning spaces, and functional fitness equipment. The living-learning model has a residential capacity of more than 200 students.
“The decision to acquire an established high school aligns with our mission to provide quality education within the heart of urban communities,” said Melvin Cole, founder of PURE Academy. “We believe this expansion will not only enhance our urban boarding school programs, but also will contribute positively to the neighborhood we proudly call home.”
Phase one will include the renovation of a 22,500-square-foot area, which will be dedicated as the Fred Sidney Smith III Living Learning Center. This space will undergo a thoughtful redesign to foster collaboration, incorporating traditional classrooms, a full-service instructional kitchen with STEM lab classrooms, and multi-functional areas that integrate work-related skills relevant to future careers and trades, among other elements. Phase two will include a state-of-the-art, 9,700-square-foot athletic building. Dedicated as the Tom and Ellie Lawrence Athletic Area, it will feature training areas, locker rooms, and a physical therapy zone. The third and final phase will house the permanent school and residential area, occupying 27,800 square feet.
“Visionary donors, including the Smith and Orgill families and the Tom and Ellie Lawrence Family Foundation – who are bringing to life the Fred Sidney Smith III Living Learning Center and the Tom and Ellie Lawrence Athletic Area, respectively – are making a critical difference in the opportunities available to at-risk youth,” said Cole. “While we could not carry our mission forward without supporters like these, and our team is immensely grateful, we would be remiss not to acknowledge that this work is never done. There are still many opportunities for the community to further fund the future of PURE Academy.”
Urban agriculture is a key piece of PURE Academy’s programs, serving as hands-on education and social-emotional outlet spaces. The outdoor areas on the new campus will include classrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, meditation and small meeting spaces, creativity zones, technology hubs, and fitness areas. The goal is to provide all-season interest, enabling day and night usage, with a specific emphasis on creating a welcoming environment for residential students, making them feel at home.
“We are dedicated to striking a balance between technology integration and the preservation of communication and hands-on learning experiences. Our guiding principles, encapsulated in the 4 R’s – relocate, restore, reinforce, realize – will be woven into every aspect of the renovation plan,” said Cole.
In line with the vision to effectively utilize small urban spaces, PURE Academy aims to provide areas where students can learn, reflect, and maintain physical fitness. The plan extends beyond the institution itself, intending to engage the surrounding neighborhood through after-school care and summer programming and foster a sense of community and collaboration. With the expansion and upcoming state-of-the-art facilities, PURE Academy aims to continue empowering students to reach their full potential and prepare them for a successful future.
Will you provide the opportunity of education? Your contribution to PURE Academy, fuels the empowerment of our students, fostering success both within our campus and beyond. Your generous support provides the financial framework that makes our mission possible.