Column: Atlanta Police Foundation launching new campaign

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Decmber 11, 2015

The Atlanta Police Foundation, founded in 2003, is stepping up its efforts in making the city safer.

It is in the quiet phase of a $15.6 million, three-year fundraising campaign called “Cutting Edge; Cutting Crime; Model City.”

Although the public launch is planned for March, the campaign already has received $6.8 million in lead gifts and pledges.

One of the early donors is the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, which has made a gift of $1.5 million towards the campaign.

“The Woodruff Foundation has been one of our most valuable partners in making Atlanta a safe city,” said Dave Wilkinson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Police Foundation. “The gift from the Woodruff Foundation is a strong validation of the work we are doing.”

Wilkinson joined the foundation in 2005. Since then, it has had three campaigns — raising money in three-year cycles. The campaign in 2006 had a goal of $3.5 million, and it raised $4 million. The campaign launched in 2010 had a goal of $7 million and raised about $8 million. And the most recent campaign, which began in 2013, had a goal of $8 million and raised $9.5 million.

When asked why the campaign goal was so much higher for this cycle, Wilkinson said the Foundation will be implementing a $5 million “Westside Security Plan” to focus on the communities of Vine City and English Avenue.

That will include security cameras and license plate readers, stepped up security patrol, providing housing for police officers living in the communities as well as a youth center.

“By the end of this campaign, we will have over 10,000 cameras and license plate readers throughout the city,” Wilkinson said, adding that the goal is to have the best crime-fighting techniques available to the city of Atlanta.

But Wilkinson said the Foundation is careful not to pay for expenses that should be covered by the city’s budget, including general equipment or training. Instead, the Foundation’s contributions are those that add value. For example, Crime Stoppers, which gives rewards for crime tips, is completely funded by the private sector.

“We have so many corporations and foundations that support what we do to have a safer city,” Wilkinson said. “We want to make sure we have cutting-edge technology and best-in-class practices in the city.”

Despite the perception in some communities that crime is on the rise, Wilkinson said that crime in Atlanta is down 2 percent this year when compared to last year. But he added the city has to work continuously to keep crime under control.

“We can’t afford to become apathetic,” Wilkinson said. “Crime will always be here.”

Heroes, Saints & Legends

The Foundation of Wesley Woods has selected the honorees for its annual Heroes, Saints & Legends awards, to be held March 31 at the St. Regis Atlanta.

They are Lillian Budd Darden, a former president of the Foundation of Wesley Woods, for her commitment to older adults and family; Dr. J. David Allen, founding chairman of the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation, for his commitment to higher education and conserving the state’s environment; and Egbert Perry, chairman and CEO of the Integral Group, for transforming communities for all people.

“We are quite excited by this year’s honorees,” said Tracy Crump, executive director of the Foundation of Wesley Woods. “They are each so very deserving of the honor, and we have already seen quite a bit of interest in the evening.”

The Foundation of Wesley Woods has been honoring Heroes, Saints and Legends for more than 25 years. The funds raised at the event help make sure than older adults living in their communities, regardless of circumstances, can experience healthy, active aging and a high quality of life.

Wesley Woods currently has nine residential communities in Atlanta and across north Georgia serving more than 1,500 older adults each year.

Ronald McDonald House

The newest Ronald McDonald House is set to open on Dec. 21 – replacing an 11-bedroom facility with a 31-bedroom house.

The ribbon-cutting will be held in the morning of Dec. 17 for the $18.5 million facility located at 5420 Peachtree-Dunwoody Road near Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

It will provide temporary housing and support services to families of ill and injured children who must travel for their child’s life-saving care.

The original facility opened in 1994 and averaged more than 95 percent occupancy, and a larger facility was needed to meet an ever-increasing need. When the new house opens, Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities will have a total of 81 bedrooms in two LEED-certified facilities.

Among the top donors to the campaign for the new facility were the Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Operators Association and the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Significant contributions were also provided by The Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation, the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation and an Anonymous Friend of Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“We dreamed big in imagining a modern facility that would meet all the needs of more families coping with sick children,” said Javier Goizueta, a board member of ARMHC and chair of the capital campaign. “We hope it will be a safe haven for healing for those who need it to be their home away from home in the coming years,”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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