Column: Chick-fil-A Foundation spreading its wings
By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, May 3, 2013
A new corporate foundation is solidifying its place on Atlanta’s landscape.
In the past couple of years, the Chick-fil-A Foundation has a hired a new director, adopted a new name, and most recently, appointed an impressive advisory board to help it support youth and education in the community.
Rodney Bullard, who became executive director of the foundation in 2011, said he has been studying other corporate foundations in Atlanta to adopt best practices and be as effective as possible.
One major step has been establishing a 21-member advisory board that includes baseball great Hank Aaron, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, furniture retailer Rawson Haverty, Global Payments’ CEO Paul Garcia, Greenberg Traurig’s Ted Blum, entrepreneur Michael Coles, Vince Dooley of UGA fame, philanthropist Kathy Betty, Young Harris’ Cathy Cox, builder Dave Moody, Home Depot’s Brad Shaw, football great Danny Wuerffel and the Blank Foundation’s Penny McPhee.
The foundation is an evolution of Chick-fil-A’s roots. Since the founding of the restaurant chain in 1946 by Truett Cathy, Chick-fil-A has supported efforts to develop strong leaders and inspire youth. The restaurant chain has been recognized for investing in young people working in its restaurants and in their communities.
Initially, the foundation was called the S. Truett Cathy Foundation, and it was renamed to reflect the company’s name. According to Chick-fil-A’s website, the chain and its franchised restaurant operators have given more than $68 million in contributions to at least 700 educational and charitable organizations.
One of Chick-fil-A’s preferred organizations is Junior Achievement. The Chick-fil-A Foundation is contributing $5.1 million to the development of Junior Achievement’s Discovery Center at the Georgia World Congress Center to help underwrite a 10-year lease for a novel hands-on educational career experience for middle-school students.
A new development is that a Starbucks in GWCC will be converted into a Chick-fil-A kitchen to feed 30,000 students a year at the JA Discovery Center.
As the foundation’s executive director, Bullard also is bringing new focus to the efforts.
Before joining the foundation, Bullard, a Decatur native, most recently served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Atlanta. In 2005 to 2006, he served as a White House fellow with NASA, starting just three days before Hurricane Katrina hit. He credits that experience with helping him realize hispassion to work with communities.
Bullard also is a decorated veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps, eventually working at the Pentagon.
Bullard said the foundation continues to be interested in building a Truett Cathy Legacy Center in the Vine City or English Avenue neighborhoods.
“Vine City and English Avenue are very important to us,” Bullard said. “But they are not the entire geography of what we do. We are interested in the entire city of Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia.”
American Jewish Committee
Power couple Steve and Sheri Labovitz received the top honor from the American Jewish Committee Atlanta Chapter at a dinner May 2 at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead.
About 400 people attended the dinner when the Labovitz couple received the Selig Distinguished Service Award. The dinner was able to surpass its fundraising goal of $625,000.
Among the dinner’s leaders were former Gov. Roy Barnes and Marie Barnes, Steve and Linda Selig, Steve and Cathy Kuranoff, Eric and Mary Tanenblatt, Jack and Lynne Halpern, Michael Coles and Joel Babbit.
“There are no two more deserving people then Sheri and Steve, who have been devoted members of AJC since 1995, serving in various leadership positions,” said Dov Wilker, AJC Atlanta’s executive director.
Save the Children
Carter’s, the Atlanta-based children’s apparel manufacturer and retailer, has pledged $100,000 to Save the Children’s early-childhood education program. Carter’s has launched a national campaign to help less fortunate moms in America give their babies a better start in life. Timed with the celebration of Mother’s Day, Carter’s is announcing the “100,000 Ways to Celebrate Moms Campaign” in partnership with Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success Program.
TechBridge Digital Ball
TechBridge, an Atlanta nonprofit that works to improve the community by helping other nonprofits be more impactful through technology, will hold its annual “Digital Ball” on May 11 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
The highlight of the event, which is sold out, is the presentation of the annual Technology Innovation Award, given by Accenture. The award offers $75,000 in software, services and cash to the winner and two finalists. About 800 people, 80 companies and 50 chief information officers are expected to attend.