Column: Georgia Power adds some juice to Zoo Atlanta campaign

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on August 21, 2015

Zoo Atlanta continues to get help from its friends.

It has just received a $1 million gift from the Georgia Power Foundation as part of the $20 million capital campaign called “A Grand New View: Elephants, Events and Expansion.”

That brings the total fundraising so far to $6 million, according to Raymond King, president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta. The campaign was launched when the Zoo received a $20 million challenge gift from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation last November. The foundation will match every dollar raised up to $20 million.

Paul Bowers, president and CEO of Georgia Power Co., is serving as a co-chair of the campaign.

“It really is part of the economic focus for this city,” Bowers said in a telephone interview. “Having a premier zoo is one of the attributes that helps us be a destination for tourism. It’s part of the fabric of what makes Atlanta great.”

The Georgia Power Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the Zoo, and Bowers said it made sense to support the attraction when it has an opportunity to expand both in geography and scope.

The Zoo’s campaign followed the announcement in the summer of 2014 that the Cyclorama painting would be restored and relocated to the Atlanta History Center. At the same time, the city is transferring the 1920s-era Cyclorama building to Zoo Atlanta. The Zoo will renovate the front part of the historic structure and turn the rest of the building into a special event destination overlooking its African savanna. The transfer also will add about 5 acres to the zoo, permitting the elephant habitat to triple in size.

King said the gift from the Georgia Power Foundation aids a “fundamental turning point” for the Zoo.

“The Georgia Power Foundation is known for its support of the community and is a longtime supporter of Zoo Atlanta,” King said. “The Foundation’s contributions are already evident on a walk through the Zoo, and we’re excited to continue to partner on an initiative that will permanently change the expectations the people of our city and community have of the Zoo Atlanta experience.”

Boys & Girls Clubs and Aaron’s

Atlanta-based Aaron’s Inc. will announce on Aug. 24 a $5 million, three-year national partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help empower at-risk teenagers. The gift will support the nonprofit’s Keystone Club, its premier national teen leadership and character program. The announcement will take place at the Warren Boys & Girls Club in Grant Park, where Aaron’s will unveil a $25,000 makeover — including donations of furniture, electronics and appliances as well as paint.

That makeover is a protoype of the remodeling of 24 Keystone Clubs across the country that Aaron’s will support over the next three years.

“Our partnership with Aaron’s is one that focuses on empowering teens at our local clubs,” said Lorene Jackson, a national vice president for program training and youth development services for the Boys & Girls Clubs. “We want teens to own their future by taking ownership of their own lives. Our goal is to inspire teens on their path to college or job readiness. It’s about making good choices.”

Boys & Girls Clubs and Raytheon

The Atlanta-based Boys & Girls Clubs of America received another $5 million, multi-year gift on Aug. 18 from Raytheon, a $23 billion technology company that specializes in defense, civil government and cyber-security markets around the world.

Raytheon’s gift will go towards establishing “Centers of Innovation” at Boys & Girls Clubs-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations and at clubs supporting military families.

The first six centers – five in the United States and one in Germany – will open later this fall. They will be outfitted with modern technology as well as expert mentors to lead members in projects involving science, technology, engineering and math.

“The men and women who serve this country have sacrificed much for our safety and freedom,” said Tom Kennedy, Raytheon’s chairman and CEO, in a statement. “It is our responsibility to help their families achieve great futures.”

The $5 million gift is part of a $10 million pledge that Raytheon has made to support military veterans and their families.

John Grant and the National Wildlife Federation

The board of the National Wildlife Federation, at a recent meeting in Toledo, has nominated John Grant, CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, to serve as its chair-elect.

Grant has served on the NWF board since 2008, and he has served as a member of the nonprofit’s CEO Search Committee last year and as former chair of its Board Leadership Committee.

The election for chair-elect will be acted on by affiliate representatives at the 2016 annual meeting in Estes Park, Colorado. If elected, Grant will become board chair at the end of the 2017 annual meeting.

Grant has served as CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta since November, 2001. Grant also serves on the boards of the Georgia Humanities Council, Central Atlanta Progress, Emory University Center for Ethics, the Atlanta Sports Council and the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. He also serves on the board of advisors for True Colors Theatre Co.

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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