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ATL Business Chronicle Maria Saporta

Column: New director at HOPE Atlanta; Coca-Cola Foundation giving hits $1 billion

Jeff Smythe Jeff Smythe

By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Oct. 19, 2018

HOPE Atlanta, one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in metro Atlanta tackling homelessness, has a new executive director – Jeff Smythe.

Smythe, who will start his new post on Dec. 3, will succeed Edward Powers, who has led HOPE Atlanta (formerly Travelers Aid of Atlanta) for 25 years. The nonprofit dates back to 1900.

Jeff Smythe

Jeff Smythe

With more than 20 years of experience with nonprofits, Smythe served as executive director of Meals on Wheels Atlanta from 2004 to 2015. The organization tripled the number of senior citizens served, annual revenues raised and expanded services to surrounding counties during his leadership.

Smythe also has led C5 Youth Foundation of Georgia and the EARTH University Foundation. He most recently served as the vice president of development for Lutheran Services of Georgia, focused on expanding philanthropic engagement.

“We wanted a dynamic leader who could think creatively and embrace change,” said David Zanaty, HOPE Atlanta’s board chairman. “The way homeless services are delivered is evolving and we know that Jeff can navigate – and contribute – to the shifting landscape.”

HOPE Atlanta started an extensive search for a new executive director after Powers announced his retirement in late May. It hired Theisen Consulting to help in the search, which considered 68 candidates and had multiple rounds of interviews.

Powers will formally pass the baton to Smythe at the organization’s annual fundraiser Heroes for HOPE, Nov. 1 at the Georgia Aquarium.

HOPE Atlanta offers an array of services for the homeless or almost homeless, including shelter and other emergency services, permanent supportive housing, case management, street outreach, homelessness prevention, services for veterans, persons with HIV/AIDS, reunification and rapid re-housing in metro Atlanta.

Coca-Cola Foundation’s $1 billion mark

When Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey recently unveiled a $2 million gift to the Atlanta Police Foundation, he also announced a major milestone in the company’s giving history.

The Coca-Cola Foundation has invested more than $1 billion in communities around the world since its inception in 1985 – reaching a total of more than 655 million worldwide and supporting more than 2,400 organizations focused on protecting the environment, empowering women, education and enhancing communities.

“Our goal is to give back at least 1 percent of our operating income from the prior year,” said Helen Smith Price, president of the Coca-Cola Foundation, in a company interview. “We give back to communities a portion of our earnings every year. The more our business earns, the more we are able to support our communities.”

The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) also has shown a special love and commitment for Atlanta, it’s hometown.

The Coca-Cola Foundation has invested more than $174 million in the Atlanta community, including nearly $9 million in 2017 – focusing on company-wide mission of enhancing communities, protecting the environment and empowering women.

The Coca-Cola Foundation has given more than $13 million in support of a variety of empowerment programs and development programs for young women in metro Atlanta, including a $1 million grant to support the Atlanta Women’s Foundation in support of its “wrap-around” services that provide program participants with housing, childcare, healthcare, and transportation in addition to career development support.

The Foundation also has been committed to the Atlanta Police Foundation and the At Promise Youth Center. In 2017, the company gave $1 million to the Center, and then Quincey announced the $2 million gift to replicate the At Promise Center in other parts of the city. Quincey also announced that he would be co-chairing the Police Foundation’s $35 million along with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

SunTrust Foundation

On the evening of Oct. 18, the SunTrust Foundation donated a total of $2.7 million in grants to 36 nonprofits across the Southeast and Midwest. Each nonprofit received a grant of $75,000.

The grants were announced at the Foundation’s Lighting the Way event at the Whitley Hotel in Buckhead

The $2.7 million donated at the event more than tripled the total grant money given away at last year’s Lighting the Way event.

“Supporting the unique needs of our communities is central to our mission, and we recognize outstanding local nonprofit organizations that work tirelessly to meet the needs of their communities,” said Stan Little, president of the SunTrust Foundation. “The Lighting the Way Awards celebrate their efforts and continue our partnership with these organizations.”

Eight of the recipients were Georgia nonprofits. They included: Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs in Cleveland, ACT! Albany Community Together in Albany, CCS of the Savannah Area, Cool Girls of Atlanta, Helms College/Goodwill of Middle Georgia in Macon, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Mary Hall Freedom House in Sandy Springs, and the University System of Georgia Foundation.

Maria Saporta

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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