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ATL Business Chronicle Maria's Metro

Column: Roller-coaster year at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, July 5, 2013

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta is reassuring stakeholders that it employs sound accounting practices when receiving federal grants.

Janice McKenzie-Crayton, president and CEO of BBBS of Metro Atlanta, sent out an email making that clear in light of news that an audit of the Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of America uncovered a lack of financial controls and inadequate accounting procedures on three federal grants.

As a result, $3 million of those grant allocations have been frozen. Most of those dollars were designated to be passed on to major local affiliates, including BBBS of Metro Atlanta.

McKenzie-Crayton said Atlanta had been designated to receive $429,169 in federal funds, of which $128,819 has been frozen.

“It affects our capacity to keep making matches and retaining the 300 matches that we have made under these grants,” McKenzie-Crayton said. “These are children who are at risk. This has some implications on the numbers that we’ll be able to serve. It puts additional pressure on your other revenue sources.”

McKenzie-Crayton said BBBS of Metro Atlanta is among the top five affiliates in the country based on the number of children it serves each year. Last year, it was able to serve 3,000 “littles,” who were matched with either big brothers or big sisters. She said the nonprofit is trimming its expenses, but it has no plans to lay off employees.

“We are being very proactive,” she said. “We are always energized by challenges. That’s the life of a nonprofit. We are still hopeful that the [federal] funds will be restored.”

It has been a bit of a roller-coaster year for McKenzie-Crayton. In June 2012, BBBS of Metro Atlanta was able to move into its new home — a historic house at the corner of Peachtree and 17th streets with additions in the back that previously had been used by an architectural firm.

The dream was to provide more visibility for the nonprofit so that it could increase the number of volunteers, primarily men who could serve as big brothers for the hundreds of boys on its waiting list.

BBBS of Metro Atlanta launched a three-year $6.5 million capital and programming campaign to buy the building and expand its services. It has raised $4.7 million of that campaign, but much of that has been on the programming side. It still needs to raise $3 million for the “bricks and mortar” component of it, and it has hired the Coxe Curry fundraising firm to help it close out the campaign by the end of 2014.

“Our goal is to be serving 5,000 kids in 2016,” McKenzie-Crayton said.

‘My heart is still in Cobb.”

Although Kessel Stelling now lives in Columbus, Ga., there’s no question he still views Cobb County as his real home.

Stelling, chairman and CEO of Synovus Financial Corp., was the keynote speaker at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s First Monday breakfast July 1.

“My heart is still in Cobb, and my home is still in Cobb,” said Stelling, who moved to Columbus in 2010 when he became a top executive at Synovus.

Stelling gave a brief update on the improving state of the banking industry, and he thanked the customers of Synovus subsidiary Bank of North Georgia for sticking with the bank through the challenging years of the economic recession.

By the way, the American Chamber of Commerce Executives has named the Cobb Chamber as one of three finalists in the largest member category in the prestigious Chamber of the Year Award.

The other two finalists are the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Lancaster, Pa., and the Salt Lake Chamber in Salt Lake City. The winner will be announced later this month.

Everybody Wins! Atlanta

Everybody Wins! Atlanta, the local chapter of a national literacy and mentoring nonprofit, has named Jill Daly as its new executive director, according to its board president, Patrick O’Neill.

Daly has been serving as deputy director of the organization for the past two years. In her new position, Daly will oversee two literacy programs at elementary schools throughout metro Atlanta as well as manage fundraising, marketing and volunteer recruitment for the organization.

Everybody Wins! Atlanta was founded in 1997 as a local affiliate of a national nonprofit that pairs underserved elementary school students with mentors who read to them for one hour each week during a school year.

Covenant House

Covenant House Georgia, which rescues kids from the streets, has elected five board members.

They are: Ben Deutsch, vice president of corporate communications of The Coca-Cola Co.; Kimberley Euston, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers; Bob Hope, president and co-founder of Hope-Beckham Inc.; Jack Lane, business development director of Accenture; and Kevin Ryan, CEO and president of Covenant House International.

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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