Column: United Way sees big changes in philanthropy, leadership

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 19, 2015

At its board meeting June 17, the United Way of Greater Atlanta approved a total investment of $87.3 million in the community to help children, individuals and families in need throughout the 13-county region.

The organization also is wrestling with how leadership and philanthropy is changing in Atlanta’s business community.

For example, while $87.3 million is an impressive number, only $21.6 million of that was available for the United Way Community Impact Fund.

Those were the dollars that United Way received that were not designated to a particular agency, that were not distributed through a workplace campaign and that were able to be invested in its key focus areas identified by United Way–education, income, health, homelessness and basic needs.

Milton Little, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Atlanta, said the undesignated funds for the community were down about $2 million this year–a situation that can be challenging for the organization.

“There is less money for the community impact fun and fewer discretionary dollars,” Little said. “But we are doing a workaround with foundation and government grants. We are still holding our own.”

A team of 152 volunteers evaluated 223 programs and 140 agencies submitted applications. Their recommendations were presented to United Way’s board, which approved the funding for 216 programs from a total of 135 agencies.

In addition to the $21.6 million in the Community Impact Fund, $33.6 million was invested in donor-designated agencies; $19.5 million in foundation and government grants for programs in the areas of education, health, income and homelessness; and then $12.6 million in its gifts in kind program that are distributed to various agencies in the community.

The United Way board also discussed a new leadership structure for the 2015-2016 workplace campaign. René and Barbarella Diaz were the co-chairs of the campaign this year, and Little said that after the end of the fiscal year on June 30, he expects to be able to announce a happy outcome to the $75.5 million goal.

But as of yet, no campaign chair has been named for this upcoming year.

And Little said those days may be over.

“The board has embraced our recommendation that we go with a committee of board members and outside leaders–a corporate campaign executive committee,” Little said. “For the kind of campaign that we run, it’s growing more difficult to get someone who can devote months and months to a campaign.”

Atlanta’s business profile also has changed.

“The old days of corporate CEOs who were only focused on Atlanta are behind us,” Little added. “Today they are running global businesses, and that is putting some real pressure on our old leadership model so we have to find new ways to do it.”

Little said that they should have that campaign leadership group in place in the next month or two.

“The environment in which we are working in has changed,” Little said. “The millennials are looking at the community differently. Companies are having to adapt. We have to be far more flexible and dexterous than we were in years past if we are going to be relevant to our company partners.”

JA gets $2 million in gifts

Junior Achievement of Georgia has received $1 million from the Goizueta Foundation and $1 million from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation to support the development of a JA Magnet Business Academy on the campus of Banneker High School in Fulton County.

Called “JA-MBA,” the innovative high school model will be the first of its kind in Georgia. JA’s partnership with Fulton County Schools will provide students the opportunity to participate in hands-on, full immersion learning with a business and entrepreneurial focus–a school within a school.

Students will complete three pathways – Business & Technology; Entrepreneurship; and either Marketing & Management or Financial Services. The funds will support curriculum development, teacher professional development, case studies and specialized activities aligned to the business community.

The program will begin in August, and it will be open to all rising ninth grade students who reside within Fulton County Schools attendance zones. Initially the program will house 150 students in ninth grade and will grow a class size each ear. At full attendance, the JA-MBA will serve about 600 students by 2018.

MBA program will serve approximately 600 students by 2018.

JA-MBA will operate as a “school within a school,” with the overall goal of driving students to achieve greater educational, personal and professional success. The benefits of the program are expected to extend far beyond the JA-MBA school walls by achieving systemic impacts on Banneker’s surrounding school population.

“The JA-MBA is designed to provide unmatched business connectivity to expose students to professional opportunities and deliver experiences where they can apply their knowledge in real-world situations,” said Jack Harris, JA-Georgia’s president and CEO.

Bill Bolling retires

It is not everyday that one gets his own bobble-head doll.

But that was just one of the special surprises that Bill Bolling was in for on June 11 when the Atlanta Community Food Bank threw a “retirement” party for the founder of one of the city’s most heralded nonprofits.

Jim Rhoden, a close friend who owns the Georgian Club in Cobb County, surprised Bolling with the bobble-head doll. Then Bolling’s daughter surprised him by flying in from California for the festivities that were held at…the Food Bank…of course.

“It’s not often to have 400 of your best friends in the same room come in and recognize you,” said Bolling, who was obviously moved. “I feel your love. It’s often easier to give than to receive. I’m doing my best to take it all in today and thank you for your love.”

Bolling, who will be moving his base to the 191 Peachtree St. building–camping out at Coxe Curry & Associates, will continue to be involved in various civic initiatives. But he made it clear that his heart will always be with the Food Bank and serving those in need.

Carter Center’s new board members

The Carter Center, a nonprofit organization advancing peace and health worldwide, has appointed 14 new members to its Board of Councilors, bringing total membership to 202.

The Board is a leadership advisory group that promotes understanding of the Carter Center and its activities among opinion leaders and the broader community.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and staff give updates about the Center’s activities to board members throughout the year.

“Our Board of Councilors creates an intimate link between The Carter Center, the city of Atlanta, and the state of Georgia by helping us to promote the work and mission of the Center in their communities,” President Carter said in a statement.

Since its founding in 1987, the Board of Councilors has been led by some of Atlanta’s most distinguished civic leaders, including its current chair, Martha Brooks, board director of Bombardier, Jabil and CARE.

Following are the new councilors:

  • Harsha Agadi, chairman, GHS Holdings
  • David Allman, founder and chairman, Regent Partners
  • Patricia Arundel, U.S. Lead, Android Carrier Partnerships, Google
  • Paul Donahue, president, Genuine Parts Co.
  • Wes French, principal, French Wolf & Farr
  • Maryanne Hancock, director, McKinsey & Co.
  • Greg Hecht, partner, Hecht Walker, Attorneys at Law
  • Glenn Hendrix, managing partner, Arnall, Golden, Gregory
  • David Llewellyn, managing partner, Johnson & Ward
  • Darrell Mays, senior advisor, MasTec
  • David Moody, president and CEO, C.D. Moody Construction Co.
  • Ralph Morrison, partner, Wallace Morrison & Casteel
  • Dexter Warrior, principal and COO, T. Dallas Smith & Co.
  • John Wilson, president and COO, Rollins

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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