Column: Whitehead Foundation boosts Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta

By Maria Saporta
Friday, June 4, 2010

The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation has awarded a $4.4 million, three-year grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta to help bolster the organization’s academic offerings.

Russ Hardin, president of the Whitehead Foundation, said the gift was an investment in the organization’s new leadership and an endorsement of the club’s initiatives, as well as a way to serve “the children that the Whitehead Foundation seeks to help.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta serves 17,000 children a year — 80 percent are minority, 84 percent are economically disadvantaged and 65 percent are from single-parent families. The organization has 27 clubs in 11 metro counties as well as Club Kiwanis, a 160-acre residential camp.

The organization has three program areas: good character and citizenship, healthy lifestyles and academic success.

The Whitehead grant will offer greater academic and technology support at eight of the organization’s clubs, including the five clubs located in metro area schools.

“We will be able to help the academic focus of youth development,” said Laureen Lamb, vice president of education for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. “We have got to be able to fix the pipeline.”

The eight clubs will each have full-time education directors with teaching degrees or classroom experience who will be able to work closely with metro-area school systems.

“We are pushing the academic initiative across all clubs and trying to have more collaborative community partners,” said William Lampley, who has been president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta for nearly 16 months. “We want to get with any organization that can better the community.”

When Lampley left the real estate industry to lead the organization, it had a $19 million annual budget and was facing a $3 million budget deficit partly due to a 25 percent reduction in its United Way funding.

“We were forced to restructure the organization and make some difficult decisions,” Lampley said. There were layoffs, club hours were cut back to close at 8 p.m. rather than 9 p.m., employees saw their salaries reduced by 5 percent, and there was a decrease in benefits.

“It was not pretty, but we wanted to make sure we would not be forced to close any clubs,” Lampley said. “Last year’s budget was at $16 million. We are at a break-even standpoint.”

Also, when Lampley stepped in as president, he promoted Missy Dugan to be his chief operating officer and help improve the organization’s effectiveness.

A bigger, better ballet

It’s a new day for the Atlanta Ballet. Thanks partly to new Executive Director Arthur Jacobus, the Atlanta Ballet is planning for bigger and better days.

Eighteen months ago, the Atlanta Ballet launched its largest fundraising campaign in its 80-year history — seeking to raise $14.8 million. Now the board has decided to expand the current goal by another $4.5 million for a total goal of $19.3 million.

Jacobus said the decision to expand the campaign was partly due to the success that the Atlanta Ballet has had during the first phase — raising $13.8 million in a year and a half. “We still have a good number of quality prospects to visit,” Jacobus said.

And that’s not all. The Thalia and Michael C. Carlos Foundation has pledged a $1 million gift toward the expanded campaign, an announcement made by Chris Carlos, son of the late Michael Carlos.

During the first phase of the campaign, the Carlos Foundation made a $3 million gift — the largest donation in the history of the Atlanta Ballet — to name its new facility the Michael C. Carlos Dance Centre. Other major donors included the philanthropist Audrey B. Morgan, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, the Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation, Patti E. Wallace, the Kendeda fund, Holder Construction Co., the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation and the SunTrust Foundation.

The first phase of the campaign helped the Atlanta Ballet buy and renovate a new home at 1695 Marietta Blvd. The dance company will relocate its administrative offices, educational programs, its costume shop and its studios over the summer.

The Carlos Foundation’s $1 million gift for the second phase continues the close relationship between the family and the ballet. Both Chris Carlos and his wife, Merry Carlos, are strong supporters, and Merry Carlos is a member of its board.

Once Jacobus came on board, he saw an opportunity to stabilize the Atlanta Ballet’s financial foundation. The $4.5 million raised in the second phase will go toward creating reserves for the dance company. For example, part of it will go to creating a building reserve fund to help maintain and repair the Atlanta Ballet’s new home.

New chief at Frazer Center

The Frazer Center has a new executive director, Trace Haythorn. Most recently, Haythorn served as president of the Fund for Theological Education in Atlanta. He will lead the Frazer Center, a long-established institution serving children and adults with disabilities. Haythorn will begin July 1. The center is located on a 40-acre campus in Druid Hills, which includes the Cator Woolford Gardens.

Kiwanis director search

The Kiwanis Club of Atlanta is looking for a new executive director. Nancy E. Williams resigned as executive director on May 31 after more than a decade with the organization.

A search committee has been formed, and the officers of Kiwanis said that they already have received a good number of applications from strong candidates for the 30-hour-a-week position.

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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