Column: Junior Achievement launches new achievement goal

By Maria Saporta
Friday, July 3, 2009

It’s unusual for a nonprofit to be thinking about expansion, but Junior Achievement of Georgia hopes to grow its metro Atlanta services by 50 percent in the next three years.

Jack Harris, president of Junior Achievement of Georgia, said the campaign was launched at the organization’s annual meeting onJune 25.

Currently, the organization serves 75,000 students in metro Atlanta and a total of 115,000 in more than 500 schools statewide. Junior Achievement also has offices in Savannah, Augusta, Dalton, Gainesville and Columbus.

The goal is to use its existing resources to serve a total of 115,000 students in metro Atlanta within three years.

“We were very, very fortunate that we were able to end the year with a smallsurplus,” Harris said of his $3.5 million budget, giving credit to its top corporate donor — AT&T. “It was a challenging year. We saw increased demand, and we found ourselves in the position of doing what it takes to weather the storm and to set ourselves up for pretty aggressive growth going forward.”

Harris said the biggest challenge will be to grow the number of its 5,000 volunteers by another 1,000 or 1,500. Most volunteers will spend a day in the classroom to help students learn about financial literacy, entrepreneurship and workforce readiness. Junior Achievement offers programs for every age level, from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“Right now we have got a lot of positive momentum to move to the new year,” said Harris, who has been in his current post for exactly one year. “There certainly will continue to be uncertainty in the economy. But I think that the worst is behind us.”

Still, Harris said the organization has been trying to cut its expenses withoutcutting back its services.

“This year our costs will go down from $37 a student to $30 a student,” he said.

Ideally, Junior Achievement would be able to reach every one of Georgia’s 1.6 million students, but Harris added that it’s especially hard to reach students in the most rural parts of the state.

“There are a lot of students right here in metro Atlanta that we are not yet serving,” he said. “We need to do what we can to be more efficient.”

Junior Achievement also has new leadership in Georgia. The new chairman is Dwight Duke, senior vice president of Cisco, who succeeds Kevin Fletcher, Georgia Power’s vice president of community and economic development.

There also are four new board members: Jim Cullinan of Kaiser Permanente, Ann Franks of Tatum LLC, Neil Metzheiser of the Lockton Companies, Steven Rosenboro of Cox Enterprises and Tisha Tallman of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

By the way, Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of Atlanta-based AT&T Mobility, began his term as chairman of Junior Achievement Worldwide on July 1.
More good news

Continuing the good news, the The University of Georgia Foundation has been able to provide the university $533,000 in new funding, in addition to continuing its annual support of $21 million.

“We had some $533,000 in earnings from the previous fiscal year, and we were able to meet a number of requests that the provost had,” said Bill Young Jr., chairman of the UGA Foundation, who is a partner of General Wholesale Co. The new money will go toward scholarships and otheruniversity needs.

Young said that in the last five years, from the time he joined the board, the foundation has given $120 million to the university, largely from interest earned on its $450 million endowment. The endowment has been impacted since the economic downturn, but Young said it has regained $50 million of its value since March.

The UGA Foundation, which dates back to 1937, quit being the fundraising arm of the university in 2005 after a major split on its board about UGA’s management. The university then set up the ARCH Foundation, which is now the primary fundraiser for the University of Georgia.

But Young said that the UGA Foundation’s board continues to be extremely generous toward the university.

“We started a legacy endowment among the trustees, and we have raised $300,000,” Young said. “It’s a privilege to serve on the board.”

Anti-Defamation League honors leaders

The Anti-Defamation League will honor three stellar Atlanta leaders at its Community of Respect Dinner onNov. 19.

A.D. “Pete” Correll, will receive the Stuart Lewengrub Torch of Liberty Award, which goes to an individual orcompany that has made an outstanding contribution to the community. Correll is being honored especially for his efforts to help save Grady Hospital.

“His commitment to providing equal access to health care for all people regardless of income is in keeping with the highest values of the ADL mission of promoting justice and fair treatment for all,” said Bill Nigut, ADL’s Southeast regional director.

The two other award winners are the husband and wife team of Doug Hertz and Lila Hertz, who will jointly receive the 2009 Abe Goldstein Community of Respect Award.

Doug Hertz is a past ADL-Southeast chairman, chairman of Children’s Healthcare, and founder of Camp Twin Lakes. Lila Hertz just stepped down as a longtime chair of the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Atlanta.

“I don’t think ADL could possibly have a stronger group of honorees than Doug and Lila Hertz and Pete Correll,” Nigut said.

New chairman for ARCHE

As of July 1, the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE) has a new chairman — Beheruz Sethna, president of the University of West Georgia. He succeeds Jim Wagner, Emory University’s president, who will remain on the board as past chair.

The other officers include Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum, who becomes vice chair; and Daniel Papp, president of Kennesaw State University, who will serve a second term as treasurer.

ARCHE’s membership is made up ofthe presidents of 20 member colleges and universities in the greater Atlanta region.
No new SunTrust building

One thing is for sure. Don’t be looking for a new SunTrust office building any time soon. SunTrust currently is looking for space to move its employees now housed in the Trust Company Tower building overlooking Woodruff Park.

SunTrust sold the tower to Georgia State University in November 2006 and the bank agreed to move out within five years.

“I think a new building is unlikely,” said Jim Wells, chairman and CEO of SunTrust. He said that given the state of the banking industry and the amount of leasable office space, it doesn’t make sense to build a new tower.

But he offered few clues about where the bank will lease space.

“We will look everywhere,” Wells said, but then he quickly added that the bank did decide to keep all its technology employees downtown. It is moving those employees from a building behind the Atlanta Hilton to the Marquis II tower, near SunTrust’s headquarters.

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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