In August 2018, at their annual CHRIStal Ball, CHRIS 180 announced the success of their Turning Point Capital Campaign, a three-year, $15 million effort to double the organization’s footprint by 2020. The campaign’s success was thanks to the steady and admirable efforts of an all-star capital campaign committee and CHRIS 180’s tenacious CEO of more than 30 years, Kathy Colbenson. Nonetheless, guests at the Ball were thrilled at the revelation. The generous support of the community for CHRIS 180 along with the moving testimonies of current and former beneficiaries were highlights of the evening.
Early donors to the campaign included foundation gifts from The Kendeda Fund, The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, and The James M. Cox Foundation, and corporate support from Delta Air Lines and Georgia-Pacific. The Campaign Committee was comprised of community and business leaders and chaired by Cyril Turner (retired Delta Air Lines executive) and C. David Moody, Jr. (founder and CEO of C.D. Moody Construction). Colbenson thanked supporters of the campaign:
“We are eternally grateful to the campaign committee, to the leadership, to the foundation community, to the corporate community, and to the individuals who stepped forward to make this success possible.”
By the time of the campaign’s official public launch in November 2017, more than $11 million had already been committed to the Turning Point campaign, signaling key support from philanthropic leaders in Atlanta as well as broad and significant support from CHRIS 180’s most important stakeholders. CHRIS 180’s Board of Directors stood behind the campaign with 100% participation.
Funds raised by the campaign will build a new 20,000 square foot building, Center of Excellence for Training, Education, and Connections, to house the CHRIS Training Institute, CHRIS 180’s adoptions program and Keeping Families Together program, as well as administrative offices. Construction on the new Earthcraft certified building is already well underway. Other components of the campaign include earmarks for operating, sustainability, and maintenance reserve funds; four new homes for children in foster care, a new Integrated Healthcare Clinic, upgrades to existing apartment homes and much more.
As the campaign progressed, rising construction prices made it clear that the charitable goal of $13 million would not be enough to accomplish all of the campaign’s key objectives so CHRIS 180 embarked on a drive to secure New Markets Tax Credits to supplement charitable fundraising efforts. In the first quarter of 2018, CHRIS 180 closed on a New Markets Tax Credits deal with investors Primary Care Development Corporation, the Nonprofit Finance Fund, and SunTrust Community Capital to realize a financial benefit of more than $2.3 million.
Co-chairs Turner and Moody, both “Morehouse Men,” were this year’s honorees at the annual CHRIStal Ball, CHRIS 180’s premier fundraising event, hosted this year at The Whitley. Moody had this to say:
“For me to get involved as co-chair, it was because [a friend told me to go check out CHRIS 180]. I came over here, took the tour, saw how they were changing lives and helping children – I was hooked, and from then on, I was in 100 percent.” Thanking supporters of the campaign, Moody went on to say, “You get to see the needle move! When you can actually come and touch and feel and see what’s going on [with the new construction], you realize your investment is changing lives. And there is nothing better than knowing you’re changing lives.”
For Turner, the return on investment is an important reason for foundations and corporations to support CHRIS 180.
“For corporations and organizations investing in this, I think the keyword is ‘investing.’ For corporations, it’s future employees, future leaders in their respective organizations. It starts here that they can help to shape those individuals who will be contributors at their organizations in the future. […] For foundations, it’s also an investment. When you think about it, it’s multi-generational. One, the skills that the kids get here to be able to learn to handle themselves, but two, to handle others as they are parents in the future. So I think the return on investment is huge.”
It was clear to all the Turning Point campaign was a project whose time had come. The CHRIS Training Institute, which regularly reached full capacity, will make its new home in the Center of Excellence, and The CHRIS Counseling Center which has seen triple-digit percent growth in the last few years, had reached the outer limit of services that could be provided in the current space. The opening of the Center of Excellence for Training, Education, and Connections, anticipated in early 2019, will make it possible for CHRIS 180 to double its footprint from serving 6,500 in 2016 to more than 13,000 in 2020.
Projects beyond the Center of Excellence are equally crucial.
CHRIS 180 receives daily calls requesting placements for sibling groups in foster care in one of their Gateway Foster Homes. Of the 14,000 children in foster care in Georgia, 10,000 have a sibling who is also in foster care, but only 30% of these children reside with their siblings due to the capacity challenge of foster care placements. Responding to this need, CHRIS 180 opened its first Gateway home for sibling groups in foster care in 2014, quickly proving the value of the program. Thanks to the capital campaign, CHRIS 180 will expand from one to five Gateway Foster Homes, providing supportive homes for more sibling groups and scaling the program to be a model for other providers in the state and around the country.
CHRIS 180’s Atlanta location is designated a Federally Medically underserved area, where the healthcare options are far too scarce for the resident population. The longer the organization operated, the clearer it became that CHRIS 180 clients living in the community did not have good access to primary health care nearby. To address this need, CHRIS 180 began a new partnership with Mercy Care, to bring primary care right next door. With renovations to existing space, the partnership will grow into a new Integrated Healthcare Clinic, with Mercy Care providing health services and CHRIS 180 providing behavioral health services.
Upgrades to CHRIS 180’s Summit Trail Apartments for homeless young adults and young adults who are aging out of foster care are being made in keeping with CHRIS 180’s longtime commitment to good environmental stewardship. HVAC and other sustainability-related upgrades to existing apartment homes were made possible by Grants to Green, which provides environmentally-focused knowledge and funding to strengthen nonprofits in the Atlanta region. Grants to Green is an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, created in partnership with Southface and the Kendeda Fund.
Finally, to ensure the long-term stability of CHRIS 180, $2 million of the capital campaign budget is earmarked to build maintenance and operating reserves which were depleted during the 2008 recession, and to create a sustainability fund that will operate as a quasi-endowment, laying the foundation for a bright financial future.
The campaign focuses on the following areas: