A fundraising challenge by the newly minted Covenant Values Foundation has put nearly $1.5 million into the pockets of six local nonprofit organizations.
The Chattanooga Community Kitchen, Dawson McAllister Association, On Point, Precept Ministries International, Teen Challenge of the Mid-South and Tennessee Temple University each raised more than the $100,000 amount required for a matching grant from the foundation, which was begun earlier this year by Carey V. Brown and Steve Steele.
"This is what we hoped for, what we prayed for," Steele said at a ceremony Thursday at Tennessee Temple University. "This is how you build a foundation of giving for the future."
The challenge was made at the nonprofit launch in March, and the local organizations were asked to raise their amounts from new donations or inactive givers by the end of April. When some of the organizations didn't meet their goal, the time was extended.
"We never wanted the deadline to be punitive," Steele said. "The [extra] time was just a few weeks. We didn't have any problem with that."
The organizations raised from $109,000 to $170,000, representatives for the six said at the ceremony.
Steele said the $625,000 the foundation has given to the agencies -- in March it gave $25,000 to On Point, a youth development program that helps teens abstain from risky behavior -- is just a fraction of what it has given since its inception.
"We've given away many millions already," he said.
In the first 40 days after the launch, Steele said, the foundation had more than 4,500 requests for funding.
The National Abstinence Education Association, Georgia Charitable Care Network and Stop the Madness National Inc. are some of the larger recipients, he said.
Brown, 53, who has ownership interest in more than 14 businesses, including ACH Federal, AREA203 Digital, Credit Payment Services, Support Seven and Terenine Technology Solutions, pledged at the foundation launch he would give away $1 billion by the time he retires.
Tennessee Temple University President Steve Echols said he had been on the job only several weeks when he got the call about coming to the foundation launch.
At the time, he said, he was worried because the school, like other academic institutions, must be in the black financially for three straight years to qualify for regional accreditation.
"It had become apparent that we were going to have a rather large deficit in this fiscal year," Echols said.
The energized fundraising and $100,000 match, he said, will help make a difference.
Charlie Hughes, executive director of the Community Kitchen; Steve Wagoner, vice president of advancement partnerships for Precept Ministries; and Lesley Scearce, president and chief executive officer of On Point, all said their organizations were able to access about 300 new or inactive donors to raise the money.
"We have different mission statements," Hughes said, "but we have the same mission."
Scearce, whose organization lost a federal grant a year ago that provided 40 percent of its funding, said the Covenant Values gift "inspires gratitude and hope" for groups such as the six that commit "to care for the least of these."
"It's been the most unbelievable blessing," she said.
Steele said the $100,000 matches were onetime gifts, but each organization that benefited is invited to submit a proposal for new funds at the end of the year.
"We're looking for strategic impact," he said, and the original six are "already proven models" with a "history of performance."
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...