Atlanta’s Truett Cathy Cited as Exemplary Philanthropist And Champion of America’s Youth
S. Truett Cathy, founder of the Chick-fil-A® quick-service restaurant chain, has been named winner of the 2008 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership, the Philanthropy Roundtable announced today. He will receive a $250,000 cash award, payable to the charity of his choice.
The award presentation will take place tonight in Naples, Fla., at the Philanthropy Roundtable’s annual meeting. National Philanthropy Day, meanwhile, will be observed next week (Nov. 15).
Established by the William E. Simon Foundation and administered by the Washington, DC-based Philanthropy Roundtable, a national association of individual donors, foundation trustees and staff, and corporate giving officers, the annual prize – created in honor of the late U.S. Treasury Secretary and U.S. Olympic Committee President – honors living philanthropists who have shown exemplary leadership through their charitable giving.
“Truett Cathy has touched thousands with his generosity and his heart,” said Philanthropy Roundtable President Adam Meyerson. “He doesn’t merely write out checks; he gets involved. He follows through. He works as hard at his philanthropy as he has worked to build a successful business. He has set a standard all philanthropists, and all Americans should attempt to emulate.”
Meyerson described Cathy as “a champion of America’s youth, an inspiration to others, and a leader in a very difficult field: the $300 billion-a-year world of charitable giving.” Most of all, Meyerson said, “Cathy has shown that it is possible to do well while doing good. He should inspire everyone with a giving heart to at least try to do better.”
From humble beginnings, Cathy started the Chick-fil-A® chain in 1967 with a single store in Atlanta’s Greenbriar Mall. Today the privately held chain – noteworthy because Cathy insists on keeping his stores closed on Sunday, a day he believes should be devoted to family and faith – has more than 1,400 locations and annual sales of more than $2.64 billion.
Cathy’s philanthropic activities over the years have focused largely on young people. A company scholarship program, established in 1973, has provided more than $24 million in scholarships to more than 23,000 restaurant employees. The program emphasizes community service and leadership skills. This year Chick-fil-A expects to contribute an additional $1.4 million to the program. And the S. Truett Cathy Scholarship Awards program offers an additional $1,000 to the top 25 scholarship recipients.
In 1984, Cathy established the WinShape® Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports a network of foster homes, summer camps, a wilderness camp, college scholarships, and even marriage retreats. WinShape, whose objective is “shaping individuals to become winners,” in Cathy’s words, spent $18 million last year.
Consistent with the main purpose of the William E. Simon Foundation – “to assist those in need by providing the means through which they may help themselves” – the Simon Prize honors the contemporary philanthropist: 1) who has shown exemplary leadership through his or her charitable giving; 2) whose good works have demonstrated the power of philanthropy to achieve positive change, and 3) who seeks to inspire others to support charities that achieve genuine results.
Cathy’s $250,000 prize will be donated to two Union City, Ga. charities: Southwest Christian Care, to support the Hope House Children’s Respite Center, which provides respite care services for families with medically fragile children; and Christian City, to support The Children’s Village, which provides a safe haven for children ages 5-17 who have been victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Meet S. Truett Cathy
Winner, 2008 William E. Simon Prize
for Philanthropic Leadership
Presented by The Philanthropy Roundtable
November 7, 2008, Naples, Florida
S. Truett Cathy, 87, is the founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A, Inc the $2.64 billion a year (2007 revenues) quick-service restaurant chain headquartered in Atlanta. Started in 1967 with a single store in an Atlanta mall, Chick-fil-A now has more than 1,400 stores in 38 states and the District of Columbia. The company’s corporate symbol is a comical cow, urging customers to “Eat Mor Chikin.” Cathy and his wife Jeannette have three grown children, 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren – and have opened their hearts and their foster care program to an estimated 150 foster children each year.
Cathy has been giving time, talent and treasure, inspiring others, and helping to mold young people into productive and successful adults – “shaping individuals to become winners,” as Cathy describes it – for more than 35 years.
In 1973, he established a scholarship program for Chick-fil-A restaurant employees and has provided more than $24 million in scholarships to some 23,000 restaurant employees since then. This year the company expects to contribute another $1.4 million to the program.
In 1984 Cathy established the WinShape Foundation, which supports a network of foster homes, a summer camp, a wilderness camp, provides scholarships and supports marriage-counseling programs. The WinShape Foundation spent over $18 million in 2007.
Cathy tithes 10 percent of his personal income and donates 10 percent of Chick-fil-A’s profits each year to the foundation and other giving.
Many companies and organizations have mission and/or vision statements, which are periodically reviewed and updated. Chick-fil-A has a two sentence “Corporate Purpose” statement, adopted in 1982 and unchanged to this day: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Little says more about Cathy than the title of five recent books:
“How Did You Do It, Truett” – foreword letter from Warren E. Buffett (2007)
“It’s Better to Build Boys than Mend Men” – foreword by Art Linkletter (2004)
“The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure” – with Ken Blanchard (2002)
“Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People” – an autobiography (2002) and
“It’s Easier to Succeed than to Fail” (1989)
Dubbed a “Moral Tycoon” by a writer for the Colorado Springs Gazette (Feb. 27, 2003), Cathy has received numerous awards and honors in recent years, including:
2008 – The President and Mrs. George W. Bush Community Impact Award
2008 – President’s Volunteer Service Award (White House honor recognizing those who have dedicated more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service over a lifetime)
2007 – Silver Buffalo Award (Boy Scouts of America. Established in 1925 to recognize “distinguished service to youth.”)
2006 – Governor of Georgia designates May 23, 2006 “Truett Cathy Day”
2004 – National Fatherhood Award (from National Fatherhood Initiative)
2003 – Congressional Angel in Adoption Award (Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute)
1999 – Ember Award for Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy (Camp Fire Boys and Girls)
1998 – Norman Vincent Peale Award (Horatio Alger Association)
1997 – Newcomen Society Award (for “the study and recognition of achievement in American business and the society it serves,” Newcomen Society of the United States)
1994 – National Business Commitment to Foster Care Award (National Foster Parents Association)
1992 – National Caring Award/Hall of Fame for Caring Americans (The Caring Institute)
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
“My wife and I were brought up to believe that the more you give, the more you have.”
“Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else – our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.”
“Don’t be too concerned that your children don’t listen to you. But be very concerned that they see everything you do.”
“When we share time with children, the little things often become lifetime memories for them.”
“Not many men can claim that more than 150 children call them ‘Grandpa.’ It’s my proudest distinction.” (on his experience as a foster parent)
“We like to concentrate on kids – grown-ups have had their chance and they’ve blown it.”
“It’s sad when people neglect their families. You can gain the whole world and lose what’s most precious.” (explaining why Chick-fil-A is closed on Sunday)
“At Chick-fil-A we are motivated by a serving spirit. We can compete with the toughest competition simply because of the kindness of our people.”
“It doesn’t cost you any more to be gracious in a service industry but it sure pays great dividends.”
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
“I am now equipped to break the generational cycle of poverty. He truly saved my life and helped me to become a better person.” – Leslie Hogan Hitchcock, former resident of a WinShape foster home.
“Through Mr. Cathy, I have been able to give back to the community because he first gave to me.” - ibid
“By focusing on helping others around him make the most of their lives, Truett Cathy has achieved outstanding success on his own.” – Frederick F. Reichheld, author of “The Loyalty Rules: How Today’s Leaders Build Lasting Relationships.”
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