A collaborative effort of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City and Genesis School, this campaign advanced more rapidly than the original timeline, reaching and exceeding the original $8.5 million goal ahead of schedule.
A $424,000 land gift served as the catalyst for a successful three-year, fund-raising project that has generated nearly $9 million for the renovation and expansion of the John T. Thornberry Boys & Girls Club of Kansas City, in Kansas City, MO.
A collaborative effort of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City and Genesis School, an alternative middle school, the campaign has exceeded its original $8.5 million goal and generated $8,966,550. Renovations are underway at the center located at 3831 E. 43rd Street, according to David A. Smith, Boys & Girls Clubs’ president.
The result will be the Thornberry Center for Youth and Families (TCYF), a center providing an array of services to develop and nurture adolescents and strengthen families.
“We’re hoping to complete the renovation by early spring,” Smith said. “This is an outstanding example of two non-profit organizations collaborating on a project that will benefit not only themselves, but the Kansas City community.”
The project was initiated by an agreement with the City of Kansas City. The City provided both land acquisition and site preparation work. Other major donations came from the Hall Family Foundation, $2 million; the Mabee Foundation, $1.8 million; the Kresge Foundation, $500,000; the Sosland Foundation, $250,000; and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, $500,000. The fund-raising total, to date, comprises about 75 corporate and foundation gifts.
The Plan of Action
In response to the overwhelming need for youth development and family focused services throughout Kansas City’s urban core, the volunteer leadership of the two agencies set out in June 1995 to create the Thornberry Center for Youth and Families.
The project was a landlord/tenant model of collaboration, with the Boys & Girls Clubs as the owner and Genesis School as the tenant with equity interest. Both agencies agreed to a limited public campaign because of a desire not to impact annual fund support.
The project will expand the facility by more than 40,000 square-feet. About 22,000 square-feet will be available for public and private organizations, neighborhood and youth groups. A second gymnasium will draw more youth to overall services at the facility, which include a broad range of youth development activities.
The First Steps
It took one-and-a-half years of planning to establish the campaign that would result in the successful generation of capital for the project. Kansas City’s offer to donate land was combined with the Boys & Girls Clubs’ goal to acquire the block of properties between Cleveland and Mersington, from 43rd Street south to 44th Street for expansion needs.
“When the land was made available, I approached the Genesis School director about a collaborative effort,” Smith said. “The school was leasing 6,500 square feet from us and also needed to expand, so they were extremely excited about the project.”
The Genesis School had previously hired Kinetic* to complete a feasibility study for a Genesis School capital campaign. Kinetic was subsequently employed to revise the study, adding The Boys and Girls Club and provide consulting services for the collaborative effort of the two agencies.
Smith said fund-raising efforts were enhanced not only by Kansas City’s current philanthropy boom but also by the agencies’ long-standing reputation in the community.
Originally started as the Boys Hotel, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City have been in existence since 1912. This provided a safe alternative to the streets and a positive place for children and adolescents, ages 7 to 17. The center serves approximately 4,500 children annually.
Genesis School originated in 1975 as a VISTA project. It is a community-based middle school that incorporates alternative strategies for students who have experienced difficulties in traditional school settings.
“Between us, we have been serving the Kansas City community a total of about 100 years,” Smith said. “We have a lot of credibility, as well as boards of directors comprised of well-known community leaders, who are instrumental in the fund-raising effort.”
The expansion will increase the capacity of both agencies, allowing Genesis School to increase its enrollment by 50 percent and provide adequate space for students to pursue the arts, media and other forms of social expression. The Boys & Girls Clubs will be able to increase the number of youth currently served at the site to an estimated 1,000 youth per day during the summer and 650 daily during the school year.
The campaign took off when Kinetic and Associates helped the agencies establish the Capital Campaign Leadership Committee, which included about 20 key players in the Kansas City community.
Well-known Kansas Citians Gordon and Nancy Beaham and Barnett and Shirley Helzberg served as honorary chairs. Albert P. Mauro, a respected capital campaign chairman veteran in the Kansas City area, served as general chairman.
Kinetic worked with a steering committee to establish campaign goals, expense projections, a prospect/donor list and a timeline. The list included more than 70 potential donors.
“Kinetic helped with prospect identification and screening efforts,” Smith said. “And once we had established our goal to raise $8.5 million, he set about to create a system and structure to accomplish it using committees, materials and leads. He attended our monthly steering committee meetings and made recommendations on next steps and strategies.”
In addition to being intimate with the campaign and providing strategies during its inevitable ups and downs, Kinetic provided both motivation for campaign workers and credibility for potential donors, Smith said.
“We wouldn’t have been as successful without Kinetic’s advice and leadership,” Smith said. “Potential donors expect you to have a consultant who will steer you in the right direction. With Kinetic, they knew we were up to snuff and they felt better about their investment.
Smith added, “In one instance, a major potential donor asked me if Kinetic thought we could make our goal. When I said yes, he said, ‘Well, if Kinetic thinks you can make it, I do, too,’ and he gave the donation.”
In addition to two gifts of more than $500,000, the campaign received two challenge grants: a $500,000 matching grant from the Kresge Foundation and a promise of $1.8 million from the Mabee Foundation, if the agencies could raise the total goal.
Other major donors included NationsBank Private Client Group, $400,000; Sprint, $250,000; and the Kauffman Foundation, $250,000. Other contributions ranged from $500 to $200,000.
The campaign advanced more rapidly than the original timeline and reached and exceeded the original $8.5 million goal ahead of schedule, Smith said.
“We were extremely pleased with the campaign and are looking forward to the renovation and expansion of the center,” Smith said. “The center will offer much-needed innovative and comprehensive services to youth and their families to prepare them for the future.”
*This campaign took place prior to Hartsook becoming Kinetic in 2022.