The Power of Community Wins Again for The Extension and AssuranceAmerica
Two million dollars. That’s the fundraising goal Tyler Driver, the executive director of The Extension, has as we enter 2021. Part of the residential recovery program’s new “Capital Campaign,” these dollars will go toward the work the nonprofit does with homeless men and women who suffer from addiction. This includes continuing the construction of an extension to their Marietta campus—featuring 38 new beds—and supplying program participants with the emotional, medical, and financial support (including $900 to help pay their first month’s rent upon graduating) needed to complete their residency.
The only way to attain what Driver calls “the single most ambitious [fundraising] undertaking in [The Extension’s] history,” however, is through the power of community—and if the events of the last year taught us anything, it’s the importance of staying connected and looking after one another. “Our work is critical and must endure even in this time of community stress,” Driver tells Cobb in Focus. The Extension, he notes, functions to work toward solutions, rather than simply alleviate problems. This solution-oriented approach aligns perfectly with the goals and values of another Atlanta-based organization.
Enter AssuranceAmerica, the 22-year-old insurance company co-founded by Executive Chairman Guy Millner, Bud Stumbaugh, and CEO Joe Skruck. AssuranceAmerica, who first partnered with the nonprofit in 2018, is “a big part of [the] solution,” Driver says, “They already know what I want the whole community to know: The Extension is not where homeless, addicted men and women end up. It’s where they start up.” Two years ago, AssuranceAmerica helped The Extension reach their goals with a generous $50,000 donation. This year, AssuranceAmerica wanted to do more—and they delivered.
On December 16, AssuranceAmerica CFO Daniel Scruggs joined Millner and Skruck, as they gathered in a safe and socially distant manner— in front of all 245 associates via company-wide Zoom call—to gift The Extension with a $100,000 check. Scruggs, who joined the nonprofit’s board in 2019 said, “I’ve been blown away by the sheer amount of work The Extension has been able to do. We couldn’t be happier that our company has been able to give back in this manner.” In a year of tragedy and hardship, it was an impactful moment that left both organizations feeling ready to take on the next challenge. You read that correctly; this event was just the beginning.
The initial $100,000 donation goes toward funding the general operating and off-site housing costs so more residents can be served by the organization. In addition, AssuranceAmerica has promised to match every dollar raised by The Extension, up to $1 million, for the nonprofit’s Capital Campaign. Driver says this momentum is exactly what the organization needs, “As the single largest private gift in our history, it sets the tone for the fundraising that must be done and serves as a vote of confidence in our ability to achieve our goals. Other donors understand that such a significant amount from AssuranceAmerica would not be done lightly and therefore signals how relevant and important our plans are.”
AssuranceAmerica’s charitable actions don’t stop there. The organization also gives 5 percent of its annual pre-tax earnings to The Extension and two other organizations that help the local homeless population: Atlanta’s City of Refuge, which works to “help individuals and families transition out of crisis,” and New Beginnings of Tampa, a nonprofit that provides “guidance and job training programs to help [those in need] stabilize their lives.”
At the end of the day, though, it’s about more than just the money; it’s what the contributions can actually accomplish. The most exciting part of the partnership for The Extension is the hope it creates for both its participants and employees. For Driver, he says, “It’s [about] more people overcoming active addiction, more children who have their parents back in their lives. It means peace for older parents whose sons and daughters previously got caught up in the downward spiral of addiction and who are now sober and productive. It’s families made whole.”
When asked for his thoughts on the “million-dollar challenge” and why AssuranceAmerica partnered with The Extension, Skruck said, “This is very important to us as individuals and as a company. We are extremely grateful and proud that we’re able to help in this way, and we hope to encourage those in the community who have the means to give as well. Let’s reach that $2 million mark together.”If you’d like to learn more about the program or donate to The Extension’s “Capital Campaign,” please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit theextension.org.