Going Above and Beyond, When Campaigns Turn into Life Changing Work
How Principal and United Way turned a partnership into action
Together, united, we can make an impact, every day. Through United Way’s workplace giving campaigns, we connect over 1,000 local companies with local non-profits to make our community stronger. Our impact together extends beyond just connecting employees with local causes.
This is a story about how one local company help transform an old barn into a state-of-the-art career center for the foster youth.
Several years ago, United Way Senior Manager of Resource Development and Special Initiatives Russ Gostage met with Camilla and Bill Ryland from Koinania Home for Teens and Family Services. Koinonia, a longtime United Way certified nonprofit partner, receives funding from United Way’s annual workplace giving campaigns as well as life skills workshops and savings accounts to help them for life after the system.
During their visit, Camilla and Bill toured Russ through several old buildings in Loomis and Rocklin and shared their vision for growth. To them, an old, run-down barn on an empty lot was a dream they could transform into something more. Not much later, Russ received a call from workplace partner, Principal Financial Group asking for help finding a nonprofit partner for their foundation. The Principal Foundation was looking to fund a initiative that would create lasting change in the community. Thus, the 2-year partnership to develop a state-of-the-art career center for the foster youth in Koinonia’s program was born.
Last year, out of the Koinonia’s last graduating class of seven, five students went on to higher education with two of them scoring perfect scores on the SAT. These students are bright, but since they have been uprooted through the system so many times, they have never had the privilege to explore all potential careers after graduation – most students in the program aspire to be a social worker or a parole officer, the two people in their lives who have held a stable job and who have made a difference in their lives.
This career center would give these teens and young adults a safe space to gain hands-on skills and exposure to many careers paths that they would never have thought of through workshops and mentorship.
Over the next few years, the project went full steam ahead with United Way supporting Principal and Koinonia’s partnership through grant writing, presenting the career center to sponsors, creating the scope of work for outside contractors, and engaging community members.
In February 2019, Koinonia cut the ribbon to their state-of-the-art career center, with United Way and Principal by their side.
It took several years for this project to come to life, but the result is a transformative space for young foster children to gather together and learn the skills they will need to become successful members of our community. Creating financial stability for generations to come does not happen over-night nor can it be solved by just one person or one entity. That is what made this project so exciting. It all started with just a conversation and a dream and with the work of a lot of giving individuals to give a group that is sometimes overlooked, a fair chance at lifelong success.
Thank you so much to everyone who made this happen. To Dan Wilson of Wilson Construction for giving his time and talent to inspect and quote the entire project. To Bill and Camilla for their vision and passion and most of all to Jill Brown and the staff and Principal Financial, because of their foresight and drive that led the way. To United Way staff members, Russ Gostage, Amber Lovett, and Tom Bennett, their inspired thinking to bring all of these pieces together. And of course to the Principal Foundation for providing the gift of chance and hope to future generations of foster children here in the Sacramento Region!