The CLA Foundation: A Million Dollars In; A Million Dollars Out
Seattle-based FareStart was awarded $25,000 to provide classes and job training for adults and youth experiencing significant hardship to prepare them for careers in the food service industry. Wallin Education Partners received a $20,000 grant to help underrepresented college students in the Midwest through scholarships and comprehensive advising support. Dress for Success Charlotte secured $20,000 to provide women with a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools to achieve economic independence. The CLA Foundation is new on the national foundation scene, but the impact has been powerful.
For three years, the CLA Foundation has provided grants to organizations that align with its mission of creating career opportunities through education, employment, and entrepreneurship. Since its founding in 2015, more than $1.6 million has been awarded through 96 CLA Foundation grants. In 2017 alone, $779,894 was granted to 44 organizations. Each successful grant was connected to a nomination from someone at CLA who personally knew the organizations good work and saw an opportunity to help.
“CLA’s purpose is to create opportunities for our people, clients, and the communities we live in. We know these communities. We are connected to them,” says Denny Schleper, CEO of CLA. “It makes sense to help.”
An ambitious giving goal
The CLA Foundation’s ongoing goal is to raise $1 million in donations and award $1 million in grants every year. It’s an ambitious goal for a foundation that’s only three years old and that is solely funded by contributions from employees, principals, and retired principals of the firm. However, in June 2018, the foundation sponsored its second Giving Day, and more than $500,000 was raised in a 24-hour period. “Our philosophy is unique: What comes in donations, goes out in grants,” says Jan Kruchoski, board chair of the CLA Foundation. “There is no endowment for the foundation to fall back on.”
A history of giving
CLA employees have a long history of contributing both dollars and hours of service to hundreds of organizations across the country, including Junior Achievement and local United Way agencies.
“Giving back is deeply rooted in our culture,” says Kruchoski. “The CLA Foundation was a logical next step.”
CLA already had workplace giving campaigns, and many offices supported causes that were significant to their employees. But three years ago, Jan Kruchoski and other leaders at CLA got together to finally address the question: What’s the most efficient and direct way to contribute to our communities? The answer: the CLA Foundation, a recognized 501(c)(3) organization, that formalized and concentrated the firm’s efforts.
Broad support and participation
Twice annually, the CLA Foundation invites employees from more than 110 offices to nominate organizations they believe are making a difference in their communities. No grant applications or nominations are solicited or accepted from sources outside of CLA or from organizations that have not been asked to apply. Last year, more than 210 grant nominations were received.
CLA is a professional services firm delivering integrated wealth advisory, outsourcing, audit, tax, and consulting services to help clients succeed professionally and personally. Our professionals are immersed in the industries they serve and have deep knowledge of their operating and regulatory environments. With more than 5,400 people and 110 U.S. locations, and a global affiliation, we bring a wide array of services to help clients in all markets, foreign and domestic. Investment advisory services are offered through CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor.