press (the city wire)

Jones Center Board meet with potential money partners

By: Pamela Hill | March 8, 2012 | The City Wire

The Jones Trust board of directors met Wednesday (Mar. 7) with several foundations as it continues its quest to secure a financially stable future for the Jones Center for Families.

During the last year, the Jones Trust altered its board structure and made staff and programming cuts that shaved 20% off the Jones Center’s expenses, resulting in a 2012 budget that’s $800,000 leaner than last year’s and a 50% staff reduction.

Board member Ed Clifford said he thought the meeting was productive and mutually beneficial.

“We went over what the board has accomplished until now, financials for all the entities. We showed how much we would need in help from partnerships over the next 12 months or so,” Clifford said. “We got lots of feedback, lots of great ideas on sustainability and how to make the Jones Center more widely known in Northwest Arkansas.”

The Jones Trust board expects to fund the center’s $3.2 million budget with $1.2 million from the trust. The remainder will have to come from patron fees, resident partners, and the larger bulk from major gifts, grants and private donations.

Wednesday’s three-hour meeting was co-hosted by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, the Walton Foundation and the Endeavor Foundation, organizations that already sponsor programs and make large donations to the Jones Center.

Although he did not identify the groups that participated in the meeting, Clifford said, “They are major foundations that you read about all the time, and not just from Northwest Arkansas.”

Clifford said the organizations are headquartered in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

The board will follow up with telephone meetings next week, Clifford said.

The board also will continue to seek more residential partners that can bring in income while providing services in line with the Jones Center’s mission. Clifford said discussions are ongoing with a youth organization, as well as another organization that could provide higher-education opportunities.

It was announced last month that the American Red Cross will lease office space in the Springdale center and will rent classrooms and other facilities as needed. Youth Strategies moved in in January.  Youth Strategies works with at-risk youth to plan their post-school futures, identify and address barriers, and teaches communication skills necessary in any work environment.

The Jones Trust has assets of approximately $63 million to $64 million. The Jones Trust board oversees and funds the Center for Non-Profits in Rogers, the JTL Shop building, an education center in Springdale, and the Jones Center for Families. The Jones Center is the only one not supported by its own cash flow, Clifford said last month. The board’s current goal regarding the Jones Center is to find either an endowment large enough to sustain the center or enough revenue streams, through sources like resident partners and patron fees, to allow it to support itself.

The 220,000-square-foot Jones Center, a legacy gift from the late philanthropist Bernice Jones to the community, costs more than $10,000 a day to operate, Clifford said previously.