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S. Truett Cathy, Founder of Chick-fil-A, Recipient of Philanthropic Prize

News Release : Nov 10, 2008 : Philanthropy Roundtable

"Truett's most prized contribution has been giving of himself to generations of young people with his personal time, energy, and passion."

On Friday, November 7th, The Philanthropy Roundtable honored S. Truett Cathy, the founder and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A, Inc., as the 2008 recipient of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.

S. Truett and Jeanette CathyAccording to the organizations website, the William E. Simon Foundation created the prize to further the ideals fostered by William E. Simon, including personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, scholarship, individual freedom, faith in God, and helping people to help themselves. The prize honors living philanthropists who have shown exemplary leadership through their charitable giving, highlights the power of philanthropy to achieve positive change, and seeks to inspire others to support charities that achieve genuine results. Prize winners receive a $250,000 award, payable to the charity of his or her choice. (Photo: Philanthropy Roundtable)

A man from humble beginnings, S. Truett Cathy founded and grew Chick-fil-A from a single mall location in 1967 to a nationwide chain of over 1,400 restaurants. Chick-fil-A has experienced 40 consecutive years of sales growth, culminating in 2007 with annual sales of $2.64 billion. The company's vision statement is "to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A." In line with this principle, all Chick-fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays.

In 1984 Cathy established the WinShape Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners. Through the WinShape Foundation, Cathy focuses his philanthropic giving in his foster care program, wilderness programs and camps, marriage enrichment programs, and an extensive scholarship program for students of Berry College in Georgia. Nonetheless, as one nominator stated, "Truett's most prized contribution has been giving of himself to generations of young people with his personal time, energy, and passion."

Truett Cathy and his wife, Jeannette, first opened their home to foster children over 30 years ago and have since taken in nearly 200 foster children through WinShape Homes, a long-term foster care program that includes 14 foster homes throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. One former WinShape foster child fondly writes, "Mr. Cathy made a special trip to camp to meet me and to tell me how happy he was that I had chosen to live in one of his homes. He introduced himself as 'Grandpa,' and I thought it was great to finally have a Grandpa in my life." Cathy's fondness for young people and his personal involvement in their lives has affected Chick-fil-A's business practice.

Viewing Chick-fil-A's employment of teenagers as an opportunity to mentor thousands of young people, Mr. Cathy strives to create a corporate atmosphere that fosters character development mentoring.

Through his Leadership Scholarship program for Chick-fil-A restaurant employees, Cathy has awarded more than $23 million in $1,000 scholarships in the past 35 years. Likewise, the WinShape Foundation has awarded nearly 820 students of Berry College with scholarships of up to $32,000.

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