Fighting abuse – Focus on mothers

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — The Sunshine Lady Foundation in Morehead City has made a $1 million challenge grant to the Durham-based Center for Child and Family Health-North Carolina.

The center, a joint project of Duke University, N.C. Central University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has launched a capital campaign to raise $7.7 million to build its internal operations and create a abuse-prevention and treatment program, known as Families First.

Families First, a joint project with the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, will focus in particular on treating mothers who were abused as children and thus are at risk of allowing their own children to be abused.

The grant, which must be matched dollar for dollar, will support the $2.7 million portion of the campaign focused on building internal operations.

Chapel Hill consultant Peggy Britt is advising the campaign.

The Sunshine Lady Foundation is headed by Doris Buffett Bryant, sister of investor Warren Buffett, and her husband, Alfred S. Bryant.

The foundation, which was created in 1996 and has roughly $5 million to $6 million in assets, makes grants of $3 million to $4 million a year, says Doris Buffett Bryant.

The foundation also takes a “venture philanthropy” approach. It treats its grants as “investments,” looks for “sound” groups to support, gets involved with those groups, and asks them to set goals and track the impact of the grants, she said.

“I try to use some of the same principles my brother does when he’s making his investments,” she says. “It’s irresponsible to get involved in any organization in a major way unless you know what’s going on.”

The foundation focuses its support on five areas – education for survivors of domestic violence; scholarships for college students from Carteret County; camp scholarships for at-risk youngsters; humanitarian grants to “sunbeams” who become “junior philanthropists;” and big grants such as the support for the Center for Child and Family Health-North Carolina.

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