InterAct tops goal, builds partnerships

Todd Cohen 

RALEIGH, N.C. — In June 2008, InterAct still was $1.2 million short of its goal of raising $5 million to transform the former YWCA building on Oberlin Road in Raleigh into a one-stop center to house agencies that provide integrated services for families experiencing violence in their homes.

InterAct now has completed its campaign, raising $5.3 million for its new Family Safety and Empowerment Center, which opened in March and now houses InterAct and nine other agencies.

“The full community really stepped up because they believed in what Interact is doing to help women and children have the tools they need to create a new life for themselves,” says state Sen. Josh Stein, who co-chaired the campaign with Chris Young, Triangle area executive for First Citizens Bank.

Showing the kind of collaborative programs it aims to develop, InterAct has teamed up with three agencies to launch a new program serving Latino and South Asian immigrants dealing with domestic violence and trauma.

Adam Hartzell, InterAct’s executive director, says the agency was able to turn the stalled campaign around, despite the collapse of the economy a year ago, because its board reaffirmed its commitment to the campaign goal, and because the agency shifted its fundraising strategy.

That shift included focusing on raising the dollars needed to meet a challenge grant from the Stewards Fund, and encouraging donors reluctant to give cash to make multi-year pledges instead.

The Stewards Fund, which already had given $250,000 to the campaign once it had raised $2 million, also had promised to give another $250,000 once the campaign had raised $4,750,000.

InterAct was able to meet that challenge in August when the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation contributed $250,000.

Kathy Higgins, president of the foundation, says key factors in the foundation’s decision to make the grant, particularly in the face of growing demand for support from many organizations hit hard by the recession, was InterAct’s commitment to collaboration and developing coordinated solutions to address the needs of women and their families, and to the positive impact the organization has had on its clients.

For its new program serving Latino and South Asian immigrants experiencing domestic violence, InterAct has teamed up with two of the agencies in its new center, plus SAFEchild, to land the first installment of a three-year, $500,000 matching grant from the New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation also contributed $29,000 to help the partner agencies raise the local funds they needed to secure the first installment of the grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Hartzell says the new program, which will serve Wake’s two largest immigrant populations, represents the promise of its new collaborative center.

While InterAct focuses on short-term crisis intervention, the combination of services it and its partner agencies offer provide the “long-term support and services that these families need to be successful,” he says.

“The building is the not the end,” he says. “It’s the beginning.”

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