West plans for Ray and Joan Kroc Centers

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by Donald Bell, Lt. Colonel – 

by Lt. Col. Donald BellSince the announcement of the gift from Joan Kroc to The Salvation Army for the construction of The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers in the United States, many questions have been raised in regard to how these funds will be expended: How many centers? Where will the centers be located? What are the minimum components of a Kroc center (e.g. gymnasium, performing arts center, swimming pool, ice rink, library, challenge course, housing components, social service components)? Is anything to be excluded from a Kroc center? What does community involvement mean? What oversight structure will we need? How will the endowment funds be invested and distributed.

At the last Commissioners Conference meeting in February, David Fuscus and Jay Silverberg of Xenophon Strategies, Inc., offered some initial thoughts in regard to the centers. They suggested:

• An oversight process to ensure that the terms of the trust are being adhered to and a public reporting process established to communicate progress attained toward meeting Mrs. Kroc’s wishes.
• A site selection process based on established criteria including a community’s ability and willingness to support financially the on-going costs of operations.
• A selection process for architects, construction firms, and related consultants in the design and construction of the corps community centers.
• A process to set standards for recruitment, identification and training of support staff, as well as operations of the centers.
• A management process to ensure that the experience and knowledge gained by each community in developing community centers is shared with all of the other communities to maximize economies of scale.
• A set of standards to ensure community outreach, input and participation in the design, operation, and continued funding of the centers.
• A process to ensure full consideration of environmental factors including sustainability, energy efficiency and standards contained in building certification programs.
• A process to ensure full consideration of prevailing local regulations, requirements and customs.
• A process to ensure use of competitive procurement principles for the acquisition of contracts for the design and construction of the centers with evaluation factors established in advance.

At the same time, Major Carol Seiler, assistant chief secretary for strategic planning, was outlining terms of reference for a Kroc Ad Hoc Strategy Group. The Kroc Ad Hoc Strategy Group is to have a key role in shaping the strategic framework for the stewardship and implementation of the Western Territory’s portion of the over $1.5 billion gift for youth and community centers by:

1. Providing clarity regarding the parameters of use of the gift, including but not limited to those qualifications of the community that may be required for the successful implementation of the wishes of the estate and the trustees.

2. Identifying the best option for maximizing stewardship of the investment, including but not limited to considerations of short-term or long-term investments, method of investment, and overall best value to the community centers and the territory.

3. Identifying the best option to accomplish the building and managing of the Kroc community centers, including the potential infrastructure required to develop and manage the projects, the key elements of the task with potential resources identified, and a strategic timeline to guide the work. The Kroc Ad Hoc Strategy Group will not be responsible for the details of implementation, but for the development of the framework in which the implementation will take place.

4. Gathering together as a think tank of professionals who will outline the best-case scenario for successful development of this gift, and make their recommendation to the territorial commander with clear rationale that documents the value of the recommendation in comparison to at least two alternative strategies.

This group will convene and make recommendations by Monday, April 19, 2004 so that necessary personnel appointments can be determined to begin development of the project framework. The first meeting was held March 16 at the San Diego Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.

The group has been chosen from a broad cross section of the territory and includes advisory board members, community leaders, soldiers, and officers. The members were chosen because of their experience and expertise in operating youth and community centers, developing large property projects, investment experience, fundraising expertise and experience with The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in San Diego.

Members of the committee are: Bill Flinn, Tournament of Roses executive and soldier; Majors Tim and Cindy Foley, administrators of The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center; Ed Freeman, soldier; Sandy Gabel, development director, Southwest Division; Major David Hudson, community relations and development secretary; Arthur Langley, property advisory for The Salvation Army; Irene Lewis, executive director of the Los Angeles Red Shield Center; Commissioner Joe Noland; Lt. Colonel Doug O’Brien, Sierra Del Mar divisional commander; Rob Pace, San Francisco and national advisory board member; Major Carol Seiler; Captain Kyle Smith, territorial youth secretary; Tom Stein, Portland advisory board member; and Arthur Stillwell, project director of the first Kroc Center.

Lt. Colonel Kurt Burger, secretary for business administration, will chair the first session. The group will meet with trustees of Mrs. Kroc’s trust as well as one of Mrs. Kroc’s personal friends and former mayor of San Diego, Maureen O’Connor, to better understand the vision of Joan Kroc.

We look forward to recommendations coming from the group to help the Army establish guidelines for these significant life-changing centers. We will keep you informed of the process.

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