We’ve Updated our Brand
Centerstone has undergone rigorous work in the past three years to operate in a more sustainable and efficient manner in an effort to modernize our organization, expand our private funding base, and develop public/private partnerships. In 2012 we updated our name and logo to increase awareness of our core strengths and to position the agency for growth over the next decade and beyond. This initiative came out of our strategic planning process which began in March 2010: one of the goals was to focus on improving the public perception of Centerstone. The Board determined we should update the brand in order to accomplish this mission. The full Board voted on and approved our strategic plan in May 2011.
Why is the organization updating its brand?
Centerstone, formerly Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP), was founded in 1964 and has a rich history serving the people of Seattle. While we are proud of our history fighting poverty and advocating for those in need, our community and economy is very different today than it was 48 years ago.
- Our client base is changing rapidly. We began as a community-based organization serving primarily African Americans. Now we serve a wide range of races and ethnicities, including a large segment of immigrants and refugees: Pacific Asian/Asian (26%), Hispanic (6%), and other ethnicities like East African (2%). In addition, we have a new type of client emerging—people that are facing poverty for the first time due to the recession. Nowhere do we see this more than in the Food Bank: Centerstone’s Food Bank saw a record number of clients in 2011, serving 7,172 individuals, an increase of 58% from 4,500 clients in 2009. Many of these people were hearing about us for the first time and did not understand our name or how we were being represented.
- Our offerings have scaled beyond the Central Area. Traditionally we catered primarily to residents in the Central Area and Rainier Valley, while today we serve people within all the 27 zip codes of the Seattle city limits. Our former name did not reflect our reach and may have limited our ability to serve clients and reach potential donors.
- We need to diversify our funding. In these challenging economic times we can no longer sustain our business with 97% public funding. Steep budget cuts are happening at the local, state, and federal level each year. To ensure the sustainability of our agency for future generations, we are actively building new relationships with private funders. Many of these funders did not understand our former name, or it was being misinterpreted.
How will the community benefit from this update?
This update will preserve an organization and history that the community cares about deeply. The best path to preserving this legacy is to guarantee the continued existence of our programs and services for current and future generations. We believe this update will also help us reach more people in need. We serve a number of diverse populations including Caucasians, African Americans, and immigrants and refugees from countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Vietnam, China, and Russia. As we expand and diversify our funding base, we will be able to enhance our programs to address specific needs and expand our services to help all our clients live self-sustaining lives.
What are the key investments Centerstone is making to ensure its sustainability?
The organization has undergone rigorous work in the past three years to become more sustainable and efficient in an effort to modernize our organization, expand our private funding base, and develop public/private partnerships.
We addressed internal staff functions, expanded and trained the Board of Directors, and maintained full compliance and clean audits. We also conducted a rigorous analysis of internal processes, optimized procedures used to deliver services, and implemented policies to positively impact the overall agency culture. We completed a city-wide Community Needs Assessment survey to measure the effectiveness of our program offerings, identify service gaps, and assess future needs. In addition, we completed a strategic plan to assess our core competencies, define our position in the community, and chart new growth areas.
Centerstone has also recently recruited several new Board members to diversify the skill sets on our Board. Our Board of Directors includes community members and business professionals from the University of Washington, Microsoft, WSECU, and US Bancorp.
What are the key focus areas for the organization in the upcoming year?
There are many exciting focus areas for Centerstone in the next year. Centerstone is growing beyond fulfilling basic needs—such as food and housing assistance— with offerings that help people to develop self-sufficiency:
- We are focused on growing our Financial Education Program, an education-based service that aims to address the deeper issues of those struggling in our society. The Financial Education Program provides the tools to stabilize, educate, and reduce debt for our clients. As part of this program, we offered Tax Preparation services this year to educate people on how to prepare their own simple individual or joint tax return using top tax software.
- We are expanding our food program to include nutrition education and are responding to an increased demand for food assistance by seeking support to extend our Food Bank hours and home delivery route.
We are also focused on sustainable ways to strengthen the organization:
- We are continuing to develop our Board by recruiting diverse members from the community.
- We are actively cultivating relationships with new donors and will hold an annual event in the fall to celebrate our new brand and direction.
- We are assessing the feasibility of a capital campaign to purchase and renovate the historic firehouse building where our offices are located.
We are excited about launching our new brand to better communicate our value to the community and to become more connected to our mission and the people that we serve.