Focus: HOPE, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on civil and human rights based in Detroit, announced that it has paid $5.5 million in debt since 2018 to become debt-free for the first time since 2002, when it was $16 million in arrears.
Through the leadership of the board of directors and staff led by Portia Roberson, CEO of Focus: HOPE, the organization has been able to pay down its debt while continuing to deepen programs to support the organization’s mission of intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty, and injustice.
Through strategic planning, the organization addressed the scope and scale of services offered, infrastructure, and financial stewardship. The result is an organization that is more tightly focused on the key elements of its mission, utilizing more sophisticated business principles to increase the community’s return on investment.
“We have worked hard to reach this milestone for Focus: HOPE,” says Roberson. “Being out of debt allows us to continue the work Fr. William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis started, by allocating all of our resources toward much-needed services for our clients across our core program areas of early learning, youth development, workforce development, and food for seniors, all supported by an organization-wide focus on advocacy, equity, and community empowerment.”
Key decisions that were implemented as a result of strategic planning include:
- A return to the organization’s roots of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, food for seniors, and advocacy.
- Modernizing internal controls with enterprise-wide technology solutions while adding the financial tools necessary to manage with clarity, accountability, and transparency.
- Eliminating long-term debt by reducing overhead expenses, improving financial performance, and selling 241,000 square feet of underutilized real estate.
- To improve efficiencies related to the support of core programming, Focus: HOPE, in partnership with Microsoft, is utilizing technology to build internal capacity for the organization. Digitally transforming program delivery systems and communications will deepen the impact and produce better outcomes for those served by connecting the dots across service areas.
Today’s announcement was made following the sale of the organization’s final remaining underutilized building. Focus: HOPE has a current operating budget of approximately $27 million.
“We are grateful that, due to the continued support of so many funders and community supporters, we are in a stable financial position and able to focus all our efforts on accomplishing our mission,” says Roberson. “I am truly confident that the future of Focus: HOPE is bright, and all of us on the team look forward to the continued opportunities and partnerships that will arise as we continue to serve the communities of southeast Michigan.”