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A Mission to Break the Cycle of Poverty in Athens

In 2016, Tee created the Noland Family Foundation through AACF.

For Tee Noland, it’s all about the kids. Whether it’s involving his own children in philanthropy or investing in local kids through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Athens, Tee’s all in.

“I want to do whatever I can to make the place that we live better for my children and other generations,” Tee said. “Strategically, I want to help break the cycle of poverty in Athens and help people become self-sufficient. We need to impact them at an early age so that cycle is broken.”

It was because of the Boys and Girls Club and his involvement as board chair that Tee heard about the Athens Area Community Foundation. He was talking one day to his former property owner and friend Buddy Allen about his passion for the Club and giving back.

“Buddy said, ‘You should really think about getting involved in the Athens Area Community Foundation.’ As he talked more about AACF, it piqued my interest,” Tee said.

“I had a great childhood with a lot of access to education, extracurriculars, other opportunities, and great parents. But I know that so many people are disadvantaged. They’re coming into this world with a challenging home environment or something else. I really want to try to do what I can to bridge that gap and provide resources to help kids and adults overcome their situations.”

So, in 2016, Tee created the Noland Family Foundation through the Athens Area Community Foundation.

“My goal is to grow it over time to become much larger so that I can give more to impact the causes I care about,” he said. “We just love Athens and want to help our community as much as we can. I really want my children to become philanthropic and engaged in the community as well.”

Tee’s love for the Athens community goes back several decades. In the early 90s, his father started a pharmaceutical manufacturing and packaging company in his home state of Missouri. Then, in 2005, Tee and his sister acquired another manufacturing location, which happened to be right outside of Athens. Tee moved here to oversee the new site.

“Shortly after moving here, I got married, had kids, and settled down in Five Points. I fell in love with the college town atmosphere, the people, the lifestyle - all the things,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed giving back to a handful of organizations over the years, but now I’m ready to be more strategic with my philanthropy. “

One of Tee’s favorite initiatives through the Boys and Girls Club is their workforce readiness program, YouthForce.

“It’s only been open about two years, and it’s already having a huge impact on the community,” he said. “The program provides internships, access to technical skill training, immediate career readiness, help with post-secondary education, and more. This is the kind of program that gets me excited and something I want to support through my foundation.”

Highlight about the YouthForce Innovation Hub:

Sterling Gardner and Life LaRoche wanted to see a change in the opportunities for Athens-area youth. Over the years, Life and Sterling had many discussions on recruiting and retaining more kids in Athens to become productive citizens. Then, one radical act of generosity jumpstarted what’s now known as YouthForce Innovation Hub, a workforce development program initiative of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Athens.

“YouthForce exists to develop a pipeline of young people over time that we can help teach the basic, soft skills they need to be employed – even to help them get their first part-time job opportunity when they're in high school. For those kids who either aren’t ready for or decide against college or tech school, we help them secure full-time employment with benefits so that they can become productive citizens.”

“I spent almost 20 years of my career in the development realm, and the Athens Area Community Foundation is a great resource for many development directors to sit down and talk to someone about their needs and the potential funders for those needs,” Sterling said. “It's also a great way for many of our current donors who want to focus their philanthropy to have a plan for their assets. That helps streamline the process for causes that they want to be involved in and creates a more intentional approach to giving.”

“The Community Foundation acts as a vital connector, facilitating support from accomplished individuals eager to contribute to their community, to passionate individuals and organizations like that lack adequate resources.” Life said. “Also, Sarah McKinney [AACF’s CEO] sits on the advising committee for YouthForce, and her input is vital. It really shows that AACF is supportive of youth initiatives and what we're trying to do in this community.”


For Tee, choosing to give through the Athens Area Community Foundation has proven to be a good choice.

“Sarah McKinney, AACF’s CEO, has been so helpful over the years and provides really good leadership and awareness of things that are happening that busy people like myself may not be aware of,” he said.

“There can be a lot of negativity out there and so many people who want to criticize why things aren’t good. But if you’re going to change, if you want things to be better, you have to do something about it. The Community Foundation really highlights the positives and helps people do something - they put the wheels in motion and enact change because of the level of engagement and awareness they have around these issues. It’s the beauty of getting people who are philanthropic together so they can share their thoughts and ideas and pool their money for a greater impact. There’s a lot of power in the network the Athens Area Community Foundation has created.”

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The Athens Area Community Foundation is a public grantmaking foundation that builds community by encouraging long term giving through funds created by caring donors.

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