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July 16, 2009
PHIL WEIDINGER: Good afternoon, everyone. You know, we all hear about the economic impact of the American Century Championship on Lake Tahoe, how it attracts visitors to the area and how it draws national and international attention and helps keep Lake Tahoe on the proverbial map.
We've also seen the impact that this event has raised on charity over the years. Obviously this year, with the Lance Armstrong Foundation and Livestrong, I think we all remember two years ago when the Angora Fire struck, destroyed 254 homes in the area and burned 3100 acres.
NBC and American Century Investments stepped up in a big way with fundraising efforts that totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But another more intimate area the tournament impacts is local nonprofit organizations. That's why we're here today. And especially so in these tough economic times when it's even more difficult for these organizations to provide much needed services to those that are in need. It was with that in mind that tournament organizers decided to initiate an annual program to provide funding to various organizations for specific needs, to create an ongoing legacy of lasting support between the tournament and the local community.
Those organizations that are with us today include the Tahoe Youth and Family Services, which provides individual family and group counseling. Bread and Broth, which has provided hot meals to those in need in the area on a weekly basis for the last 20 years.
And to the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe, with programs and services to enhance the development of South Lake Tahoe area youth.
With us to provide more detail are Jon Miller, Executive Vice President of NBC Sports. Mark Killen, Chief Marketing Officer of American Century Investments; Evye Szanto, marketing director with Bread and Broth. Julie Franklin, the Safe Place Coordinator for Tahoe Youth and Family Services, and also in the audience is their president, Paula Peterson. Paula, welcome.
And also Karen Houser, the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe. The Executive Director of Bread and Broth is also here Diane Weidinger here, nice to have you here, Diane.
I'd like to turn it over to Jon Miller. Jon, if you could give us a brief background on the idea and concept here.
JON MILLER: As many of you know we're celebrating our 20th Anniversary in Lake Tahoe with the American Century Championship. And we've come to realize that this area is really part of the NBC Sports family. We've made great lasting friendships. We feel the event gives an awful lot back to the community.
In this past fall, when the economy took such a dire hit, and it looked like so many things were in trouble, Gary Quinn, who works with me at NBC Sports, we had some conversations with our friends at American Century and we felt that it was important that we really make a concerted effort to look for some organizations in Lake Tahoe that were suffering and possibly suffering more than most and make a tangible definitive gift to them this year to make sure that they could thrive, stay afloat, do whatever.
So we asked our friends in Tahoe to help us identify three organizations that were really in need, that our help would be significant for. And that's really how we came upon these three great organizations who do so much in the community and give so much back.
So that's really how it started. We're happy that we can do it. We think that it's important that when we come to town we don't just come to town as a traveling roadshow, that we always, when we leave here, we leave Lake Tahoe a little bit better than we found it. And that's pretty hard to do because this is a pretty spectacular place.
PHIL WEIDINGER: All right. Mark Killen, we'd like to ask you a couple of questions as well as far as American Century's involvement.
MARK KILLEN: Thanks, Phil. We have terrific partners in NBC Sports. And obviously NBC has had the tournament for 20 years. We've had it for 11. But doing things for worthy causes has been a part since the beginning. We're really happy to participate this year and help these three local charities stay afloat and keep providing great services to their constituents.
It's a very, very important thing to us. Our founder is a person who dedicated his entire net worth to trying to find cures for gene-based diseases. So this is in our blood. It's in our fabric. And we love to come out here and participate in this event and raise money and awareness for very important causes.
So when Jon and Gary made the call, it was an emphatic "yes" that we wanted to support this and we're really happy to do it.
JON MILLER: One of the other things I wanted to mention, in addition to a lot of times you can give money, what we're doing is actually -- purchases are going to be made to help support these organizations for definite tangible things. And most of those purchases will be from community businesses. So we want to keep the money here in the community, which we think is very important.
PHIL WEIDINGER: What I'd like to do is I'd like to ask the folks joining you, start it off with Julie, since you have the microphone, briefly tell us about Tahoe Youth and Family Services and what you plan on doing with some of the funding that you receive.
JULIE FRANKLIN: Tahoe Youth and Family Services has been serving the South Lake Tahoe community since 1971. We also are bringing services to the Minden/Gardnerville area down in Nevada.
We work with families. We do youth counseling. We're the number one go-to place in the South Lake Tahoe area for drug and alcohol counseling for youth, for teens. We have a 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, mentoring program for youth of prisoners and this type of thing.
We are going to be using the money, keeping it as the gentlemen mentioned, in the South Lake Tahoe area, buying a van. We have a van right now that's not in good shape at all. And we're excited to have funding for this. It will help carry our clients to and from appointments and groups and play groups, ages zero to 18. And it will also be used for outreach efforts with our volunteers.
PHIL WEIDINGER: And Karen Houser, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club.
KAREN HOUSER: Thank you. The Boys and Girls Club are in our 18th year serving ages five through 18 here in South Lake Tahoe, with an annual membership of more than 600 children attending our club at an average of about 200 kids a day.
What we're doing with the generous donation is we'll be purchasing computers. And with a lot of the kids that we serve, they don't have access to technology. And with all the cutbacks, as we all know throughout the states, both Nevada and California in the education component, we're able to fill some of that gap and keep these kids competitive in the technology world.
Not only with their homework, but also with their job-readiness, that we're starting to serve a much older population, and to be able to get these kids ready with job skills in the technology fields and with computers is something that just money can't go far enough. So we thank you so much.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Evye Szanto.
EVYE SZANTO: Thank you. First I'd like to take this time on behalf of Bread and Broth to thank you so much for your generosity and your concern for all those charities that are in need in the South Lake Tahoe area.
Bread and Broth has been alive for 20 years, and we've been serving all those in need for 20 years without any question or comment. We welcome everyone through our doors. Secondary to these really hard economic times, as you all know, our need has increased. We're seeing increasing numbers of families and elderly people on fixed incomes come through our doors and therefore we need this money actually to purchase food to help support these people and make sure that they have a warm meal every week. Thank you again.
PHIL WEIDINGER: I'd like to open it to the media for questions. Who has a question that they would like to ask?
Q. How important as a company or corporation, as you gentlemen mentioned, is it for you to leave behind a positive wake within the community?
JON MILLER: We think it's real important, speaking from NBC's perspective. We're owned by General Electric and General Electric has a very rich history of giving back in terms of their gift programs and their very charitable giving. But we feel that we're such a part of this community. We come back here every year. And we want to see this community thrive and grow and continue to be successful.
And when there's somebody in this community that's in need, that's part of our family.
MARK KILLEN: It's an incredibly important part of our lives, too, at American Century Investments. I mentioned that our founder gave away almost all of his net worth to fund research for gene-based diseases. But ongoing profits from our company, more than 40 percent, actually fund that research.
So there's a real commitment to us helping try to provide hope for life, is what we call it, so generations as you go forward are not dealing with diseases like cancer and dementia and diabetes. And it's really terrific for us to be able to support great causes here at Tahoe.
We've done a number over the years. We helped support the fires a couple years ago. And it's great to support these three worthy causes this year.
Because we truly believe money can be a powerful force for good, and we're happy to do it.
PHIL WEIDINGER: Thank you to Mark Killen. He was playing with Charles Barkley out there.
MARK KILLEN: They're still playing. (Laughter).
Q. Wondered if there's specific amounts that were donated or just asking these organizations what they needed most and he --
JON MILLER: We tried to find out what their needs were and make sure we fund those needs. A lot will depend, a lot of the money will come from the amateur prize pool. But it will come from other fundraising activities that we're doing around the tournament as well.
Q. No specific set amount?
JON MILLER: No.
Q. Phil mentioned this is the first year of a specific donation program. Can you talk about that a little bit more?
JON MILLER: Well, we've given money in the past to different local charities. We've had a lot of volunteer organizations who help with the tournament and we've given some money back there, but it's never been on a definite basis or whatever. And we've been able to decide that this is something that we're going to establish and it's going to become an annual gift from the tournament back to the community. This is in addition to the overall umbrella charity, obviously, that we've done every year for the past several years.
The tournament itself has given away millions and millions of dollars since we first started.
Q. Do you gentlemen also feel as a corporation that it's a benefit to your employees to feel like they're making a difference within the community and as a corporation within the communities that they live and the communities that they also visit?
JON MILLER: I think it's great. I mean, the guys who come here and work feel very close to the people here, and I know they love the fact that we're involved in giving back. It makes them feel good about what they do.
MARK KILLEN: Yeah, I would echo that, too. Ours are incredibly proud of what goes on here. And as Jon mentioned, we support a national charity, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This is the fourth year in a row. We'll talk about that a little more in a little bit. There's certainly a lot of pride in doing something good. It's something that makes us all feel good. It's terrific that we have the great support that we have here in Lake Tahoe and with our wonderful partners, NBC.
Q. When you say "the umbrella charities," what do you mean by "umbrella charities"?
JON MILLER: The overall charity this year and the beneficiary is the Lance Armstrong Foundation, Livestrong, and we've done that. Every year there's always been a major overriding charity, whether it was the Fallen Patriot Fund, whether it was Autism Speaks, 9/11 Widow and Orphans Fund after 9/11. Every year there's been a national charity that's benefited as well from PSA and national attention through the tournament.
Q. In addition to that, could you speak a little more on the fact that there are other charities here that are working the tournament to raise money for their organizations. I know because I actually, one year, my organization, did it. So can you talk a bit about some of those other groups?
JON MILLER: I know that there's a lot of other groups who work here. Phil, you're probably more familiar.
PHIL WEIDINGER: You'll see the Soroptomists out there, they've been working to staff the concession stands, and they get a percentage of the goods that are sold. So they're involved. There's a number of other local organizations that have received checks and donations from the tournament as far as their participation. So it's a win-win.
Q. Do you, gentlemen, with the state of the reality, with the state of the economy that we're all facing worldwide, that this also helps brand your companies too as more human?
JON MILLER: I don't think we do it for that reason. I think we do it because we just want to do it. We want to do it because we want to make sure that people here are well taken care of and we want them to know how much we appreciate all they do for us.
We're very fortunate; this tournament has been very successful. And it is a lot of fun. There's a lot of hard work that goes on, and there's a lot that we generate from here, not only goodwill, but attention. Our sponsors have a good time and our guests have a good time, but we want to make sure the community benefits as well.
MARK KILLEN: I would agree with Jon. It's not something that we said, Oh, we think we need to make a decision here to brand the company. But I think what is very important about this year is that this is the year when many firms walked away from tournaments like this. They've walked away from their charitable commitments, and we've actually stepped it up, with NBC and American Century Investments, we've actually stepped it up to the point where we've contributed our entire on-site event to the Lance Armstrong foundation to bring their guests and donors in here to raise funding and awareness for the global campaign against cancer.
We couldn't do it without NBC. You'll see some things in the broadcast that will be just tremendous. I think what this tournament will represent, hopefully in sports and certainly in the charitable efforts across the U.S., is a stepped up commitment in a very tough economic environment from two companies that really do this on a regular basis.
So I hope you help us share that message and tell the story, because it is a really good story this year.
PHIL WEIDINGER: One of the gentlemen that was involved with this concept was Gary Quinn. And I didn't see Gary when we first started. So, Gary, thank you for your participation. We appreciate it.
Thank you all.
End of FastScripts