WinShape Foundation

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The WinShape Foundation is an American charitable organization with a fundamentalist Christian Evangelist ethos that is sponsored by the fast-food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A and its founder Truett Cathy and his family. WinShape also has a sister foundation that was started by Cathy's daughter Trudy and her husband John called Lifeshape.


The Foundation started in 1984 as a small college scholarship program housed on the former Berry Academy campus of Berry College. Within several years, a boys' summer camp, followed by a girls' summer camp, were added. The foundation has continued to expand in its over 20 years of existence. It now includes foster homes, a challenge/ropes course, corporate and marriage retreats, and sponsors mission trips both within the United States and internationally.


In 2007, the Foundation's spending on the various projects it supports - including college scholarships, a network of foster homes and camps, and programs for marriage counseling - equalled $18 million.[1]


The WinShape scholarship currently provides students at Berry College $8,000 yearly – funded jointly by WinShape and Berry College. These funds replace the first $8,000 of any academic scholarships offered by the college and require a special application and interview process. The program originated with only several dozen students and offered a total of $10,000 over four years. Today, WinShape currently has over 100 college students enrolled per year, with over 800 alumni in just over 20 years.

The requirements of the scholarship program have varied in details over the years. Eligibility originally required current Chick-fil-A employment, high achievement and community involvement in high school, and a willingness to sign a contract including Christian-based rules.

Employment by Chick-fil-A is no longer a requirement, but the Christian-based nature of WinShape is perhaps stronger today than ever; the current contract specifies weekly meeting attendance, leadership discussion group participation, community service, and a fundamentalist Christian lifestyle, including abstaining from alcohol and drugs. Beginning in 2006, freshmen and transfer students were required to attend a week-long orientation camp known as FreshThing.

As of 2009, the foundation had awarded a total of 951 Berry College scholarships with a maximum of $32,000 per student. [2]

Residential Camps

Cathy had taken his boys Dan and Bubba and his daughter Trudy to a summer camp called Ridgecrest in North Carolina when they were children. After the start of the college program in 1984, he wanted the campus to be used during the summer months. With the help of Rick Johnson who had worked for years at Camp Ridgecrest, they started a summer camp for boys in 1985 and a summer camp for girls in the Ford buildings on the main campus in the summer of 1987.[3] The camp was structured similarly to the Ridgecrest camp—a sports camp with a Christian emphasis. With the use of a native American "Indian" theme, the age groups were divided into different "tribes". Another aspect of the program included "indian ranks" that campers could achieve based on good behavior and virtues, the apex of which allowed a camper to take a test to achieve the rank of "Little Chief" for boys or "Black Comanche" for the girls.

International camps

After 25 years of doing camp in the United States, in 2009 WinShape Camps decided to start to do Camp in Brasília, Brazil. In 2010, WinShape Camps went back to Brazil to do week-long day camps around the capital city.

Foster Homes

S. Truett Cathy[4] began a foster home in 1987 near the WinShape Centre on Berry College's campus. This home was designed for up to seventeen children and had full-time parents to take care of them. Out of this effort, several other foster homes have been birthed so that as of December 2007 there were 11 WinShape foster homes in the United States—eight in Georgia, one in Alabama, and two in Tennessee—as well as one in Brazil.[5][6]

Retreat Center

Atop a hill behind the WinShape Center on Berry College's Mountain campus lay a dairy farm that Martha Berry had built to resemble Normandy architecture. The WinShape Center acquired this dairy when Berry College was seeking to shut it down. After remodeling and adding two additional buildings to the complex (which were part of the master plan from 75 years earlier, but had never been built), the whole complex was converted into a four-star retreat center for people seeking respite and a break from the care of the world. The center now accommodates over 8000 guests every year.

Truett Cathy's middle son, Don "Bubba" Cathy, and his wife Cindy, also head up efforts to minister to couples in strengthening their marriages. The retreat center offers several special events for couples—ranging from couples who have healthy marriages to couples who are actively considering divorce. The program seeks to promote healthy marriages and families.

WinShape Wilderness

Started in 1991, WinShape Wilderness uses various techniques such as field games and ropes elements to create team-building experiences that help groups work through issues and experience community.[7]

WinShape International

WinShape International is an organization that seeks to mobilize Chick-fil-A operators and other leaders in the Chick-fil-A community to build young people in other cultures around the world and equip them to become leaders. WinShape International uses Chick-fil-A's SERVE model of leadership as a platform to help train young people to become servant-focused leaders.

Grants and Contributions Paid by Foundation

WinShape has donated an estimated $5 million to groups including Eagle Forum, Focus on the Family, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Family Research Council, Exodus International and the Marriage & Family Legacy Fund since 2003.

Approximately $2 million was given in 2009[8][9] [10] and almost the same amount in 2010.[11][12]

The Foundation's financial support of these groups has caused gay-rights advocates to denounce the chain and has also led to movements against Chick-Fil-A restaurants and products on various college and university campuses including Northeastern University and NYU. Northeastern University's Student Senate voted on February 28, 2012 to cancel plans for an on-campus Chick-Fil-A restaurant[13] and an online petition against the NYU franchise was also launched that same month.[14]


  1. Parker, Star (November 17, 2008). "Values of people like Chick-fil-A founder could help rebuild America". Retrieved on July 20, 2012. 
  2. 88-Year-Old Chick-fil-A Founder Reaches $25 Million Scholarship Milestone. Atlanta Daybook (August 24, 2009). Retrieved on July 20, 2012.
  3. It's Easier to Succeed Than to Fail, by S. Truett Cathy. P. 176-177.
  4. "It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men", S. Truett Cathy, 2004.
  5. McCaskill, Mary Grace (October 6, 2002). "Chick-fil-A founder helps nurture children in foster care". Southern Living. Retrieved on August 7, 2012. 
  6. Bernstein, Charles (February 1, 2003). "Father figure: Chick-fil-A's Truett Cathy helps shape young lives". Chain Leader. Retrieved on August 7, 2012. 
  7. About. WinShape Wilderness. Retrieved on July 19, 2012.
  8. "Chick-fil-A Increases Donations to Anti-Gay Groups", (November 8, 2011). 
  9. Winters, Rosemary (November 10, 2011). "Sugar House protesters say Chick-fil-A is anti-gay", The Salt Lake Tribune. 
  10. Michelson, Noah (November 1, 2011). "Chick-Fil-A Fast Food Chain Donated Nearly $2 Million To Anti-Gay Groups In 2009", The Huffington Post. 
  11. "Here's How Much Money Chick-fil-A Gives To Anti-Gay Groups", Business Insider (July 5, 2012). 
  12. Chick-Fil-A's Anti-Gay Donations Totaled Nearly $2 Million In 2010: Report. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on July 5, 2012.
  13. Matt Rocheleau (February 28, 2012). Northeastern cancels Chick-fil-A plans after student group denounces chain.
  14. Chick-Fil-A's 'Anti-Gay' Group Donations Spark New York University Protest. The Huffington Post (February 14, 2012). Retrieved on July 7, 2012.

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