1000 x 90

Children’s Hope Alliance to Sell Grandfather Home Property to Lees-McRae College, Furthering the Missions of Both Organizations

Celeste Dominguez, CHA President and CEO addresses students and community members at the official announcement at Lees McRae on Wednesday morning.

Lees-McRae College aims to grow residential enrollment to 1,000 studentsChildren’s Hope Alliance to serve ten times as many children

Children’s Hope Alliance (CHA) and Lees-McRae College announced today the sale of the Grandfather Home for Children property in Banner Elk to the educational institution. This transaction enables both organizations to grow and serve additional constituents.

Proceeds of the land sale will allow CHA, a nonprofit serving at-risk children and families in the High Country and across North Carolina, to serve ten times as many children in the High Country—from 125 to 1,125 children annually by 2030. Across the state, CHA’s goal is to serve as many as 20,000 children and families in need of support each year, compared to the 2,000 children served today.

“Today’s announcement extends what has been a long and positive relationship between Children’s Hope Alliance and Lees-McRae College,” explained Celeste Dominguez, CHA President and CEO. “As a trusted community partner in Banner Elk from our earliest days, we are confident Lees-McRae will continue to put this treasured land to its best use, while allowing CHA to enhance our mission, grow our services more quickly and expand our reach more broadly. We are excited about the possibilities ahead for at-risk children and families across North Carolina.”

Lees-McRae College, a private institution with more than 50 academic programs, provides an innovative experiential education to students at its main campus and online. The purchase of the Grandfather Home facilities, as well as 475 acres of land adjacent to its existing campus, will provide much of the space and resources needed for the college to achieve its goal of having 1,000 students in residence within the next decade. This addition to the campus of Lees-McRae will also be vital in implementing the priorities outlined in the 2030 strategic plan.

“The responsibility to safeguard this property is not one we take lightly,” said Lees-McRae President Lee King. “While the ownership of the land is changing, it will continue to be used for its original purpose—education of and service to our community. Our motto, ‘In, Of, and For the Mountains’ will continue to guide us as we plan for new programs and opportunities that best serve our growing student body.”

The announcement brings together two valued institutions who share more than neighboring land. Lees-McRae College and Grandfather Home for Children were founded by Reverend Edgar Tufts in 1900 and 1914, respectively. As an extension of the school’s educational mission, Grandfather Home for Children was established to provide for local orphaned children. While CHA operated residential homes on the Grandfather Home campus for more than 100 years, the organization recently shifted its service model from a physical home for children to serving children in their own homes—whether biological, kinship or foster homes. Today, its in-home and school-based programs are serving more children with better outcomes in less time than in group home care.

The Grandfather Home property contains 104,000 square feet of functional space, including lodgings, classrooms, dining facilities, offices, a gymnasium, and an outdoor amphitheater. The purchase agreement also includes the popular Wildcat Lake facility that will continue to benefit the Banner Elk community. The acquisition will allow the college to offer a first-rate education to an increasing number of students, support current academic programs and expand educational opportunities through the creation of Living-Learning Communities, and conserve the property’s invaluable natural resources.

CHA and Lees-McRae signed the agreement on Monday, March 21 at the CHA office in Barium Springs, N.C. The two organizations publicly announced the sale at a joint assembly held in Hayes Auditorium on the Lees-McRae campus. The institutions will honor the historic agreement during a celebration to be held at Grandfather Home. Details will be announced at a later date.

Hayes Auditorium at Lees McRae College fills up Wednesday morning waiting for the surprise announcement.
Parker Grubbs, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Lees McRae talks about the importance of the announcement.
Lees-McRae President Lee King at the podium.
Celeste Dominguez, CHA President and CEO
Lees-McRae President Lee King, Parker Grubbs, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Celeste Dominguez, CHA President and CEO

About Children’s Hope Alliance

Founded in 1883, Children’s Hope Alliance Headquartered in Statesville, NC, Children’s Hope Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, serving 2,000 at-risk children and families each year. CHA provides educational, prevention and community-based programs and services in 62 N.C. counties with ten office locations. Our staff of 175 counselors, therapists and social workers are committed to creating hope, health and healing for generations. For more information, visit www.childrenshopealliance.org.

About Lees-McRae College

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Lees-McRae College is a private, residential college that awards baccalaureate and graduate degrees. At nearly 4,000 feet—the highest elevation of any campus on the East Coast—the college celebrates its location through distinct programming. An emphasis on experiential education inspires students to learn by doing and gain broad knowledge through study across disciplines. To provide opportunities for all, the college offers bachelor’s degree completion programs online and in surrounding communities. For more information, please visit www.lmc.edu or call 828.898.5241.