The Bradley-Turner Foundation is an independent private foundation based in Columbus. In 2003 the foundation reported assets of $163.8 million, making it among the top ten private foundations in Georgia. Total giving in 2003 totaled almost $25 million.
The foundation began in 1982, upon the death of D. Abbott Turner. His children, Sarah, William, and Elizabeth, merged the D. Abbott and Elizabeth Bradley Turner Foundation, which had begun in 1961, with the W. C. and Sarah H. Bradley Foundation, which dated to 1943 and which Turner, as W. C. Bradley's heir, had managed. Turner's children, along with several of their spouses and grandchildren, make up the trustees. The foundation also maintains a close relationship with the W. C. Bradley Company, and many of its assets are shares of Coca-Cola and Synovus stock, businesses in which the family has been involved over the years. The Beloco Foundation of Columbus is a sister foundation, created by Elizabeth Turner Corn and her husband, Lovick.
The Bradley-Turner Foundation supports a variety of educational, cultural, health, and social service organizations. Its trustees primarily give to local or regional charities, and through these gifts, the foundation has been a major player in improving the quality of life in the Columbus area.
An early example of the foundation's philanthropy in Columbus occurred in 1947, when W. C. Bradley died. His daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, D. Abbott Turner, donated funds to the city of Columbus to purchase the Bradley family home and grounds for public educational, library, recreational, or park purposes. The headquarters of the Columbus public school system moved to this location, a public library was established on the property, and the Bradley home was remodeled as a space for the Columbus Museum. Today the site, on Wynnton Road, remains an important greenspace and location for community cultural organizations. William Winn's book Building on a Legacy (1996), which celebrates the anniversary of the Columbus Museum, traces the involvement of the Bradley and Turner families and the Bradley-Turner Foundation in the establishment of the museum, which has emerged as one of the South's finest cultural institutions.
The Bradley-Turner Foundation has also been influential in the area of mental health and counseling resources. In 1955 the foundation opened the Bradley Center, a psychiatric hospital that also offers outpatient counseling and social service outreach. The concept for the center was influenced by D. Abbott Turner's friendship with the well-known preacher Norman Vincent Peale (a famous proponent of "the power of positive thinking") and by the Institute of Religion and Psychiatry in New York. The Bradley Center has expanded its facilities and programs multiple times and is today affiliated with St. Francis Hospital in Columbus.
The Bradley Center led to the establishment of the Employee Assistance Program at the W. C. Bradley Company, one of the first companies in Georgia to include such a program among its benefits. The program initially provided counseling services and programs for those struggling with substance abuse, but it later expanded to include other types of wellness and educational programs. In 1974 the Pastoral Institute opened as a nonprofit, faith-based, nondenominational counseling and education center, and today it consists of six parts—the Business Resource Center, the D. A. and Elizabeth Turner Clergy Center, the Center for Servant Leadership, the Counseling Center, the Pastoral Counselor Training Program, and the Center for Community and Supportive Services—each of which provides services to individuals, businesses, congregations, and organizations in the Columbus area and in Lanett, Alabama.
The Bradley-Turner Foundation has also supported higher education, particularly at Columbus State University (CSU). The center for continuing education at CSU is known as the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Center, and the business college is named for D. Abbott Turner. The Elizabeth Bradley Turner Rose Garden is part of the State Botanical Garden in Athens, and the Synovus Chair of Servant Leadership is in the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business. Andrew College, Emory University, LaGrange College, and Wesleyan College have also received major grants from the foundation, as has the Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges.
The Bradley-Turner Foundation hasfurther influenced Columbus through its support of community revitalization and cultural infrastructure. In April 1996 the foundation issued a challenge to Columbus arts agencies to match a $20 million gift for the construction of the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, which soon expanded under a fund-raising umbrella known as "The Columbus Challenge." This effort raised endowment, capital projects, and programming funds for seven cultural agencies: the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus Museum, Columbus Symphony, Historic Columbus Foundation, Liberty Theatre Cultural Center, National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus, and Springer Opera House. The fund-raising challenge was met by 1999, and the final gift from the Bradley-Turner Foundation totaled $35 million.
Since the success of the Columbus Challenge, the Foundation's support of the infrastructure of Columbus has continued. One line of grants has supported the renovation and upgrading of public housing. Other funds have continued to support uptown revitalization, including the relocation of the visual arts, theater, and music departments of CSU into locations adjacent to the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
In a 1995 article in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, columnist Billy Winn shared with fellow residents the news that their city had been recognized as a model of progressive development and revitalization. Prominent Georgians, including Roberto Goizueta of Coca-Cola, credited this renaissance to the presence and leadership of the Bradley-Turner Foundation. The work of the foundation continues to enrich the quality of life in Columbus.