As Zaxby’s Franchising Inc. continues to grow, so do its philanthropic efforts. On Tuesday, April 15, Zaxby’s sponsored Athens, Georgia–based Downtown Academy’s Legacy of Hope fundraising dinner, which raises funds to support inner city education. Downtown Academy is the educational arm of Downtown Ministries, a nonprofit organization that engages youth and their families in inner city Athens, Georgia.

At the reception attended by 340 guests, Zaxby’s donated $200,000, which was presented to Downtown Academy representatives by Zaxby’s chief financial officer, Blake Bailey, and chief operational officer, Robert Baxley. In total, the event raised more than $315,000.

“The generous donations provided by Zaxby’s and other area business leaders were beyond our expectations and have set a precedent for years to come,” says Patrick Ennis, head of Downtown Academy.

The school relies on donations for funding, and the $315,000 will provide scholarships for two full classes of students next year and will also help the school expand to begin offering a second grade class.

In the fall of 2012, Zaxby’s donated $70,000 to help fund the construction of Downtown Academy, now located in the heart of downtown Athens. The school will complete its first school year this June, serving kindergarten and first grade students, and is an integral part of Downtown Ministries’ provision of educational programs, sports, tutoring, Trail Life, and training resources for the Athens community.

“Downtown Academy is a fundamental resource in helping to empower our Athens communities and has a vested interest in developing a bright future for every child,” says Blake Bailey, chief financial officer of Zaxby’s and Downtown Ministries board member. “It is truly humbling to see so many who share our common interest of inspiring others to give back to the community that supports them.”

Attendees of the fundraiser included Athens-Clarke Mayor Nancy Denson; Downtown Falcons coach and director of community outreach, Ben Farnsworth, members of the Ministries’ board of directors, and many Athens business leaders and Zaxby’s licensees.

Charitable Giving, News, Zaxby's