Opening Doors for Others

Kenny Hill ’90 has made a career out of helping people build things. The Warren College economics major worked at Home Depot throughout his education, finishing classes by afternoon to catch the last shift ending at midnight. During his junior year, he wrote a letter detailing his ambitions to the store’s co-founder and CEO and thereupon was set on a management track that would bring him across the country to Atlanta. But what Hill would build there, however, would be the biggest change he’s ever made.

In the height of the 2009 housing crisis, Hill and his wife noticed a row of abandoned townhomes falling into dangerous disrepair near a neighborhood park bustling with kids. They purchased the homes one by one, and Hill used his experience in renovation to completely transform the building. But when the properties were all done and ready for market, Hill saw the chance to transform the lives of others.

“What if what you did for this building, you could do for people’s lives?” Hill asked. “Totally renovate.”

The Hills turned their townhomes into The Launchpad Foundation, a program designed to help individuals and families experiencing homelessness get back on their feet. In addition to providing transitional housing,
Hill gathered a group of friends and colleagues to serve as coaches in all areas of life, from money management to goal-setting and nutrition. Together, the team created a program in order to get participants on the path to self-sufficiency and ultimately make way for a new group of residents to change their lives. Now on their second round of residents, Hill and The Launchpad Foundation aim to grow the program beyond their own properties and help Atlanta families at a greater scale.

Being a mentor means a lot to Hill and closes a circle in his life. It was a mentor who encouraged him to write his CEO a letter, the very same who also encouraged him to apply to UC San Diego all those years ago. “He said to go to the best school I could get into— to do my best always. And I’ve done that ever since.”

Hear Kenny Hill on Crazy Good Turns, “A Launch Pad to a Better Life” by Joyful Noise Productions.