For more than a decade, Las Vegas’ The Calida Group has been developing and operating the Elysian Living contemporary luxury apartment communities. Seven of its 20 active projects are housed in Las Vegas alone.
In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, the company decided to take a leap into the unknown and build a different kind of infrastructure at its base. The result is the Elysian Living Foundation, which seeks to strengthen the company’s communities by opening the doors to residents’ philanthropic spirit.
Launched in May, the Elysian Living Foundation is the brainchild of The Calida Group’s co-founders and managing directors, Douglas Eisner and Eric Cohen.
Both men, who serve as managing directors of the foundation, too, pick an annual 50-percent charity partner. Residents of their various communities who join the foundation discuss, nominate and vote on the other annual 50-percent charity partner in December of each year.
While it is designed for the various Elysian properties, the foundation is open to everyone. Both residents and nonresidents alike easily can sign up online to become a member at any time.
“Eric and I are just the infrastructure behind the foundation,” Eisner explained. “We are just the custodians.
“But, 100 cents of every dollar goes to charity. Half of the money goes to our annual volunteer charity partner that he and I choose, which, for 2017, is Habitat for Humanity. The other half goes to the charity the foundation members have voted on.
“When residents lease an apartment or renew their annual lease, we offer them the opportunity to participate,” he added. “They can either sign up for a monthly direct debit or pay a lump sum at that time. We have billboards in the clubhouses, and we market the foundation. A lot of our employees and vendors have also signed up.”
According to Eisner, the foundation “isn’t meant to solve the world’s ills; it’s meant to be a starting point for people to talk about it and to get involved. No one has ever done this before. It takes a minute to digest.
“Normally when people contribute to charity, they don’t know where their money is going. They have no control. Here, they feel empowered. They know where their money goes, and they can influence where other people’s money goes, too.”
Eisner and Cohen have been in Las Vegas 12 and 15 years, respectively. Eisner, who came from New York and California, noted that he and Cohen, who hails from New Jersey and Florida, grew up in a culture of philanthropy. In these areas, volunteering was much more pervasive than in other places. It was an important thing to do to part of their communities.
Both worked for big companies and were friendly competitors. Then, in 2007, the two merged their talents and founded The Calida Group. Their desire to expand the philanthropic atmosphere in which they were raised gave way to the Elysian Living Foundation. The initiative’s infrastructure took 18 months to get up and running.
As for their goal for the foundation, Eisner said it is simply is to make it successful and a part of all The Calida Group communities. He would like to see 90 percent of its employees and 75 percent of the residents participating.
“It’s going to take time, perseverance, and a slow, consistent, durable effort over an extended period of time — maybe 5, 10 years or more — to make it an impactful initiative,” Eisner acknowledged.
“Consistency is not sexy, but it is how philanthropy works. The important thing is to keep getting the word out,” he said.