Celebrating Women's History Month with Flipany

March 30, 2023

City National Bank of Florida believes in the power of women's entrepreneurship. To celebrate Women's History Month, here's a closer look at one local woman's success story. In 2005, Lynne Kunins founded FLIPANY, a South Florida non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of Florida youth through fitness, nutrition, and mentorship. Since then, the organization has grown exponentially, helped along by a core team of dedicated advocates, as well as financial experts from City National Bank of Florida.

When Lynne Kunins was in college, she discovered that she felt best not in the classroom but on the soccer pitch. “I wasn't good in school but I was in sports,” she recalls. “The busier I was, the happier I was. And so was everybody that surrounded me.”

After realizing this, Kunins started on a new path—one that was in tune with her passion and more entrepreneurial. A resident of South Florida, she noticed a dearth of accessible programming for local youth, particularly around health, nutrition, and fitness. “No kid can afford a pay-to-play program, and they may live in disadvantaged neighborhoods that may not have beautiful facilities to host programs.” Kunins decided to bring physical activity and wellness directly to the community.

In 2005, she founded Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth—FLIPANY—a non-profit with diverse programming around nutrition and fitness. In partnership with other organizations like the YMCA, US Soccer Foundation, and the Boys and Girls Club, FLIPANY leverages coaching and mentoring programs as a framework to build wellness and community.

“Sport is about connection,” Kunins says. “It's the belonging, it's learning how to communicate, it's connecting to a caring adult like a coach. Having that sports outlet brings the community together.” Team sports also show kids how to manage their emotions and behaviors, she adds.

Lynne Kunins- Flipany Founder, CEO

In addition to sports programs, FLIPANY teaches kids how to cook. “We're in a melting pot in South Florida and we congregate around food. Health is impacted by what you eat and a lot of kids maybe don't know what the healthier choice is. We teach them how to make food together as a group.”

When asked about her inspiration, Kunins is quick with an answer: “First Lady Obama. Her 'Let's Move' campaign validated everything that I believed about promoting health and wellness, and bringing it to kids that are in disadvantaged neighborhoods to really help them prosper.”  FLIPANY has delivered nutrition education to more than 45,000 kids, served more than 3 million healthy meals to those in need, and taught more than 1,700 kids to cook.

“Let me tell you about Ethan,” Kunins says. “He was very active, outgoing, just running around super happy. He told us he didn't understand why nobody taught him that eating healthy and exercising was important. In school, he learned to read, he learned about math. But nobody taught him how to make a smoothie.” Now, two years later, Kunins still receives videos from Ethan. In them, he's preparing healthy smoothies for himself and his 10-year -old sister. “Learning how to eat healthily is something he can use for the rest of his life.”

As a woman entrepreneur, Kunins has experienced challenges. “When my operating budget was $500,000, it was fine,” she recalls. “The business world believed that I was competent enough to make all of the decisions.” But once FLIPANY started to grow, she noticed a shift. “Once we hit about $3 million, I was having conversations with potential donors and funders, and they didn't think that I needed any more money than I had. Salary wise, you're fine. Hiring your staff, you're fine, everything is fine.” Kunins had the same conversations for five years without making progress and in the sixth year, she brought her male CFO along. “We had the same exact conversation and they thought he was brilliant. They wanted to implement everything immediately.”

Perhaps it was experiences like this that led Kunins to consider banking with a trusted institution; one that prioritized the community —just like she and FLIPANY did. Although she moved her organization's accounts over to City National Bank of Florida in 2018, it was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that the relationship proved itself.

“When COVID hit, we called the bank and within six or seven months we had everything we needed,” she recalls. It was a good thing, too, because the state of Florida needed FLIPANY's help. “They called and asked if we could become an emergency food provider. The very next day we had a pick-up of 1,200 cases of bananas. We started distributing the food that wasn't being delivered to school districts and re-purposing it between our 400 partner sites. We were doing 20,000 meals a day. It was crazy.”

In the meantime, City National Bank of Florida granted FLIPANY an SBA-backed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan so Kunins could retain her staff. “We were able to maintain our whole entire organization without losing anyone,” Kunins says. “We were able to distribute meals because we had a full team.”

In retrospect, Kunins knows how fortunate she was. “If you have a great idea and you can't get a loan, your great idea doesn't go anywhere. Banking is the crux.” The money received by City National Bank of Florida kept FLIPANY afloat during the pandemic, but it also allowed them to serve the community. Then when the bank forgave the loan, FLIPANY was able to take things to the next level. We leveraged our banking relationship, secured a loan with City National Bank of Florida and put a down payment for our new office space. It was a game changer."

Ready to grow your small business but not sure of the next steps? Contact a City National Bank of Florida financial advisor for more information.

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