June 20, 2018 12:07 am
announced plans Tuesday morning to donate more than $22 million to improve Northwest Arkansas organizations that advocate for and promote the arts, recreation and health.
The gifts include about $17 million to keep artistic and recreational venues growing in the region, and more than $5 million in health care-related improvements, a company spokesman said.
Recipients of the $17 million include Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, the Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers and TheatreSquared in Fayetteville. "Our success is intertwined with the success of the region."
Through these grants, Walmart is renewing its sponsorship of the Arkansas Music Pavilion, owned by the Walton Arts Center, for 30 years; supporting a new art space in Bentonville called the Momentary; and investing in TheatreSquared's plans to build a 30,000-square-foot complex with two theaters, apartments, offices and a cafe.
In addition to the arts grants, the retailer's philanthropic arm, the Walmart Foundation, announced more than $5 million in grants for recipients Mercy Health Foundation and Northwest Arkansas Community College.
Bartlett, along with Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation, announced the grants Tuesday at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, where sponsorship tents are in place for a women's professional golf tournament scheduled for this weekend.
Last year, the company made more than $1.4 billion in donations, including $1 billion worth of food. All organizations submitted grant applications through the Walmart Giving program, with the exception of the golf tournament.
Part of the $22 million was used to renew Walmart's title sponsorship of the Northwest Arkansas Championship, a Ladies Professional Golf Association tournament, for another two years. With help from donors like Walmart, the theater has met over 60 percent of its goal, Ford said.
"We have another $11 million to work toward," he said.
Ford envisioned the new TheatreSquared complex in Fayetteville to be like what Crystal Bridges is to Bentonville.
The Walmart Foundation has been working with TheatreSquared in recent years on a program that allows low-income families, those who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and adults under 30 to attend productions for free or for only $5 or $10.
Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer of Crystal Bridges, said the organization will receive $5 million in grant funds, with $3 million covering admission fees and $2 million for a new project called the Momentary, located in a former Kraft plant.
The multiuse art space, overseen by the Crystal Bridges team, will be used to attract artists in theater, dance, music and the visual arts.
Bigelow said early planning began in late 2016. He didn't say how much the organization received.
Clark Ellison, regional vice president of Mercy Health, said Walmart's contributions will help the organization build a 7-story wing at its hospital in Rogers and place six new health clinics in Washington and Benton counties.
These projects will create about 1,100 jobs for the region, Ellison said.
Mercy has reached $15 million in funding so far, more than half of its $25 million fundraising goal, with help from Walmart.
Northwest Arkansas Community College plans to use Walmart's grant for a new building in Washington County, increasing its ability to educate students entering health-related fields.
Business on 06/20/2018
June 19, 2018 11:56 pm
Taxpayers have paid more than $1.5 billion in the past four years to private companies operating immigrant youth shelters accused of serious lapses in care, including neglect and sexual and physical abuse, a Reveal investigation has found.
In nearly all cases, the federal government has continued to place migrant children with the companies even after serious allegations were raised and after state inspectors cited shelters with serious deficiencies, government and other records show. The program grew quickly in 2014, when around 70,000 children crossed the southern border alone.
Now this web of private facilities, cobbled together to support children with nowhere else to go, is beginning to hold a new population: the more than 2,000 children who arrived with their parents but were separated from them because of a Trump administration policy.
Last year, a youth care worker at a Florida shelter for migrant children was sentenced to 10 years in prison after she admitted to trading sexually explicit photos and text messages with minors at the shelter. That facility later closed but recently reopened under a more than $30 million contract to house 1,000 children.
In New York, a Guatemalan boy was sexually assaulted by an older boy at a shelter in 2013, according to a doctor's report, and was treated at a hospital. After he was reunited with his mother, she received a hospital bill but, she later said, was told only that there had been "an incident with a boy."
At a facility in Maine run by a behavioral and mental health nonprofit, a social worker remained on the job for months after state regulators received a complaint in 2016 accusing him of having sex with an adult client.
In those cases and dozens of others reviewed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and The Texas Tribune, federal officials continued sending children who crossed the border to the shelters after the incidents came to light. Since 2014, 13 organizations that faced serious allegations or citations shared the $1.5 billion total nearly half of what the federal government spent to house immigrant children in that time.
Records reviewed indicate only two cases in which the agency terminated an agreement with one of the 13 shelter providers. One occurred after state regulators cited a Texas company, International Educational Services, with more than 100 deficiencies at its nine operations, including inappropriate sexual contact between staff and children, harsh punishment and lapses in medical care.
A spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said it was not up to the state to make licensing decisions for a facility that cares for migrant children.
Texas "is not a party to the contract between ORR (the Office of Refugee Resettlement) and the shelters and any questions on the operation of this program should be directed to either ORR or the facilities themselves," spokesman John Reynolds said in an email.
Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said in a statement Sunday: "Congress gave HHS the responsibility to care for these children and teenagers, and we take this legal mandate very seriously."
Occasionally, facilities changed names, switched locations or voluntarily closed some branches after problems were identified.
The sudden addition of thousands of children is straining these shelters, heightening the risk for neglect and abuse.
Those comments came in response to a federal audit that found that His House, a shelter in Florida, "might not have followed" the resettlement agency's policies for 724 children regarding medical care, providing "appropriate clothing" and running background checks on adults taking custody of children.
The audit also found that the shelter "might have placed federal funds totaling 9 million dollars at risk of mismanagement or misappropriation." From there, immigrant children resettled through the Office of Refugee Resettlement often are sent into the messy reality of foster care and shelters designed for unaccompanied minors.
During that time period, she had gone on on a hunger strike to demand her release while awaiting her asylum hearing and eventually was allowed to post bond. But Bernardez says she never fought as hard as she did during the nearly six months that her son was housed and drugged at the Shiloh Treatment Center.
Bernardez's son had lived with her sister in Honduras but made his way north last October with a cousin to ask for asylum and reunite with his mother, who now lives in New Orleans. And her son says he and other Central American immigrant children routinely were physically assaulted including in front of other staffers.
"There was the man that hit me," he told Reveal.
Shiloh has been awarded $26 million in federal money since 2013 from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to operate a residential treatment center for unaccompanied minors. The agency contracts with Shiloh to house, educate and medicate children.
Records reviewed by Reveal indicate that staff noted that Bernardez's son often talked about wanting to leave the shelter. Bernardez says she noticed that he looked and acted markedly different.
"He was completely hypnotized and lethargic," said Bernardez, who said she asked for a list of the drugs he was being given.
In a Portland Press Herald interview, a corporate spokesman for KidsPeace said the organization routinely performed criminal background checks on potential employees and declined additional comment.
O'Rourke pleaded guilty in January 2017 to sexual assault involving his client and of violating the conditions of his bail by contacting her.
Between 2009 and 2016, KidsPeace Mesabi Academy in Buhl, Minnesota, received 64 complaints regarding staff, care and the treatment of children housed at the center.
Not long after their arrival in Dobbs Ferry, New York, the young boy was sexually assaulted by one of the older children at the shelter, according to his mother in an interview with Public Radio International.
The only other documentation of the incident the mother received: a bill for $800 from the New York hospital.
Last month, His House Children's Home a faith-based nonprofit program in Miami Gardens, Florida was at the center of another refugee resettlement office scandal. Evin Daly, a court-ordered guardian for children, reported concerns to Florida's child abuse hotline that staff at the 10-cottage facility treated children like "virtual prisoners in a compound with a fence and a locked gate" and "caregivers sometimes have sex with each other while on duty."
According to a review by the federal government, His House served 1,900 children during 2014.
Merice Perez Colon, an employee of a temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in November for engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior with minors housed at the shelter.
The shelter, which shut down suddenly in April 2017, reopened in February after the federal health agency awarded it a contract of $20 million, which grew to more than $30 million when the number of children housed doubled from 500 to 1,000.
Yet between 2016 and 2018, the Texas health department had reported 116 deficiencies following 349 inspections of the company's shelters, which included unsupervised firearms left around foster homes, inappropriate contact between a teacher and a child in care, and a child in care sustaining a second-degree burn, the cause of which was unknown.
Almost six hours northeast, the Galveston Multicultural Institute, Galveston's branch of Children's Center Inc., had all children in its care removed by the Administration for Children and Families following complaints of child abuse and neglect issued to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in March 2016. The federal government paid $7.3 million to house children there until 2016.
In early 2017, with a dip in local juvenile crime and no more federal money coming in, local officials considered cutting its budget entirely.
Instead, in August, the resettlement agency came back with a $4 million contract to house 30 more migrant children in the secure facility for one year.
In the case of KidsPeace, the parent company closed operations at Mesabi Academy but not at its other shelters across the U.S.
In 2013, Lutheran Social Services of the South, a nonprofit subsidiary of Lutheran Social Services Inc., was suspended by the state following the death of a baby at a foster home in Cedar Park, Texas.
Despite this, the company still raised several concerns in state inspections between 2015 and 2018 after reports that "a caregiver had allowed an individual with an extensive criminal history background that posed immediate risk to children in care to live in the home and have unsupervised access to children in care" and that a former case manager had signed documentation to allow a child to live in a foster home where a person with a serious criminal history also lived.
Another inspection found children's personal items and other areas in the home infested with roaches.
In 2018, the resettlement agency still provides grant funding to the company. The deadline is June 29.
The agency wrote that it anticipates paying $500 million for low-security shelter placements, up from $100 million in 2016, and doubling the number of grant winners. For the more secure, jail-like settings, the agency plans to more than double its spending, from $9 million to $20 million
Following its rekindled relationship with the agency this year, the secure Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Commission had planned to hire a coordinator for its unaccompanied minor program.
On Tuesday, local officials announced they would stop participating in the resettlement agency's shelter program when the current contract runs out at the end of August. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg called the family separation policy "unacceptable," and said she'd been assured that no children had been housed at the facility after being separated from their parents.
That, which followed local outcry against the contract, may be the first case in which a facility has ended its partnership with the resettlement agency in response to the Trump administration's new family separation policy.
June 19, 2018 11:45 pm
WALLET WOES: The Massachusetts Cultural Council charged $3,700 at Davio's, above, on a state-issued credit card over 12 months. WALLET WOES: The Massachusetts Cultural Council charged $3,700 at Davio's, above, on a state-issued credit card over 12 months.
The Massachusetts Cultural Council is defending its charges of $3,700 in meals at upscale Davio's on a state-issued credit card, insisting they were "lawful and properly authorized" and not subject to strict Baker administration guidelines on spending taxpayer money.
The Baker administration rules do not allow procurement "P-cards" to be used for "meals, snacks or coffee."
Council spokesman Greg Liakos said in a statement: "All Mass Cultural Council expenditures support its mission as an independent state agency to expand access, excellence, education, and diversity in the nonprofit arts, sciences, and humanities."
He added "all agency expenditures are lawful" and "properly authorized."
The council, a quasi-state agency which issues $20 million in grants for the arts while co-managing a $10 million cultural facility fund, ran up the bills at the pricey restaurant in 35 separate charges ranging widely from $2.41 to $247 over the past 12 months. It's not right for taxpayers to pick up this tab."
State policy, established by Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore, specifically holds that "P-cards shall not be used for the following: Cost of meals, snacks, or coffee."
The Bank of America card should be used as "payment of last resort," the A&F rules stress.
"To protect taxpayer dollars and limit spending, the Baker-Polito Administration updated credit card policy use and procedures to restrict the number of cards in circulation and limit their use," A&F spokeswoman Julie Mehegan added in a statement.
The Herald reviewed P-card spending by the Cultural Council and numerous other state agencies for a report published last Sunday, using data provided by the state comptroller's office, which manages the bills. Sullivan said the comptroller's goal to post all state P-card purchases online would help "enforce" policy and boost "transparency."
"When a state employee with a state credit card is in the line at Davio's," Sullivan added, "the guy right behind him is paying for that expensive takeout, too."
June 19, 2018 11:45 pm
Social entrepreneurs from across Britain visited Dundee to learn about groups in the city that are trying to make a difference to their communities.
The visit was organised by UnLtd, a group which supports social entrepreneurs with funding and resources and businesses with regular community events and activities."
Kirsty Thomson, founder and CEO of The Circle, was one of five people across Scotland who received a UnLtd Grow It award last year.
She shared her story of establishing the hub for charities, social enterprises, community groups and socially aware businesses in Dundee.
"I explained how I got things up and running and transformed the building from being vacant into a thriving community hub with 17 tenants who are a mix of charities, social enterprises and businesses with regular community events and activities."
Other local social entrepreneurs who presented at the event were Kirsty Slater (WEvolution), Jordan Butler (Togs), Danielle Du Plooy (Uppertunity), Gillian Easson and Claire Dufour (Creative Dundee) and Suzanne Scott (Whimsical Lush The Discovery Walk).
The group also visited the V&A Community Garden which was developed by 20 members of the public and delivered by Gary Kennedy and Linsey McIntosh, with the support of landscape architects Macfarlane and Associates.
UnLtd's Resilience Communities project is looking to fund and support social entrepreneurs as they grow their ventures, encourage collaboration, help them attract other investment and foster local infrastructures. Dundee United Fife Dundee Perth & Kinross Angus & The Mearns
June 19, 2018 11:22 pm
- High Desert Chamber Music has been offered a repeat matching grant opportunity from the Starseed Foundation. The Starseed Foundation seeks to provide opportunities and exposure to the arts and environment, to improve the quality of life for those in need, and to support social programs that offer cultural and lasting benefit to deserving populations.
HDCM has begun a "Starseed Foundation Matching Funds Campaign".
Donations can be made on our website, by phone, or mail. HDCM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and a qualifying organization for the Oregon Cultural Trust.
High Desert Chamber Music's mission is to bring world class chamber music and musicians to Central Oregon.
HDCM's 2017-2018 season is presented by Mission Building and Renovation.
June 19, 2018 10:15 pm
These programs provide critical services to individuals and families throughout the area.
Over the past year, 266 companies and nearly 7,000 individual donors contributed to United Way for health, education and financial stability programs.
TOP 5 WORKPLACE CAMPAIGNS
1. VIP Children's Program Independence for the Blind
2-3 Year Committed Health Awards: $260,962
1. Essential Life Skills Capstone Adaptive Learning and Therapy Centers, Inc.
2. Sexual/Physical Abuse Treatment Program Lutheran Services of Florida
9. Big Brothers Big Sisters Community Based Program Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida
2. School to Work Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida
8. Child Care YMCA of Northwest Florida
2. The Mobile Pantry Program Feeding the Gulf Coast
2-3 Year Committed Financial Stability Awards: $17,500
June 19, 2018 10:03 pm
Carthage City Council to vote again on hospital trust grants - News - The Carthage Press - Carthage, MO
1. Domestic Violence Shelter FavorHouse of Northwest Florida, Inc.
The Carthage City Council will vote again at its next meeting on Tuesday June 26 on two grants from the McCune Brooks Hospital Trust that it voted down at its June 12 meeting.
The Carthage City Council will vote again at its next meeting on Tuesday June 26 on two grants from the McCune Brooks Hospital Trust that it voted down at its June 12 meeting.
Carthage City Administrator Tom Short said the two grants will come back as seperate resolutions for each, a change that will probably be permanent for all grants from the trust from now on.
The grants proposed by the Board of Trustees were:
$25,000 to the Fair Acres Family Y to fund a committee to look at building a new aquatics center in Carthage.
$37,500 to the McCune Brooks Healthcare Foundation to pay half the cost of 10 new hospital beds for Mercy Carthage Hospital.
A single resolution to approve both these grants failed by a 4-3 vote, with one abstention and two absences, after Carthage City Council members, in a sometimes tense discussion, showed strong support for the grant to the Y, but skepticism toward the grant to the Foundation.
City Attorney Nate Dally, in a parlementary ruling, determined since a motion had already been made and seconded to approve the entire resolution, council members could not amend the resolution to remove the Hospital Foundation grant and approve the Family Y grant, hence the decision to bring the two grants back as seperate resolutions.
Council Members Brady Beckham and Kirby Newport were most vocal in their opposition to the $37,500 grant to the Healthcare Foundation.
Beckham opened the discussion by stating his support for one grant, while questioning whether the city's trust money should be going to the hospital for what he said was "general maintenance of their operations."
"I've never been in this situation in six years," Beckham said. "Why are we being asked to pay the sale money and invest it back in capital in the facility?"
In its application for the grant, the Healthcare Foundation said $37,500 was half the cost for 10 beds that Mercy Carthage Hospital had asked it to fund after the hospital purchased 15 beds.
The existing beds date back to the construction of the hospital back in 2007, the grant application said.
The McCune Brooks Healthcare Foundation planned to match the McCune-Brooks Hospital Trust's money with $37,500 of its own, raised in a later fundraiser.
City Council Member James Harrison, who abstained from the vote because he is a member of the McCune Brooks Hospital Trust, explained that the trust considered both grant requests based on whether they met the trust's mission, as described in the ordinance that created the trust in 2015 to benefit the "health and welfare of the citizens of the greater Carthage, Missouri metropolitan area."
"The board body basically says we want to make sure we provide, for whatever application comes to us, it's about the healthcare and wellbeing of our citizens and all that stuff," Harrison said. That's why we recommended approving the money."
Council Member Mike Daugherty spoke in favor of the grant the hospital, comparing it to when the city applies for grants for various projects.
"It sounds to me that, as a city, we do what we can with our own funds and we go get grants from the state," Daugherty said.