Of Girls & Save & Friends & Dream

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Four of the more interesting national youth-serving organizations had changes at the top this summer. Retired Adm. Marty Evans departed from New York-based Girl Scouts of the USA after just three years as national executive director, where she earned $309,722 in tax year 1999. She’s traded in overseeing about 317 local Girl Scout Councils (membership: 2.8 million girls) to be CEO of the American Red Cross, replacing the cashiered Dr. Bernadine Healy.

Among Evans’ proudest accomplishments: “The acquisition of millions of dollars [$10 million-plus to be exact] in federal earmarks.” The effort was helped by organizing the first congressional Girl Scout troop with the likes of Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) as den mothers.

Evans will find little to pump up a youth worker at the badly bruised Red Cross. In late April about 100 of the 1,476 Red Cross headquarters staffers got pink slips. The red crosses, once respectable efforts in youth services, now reside somewhere between an afterthought and no thought. Casting itself as a “biomedical” organization (and garnering $2.7 billion in FY ’01 revenue), it couldn’t bother paying $21,500 in dues to join the umbrella National Collaboration for Youth, composed of 40 groups including the Girl Scouts.

Evans will earn $450,000 keeping disasters at bay from the accident-prone Red Cross, which has never recovered from the eight-year reign of neglect by Queen Bee Elizabeth Dole, now running for a U.S. Senate seat from North Carolina.

Save’s Paradise Gained

The best thing that has happened in the 70-year history of Save the Children’s U.S. program occurred seven years ago. That was the devastating “ABC Primetime Live” investigative exposé on Save, as everyone calls the $173 million-in-revenue (2001) behemoth that operates primarily in 65 developing countries.

The Christmas week embarrassment on ABC featured Charlie MacCormack, Save president since 1993, being savaged by Sam Donaldson. A former Save general counsel told ABC that “anywhere from zero to 30 percent” of the funds Save claimed it spent on poor American kids ever reached the intended beneficiaries. MacCormack looked like an Enron executive in a grand jury room as Donaldson pummeled him for an accounting of Save’s funds.

After MacCormack’s ABC meltdown, he wisely cleaned his domestic house – thanks in part to an additional shove from the Connecticut attorney general. Hired in 1996 to salvage Save’s USA program (we use the term loosely) was Catherine Milton.

Milton brought something new to Save – an intimate knowledge of the strange workings of the youth field and a clear vision of what constitutes a quality youth development program.

An organizer of Campus Compact while a special assistant to the president of Stanford University, Milton served as executive director of the Bush I-era Commission on National and Community Service, staying on through the Clinton era as a vice president of the (re-dubbed in 1993) Corporation for National and Community Service (CNS).

In announcing Milton’s departure after six and a half years, MacCormack credited her for a “revitalized” U.S. program.
“Resurrected” would be a more apt description. Milton took what MacCormack gamely describes as “a diffuse and unfocused program” and built a network of sites (now 210) through partnerships with schools and CBOs.

Bolstered by a $1 million grant from the Packard Foundation, Milton put substance – and cash – into these 100 partner agencies, ranging from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Florida to the Dakota Sioux Nation in Fort Totten, N.D. All now operate after-school programs for impoverished rural and urban school-age children in such places as Zuni, N.M., Duncan, Miss., and Cincinnati.

In a first for the once slovenly Save, Milton established an on-going evaluation system for all Save-funded programs. Milton named the new setup the Web of Support Program.

Save claims some 250,000 kids are served “hands on” annually. “Now Save does some amazing things” to meet poor children’s needs, says C.S. Mott Foundation Program Officer An-me Chung (who worked as a consultant for Save while a staffer at the National Institute on Out-of-School-Time at the Wellesley Centers for Women). Existing local Save staff were “hard to get to buy in” to Milton’s youth center emphasis. But compared to the pre-Milton era, says Chung, “Save has come a long way.”

Replacing Milton on an “acting” basis is Terry Russell, who came over with Milton from the CNS, where he served as the acting executive director and general counsel. He takes charge of a $14 million budget ($1 million from CNS’ AmeriCorps, Foster Grandparents and VISTA programs), a headquarters staff of 14 in Westport, Conn., and 15 staff in each of three field offices in Asheville, N.C., Albuquerque, N.M., and Berea, Ky.

A small D.C. office deals with the usual governmental concerns, plus a new cyberventure referred to as Youth Noise. Julia Cohen, who once directed Rock the Vote, directs Youth Noise (www.youthnoise.com). The organization encourages American young people to become involved inglobal child and youth issues. Contact: (203) 221-4000, www.savethechildren.org.

Friends of Youth Workers

Now instead of saving children, Milton will be merely befriending them at the Portland, Ore.-based Friends of the Children. She replaces Doug Stamm, a former director of Global Community Relations at Nike Inc. In April, Stamm became executive director of the Meyer Memorial Trust (assets: $475.2 million), which funds children and youth services throughout Oregon and neighboring Washington.

Friends of the Children was founded in 1993 by businessman Duncan Campbell. The intensive mentoring program assigns full-time paid youth workers (known as “Friends”) to very high-risk children, beginning in the first grade. Each youth worker befriends eight children through their high-school years.

Campbell’s parents were life-long alcoholics and neglectful parents. Fortunately, his friends’ fathers filled some of the void.
Shortly after college Campbell spent two years as a youth worker at the Donald E. Long Detention Facility in Portland, plus another two years as a part-time worker at the Skipworth Juvenile Detention Center in Eugene while a law student.

Of that experience Campbell observes, “85 percent [of the youth] never needed to be there in the first place.”

Most workers, recalls Campbell, “lose the twinkle in their eyes” and soon became “very marginal” at their jobs. The result, says Campbell, is a staff “with little sense of hope” for the teens passing through the juvenile justice system.

Abandoning youth work, he turned his attention toward business while vowing to return some day and do right by troubled youth. Campbell made a considerable fortune as a broker for lumber investors. In 1992, he made good on his pledge and donated $1.5 million to start Friends of the Children.

During its first year Friends employed three youth workers serving 24 children. By 1999 there were 29. In 1996 the group began to expand to other cities, beginning with D.C. and Chester, Pa. Now in 11 cities with 77 youth workers serving 593 children, Friends plans to add new sites each year.

By Save’s standards, Friends of the Children is small, with a nationwide budget of $5 million, mostly from foundations, corporations and the open-handed Campbell. The group also has a $100,000 congressional earmark in the budget of the U.S. Department of Education. Campbell hopes to land a $3 million earmark for Friends in the fiscal 2003 sweepstakes now underway on Capitol Hill.

What Friends lacks in cash it makes up for with one of the nation’s most cogent and realistic methodologies for superior youth work. A promotional brochure shows the back of a youth worker and asks, “Where do you hide those angel wings?” Friends, says the brochure, “works because it is relentless and unconditional. The kids are in the program until they graduate high school. There is nothing they can do to get kicked out. Nothing.”

An additional hook-you quote: “It works because Friends are professionals. This is their job.” That emphasis on the youth worker, says ex-youth worker Campbell, permeates the Friends approach.

“In reality,” he says, hiring the best “is more important than the philosophy” of any youth-serving agency. At Friends, youth workers get more than a pat on the back. Friends’ National Managing Director Vanessa Wilkins says wages for youth workers are benchmarked at higher than a social worker with a B.A., but lower than a public school teacher. In Portland, that works out to $25,000 per year; in New York City, $33,000.

No wonder Campbell reports no trouble hiring well-qualified youth workers. “The best one is a youth worker who works elsewhere and realizes it isn’t making a difference.” The “above market” wage and ample benefits, plus a caseload of eight kids who get at least four hours with their Friend each week, accounts for an impressive average duration on the job, Campbell says, of “six, seven, eight years.”

That also explains why Friends isn’t cheap: $8,000 a year per child.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of Friends will hinge on how these disadvantaged kids do as adults. The original Friends’ group of 21 is now in the 11th grade. But only 13 are left – primarily, says Wilkins, because their ever-transient families often move to points unknown.

Contact: Friends (503) 281-6633, www.friendsofthechildren.com.

Still in Dreamland

Friends of the Children founder Campbell in many ways fits the profile of the type of wealthy business executive who adopts a classroom full of poor kids, then affiliates with the New York-based I Have A Dream Foundation. Founded in 1981, the group now has 160 affiliated programs in 65 cities in 27 states.

It has also had four executive directors in the past five years.

The latest to depart was Rich Ungerer last November. While Ungerer was mum on IHAD affairs, a youth-services veteran wasn’t so reticent:

“I can’t imagine anyone I know working there.”

Well, meet Marina Winton, hired in June. Her last job was as an assistant national executive director for development of the YWCA of the USA. Her career has been marked by success in fundraising and in developing youth services, most notably as the executive director of Le Bon Dieu Dans La Rue, an organization serving youth on the streets of Montreal, Quebec (where she raised the budget from $188,000 to $3.8 million).

IHAD’s national organization suffers from a schizophrenia. It presents itself to the world (and especially the media) as a nonprofit group whose mostly wealthy patrons are spending their own hard-earned (and increasingly hardly taxed) millions on disadvantaged youth. (A few churches, colleges, etc., are IHAD sponsors.)

In the group’s Dreamer Digest newsletter there is not a hint of support from humble, ordinary taxpayers doing business with IHAD in the form of the U.S. government. But an examination of recent 990 tax returns of IHAD paint a far different financial picture.

In 1999 IHAD reported revenue of $1.7 million, including $73,000 in membership dues and assessments from local IHAD sponsors. More than $1 million came from the federal government, almost 62 percent of national IHAD’s total revenue. In 2000, total revenue reached about $2.2 million, with 81 percent (about $1.8 million) from federal dollars.

IHAD membership dues were down in 2000 by $10,000 (to $63,000) from the previous year. Up was the lobbying fee that IHAD paid to the D.C. law firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand, to $68,951, from 1999’s fees of $51,234. The law firm is D.C.’s fourth-largest lobbying firm, collecting $1.8 million in fees to make special pleas to Congress for its clients.

In effect, IHAD’s wealthy donors paid less in dues to IHAD than IHAD paid (according to its 1999 tax returns) “to seek support from Congress for federal funding.”

IHAD efforts to have the taxpayers fund IHAD while the tax-adverse pro-privatization rich claim the glory were successful. In 2001, Congress earmarked $1.5 million from the putatively discretionary budget of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, and this year provided another $1.5 million.

Not bad for a showcase for private sector support of youth services. Contact: (212) 293-5480, www.ihad.org.