To the Editor:
This letter was sent to the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) Board of Directors dated November 17, 2015.
We are writing to express our extreme disappointment regarding the Public Purpose Fund (PPF) application process. We believe that Roosevelt Island Residents Association’s (RIRA) recommended allocation for Island Kids was unfairly reduced, due to misinformation and lack of communication.
We feel the need to point out the following regarding RIOC’s fiscal year and the dissemination of funds. Despite repeated requests for clarification, we never received a definitive answer as to which fiscal year we were applying for from either RIOC or RIRA’s PPF Committee. However, at the special [RIRA Council] meeting on November 11, PPF Committee Chair Dave Evans explained that a determining factor that negatively affected our request was that it was for “reimbursement funds” for our 2015 summer camp season. Had the PPF process proceeded as it has in all other years, the allocation would have been made earlier in the year (and spent over the summer). If we are indeed working within RIOC’s current fiscal year, which runs from April 1 to March 31, won’t all payments to Public Purpose recipients be retroactive? This would be a contradiction to the concern expressed by the RIRA Public Purpose Funds Committee. Similarly, if the $7,000 we did receive is intended for next summer’s Camp Scholarship Fund, we are precluded from applying for FY2016 - the only applying organization facing such restriction.
We’d like to share with you specifically how our Public Purpose Fund allocation is put to use, and shed some light on why we requested $20,000.
Island Kids runs a high-quality summer camp for children ages 4-10. We strive to keep our camp as affordable as possible ($325 per week, compared to $600-$800 for comparable, “affordable,” non-government-funded camps in Manhattan). One hundred percent of any Public Purpose funding that we request goes to provide scholarships to families unable to otherwise afford the camp. When, earlier this year, it looked like Public Purpose Funding would be entirely taken away, our Board made the difficult decision to fund $10,000 in scholarships for the Summer Camp from our very scarce Operating Reserve – a surplus we had for the first time in our history. This prevented us from taking on other improvement projects and supply purchases, and left us financially vulnerable should an emergency expenditure arise. In the end, we managed to provide scholarships to every qualifying Island family that applied for one.
We hoped that if PP Funding was reinstated, we could offset this expense ($10,000), as well as secure the same amount of funding ($10,000) for next Summer - thus, the $20,000 request. The $7,000 allocation that RIRA recommends not only leaves us at a deficit for this current fiscal year, but severely hampers our ability to offer scholarships for next summer. Unlike last summer, without more funds, we will surely have to turn down scholarship applicants.
Island Kids has worked hard over the last several years to develop programming to ensure our financial stability. In addition, thanks to an in-kind grant from the Lawyer’s Alliance, we’ve taken measures to ensure that we are fully compliant with all applicable laws governing non-profit organizations. It would seem that a grant-making organization would recognize these efforts. Instead, this year RIRA has recommended a $3,000 cut in our funds from the last grant cycle, the lowest amount Island Kids has ever received through the Public Purpose Fund.
Island Kids respectfully asks RIOC to consider our original award application and amount during your final award deliberations.
Island Kids Board