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In March, upon learning that the “Champions Club” at PS 207 might close, City Councilman Eric Ulrich secured the funds necessary for SASF to sustain the program through the end of the school year.
By Michael V. Cusenza
A borough-based education nonprofit was recently put on the defensive after a New York Daily News story indicated that it would be receiving $69,000 in taxpayer funds from City Councilmember items despite its alleged questionable past.
According to a June 5 report in the online edition of the tabloid, Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, which is headquartered in Woodside, gets money from the City even though in the past year alone it has been associated with “a string of criminal charges against employees, city probes and bad performance evaluations…The group has twice been penalized for losing a child on a field trip, and is currently being investigated for payroll discrepancies and conflicts of interest.”
An SASF spokeswoman told The Forum on Wednesday that the Daily News piece “misrepresents” the quality of foundation programs and service providers, as well as the manner in which services are contracted by the City.
“A number of isolated incidents cited in the article unfairly cast SASF in a negative light,” said Amanda Katz, director of Marketing and Communications for the organization. “We are disappointed by the distorted turns on facts provided to the reporter in good faith. Indeed, SASF has been cooperative, forthcoming and fully transparent in responding to all questions.”
Katz went on to say that the story “lacks context, citing issues that occurred over a 20 year time span while failing to underscore the sheer scale of SASF’s success at serving more than 20,000 students in over 120 public schools each year. This is evidenced by the very high number of positive evaluations our programs receive annually, as they have for more than two decades.”
The Daily News article “also infers that SASF’s contracts with the City of New York are secured with the assistance of lobbyists, which is patently untrue,” Katz added. “Contracts awarded to SASF each year are the result of an open, transparent, competitive and merit-based process.”
In March, City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) announced that he would appropriate the funds necessary to sustain the PS 207 Champions Club afterschool program, which is organized by SASF, through the end of the school year. Without that eleventh-hour influx of funds the Howard Beach school’s after-school program would have had to shutter.
Ulrich, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the Daily News report.
Meanwhile, Katz said SASF remains “deeply committed to its mission to help bridge the opportunity gap among underserved students by providing programs designed to improve academic performance, health and wellness, self-confidence, character and attitudes for success in life.”