Charitable Money Flowed to Second Mile During State’s Three-Year Investigation of Sandusky

November 15, 2011; Source: Centre Daily TimesA youth services nonprofit such as Second Mile had to have had a number of grants and contracts from the state government, but the Pennsylvania websites for researching state agency grants aren’t particularly helpful for the casual web visitor. Fortunately, the Centre Daily Times and other Pennsylvania press are on the Sandusky scandal as central Pennsylvania’s biggest cause célèbre, and they’re finding some of the state grants and contracts the state. A $3 million state grant to Second Mile, approved as an “optional” grant by Governor Tom Corbett, was just nixed—or at least put on hold—by Centre County officials. The grant would have gone toward the construction of a $9 million, 45,000-square-foot Second Mile learning center slated to open in 2013. The Daily Times quotes State Senator Jake Corman suggesting that it might be difficult for Second Mile to raise the matching funds in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. The newspaper didn’t mention that Corman was a board member of the charity and has donated money from his campaign funds to Second City programs.

Governor Corbett—until 2010 Attorney General Corbett—has taken his share of criticism for letting the Sandusky investigation run for three-years before shutting Sandusky down and refusing to say whether Sandusky was even under state surveillance during those years. Some might also decry Corbett’s tepid support—as a Penn State trustee—of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier, voting to have both men sacked, but hardly taking a vocal lead in the board’s deliberations. But information about grants that Second Mile might have garnered from the state over the years will have to come from the specific state agencies in charge of monitoring the expenditures.

For individual contributors, the cascading news about Second Mile has to be heartbreaking. No one gives to a youth charity expecting the kinds of things that Sandusky is charged with having done. Second Mile board members and executives are now suffering memory lapses about the times that the organization was told by prosecutors about Sandusky’s alleged crimes. When AG Corbett was investigating Sandusky in 2009 and 2010, or when prosecutors were confronting Sandusky with the evidence of his misbehavior years before, it seems obvious that foundation funders of the organization might not have known—and they’re probably steaming that no one bothered to tell them. We found over $1.6 million in foundation grants flowing to Second Mile from roughly 2004 to 2010. None of the grants are mammoth, but for small family foundations and some corporate foundations, the Sandusky scandal might add a new patina of cynicism and distrust that the nonprofit sector writ large neither needs nor deserves. The major funders we found of Second Mile were these:

 

Foundation

Grants 2004–2010

Years of Grants

Highmark Foundation

$479,068

2008–2009

Bank of America Charitable Foundations

$150,000

2007–2009

Citi Foundation

$125,000

2003–2008

Susquehanna Bank Foundation

$113,000

2007

Struthers Family Foundation

$101,750

2005

Ferguson Foundation

$98,000

2004–2006 and 2008

Hamer Foundation

$82,000

2005 and 2007–2009

Wal-Mart Foundation

$43,750

2010

Hall Foundation

$40,180

2004–2007

Caritas Foundation

$33,600

2005–2009

Louis E. Silvi Foundation

$30,000

2008

The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation

$25,000

2009

The Jane K. Lowe Charitable Foundation

$21,324

2005

Salvaggio Family Foundation

$20,308

2004

 

Given that the Sandusky investigation by the AG’s office had been ongoing for the past three years and prosecutors had brought allegations of Sandusky to the attention of the charity years before, there is a degree of government responsibility here. The state of Pennsylvania suspected something was wrong, had evidence that something bad was happening, and had raised the issues directly with the charity, but no one appears to have bothered telling the family and corporate foundations that something might have been rotten at the intersection of Second Mile and Penn State. —Rick Cohen