United Way outlines its funding process for Camp Alexander board

The Camp Alexander board is interested in receiving funds from the United Way of the Flint Hills next year.

The board sat down with United Way Director Jami Reever and board chair Linda Markham during a so-called study meeting Monday evening following an announcement by the United Way earlier this month it was suspending scheduled funds to the camp and just days after the United Way and three other local foundations said why they were either withdrawing money or putting conditions on new grants.

Reever says the United Way has an open application process, which is now underway until Sept. 30.

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No potential funding amount was settled Monday.

The United Way, Hopkins Foundation, Jones Foundation and Emporia Community Foundation announced earlier this month they had effectively halted funding to the camp after donating close to $400,000 the past four years. The United Way granted the camp $16,500 for the AmeriCorps program but suspended about $6,500 when the program was discontinued.

Last week, the foundations combined for a statement listing 13 financial issues at the camp, including apparent commingling of funds from different grants in ways not intended or specified, incomplete bookkeeping to the point the camp's financial status can't be determined and failure to pay necessary payroll taxes resulting in penalties and interest to the camp.

Board chair Brian McCracken has declined comment on the letter, which came after the camp requested information on potential funding. Following the meeting, he said the camp's application had to be "spot on" and the board had to regain the United Way's trust before receiving additional money.

Former camp director Damon Leiss, criticized in the letter for allegedly giving himself a raise without board approval and using restricted funds to pay bills or operating expenses among other allegations, had indicated a willingness to address issues listed in the donor foundation letter but now is declining comment.

In line with the local funding groups, the Kansas Volunteer Commission recently said the camp was out of compliance with its use of a nearly $100,000 AmeriCorps grant approved last summer, specifically in not keeping separate accounting records and possibly commingling funds in ways the program did not allow. It has demanded a slew of paperwork by Wednesday and has told the board it is considering whether to request a review by the federal Office of Inspector General on how the camp spent the AmeriCorps money.

The camp is holding what it calls study meetings weekly as it tries to determine exactly how serious its financial issues are and how it can work through those, with recent meetings held at the ESU H-PER Building and the camp itself. Monday's meeting was held at Emporia State's Visser Hall. Regular business will be conducted the fourth Monday of each month.

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