The Doe Fund

The Doe Fund is a non-profit organization that provides job training and work opportunities, housing assistance, advocacy and support for homeless and unemployed people in New York City. The Doe Fund's mission is to help homeless individuals obtain housing and employment.

Contents

History

The Doe Fund was founded in 1985 by George McDonald when homelessness was at crisis levels in New York City. McDonald began by feeding homeless people on the floor of Grand Central Terminal. McDonald and his wife Harriet Karr-McDonald later developed programs based on their belief that most homeless men and women will seize the opportunity to change their lives if given the opportunity. Sobriety, paid work and personal responsibility became the core elements of their projects.

In 1990 the McDonalds won two separate contracts from the city: one, a work contract to renovate low-income housing; the second, a contract to purchase and renovate an abandoned building on Gates Avenue in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn where program participants would live. To attract participants the McDonalds canvassed Grand Central Terminal, inviting homeless men who were willing to stop using drugs and alcohol and willing to work to the Church of St. Agnes the following Saturday morning. Hundreds of men showed up.

The work project was called Ready, Willing & Able (RWA), and it outperformed the requirements of the city contract. By 1994 RWA had helped 90 men get full-time private-sector jobs and move into their own apartments. That same year, however, a change in city housing policy slashed the Doe Fund's work contract by more than 60%.

RWA redirected the efforts of its workforce of trainees to address the proliferating problem of litter in New York City streets. The men were given uniforms with American flags sewn on the sleeves and started working on East 86th Street. Neighborhood residents, as a result, helped the group find financial support in the form of private donations. RWA subsequently expanded its operation to cover more than 150 miles of city streets and has graduated more than 3,600 formerly homeless and incarcerated individuals from its program.[1]

In December 2006 The Doe Fund launched an initiative to collect waste cooking oil and grease from New York City restaurants for conversion into biodiesel. The venture, called RWA Resource Recovery, makes NYC greener at the same time it provides training and job opportunities for the homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals enrolled in RWA.

In 2008 The Doe Fund expanded its self-sustaining initiatives to include a catering program. Men and women staying at The Doe Fund facilities participate in a Culinary Arts program and have the opportunity upon graduation to practice their newly acquired skills by catering events throughout the NYC region. The goal of the program is to enable successful graduates to learn how to own and operate their own businesses.

Funding

While some projects of the Doe Fund's projects are self-sustaining, the organization also receives funding from numerous public and private organizations and individuals. It has received multiple grants from the Carnegie Corporation which has supported more than 550 New York City arts and social service institutions since its inception in 2002 and was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.[2] A 2010 report by the New York Times questioned whether donations by Bloomberg or his charities were an attempt to influence Doe Fund testimony on term limits for his mayoral position.[3] The charity has been criticized by the New York Post for paying an unusually high salary to the McDonalds. The New York Daily News reported in 2010 that George McDonald had personally kept $100,000 in prize money that had been given to the charity by the Manhattan Institute.[4][5]

Financial Management

John McDonald (son of George McDonald) served as the organization's Chief Financial Officer from 1990 until 2011, when he was made Chief Operating Officer. An organization press release announcing the change included a quote from George McDonald that explained the rationale behind the move.

"Based on his excellent track record of managing The Doe Fund's finances – and maintaining the highest standard of excellence while doing so – he has earned the post of Chief Operating Officer. I am pleased to say that, under his leadership, we have not been subject to any negative inquiries into our business and financial practices." [6]

A September 2006 contract audit by the US Department of Labor, however, found that while John McDonald was CFO, The Doe Fund did not properly manage the funds of a $5 million Welfare to Work (WtW) grant. The audit stated:

"Costs were not reasonable, allowable, and allocable to the WtW grant, resulting in questioned costs of $1,599,323. The questioned amount was the result of unallowable fundraising, improperly allocated costs, and unsupported costs."[7]

Awards and partnerships

The Doe Fund has won awards for its successful work and innovative approaches.[8] Its most recent accolade comes from the Manhattan Institute in the form of the William E. Simon Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed upon founder George McDonald for his innovative, work-based approach to ending homelessness.[9] In addition to its projects in New York, the Doe Fund has inspired or partnered with similar work projects in other cities.[10]

References

  1. ^ "Community Clean Up, Jobs Rehab Program Gets $564 G Fed Grant". http://www.qgazette.com/news/2008/0416/features/019.html. Retrieved October 9, 2008. 
  2. ^ Roberts, Sam (July 6, 2005). "City Groups Get Bloomberg Gift of $20 Million". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/06/nyregion/06donate.html?ex=1278302400&en=93a1beabd4ede5b8&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss. Retrieved May 25, 2010.  Retrieved on August 22, 2007
  3. ^ "Charity Backing Bloomberg 3rd Term Got Millions". The New York Times. August 6, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/07/nyregion/07doe.html. 
  4. ^ "The 'Dough' Fund: Charity Family's Big $$". New York Post. June 29, 2009. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/the_dough_fund_8hhAGYIL6b9926uH7c6znL. 
  5. ^ "Doe Fund nonprofit head George McDonald pocketed $100,000 prize given to the charity". New York Daily News. November 5, 2010. http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/11/05/2010-11-05_doe_fund_nonprofit_head_george_mcdonald_pocketed_100000_prize_given_to_the_chari.html. 
  6. ^ "Doe Fund Announces Revamped Management". PR Newswire. June 10, 2011. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/doe-fund-announces-revamped-management-123661184.html. 
  7. ^ "Welfare-to-Work Grant, The Doe Fund, Inc.". United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General-Office of Audit. September 2006. http://www.oig.dol.gov/public/reports/oa/2006/02-06-206-03-386.pdf. 
  8. ^ "About Us: Awards and Honors". http://www.doe.org/about/?aboutID=7. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  9. ^ "Chronicle of Philanthropy: Social Entrepreneurship Awards Announced". http://philanthropy.com/news/updates/5818/social-entrepreneurship-awards-announced. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  10. ^ New Page 2

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