Sunday, July 19, 2015

Missouri taxpayers pay for Bright Futures USA to expand to other states

The avowed message of the not-for-profit Bright Futures USA is to bring schools, businesses, civic organizations, and faith-based organizations together to provide for the needs of children.

When it comes for paying for this organization to continue its existence, however, that responsibility falls to you and me.

Over the past three years, the Missouri State Legislature has appropriated $400,000 for Bright Futures USA. The money needs to go through a fiscal agent that is a government agency. Prior to this year, that has been the Joplin R-8 School District. At a recent board meeting, the Webb City R-7 Board of Education approved a motion to become the not-for-profit's fiscal agent.

What are state taxpayers getting for their money?

They are paying for Bright Futures USA to expand its model to other school districts, showing how to bring people together and work effectively through social media to provide for the needs of children.

Why Missouri taxpayers need to fund such an organization and not let it fend for itself has never been made clear.

Something else that has not been made clear is why Missouri taxpayers are putting money into an organization that is using some of that money to expand into other states.

Bright Futures USA's website shows the organization now has affiliates in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Virginia.

It also remains unclear why we are propping up an organization which has proven itself to be incredibly inept when it comes to raising money.

It has not only been Missouri taxpayers that have kept former Superintendent C. J. Huff's brainchild functioning, but also Joplin R-8 district taxpayers as I noted in the April 1 Turner Report, which is reprinted below:

From its inception until just the last few months, Bright Futures USA has been housed in the Joplin R-8 School District and never paid a cent for rent or utilities.

That situation was criticized in the recently released Joplin R-8 state audit:

The district provided an office in its administration building to Bright Futures USA, a separate not-for-profit entity, without a written agreement and without charge.

That situation, however, was not noted in Bright Futures USA's 2014 Form 990 filed in February with the Internal Revenue Service.

The tax form, signed under penalty of perjury by Bright Futures Chairman and Joplin R-8 Board of Education candidate Nancy Good, who has been treasurer of Bright Futures USA since its creation, not only affirms that the organization had no such deal in the period covered by the return (July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014), but also for the entire time it has existed.

In the public support section of the tax form, the not-for-profit is required to reveal any income it has received from governmental units. In the area that reads "the value of services or facilities furnished by a governmental unit to the organization without charge," a 0 is placed under the dollar amount.

The document also says that Superintendent C. J. Huff, who made frequent visits to other communities for the not-for-profit and has spoken about Bright Futures USA on a regular basis, only spends an average of five hours a week working for it.

Kim Vann, who was also serving in a full-time job with the school district during the time covered by the document, worked 20 hours per week and was paid $27,692.

After an 18-month period in which Bright Futures USA spent $140,577 more than it took in and spent more money for salaries than it received in contributions, the organization's financial picture looked brighter in the most recent tax document and it appears that most of that has come courtesy of the taxpayers.

For the first time, Bright Futures USA listed lobbying expenses, saying that staff members visited Jefferson City to talk to legislators about providing funding for the organization. Vann apparently took a day off from her Joplin R-8 duties for the junket. Though only $137 was spent, listed under travel, for the lobbying, during the past two years, the Missouri State Legislature has appropriated a quarter of a million dollars for BF, $100,000 in 2013 and $150,000 in 2014, though the 2014 appropriation was later cut by Gov. Jay Nixon.

The most recent budget passed by the Missouri House shows another $150,000 allocation for Bright Futures USA.

It is a good thing the taxpayers are coming through for BF because the fundraising activities from 2014 with Vann as executive director and Good as chairman did not fare as well.

The 990 form shows two major fundraisers, a golf tournament and a clay shooting competition, which ended up $4,409 in the red.

Bright Futures USA's revenue for the year covered on the form was $280,594, with $198,061 listed for expenses.

Among those listed on the Bright Futures USA Board of Directors are Good, Jerrod Hogan, one of the leaders of the Joplin Progress Committee, Bo Lee, treasurer for Good's campaign, lobbyist Gary Burton, contractor Bennie Crossland, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce President Rob O'Brian, Vann, and Huff, and a recent addition, Melissa Randol, the incoming president of the Missouri School Boards Association, the entity which advises all Missouri school boards on matters such as ethical improprieties.


Anonymous said...

Didn't the donations from the tornado end up in Bright Futures USA? Or was that Bright Futures Joplin? Both are loaded with CART and JPC members, so if it went to either one it was sucked up into the manmade whirlwind known as recovery. Greedy people everywhere. I will never give a dollar willingly to either organization, and I would guess the sweet tax deal is one of the political deals CJ made. I resent my dollars being used that way.

Anonymous said...

There are so many dirty hands washing each other you can't see the bottom of the basin for the mud. What a crock. I resent my hard earned money getting spent this way.

Anonymous said...

Another waste of tax money we have CJ Huff and his accomplices to thank for. How do we stop this?

Anonymous said...

Keep digging Randy...

Anonymous said...

Many of the volunteers after the tornado have now been given jobs either in R8-land or BF. That would be an interesting number to see.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for linking the actual document to your article. That might stymie your critics; facts can be such a nuisance.

Anonymous said...

Was Bright Futures ever investigated during the audit or at any other time? They need to be if they weren't, and if they protest being investigated then they're obviously hiding something.

Anonymous said...


Bright Futures was not audited with the district because it is primarily funded privately, not publicly. That means it is subject to audit by the IRS. That would be a good thing. Any honorable organization would welcome that.