Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bright Futures USA Chairman: We're paying C. J. Huff $30,000 for six months

After coming in for an increasing amount of criticism over the hiring of former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff as a consultant, Bright Futures USA has decided to explain what it does and why it has deserved to have $400,000 of taxpayer money appropriated for it by the Missouri Legislature over the past three years.

The long explanation would seem to indicate that the organization is still reeling from the departures of Webb City and East Newton and the near departure of Neosho.

In a blog post published on the Bright Futures USA website September 24, Board Chairman Steve Patterson, director of missions for the Spring River Baptist Association, explains why it is so important for the not-for-profit to continue to receive Missouri tax money to pay for salaries and for BFUSA to expand into other states:

When Bright Futures began in 2010, we started as a way to address the dismal graduation rate in Joplin, Missouri. It soon became apparent that many of the problems could be traced back to poverty related issues and lack of community engagement with the students. Within three years the graduation rate went from 74% to 85% and community engagement was 10 times what it was before. Early success caught the attention of surrounding communities. We explained our framework and helped them pilot a program in their communities. As the needs grew for community support in yet more communities, Bright Futures USA was born.

The purpose of Bright Futures USA was to support the work of all of the Bright Futures communities NOT to directly engage students or address needs. That is the job of each local affiliate community. Therefore, any funds raised for Bright Futures USA is and has been used to accomplish the following purposes:

· Promote and educate people about the Bright Futures Framework in an effort to add to our network of affiliate communities

· Provide training and structure to new affiliate communities so they are able to create self-sustaining local programs

· Provide personalized marketing packages for each individual community

· Support affiliate communities as they utilize and navigate ever-changing social media channels for the purpose of meeting any student’s basic needs

· Plan and host a National Community Engagement Conference yearly

· Foster an environment of open communication with all affiliate communities through email, website, and newsletters

· Facilitate networking opportunities for affiliate communities which provide settings to share best practices

These services are not free and personnel drive it all. People are all we have. When there are concerns about the fact that we are not meeting students needs with the money raised by Bright Futures USA, it is important to understand that was not the purpose of those funds. We are indeed working hard to raise funds in order to keep moving forward so that we can ultimately impact more communities who are able to directly serve children. We do not want to compete for funds in your local community. With that in mind, our board entered into a contractual agreement with Dr. CJ Huff for four things: grant writing, national corporate fundraising, recruiting new affiliate communities, and training. A grant writer alone, with the experience level and knowledge base needed of our organization, was in the $80,000 a year range. We have contracted with Dr. Huff for all four things for $30,000 for a six month time period, renewable if it proves beneficial. He is currently in between jobs, doesn’t have to earn a full salary, has a heart for the work of this organization, and he is the originator of Bright Futures. The Board of Directors carefully considered the skills and connections that Dr. Huff could bring to the table, coupled with the aforementioned circumstances, and agreed that it seemed like a good time to take advantage of his brief time of availability.

The exciting thing to me is to see communities become engaged with their school children. A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to travel to Poplar Bluff, Missouri to speak at their kickoff breakfast. That community is knocking it out of the park.

Last week I had the joy of attending the kickoff breakfast in Miami, Oklahoma where I was invited to speak. That is my wife’s hometown and her Grandmother and her Father had both retired as teachers from that system. Megan and Heather (co-chairs) are doing an outstanding job. Kim (our Executive Director) will likely highlight some of the initiatives they have rolled out in the near future. Suffice it to say, the creativeness and innovation which is shared across our network is sheer corporate genius.

Being a part of the Bright Futures family is exciting and from my perspective very rewarding. You see I grew up in the home of two teachers. I remember times when we would do without some things we wanted because some other student was in greater need. Teachers are an amazing group and I want to bring whole communities to their aid. Everyone loves kids and Bright Futures is the Difference Maker for tens of thousands now in seven states. YOU make the difference! We simply stand back and applaud your efforts. The staff and Board of Directors of Bright Futures USA stand ready to help you fulfill your mission to connect needs with resources where you live.

Every child needs a Champion. I’m thankful to champion the needs of children. We are your support team but YOU MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!


David said...

That would amount to a year-long salary of $60,000. Not too bad for a consulting gig. And when you add it to his golden parachute, he's not doing too badly in his first year of "retirement."

Anonymous said...

Would be interested to see Dr. Huff's grant-writing portfolio --- does he have a proven track record of grant awards?

Anonymous said...

" it seemed like a good time to take advantage of his brief time of availability."


Anonymous said...

No recognition that Huff's increasing very publicly visible toxicity makes it that much less likely they'll get awarded any of the grants he'll be helping them apply for.

For that matter, my local state Senator Ron Richard and Representative Bill White had better not vote for any more money for BFUSA, I'll contact them to that effect when the next session starts.

A good test of if/how corrupt they are, how much effort we should put into primarying them.

Anonymous said...

$60,000 a year isn't that much, and it's really not that much for a consultant. This is a trial-period salary. I would expect that someone with the creds that Huff has (aside from the Hindenburg-like exit from R8) should easily be in the 80k-100k range. His best bet is to move somewhere very far away and start fresh.

Anonymous said...

Having hired grant writers in the past doesn't make Huff a grant writer himself. And as far as "brief period of availability"!?!--ask Speck how easy it is to get a new job when you make a public giant fool of yourself in a field overflowing with candidates for each job.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 12:09 that hiring grant writers does not make someone a grant writer and seriously doubt Huff has written a grant since he became Superintendent. He probably realized that his period of availability is not going to be so brief after all since this is apparently the only bite he's gotten from his newly formed consulting company.

Huff has to be sitting in a pretty good financial position considering the amount of money he extorted from Joplin Schools upon his "retirement." One would think he would volunteer his time to Bright Futures USA since, after all, it is "for the kids."

Anonymous said...

Missouri drug tests all welfare recipients, right? Add Bright Futures and The Chamber to the list.

Turner Is Still Stalkin' said...

So nice to see that as long as Turner has a blog that CJ Huff will never lack for a stalker.

So do you think that you can find some fool who will give you a nickle for five minutes of whining?

How about going to some busy intersection and holding up a sign -- "Will Stalk For Food" ???

Anonymous said...

Leaving comments on blogs at 3:01am seems a little stalker-ish, actually.

Anonymous said...

3:01, don't be a troll. You don't like the content of the blog? Don't read it. Nobody cares what you think.

Anonymous said...

If Mr. Huff is being paid by the Joplin School District through the end of 2016, then why in the world does he need a second income? If he was REALLY in this for the right reasons, he would be donating his time to help them out. He is already banking it off of the school, now another 30k for 6 months of work? Do you know how many families you could help with that 30k? This is not OK! Mr. Huff and especially his wife are the most money hungry people I have ever seen. It is crazy! He wants to help but by God he isn't going to volunteer or donate any of his time, make sure he gets his paycheck. This is just as crazy as the school district continuing to pay him. If he is working another job then the income from the school needs to stop.

Anonymous said...

@10:59 the further away the better!

Anonymous said...

@10:59 the further away the better!