Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let's build a list: Other ways to give away $40,000

CEO Craig Dubow earmarked $40,000 in Gannett Foundation grants for endowed scholarships at North Carolina's Western Carolina University. While we wait to find out where that money went, let's think of other ways Dubow might have supported charity. I'll go first.

The foundation's Madelyn P. Jennings Scholarship Program offers one-time, $3,000 college scholarships to qualified children of Gannett employees. Why not double the award, to $6,000?

In 2007, the foundation awarded a grand total of just $42,250 in Jennings scholarships, public documents show. Add the $40,000 that went to Western Carolina, and foundation officials could have nearly doubled the awards to Gannett families.

Just think: Current and former executives have now directed more than $1 million in foundation money -- often to pet charities, far from communities where Gannett owns newspapers or TV stations. Think of all the good the foundation could have done for Gannett families had it spent that $1 million on Jennings scholarships instead.

Now, your suggestions. Please post them in the comments section, below. E-mail confidentially via gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar.


  1. More coffee cups from DIG?

    Has anyone heard anything from these people?

    And why did we pay that outside design firm for Project Peter Griffin if we supposedly had all these free-thinking brainiacs in one building already?

  2. I would rather see the money go to scholarships of children whose parents were laid off over the past 12 months.
    I would like to see these scholarships be awarded regardless of the student's academic scores, eligible for use to vocational, business or trade schools as well as colleges.

  3. How about scholarships for employees to crosstrain into different careers within Gannett?

  4. Charity works best when it begins at home. I say shut down the fondation and focus 100% on the business end of things. Gannett can no longer afford to have the higher ups focused on anything but business.

  5. I've wondered if the Jennings scholarship isn't scammy too. Most scholarships post a list of recipients, but apparently not this one.

    My children each had intentions of applying, but unlike ANY other scholarship I can find, it's deadline for application is something like January of their junior year. In our district, student services is just starting the college prep process for that class after they come back from Christmas break.

    So, I figure the only people who would be in a position to apply on time are insiders and people with multiple kids/good memories.

    And why not a list of recipients? My kids' scholarships all were publicized.

  6. How much money does the Foundation have on hand? Wouldn't it be more prudent in these economic times to tap that as a cash reserve, close out the Foundation and use the money to support a beleaguered site? $40,000 would have covered salary and benefits of a reporter or copy editor at any of the smaller dailies.

  7. Here's a thought: They could set up a fund to help displaced Gannett employees either get on their feet or get through the holidays. The GF gives money to family service non profits, why couldn't they set up one specifically for families of employees who have been fired?

  8. More often than not, these Jennings scholarships go to kids whose parents are corporate execs or local directors. I have seen that pattern all too often. And think about it, the ones with the money get the money !!!

  9. A question on the Employee Disaster Relief Fund ... If you're an employee who has been the victim of a disaster, how do you apply for help? Has anyone here been helped by it or known someone who was helped by it? (It sounds like a helpful thing -- just want to be sure it is.)

    Oddly enough, employee donations to the EDRF aren't eligible for Gannett Match.

  10. I did apply for the Madelyn Jennings scholarship for my son in his junior year, as I remembered that it existed and we were being very zealous in looking for college aid even before I was laid off in August. He is a senior now. One of my first realizations after I was laid off was that he likely would not receive any money since I am no longer employed by Gannett, despite my son's stellar GPA in high school and his high PSAT scores, which are what are used to qualify. Now I see that this scholarship really is a farce since very little is awarded, given the number of Gannett employees and compared to the executives' payouts to their pet projects. I know people complain about the bitterness on this blog and I am trying my best to recover from Gannett, but revelations like this really make it difficult.

  11. Since the "requirement" that the money support communities where Gannett owns newspapers or TV stations is not actually required, how much food and medicine do you think $40,000 would provide in Darfur?

  12. 10:45-I totally agree.
    When I worked for GCI I applied for this on behalf of my (handicapped) son. I followed the rules to a T. No luck.
    Over the years, I would help my customer service staff apply for this when their children were eligible....again no luck.
    Every year I would check the winners and usually these scholarships were awarded to the higher-ups.
    Wish I had put two and two together before I got everyone's hopes up.

  13. 1:05, where is that list of award winners? We applied when my daughter was a junior, too. I was dismayed when we didn't hear a single thing back, not even a ' tnx for applying' note.

  14. If the scholarships are $3,000 each, how did the total disbursed end up being $42,250?

    To put it in perspective, that's 14 scholarships and change, for a company that employs thousands. OK, it may be just hundreds after Dubow is done causing his chaos. But you get my point.

  15. I had the same reaction, 7:01 pm. And I've just double-checked the tax return. Here's what it says:

    On the Statement 4 breakdown, 2007 Grants, Gifts and Scholarships, it says: "MPJ Scholarship program: 42,250," where that figure is in dollars. Could be a typo, I suppose. Or:

    It just might be that A) Very few employees know about the Jennings scholarships, and B) The qualifications are too stringent or complicated or both.

  16. Comment on a blog about the $40K — posted by a resident in Asheville, N.C., one hour east of Western Carolina University:

    Aren’t university budgets public documents?

    SECTION 7 ALL ACCOUNTING TRANSACTIONS FOR THE FOUNDATION are conducted by University business offices and are recorded in the official financial records of Western Carolina University . Expenditures require approval of a designated University officer. The receipt and disbursement of Foundation funds are subjected to an annual internal control review performed by the University’s Internal Auditor. The internal control structure is also monitored by the Office of The State Auditor. Financial records of The Foundation are uniquely numbered in the University’s Financial Records System, thus providing separate accounting by activity/scholarship, as well as the capability for generating summary reports covering the entire Foundation. An annual audit and tax return are prepared by an external, independent auditor. The audit reflects a comprehensive review of the business transactions of The Foundation and includes a review of internal controls.

    SECTION 8 AUDITED FINANCIAL STATEMENT audited financial statements are provided to the Board of Directors approximately four months after the fiscal year-end. Because the University realizes a material financial benefit from its affiliated Foundation, The Foundation’s assets, liabilities fund balance, and results of operations are blended with those of the University in the Western Carolina University financial statements.

  17. 4:35-No, we never got acknowledgements either.
    The winners were listed each year in the Gannetteer.
    Does this newsletter even exist anymore?

  18. The Gannetteer is mostly electronic, with a paper 4 page version sent out whenever anyone remembers to do it.

    Didn't you hear? Print is dead.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.