Foundation leaves trail of unfulfilled promises

TVCF's website makes claims that never materialized

The Tri-Valley Community Foundation seems to have been offering more hype than help to the area. As reported earlier, the foundation is $3 million in debt and is likely to close by the end of this month.

Further investigation shows claims on the TVCF website that are either exaggerations or falsehoods. It claimed, for example, to fund "initiatives that sustain and promote the pursuit and enjoyment of the arts," listing the Alamo-Danville Arts League as one of its recipients.

There's no such organization.

There is a group called the Alamo Danville Artists' Society, however.

"We've never received anything from them," said Thomas Lemmer, the artists' society treasurer.

The TVCF also claims to support the Livermore Opera but is not listed as a sponsor on the opera's website.

The foundation did contribute, as it claimed, to the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, giving money in 2008, 2010 and 2011, according to Executive Director Len Alexander.

He said the TVCF gave $13,000 in 2010 and $25,000 in 2011, although $10,000 of that last donation was given in May 2011, and still in the foundation's 2010 fiscal year. Tax records for that year have not been made available by the TVCF.

The foundation also donated at least $11,000 to the fundraising campaign for the Firehouse Arts Center, buying a recognition brick and two $500 theater chairs in its name.

The website also claims to offer "leadership, research and grant writing assistance" to help the fundraising effort at the Veteran's Memorial Building in Danville that recently completed a massive renovation at a cost of $8.1 million.

That never happened, according to Karen Stepper, who was on the committee that raised money for the building project.

"They came to some of our meetings and gave us advice, how to follow up, how to involve businesses in the campaign. It was just one person who came. It was David Rice," Stepper said, explaining that Rice accompanied the fundraising group on a visit to one business.

"We never received research and grant writing assistance. They helped us early on with respect to a media approach," she said.

The TVCF also said it was assisting the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District "by receiving grants, contributions and contracts" to develop an iPhone app that notifies those trained in CPR when a person nearby has suffered an apparent heart attack.

San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Chief Richard Price said that didn't happen either.

"Very early on, before the PulsePoint Foundation had its 501(c)(3) status, the Tri-Valley Foundation was kind of a resource for how things worked and if we wanted to take any donations. Pretty early on we got our own status and we never dealt with them again," Price said.

The foundation also claims to offer two local programs for high-risk teens at Village and Horizon high schools in Pleasanton. Those programs are called the Youth Achievement Services Project (YAS) and Youth Employment Plus (YEP), called the Youth Employability Skills (YES!) Project elsewhere on the TVCF website.

YAS is described as a "classroom-based school-to-career program," and YEP is called "a year-round program (that) helps youth between the ages of 16 to 21 reach their educational and occupational goals."

Village Principal Greg Giglio said the two schools did get money for career and technical education from the TVCF, but it was never made clear which program was funding what.

"At Village, it's Kit Little and at Horizon, it's Karen McMann," Giglio said, estimating the two schools received less than $50,000 a year from the TVCF. Given the foundation's impending bankruptcy, he said the district is looking at other ways to get the money.

"That's one of the things we're trying to figure out," he said. "It seems like there are some offshoots and ways to get the money. We're just going to have to see what lays in our lap and pick up the pieces there."

Other questionable items on the TVCF website include the Smart Choices Prevention Early Intervention Project to keep kids out of gangs, the Marilyn Avenue School-Based Outreach Project, which was to have paid for an outreach worker to provide parenting classes and one-on-one help for parents from low-income families, and Cooking Matters, which offers school-based food training classes for parents with children at Junction Avenue School in Livermore.

Cooking Matters is sponsored by other groups, and there's no documentation that either Smart Choices or the Marilyn Avenue outreach project ever began.

The foundation also takes credit for a program called Path to Picasso, a program for teens charged with graffiti offenses, on its website.

That was actually a collaborative program of the City of Livermore's Housing and Human Services Division of the Community Development Department and Horizons Family Counseling of the Police Department. There's no indication the TVCF was ever part of it.

The foundation also claimed it was committed to creating a permanent endowment for the Tri-Valley area. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, the TVCF had put aside $61,274 for that purpose, but that fund was apparently wiped out by the next year.

The California Secretary of State links Rice to two other organizations, Tri-Valley Community Services and the Youth Achievement Program. Tri-Valley Community Services never filed with the state's registry of charitable trusts, and there's no indication that the Youth Achievement Program was ever begun.


Like this comment
Posted by Emily W.
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2012 at 8:55 am

Wow! Even more craziness continues to unfold. Fake beneficiaries? That's pretty low. You want to think the best of organizations that exist to help the underserved in the community. It's heartbreaking to think it was all a scam. Wish we could get David Rice to comment on his actions. Great reporting, Glenn!

Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Mittens
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2012 at 9:27 am

I think it is highly irresponsible for the liberal PW to print such scandalous information about our fine and upstanding members of the private sector, many of whom have given generously to my campaign.

And, golly whiz, before casting stones at this fine and moral foundation, consider how many of the board members and top officers have been job creating heroes. And, truly, surely you don't mean to imply that this compares in any way to teachers' outrageous salaries and pensions?

You probably have a corrupt public school teachers' union in your community's midst. Isn't it a waste of time and energy to find a tempest in private sector teapots when there are teachers, fire fighters, and police officers that are bringing this country down?

Like this comment
Posted by Weekly Reader
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2012 at 9:27 am

Good journalism. Thanks for checking into their claims. Not ever donor inspects
the nonprofits they support so the media can play an important role here. The Weekly has changed for the better from days when this kind of story...

Web Link

was more prevalent.

Like this comment
Posted by Frauds
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2012 at 9:55 am

Where did Rice come from...last few positions before Tri-Valley ?? and where is he now ? Speaking of frauds....
doesn't anybody have a swatter big enough to eliminate the PEST that keeps showing up on these pages ? ?

Like this comment
Posted by Investigate before you give
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

All non-profits are required to make a copy of their form 990 (tax return) available to prospective donors. Most do that via a pdf copy on their website.
Never, NEVER, ever donate to any non-profit without looking at that form! You do not need to be a tax professional to glean useful information. Look at the salaries of the officers, that has to be listed. Do some simple math. What is the total amount spent on wages and salaries. How many employees do they have. Do the math and come up with an average salary paid. Sure some people will make more, lots more, some less. But it's a good way to get started.
If you like to support huge salaries for the senior managers you can give to United Way, their CEO makes an outrageous salary. If you do some due diligence on the non-profit you can decide where to spend your money. Or where to throw it away in the case of this one.

Like this comment
Posted by steven
a resident of Parkside
on Jun 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm

This is just liberal blether to distract us from the frauds in the 'White' House. How can we expect the private secter to expand when the likes of Holder and other relatives of Obama have the rains of control? Lay off businessmen and focus on the cheats and tirants in the sacred Obama administration who are Putin wanna bees.

Like this comment
Posted by frank
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm

@Frauds....the pests that keep showing up here swear they are moving to Idaho...but alas they wont go...

I understand Rice in working for a NP somewhere in Texas. I hope they are following this story.

Like this comment
Posted by Frauds
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2012 at 3:29 pm

frank, so you're one of the pests too, eh

Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

$3 million in debt. To whom is the $3 million owed? Is this designated donations that were never passed thru the organization? And if so, on what was the $3 million spent?

Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 17, 2012 at 9:15 am

@frauds. Wow I support you and you cut me down. No I am not one of the posters that respond to every post/forum spouting off content about obama, unions and bart bringing all the crime to ptwn. i will now assume you are one of those posters as well...i guess I should have caught it in the name you hide behind: Fraud

Like this comment
Posted by Frauds
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Sorry, Frank. you didn't sound serious, and I'm losing my patience with the pretenders, who just prevent a serious discussion when it's going in a direction they do not like. cowards,

Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

@frauds...aplogy accepted. I believe you and are on the same side regarding the trolls.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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