Clean Up BPPA

a campaign to remove offensive rhetoric from the Pax Centurion newsletter

Are Scholarships the Priority of BPPA’s Scholarship Fundraising?

Many Pax Centurion sponsors we contacted have said they thought they were contributing to a scholarship fund, rather than supporting a newsletter. People’s United Bank said their ad was run in Pax Centurion without their permission. The Charles River Associates said that the BPPA “had no authority” to run ads. Simmons College responded to inquiries about their ads supporting the Pax Centurion with the following:

Simmons’s sponsorship of the Police Patrolmen’s Association was intended to support the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association Scholarship Fund

These responses from sponsors who were unaware of the offensive content in the BPPA’s newsletter prompted a few questions:

  • Were sponsors solicited for a scholarship contribution?
  • Were they told that a contribution to the scholarship fund would include an advertisement in the Pax Centurion?
  • Or were they solicited for advertisements to support the Pax Centurion and told that if there was any net revenue from producing the newsletter some of that net revenue would go into a scholarship fund?
  • Were sponsors given receipts for tax-deductible donations? If so, for the full amount they paid or only the portion which went into the scholarship fund?

Though sponsors refer to contributing to a scholarship fund, the BPPA’s tax returns don’t show any income as “contributions”‘. The forms only show “advertising” income. We reported on how much of this advertising income was paid to Commonwealth Productions in 2008, 2009 and 2010. An average commission rate of 76% and a total of over $1 million, in just three years.

Since the sponsors seem focused on the scholarship fund, we thought we would take a look at that, too.

The only year in which we can clearly see both how many scholarships were awarded and how much each scholarship was worth is the year ending August 31,2010. On that 990 form, we can see that of the $60,024  reported on page 10 as “Grants and other assistance”, $1,000 each was paid to 44 recipients, as shown on the 26th page. That is 13% of the $336,494 in advertising income. Commonwealth Productions was paid $259,743, or 77% commission. $259,743.

There was one more piece of information about the scholarships that year that caught our attention. In the Nov/Dec 2009 Pax Centurion, they explain that the scholarships are given out by a lottery process:

On November 11, 2009, a drawing was held at the union hall at the monthly meeting of the House of Representatives. The winners names are as followed and I have also included the names of the alternates. If by some reason a recipient cannot meet one of the Union’s criteria, a scholarship will go to an alternate in the order that it was drawn.

The article then goes on to list the 40 recipients and the 10 alternates. That is, there were 50 students who qualified for scholarships, but only 40 would receive them (we don’t know why there are only 40 listed here when the tax forms say that 44 scholarships were paid out.) At $1,000 apiece, another $10,000, or 3% of the advertising income, would have allowed every deserving student to get assistance with their continuing education. If Commonwealth Productions had accepted a 74% commission, reducing their take to $249,743, those 10 students might not have been denied scholarships.


2 comments on “Are Scholarships the Priority of BPPA’s Scholarship Fundraising?

  1. Steven

    I wonder if any solicitations were made by email or by letter and if this correspondence or other documentation like canceled checks with the words “scholarship fund” can be found?

    I also wonder if the BPPA or their representative told “donors” that their contribution was tax deductible?

  2. Pingback: What Did Sponsors Think They Were Sponsoring? « Clean Up BPPA

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This entry was posted on 07/17/2012 by in financial.

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