The funding for middle school sports programs in the East Providence School District has been struck from next year's fiscal budget, according to budget commission documents. Though the report is a working document, sports remain listed as cut, according to Interim Superintendent Ed Daft.
This gives members of , the grassroots organization dedicated to funding public school sports programs, a concrete cause. They recently filed for non-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and have been accepting small donations — most equivalent to clumps of pocket change — for months.
Their efforts have been the source of scrutiny for some who question the validity of their 501c3 status after members opened an account with an East Providence bank. So far, they have collected a little more than $1,000 from East Providence sports enthusiasts.
According to Jessica Beauchaine, chairwoman of the organization, there aren't any smoke and mirrors.
Under Rhode Island law, specifically the Gift and Donation Acceptance and Expenditure Act of 2009, the organization is legally able to accept donations before official non-profit status is granted by the IRS, she said.
The law specifically enables school districts, school departments, and school committees to accept grants, gifts and donations from any private individual, public or private business entity, any government or governmental subdivision thereof, including quasi-public agencies, reads the legislation.
Beauchaine expects it will become a finality in less than a month. If the non-profit were to disband, the funds will be transferred to another non-profit that aids athletic projects, as stated in Project 106 bylaws.
The board of directors are comprised of East Providence residents, including Donnie Senna Jr., Sheri Forsythe, Susan Vincent, Judy Lopes, Rebecca Harris and Jonathan Pangborn.
"[The directors] are all concerned, caring and generous citizens of East Providence wanting to make a difference," she wrote in an e-mail.
Originally included on the board of directors, School Committee member Chrissy Rossi stepped down from her post to avoid a potential conflict of interest, said Beauchaine, though she doesn't think there is a reason for concern, noting others in the community chair non-profit organizations and work in the school systems.
To follow Project 106 inititiatives, visit their Facebook page.