KIDS drug program in tatters as RWJF pulls funding plug on PRSA

NEW YORK: The PRSA's failure to meet a financial commitment to its

much-vaunted Kids in a Drug-Free Society (KIDS) program has provoked its

core donor, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to terminate a

dollars 9 million grant.

RWJF has awarded two grants to the PRSA Foundation - the non-profit arm

of the PRSA - since 1998, totaling dollars 2,887,258. The bulk of that

money, over dollars 2.5 million, was given in the grant running from

August 1988 to July 2001.

PRSA did not meet its financial commitment to the program, according to

RWJF. "We did expect some financial support to come through from PRSA

and that did not materialize," said Joan Hollendonner, RWJF's senior

communications officer and KIDS' program officer.

David Grossman, the body's president, would not disclose the exact

amount of the financial commitment, but said that it ran into the

"several hundred thousand dollar" range. The PRSA Foundation was

expected to provide 15% of the operating costs.

Hollendonner claimed that RWJF was not at fault for ceasing the grant

payments, explaining that it never committed to funding KIDS beyond the

previous two grants.

Developed with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the program was

designed to showcase the power of PR on the 50th anniversary of the PRSA

by training parents to talk to their kids about drugs. The campaign was

tested in five markets and the PRSA Foundation was planning a national


But Hollendonner said RWJF was disappointed that more parents had not

completed the training.

Lou Capozzi, CEO of Manning Selvage & Lee and chairman of the board of

KIDS, called the news disappointing but claimed the setback would not

terminate the effort, and that the PRSA could step in to manage a scaled

down version of the campaign.

"We are in a very positive dialogue with the PRSA at the national level

about adopting as much of the KIDS program as an initiative of its own,"

he said.

Catherine Bolton, PRSA's president, confirmed that discussions were

taking place concerning the future of KIDS, but no decision has been


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