In a quick reversal of a decision reported last week, Tyco International has decided not to demand that a charity return $70,000 to the company-money that was slated to pay for a cancelled internship program.
Sheri Woodruff, Tyco's head of media relations, confirmed that the company is donating the remaining money to the LaGrant Foundation, rather than asking the foundation to return it. The money in question was the remainder of the final year's funds of a three-year, $300,000 commitment by Tyco to a minority internship program run by LaGrant.
Tyco cancelled the 2006 portion of the program last month, saying its decision to split the company into three separate parts left the company "unable to provide an environment conducive to providing the appropriate level of interaction necessary for an internship program."
Asked why the company had reversed its decision to ask for the money back, Woodruff said only "we continued our dialogue with the folks from LaGrant, and we think that this is the appropriate course of action."
She declined to say who had made the decision to allow the foundation to keep the money, attributing it to "Tyco management."
Woodruff said it is "too soon to tell" whether Tyco will work with the foundation again in the future.
Kim Hunter, founder and president of the LaGrant Foundation, said that although the Tyco internship program is now dead, the remaining money will be used to support the foundation's mission of increasing the number of minorities in the PR, advertising, and marketing professions.
"I'm sure we'll be able to provide more internships for a lot of kids this summer," Hunter said. "Given that [Tyco] couldn't do it, we'll just offer them ourselves."
Hunter said he was informed of Tyco's change of heart during a brief conference call last Friday. An email sent to Hunter that day from Ira Gottlieb, Tyco's senior director of employee communications, says "I'm glad we were able to resolve this issue today."
The email also contains a list of talking points that Hunter is advised to follow if the media contacts him. They include "Tyco has been a good partner with LaGrant over the past two years," and "It is unfortunate, but understandable, that the program was suspended for 2006."
A call to Gottlieb was returned by Woodruff, who hewed closely to the talking points in her own comments.
PRWeek editor Julia Hood is on the board of the LaGrant Foundation.