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PiCED victim of budget cuts after Congressional decision

reporters@samoanews.com

A familiar face in the community to many local high school students as well as parents may be closing its doors. PiCED — Pacific Islands Center for Educational Development has had a 10-year history of providing education and youth leadership services to the community, but that may come to an end unless it receives an infusion from new funding sources.

PiCED has been affected by the recent budget crisis and the federal government’s efforts to reduce the U.S. debt and federal spending. Congress eliminated all Congressional earmarks of which PiCED has been a recipient since 2002.

Founded in 2001, PiCED is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, located in American Samoa. Its mission statement is “to empower, nurture, inspire, and provide leadership and academic preparation for Pacific Islanders, so that they may realize their full potential as positive contributing members of their communities,” according to their website: piced.org.

In an email response to Samoa News queries sent to Founder and Executive Director, Sandra King Young, she said, included in the “loss of our earmark funding, the Obama administration has also terminated the parental involvement resource centers program that was a Bush initiative, while it pursues a more integrated approach to family engagement by providing funding directly to states and territorial governments.”

She said, “the parental involvement program helped to grow PiCED’s after-school programs to include services to parents and accounted for a substantial part of PiCED’s budget.” 

According to King Young, “over the last 12 months, PiCED has been closely monitoring the federal budget crisis due to its direct impact on our programs and services.”

She explained, “PiCED is not alone. Hundreds of other small non-profits across the country are closing down or drastically reducing their services because of cut-backs in federal spending.”

In order to manage the impact of the loss of federal funding over the next fiscal year, PiCED “began implementing a reduction-in-force policy this past May that will continue through the end of this year in December,” the executive director stated.

“In May, five employees were terminated, with the remaining 21 to be terminated by the end of December. A total of twenty-six of PiCED’s 31 part-time and full-time staff employees will lose their jobs by the end of December 2011.”

She noted that “in 2012, PiCED does plan to continue operations — but at a significantly reduced level of programs, services and staffing.”

King Young says PiCED is and has been actively seeking to raise new sources of revenue to continue its popular and successful programs for children and families.

It submitted a number of proposals to the American Samoa Government since 2010 for funding under ARRA, but has been unsuccessful in securing any grants from the local government, she noted.

She told Samoa News of the painful decisions PiCED has had to make since learning of their funding demise.

“After numerous consultations, meetings and planning with members of our board and our staff — rather than closing this September 2011 — we developed a contingency plan to maintain our core services in SAT prep, college counseling and after-school programs through the Spring semester. We also decided to go through with summer school this past summer because we couldn’t just close without preparing our students and parents for the loss of services over the next year.”

King Young added, “After 10-years, PiCED has become an established and high demand service provider, and we have heard from those we have consulted in our community, that our community doesn’t want to see us close. Thus, we owe it to our children to do everything we can to continue PiCED’s programs and services.”

PiCED celebrates its 10-year anniversary this October and looking back over the last 10-years, she said, “We have clearly made an impact in our community and in the lives of our children and their families, with more of our local students enrolling in ASCC since 2002.”

Its record speaks for itself, notes King Young. “PiCED has served an unduplicated 10,584 students since 2002 when it first opened its doors at Fagatogo Square at a 700 square-foot office with two staff members and four computers.

PiCED has independently brought $5,711,799 million over the last 10 years into American Samoa’s local economy, which provided tax revenues to the local government, revenues to local businesses that provide services to PiCED and a livelihood to PiCED’s employees and their families.”

One of its efforts has also been toward scholarships. “Although PiCED cannot fund scholarships with federal funds, it currently funds a small 4-year scholarship for the Shauna Leaupepe Memorial Football Scholarship to four football players in college from revenues it generates through SAT and summer school fees,” she said.

King Young further stated, “I think people have the mistaken idea that we are loaded with money, but we are not. We survive year to year like many non-profits without endowments.  We apply for grants to pursue our missio, which is to help our children with their education and nurture them to become productive citizens in our community. When we win competitive grants, we do the work, we successfully ensure federal regulations compliance and we secure clean audits with strict checks and balances in our operations.”

She concluded, “We have come a long way from our first year when we just hit the ground running without much experience in operating a non-profit and its programs. Some of our students returned to work as regular staff members and summer instructors. We love what we do and we hope to continue the work we do.”



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