Komen grants flowing to Planned Parenthood
By Lena H. Sun and Sarah Kliff,
Grants from the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure are flowing to Planned Parenthood, as the women’s health organizations seek to rebuild their relationship after the controversy in February over the breast cancer charity’s unsuccessful attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.
At least 17 Planned Parenthood affiliates will be funded this year, about the same number that received grants in 2011, according to a tally provided by Komen. The total amount of the grants, which are for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services, is still being worked out. Most recipients this year also received funds last year.
A half-dozen applications were turned down, mostly because the local Komen affiliates lacked funds, executives said. It is not unusual for there to be more applicants than available funds, although in some locations the controversy has hurt donations.
Planned Parenthood officials said they do not believe politics played a role in grant awards this year. In some locations, the controversy has deepened the relationship, they said.
Additional grants may continue to be awarded because not all of the 122 Komen affiliates base awards on the fiscal year that began April 1. Planned Parenthood has said its Komen grants totaled about $680,000 in 2011 and went to at least 19 of its 79 affiliates. In years past, none of the Planned Parenthood affiliates in the Washington area have sought Komen grants for a variety of reasons, including different funding priorities.
Komen awards its community grants based on need. In 2011, Komen gave $102 million in community grants to a wide range of organizations.
“We know that people have been upset and concerned about recent events,” spokeswoman Leslie Aun said. “We’ve acknowledged our missteps and apologized. People need to know that we have not and never will walk away from women in need. There is no one filling the gap in services the way that Komen is.”
“I really think, based on conversations we’ve had informally in our follow-up, that they gave us a fair shake,” said Pat Heard, chief executive of the Planned Parenthood in Southeastern Virginia, which had its $36,350 request turned down by the Komen Tidewater affiliate. Komen Tidewater received almost $700,000 in requests, but only had $523,000 in funds, said Miki Donovan, who oversees Tidewater’s grants.
The Planned Parenthood affiliate did not receive a grant last year but did the year before. During the controversy, the two groups kept in close contact.
“We consider them sisters in the effort for women’s health,” Heard said. “We have a great relationship with them.”
Chapters in Colorado also describe having weathered a storm together. Komen executives in Aspen and Denver were among the most vocal opponents of Komen national headquarters’ decision to withhold funds from Planned Parenthood because of a congressional investigation into whether the group was using federal money to pay for abortions. Komen reversed course after overwhelming public reaction.
The two Komen affiliates have previously funded Planned Parenthood and, this year, awarded the organization about $153,000 in grants.
“Within the local community, we have been standing very strong together,” said Monica McCafferty, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Michelle Ostrander, executive director of Komen Denver, said continued community support has kept fundraising on track. “I think that has helped us now,” she said.
One of the largest grants, for $100,000, went to Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, New York from Komen’s Greater New York City affiliate, where chief executive Dara Richardson-Heron announced last month she was resigning. She said it was a “personal” decision, but the New York chapter was highly critical of the defunding decision. New York’s Komen had to postpone two events because of fundraising uncertainties, a spokesman has said.
JoAnn Smith, who heads the Nassau Planned Parenthood, said the grant represents 25 percent of total foundation funding. Making up that money, she has said, would have been impossible. The grant provides screening and education for minority women on Long Island.
Some Komen affiliates said they have been able to achieve their fundraising goals. But others have been harder hit.
In Southern Arizona, registration for the affiliate’s March 25 race was 7,267, short of the goal of 11,000, according to Jaimie Leopold, Komen’s Southern Arizona executive director. The event raised about $585,000 — donations were still being counted through Friday — short of the $700,000 target.
Although Southern Arizona did not receive a grant request from Planned Parenthood, the crisis has forced Komen to become engaged with the local community “in new and deeper ways,” Leopold said. She is boosting outreach, giving speeches three times a week.
At the same time, need has increased because thousands of adults in Arizona have lost Medicaid coverage, she said.
“The communities are watching us and holding us all accountable,” Leopold said.