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Little Rock youth intervention agency to close as grants dry up

by Chelsea Boozer | June 26, 2016 at 4:24 a.m.

New Futures For Youth, a nonprofit agency that works with and administers youth intervention programs, will close its doors this summer after 28 years in business.

The organization has had a long-running contract with the city of Little Rock to monitor and train various providers of youth and neighborhood programs funded by the city's Community Programs Department.

Executive Director Mark Perry said it is no longer financially feasible to operate the agency and that it plans to close at the end of July.

"There's been times in the past that we've been really close [to closing], but we were always able to make it through until the next contracts were in place. It just looks like this time that's not going to be possible, and [staying open] is not the prudent thing to do," Perry said.

Perry declined to provide the nonprofit's budget or say just how low its revenue has dropped over the years. But according to the 990 forms the agency filed with the IRS, the agency's assets significantly declined in 2015.

New Futures reported total assets of $202,713 in 2014. Last year, those assets dropped to $94,343.

Total grants to the agency dropped from more than $1 million in 2008 to about $434,000 in 2015. Revenue has dropped lower in other years, hitting just less than $400,000 in 2012.

Reported revenue for the agency varies so drastically year to year because its funding is based on local, state and federal grants New Futures receives to operate or help with various youth programs.

Perry said the agency has lost two substantial grants this year -- one from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation that totaled $100,000 over two years, and another from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that totaled $180,000 over that time frame.

Those two grants supported the Boys and Men Opportunity Success Team, which consists of six higher-education institutions and five community-based organizations working collaboratively to improve prosperity for boys and men of color in Arkansas. New Futures was the coordinator of the program, so it can still continue without New Futures, Perry said.

In 2008 and 2010 -- when 990 forms show New Futures' revenue was more than $1 million -- the organization operated off large federal contracts, but those haven't been renewed.

Three full-time employees, including Perry, and a part-time employee will lose their jobs when the agency closes.

Perry said he doesn't have plans yet as to where he will work after July. He's been the director of New Futures for 15 years and has worked for the agency since 1996.

Since the Winthrop Rockefeller and Robert Wood Johnson grants ended, Perry has already had to lay off two full-time workers, including the city's Ward 2 Director Ken Richardson, who had been with the organization longer than Perry. Richardson started there in 1993 and was laid off in February.

Perry and other workers have taken compensation cuts at times to keep the agency afloat, he said.

Perry has requested that the agency's board of directors reduce his compensation at some points. According to the latest 990 forms, Perry's salary and benefits decreased from $91,600 in 2014 to $73,571 last year.

The city of Little Rock has a $160,000 contract with New Futures to provide support and training services to the providers of other youth programs funded by the city this year. The contract was supposed to run through Dec. 31.

When New Futures closes at the end of July, it will be paid only for actual expenses covered by the contract, said Dana Dossett, director of the city's Community Programs Department. The city's contracts are reimbursement contracts.

Since the technical-assistance contract with New Futures was already set to end at the end of the year, the city had already prepared to put out a new request for proposals for the work.

New Futures has completed its obligation to help with training the more than 500 youth workers through the city's summer-employment program this year, so it won't be a big burden on the city that the contract with New Futures is ending early.

"I'm just really sorry and really sad about this work ending. My hope was to at some point when I was 65 or sooner to have someone who would take my place and the work would continue," Perry said. "So it hurts me because I do think that the city of Little Rock has greatly benefited from having New Futures do the work it has done."

Metro on 06/26/2016

Print Headline: Youth intervention outfit to close as grants dry up

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