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­SPECIAL OLYMPICS OREGON:  FAQS FOLLOWING TOWN HALL TOUR
November 26, 2018

 

During October 2018, Special Olympics Oregon CEO Britt Oase, COO Mark Hanken, several staff, Board Members and LETR representatives traveled the state of Oregon to visit with athletes, volunteers and supporters to talk about the challenges the organization has endured and what the future holds.  Town Halls were open for anyone to attend and were held in Beaverton, Pendleton, Bend, Medford, Roseburg, Corvallis and Portland.  The following summarizes frequently asked questions that were discussed. 


WHAT LED TO MAJOR CHANGES IN SUMMER OF 2018?

  • Over the past several years, participation in Special Olympics Oregon continued to increase – SOOR never turned athletes away
  • Special Olympics does not want cost to be a barrier for participation and therefore does not charge athletes a fee
  • The cost of providing mission delivery continues to increase
    • Regional & State Competitions come with significant expenses to support participation from thousands of athletes and volunteers, such as:  venues, lodging, buses and facilities
    • Most services are not donated for competitions
  • Fundraising efforts at the state office fell short of expectations for several consecutive years
  • Prior to June 2018, SOOR continued to provide training and competition by incurring debt
  • Corrective actions taken prior to June 2018 included canceling the 2018 Winter Games and the Bite of Oregon
  • In early June, new leadership found SOOR to be on the verge of collapse and immediately made decisions to cease all spending in order to rebuild the organization to be sustainable for decades to come

HOW IS SPECIAL OLYMPICS OREGON ADDRESSING ITS CHALLENGES?

  • Debt restructure
    • New leadership has continued to work on debt restructure and has made significant progress
    • Many creditors are working with SOOR on repayment terms that allow SOOR greater ability to manage cash flow responsibly
    • SOOR is committed to being a good community partner and doing right by vendors who have been such an important part of our infrastructure in the past and we hope to work with again
  • Expense controls
    • Reduced staff from 23 FTE (at start of 2018) down to 11 FTE (August 1, 2018) through hiring freezes and layoffs
    • Relocated from large paid state office to a donated space
    • Eliminated all spending on mission delivery:  by suspending competitions, and moving local programs to no-cost, or underwritten, or locally-funded training through July 31, 2019
  • Fundraising
    • The Oregon philanthropic community has stepped forward to provide funds to allow for:
      • Operational runway to rebuild
      • Begin the debt restructure process
      • Build Sustainable fundraising model

OTHER IMPORTANT STEPS BEING TAKEN TO SUPPORT SOOR

  • The Board voted Ed Ray to become the Chairman of the Board of Directors on September 28, 2018
  • The Board revised its Executive Committee structure
  • The Board created new Finance Committee that is now being led by Mike Golub and former Governor Barbara Roberts
  • SOOR has retained a pro bono attorney who specializes in debt restructure

WHAT DOES SOOR STATE OFFICE DO?

  • Special Olympics Oregon is a 501c3 – requiring significant legal and financial oversight
  • Collaboration with Special Olympics North America and Special Olympics International to build upon nationwide and global best practices and ensure compliance as an accredited program
  • Operational support to stakeholders across the organization:
    • Coordination of all local programs
    • SOI Accreditation - work directly with Special Olympics North America
    • Insurance
    • Background checks
    • Volunteer coordination
    • Technical assistance
    • Athlete and Volunteer database management
    • Games Management System database management
    • Coordination with LETR
    • Implementation and growth of Unified Champion Schools
  • Event planning and execution
    • Training, competition events\
    • Management of significant fundraisers, such as Polar Plunge, on-line giving, donors and sponsorships
  • Financial management
    • Banking, audits
    • Long-term financial planning
    • Organizational strategy
  • Media relations, marketing, communications, and website management

SOOR BUDGET:  PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE

  • Audited financials from 2012 – 2017 are posted on the SOOR website
  • A forensic audit is underway, which will not be completed until early 2019
  • The overarching business plan focuses on returning SOOR to financial health and resuming mission delivery

WHEN WILL SOOR RESUME REGIONAL AND STATE COMPETITIONS?

  • The priority is to build an organization that will be healthy and stable for decades
  • State office is committed to providing local programs with enough notice regarding a return to competition such that they can plan for the financial impact of training and sending athletes
  • Will there be Summer Games in 2019?
    • There will not be Summer Games in 2019
    • SOOR would need to start making financial commitments to vendors and venues in the coming weeks
    • We’ve made significant progress towards rebuilding SOOR, but incurring the costs associated with Summer Games is not fiscally responsible or possible at this time

WHAT HAPPENS TO FUNDS RAISED IN LOCAL PROGRAMS?

  • Starting 8/1/2018, funds raised in local programs have been segregated to ensure they go towards their own local program expenses
    • Previously, funds were shared into “one pot” and distributed across all local programs
    • Local Programs now have complete transparency into their funds and the ability to use them towards their expenses
    • Local Program expense approval process will look very similar to what has already been in place
  • Over the past few years, the state office used to cover a portion of Local Program travel & lodging expenses
    • This provided a great deal of budget relief for some Local Programs
    • However, in recent years the state budget “coverage” was increasingly supported by debt
  • SOOR state office is taking the responsibility for paying off past debt
    • 100% of money raised in Local Programs since 8/1/2018 will stay in Local Programs to directly benefit athletes and will not be applied towards debt

WHAT ARE LOCAL PROGRAMS DOING?

  • Local Programs are hosting local sports training, recreation and fitness experiences supported through direct underwriting and locally-raised funds
  • Several local programs have held clinics, scrimmages and invitational events to allow athletes to still participate at a grass roots level

HOW DOES UNIFIED CHAMPION SCHOOLS FUNDING WORK?

  • UCS is funded entirely through restricted dollars
  • This funding, now in its 11th year, has enabled SOOR to continue outreach to now work with more than 100 high schools and middle schools across the state to provide unified sports, youth leadership and full school engagement in inclusion-focused activities
  • UCS does not take money or programming away from Local Programs - in fact, UCS has provided opportunities for some of our Local Programs to take part in unified scrimmages, unified clinics and unified experiences
  • SOOR is looking at ways to leverage UCS funding to provide more transition opportunities for future adult athletes who get their start within school programs

COMMUNICATION FROM STATE OFFICE

  • Feedback from coaches and families is that many athletes would like to better understand the current situation
  • SOOR has been conducting regular webinars with Local Program Coordinators
  • SOOR recently conducted 7 Town Hall events across the state, open to anyone interested in open dialogue
  • SOOR is working to find good strategies for athlete-to-athlete communication, including:  YouTube, Social media, blogs, etc.
  • An Athlete Input Council has been created to help athletes have a voice and raise concerns, questions and provide input & feedback for SOOR

SHARING STORIES

  •  Please share your stories with SOOR staff about how you are keeping athletes active and engaged – and what you are doing to creatively raise funds

WILL OREGON TEAM WELLNESS STILL BE AVAILABLE?

  • SOOR is committed to offering Health & Fitness programming and is re-evaluating its ability to support production and distribution of OTW materials
  • SOI provides a free and highly-regarded Health & Fitness program called Fit Five, which SOOR will be trialing over the coming seasons (much lower cost than OTW with many of the same benefits)

HOW DO LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN (LETR) AND FUNDRAISING EVENT REVENUES WORK? 

  • If a Local Program sets up its own Tip-a-Cop event, 100% of proceeds go to that Local Program
  • If a Tip-a-Cop event is coordinated through the state office, 50% will stay in the Local Program
  • Polar Plunge:  50% of the registration fee for each plunger goes directly to the Local Program in the plunger’s community
  • Local programs have also created additional ways to work with LETR in their community – including charity basketball and softball games or fun runs which also serve as sport participation opportunities for athletes and unified partners

 

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Special Olympics Oregon Announces New Board Chair and Key Board Changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Portland, Oct.9, 2018 – Special Olympics Oregon announced new leadership of its board of directors to guide the organization that serves thousands of Oregon children and adults with intellectual disabilities and their communities through sports, education, and athlete health programs.

Ed Ray was elected to serve as board chair and, along with new Chief Executive Officer Britt Oase, will help guide Special Olympics Oregon into a new era of accountability, reform, transparency and sustainable programming following a number of programs being put on hold last June.

In a recent letter to Special Olympics Oregon athletes and supporters, Ray shared his vision for the organization moving forward and his commitment to the athletes to once again provide high-level sport experiences.

“There is no doubt that much hard work lies ahead to return Special Olympics Oregon to the level of athletic experiences, programming and trust that our athletes deserve,” Ray said. “We will work to restore Special Olympics Oregon fully to a place where it belongs. Our athletes deserve nothing less than this result and they definitely deserve our full support.”

Ray serves as Oregon State University’s president.

Meanwhile, Mike Golub of the Portland Timbers & Portland Thorns and former Governor Barbara Roberts will serve as co-chairs of the organization’s finance committee.

Oase said that several steps have been taken over the last few months to provide for financial sustainability.

During October, Special Olympics Oregon leadership team will be traveling to seven communities around the state to host town halls with athletes and supporters.

The meetings provide an opportunity for families and supporters to meet Oase and hear her vision for the future of Special Olympics Oregon and, most importantly, a chance for Oase and team to listen to and learn from those closest to the mission.

“We need to be collaborative in our approach – we have talented people who care deeply about Special Olympics Oregon and we will be better if we work together.  We have made positive strides and fundraising preparations are underway for the organization’s most daring and exciting event, Polar Plunge,” Oase said.

Teams around the state are already registering at plungeoregon.com to take the plunge this February. Funds from this event will go to support ongoing operations for Special Olympics Oregon and $25 from every registrant will go directly to the Local Program associated with the plunger’s zip code. It’s an easy and fun way to support the athletes and mission of Special Olympics Oregon.

About Special Olympics Oregon
Special Olympics Oregon works to serve more than 14,000 participants with intellectual disabilities year-round and statewide through the organization's life-changing sports programs. Unified Champion Schools is a collaboration with school communities for engaging young people with and without intellectual disabilities as leaders promoting acceptance, inclusion and respect in their schools, utilizing the sports and education initiatives of Special Olympics Oregon. Learn more at www.soor.org.

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Oct. 8, 2018

Dear Special Olympics Oregon Families and Friends,

We invite you to attend one of our upcoming town hall discussions.

This is an opportunity for our Special Olympics Oregon community to meet new CEO Britt Oase, and hear her vision for the future of SOOR. Britt and SOOR staff will also provide updates on many of the key issues that are important to our athletes, families and volunteers.

This summer has been difficult on the entire Special Olympics Oregon family. SOOR staff has been working to build a sustainable organization and is eager to share with you information on the efforts to positively move the organization forward.

For more information please feel free to email info@soor.org

Special Olympics Oregon Town Hall Meetings Statewide:

Beaverton – THPRD Elsie Stuhr Center
5550 SW Hall Blvd
• Thursday, October 4, 2018 
• 6pm to 8pm
Roseburg – Roseburg Jr Academy
1653 NW Troost St.
• Wednesday, October 17, 2018
• 6pm to 8pm
Pendleton – Salvation Army
150 SE Emigrant Ave.
• Wednesday, October 10, 2018
• 6pm to 8pm
Corvallis – Public Library
645 NW Monroe Ave.
• Monday, October 22, 2018
• 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Bend –  First Presbyterian Church 
Heritage Hall 230 - NE 9th St.
Bend, OR 97701
• Thursday, October 11, 2018
• 6pm to 8pm
Portland – Concordia University
2811 NE Holman St.
• Thursday, October 25, 2018
• 6pm to 8pm
Medford – First Baptist Church
649 Crater Lake Ave.
• Tuesday, October 16, 2018
• 6pm to 8pm
 

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Sept. 10, 2018

An Update from Britt Oase, CEO, Special Olympics Oregon

Special Olympics Oregon has undergone substantial changes over the last three months as we work to create a future that is sustainable and exciting for our athletes. We have taken positive steps forward and it’s important to me that we share with you some of the work that has been done.

COTTAGE GROVE LOCAL PROGRAM GIFT
Joe Harvey, Director of Program and Coach Services, and I recently traveled to Cottage Grove and met with the local team where we shared information, discussed opportunities and identified how we can move forward, together. Following that meeting and working directly with Carmen Dowell, we are excited to have resolved the issues surrounding the gift from Michelle Portmann’s Living Trust and return the focus to our athletes. With her approval, I’d like to share the note below Special Olympics Oregon received from Carmen, whose passion and dedication to individuals with intellectual disabilities, is an asset to our organization.

“It brings me great pleasure to be able to write this email to you. I am so pleased that we have come to an agreement regarding Michelle Portmann’s gracious gift to our local program with Special Olympics. Her legacy will continue to live on and help the athletes she loved. I know it's not the current SOOR employees who created this situation and am very grateful that you met with us and showed us that you deeply care about this issue and resolving it. On behalf of my athletes and coaches Thank You! My athletes mean the world to me and we are so happy that Special Olympics Oregon is going to continue to grow and I have full trust we will be back to games again soon. We look forward to a healthy future together.”
Sincerely,
Carmen Dowell
Co-LPC - Cottage Grove

LOCAL PROGRAMS
In my time with Special Olympics Oregon I have never seen a group of people with more resiliency and optimism than the athletes and volunteers who support our program, none more so than our Local Program Coordinators (LPC). This group of 30+ volunteers from around the state serve as the heartbeat of our organization, frontline of support and they are closest to our athletes.

Mark Hanken, Chief Operating Officer, who oversees Local Programs, saw a need to enhance the level of communication our LPCs have with the state office to ensure everyone is operating with the same information in a timely manner. As part, he and his staff have been holding webinars with the LPC’s throughout the summer, allowing us to listen and learn from them and also provide LPC’s with important updates to ensure we are moving forward cohesively. We are committed to creating an environment that features voices and input from our most critical volunteers to ensure we are building an organization that has support at all levels.

It has been a remarkable experience to see firsthand the passion and dedication our LPC’s have to our athletes and it’s been a privilege to work with them to improve our organization.

OFFICE MOVE
As part of the restructuring of Special Olympics Oregon, we will soon be moving out of our current office. Thanks to the generosity of a local Portland business, SOOR will be relocating into donated office space that will allow us to be more cost efficient moving forward. We are thankful for the partners, both new and established, who have stepped forward to help SOOR during this time. We will be providing additional details on the move and sharing our new address and information very soon.

Working for the athletes of Special Olympics Oregon has been some of the most challenging but important work I’ve ever done and am humbled daily by the support we are receiving to ensure we are able to rebuild the organization into one that is sustainable and successful for decades to come. I am proud to work alongside the most talented and dedicated staff, volunteers and community leaders as we work to write our future.

Sincerely,
Britt Oase
CEO, Special Olympics Oregon

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August 8, 2018

An Update from Special Olympics Oregon

The new executive leadership of Special Olympics Oregon (SOOR) has been working to identify the facts regarding the gift provided in support of the Cottage Grove Local Program. Special Olympics Oregon has been engaged in communication with the volunteer Local Program Coordinator as we identified how the gift was used.

Independently audited financial statements show the following:

  • SOOR received a gift, not an endowment, of $50,000 in May of 2012 from the Michelle Portmann Living Trust, which was designated for the benefit of the Cottage Grove Local Program
  • Audited financials from 2012 – 2016 show the gift was applied as intended, to fund the annual expenses of the Cottage Grove Local Program
  • According to audited financial statements the balances are:

              2012:  $44,238

              2013:  $35,966

              2014:  $29,198

              2015:  $22,152

              2016:  $14,034

              2017 financial statement audit process underway

We look forward to working with the Cottage Grove Local Program, and all Local Programs, to rebuild Special Olympics Oregon to a full slate of competition and programming for its athletes.

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August 3, 2018

An Update from Britt Oase, CEO, Special Olympics Oregon

Dear SOOR Community,

I have been encouraged by the engagement and feedback from members of our community through personal calls, emails and conversations over the past days and weeks. It is critical for our mission that we maintain open dialogue and collaboration. As we continue the rebuilding process I wanted to update you on the Fall and Winter training and competition plans.

FALL AND WINTER TRAINING AND COMPETITION
We’ve had the opportunity to connect with Local Program Coordinators this week to share information and gain feedback. As we discussed with this group, Special Olympics Oregon continues to address our financial situation and we are unable to provide regional or state competitions for the 2018 Fall or 2019 Winter seasons. Training for Fall and Winter seasons may be provided and supported by our Local Programs if they are able to do so at no cost.

HOW WILL TRAINING WORK?

  • At the discretion of Local Programs, training can continue for Fall and Winter sports under a "no cost" format
  • Local Programs may train at donated facilities within their own communities
  • SOOR State office will continue to cover expenses related to mailings, storage, insurance and background checks for Class A volunteers
  • SOOR State staff will work with Local Programs on roster management, athlete registration management & other tracking systems
  • SOOR State staff will work directly with LPCs to support the creation, implementation and communication of Fall & Winter season training plans

Local Programs can also provide additional athlete engagement, inclusion and support through alternative activities such as hiking/walking clubs, health initiatives and other sport or fitness activities. Under the direction of its volunteer management team, each Local Program will be able to select its own sports and other activities offered, along with start and finish dates for the season. We are thankful for the critical support of our Local Program Coordinators as they lead these efforts and share plans with their programs in the near future.

SPECIAL OLYMPICS INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS

  • Coaches will still need Class A volunteer forms on file
  • Athletes will still need to have medical forms on file
  • 4 to 1 Athlete to Coach Ratio must be maintained during any organized SOOR activity during the fall or winter season

UNIFIED CHAMPION SCHOOLS
During this time, Unified Champion Schools, a school-based initiative that features inclusive sports, leadership and social awareness, will continue to engage students in Oregon. Unified Champion Schools and its activities are funded through restricted grant dollars which must be used for specific activities and does not take away any funding from Local Programs.

Please know that we are working diligently to return our athletes to the level of training and competition they deserve and that so many people are passionate about supporting. If you have questions or need clarification, please do not hesitate to connect with your Local Program Coordinator or the SOOR State office staff.

Sincerely,
Britt Oase
CEO, Special Olympics Oregon


 
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