NPI Evaluation of All Stars Project


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NPI Evaluation of All Stars Project

  1. 1. NONPROFIT INVESTORINDEPENDENT RESEARCH FOR PHILANTHROPY SUMMARYThe All Stars Project, Inc. (ASP) The All Stars Project, Inc. (ASP) is a non-partisanNonprofit Investor Rating: organization dedicated to promoting development through the use of an innovative performance-basedNEUTRAL model. The ASP creates privately funded, outside-of-school, educational, and performing-arts activities for tens of thousands ofMission Statement poor and minority young people. It sponsors community andThe All Stars Project, Inc. (ASP) is dedicated to experimental theater, develops leadership training, and pursuespromoting human development through the volunteer initiatives that build and strengthen communities.use of an innovative performance-basedmodel. The ASP creates outside-of-school, The ASP actively promotes supplementary education and theeducational, and performing arts activities for performance-learning model in academic and civic arenas.thousands of poor and minority young people. STRENGTHS ▲ Multiple programs allowing a broader reach. ASP is able toFinancial Overview leverage core skills of creating performance-based development$ in MM, Fiscal Year Ended December 31 curriculums across multiple programs and geographies. 2009 2010 2011 ▲ Long operating history and steady growth. Founded in 1981, theRevenue and Support $6.2 $6.9 $7.0 organization has three decades of successful operating history andOperating Expenses 6.0 6.5 7.0 has shown steady programmatic and geographic growth since 1997.% of Total: ▲ Impressive national donor base and BoD. ASP’s donor base Program Expenses 75.3% 74.9% 74.5% includes some of the nation’s top foundations, corporations, and G&A 8.7% 7.9% 8.1% private investors, underscoring the organization’s compelling Fundraising 16.0% 17.3% 17.4% programs and financial health (represents 84% of total support). CAUTIONSYear Founded: 1981 ● Inability to track and quantify impact. ASP does not seem to actively track or provide metrics around its participants’ academic,Contact Details occupational, or social progress during or after involvement with ASP.All Stars Project, Inc.National Headquarters ● Notable controversy historically. The organization faced543 West 42nd Street controversy as recently as 2006 over the political and social leaningsNew York, NY 10036 of its founder and leadership team.(212) 941-9400 RECOMMENDATION: NEUTRALhttp://www.allstars.orgEIN: 13-3148295 ASP’s programs reach thousands of poor and minority young people every year helping them build the skills and confidence needed toAnalyst: Sandy Gill succeed in academic and workplace settings. However, ASP’sPeer Review: Ruth Yen, Kent Chao inability to track and demonstrate a quantifiable impact, combined with unresolved historical controversy leaves enough questionsPublication Date unanswered that we rate it NEUTRAL until additional information isSeptember 20, 2012 made available. Nonprofit Investor Research |
  2. 2. OVERVIEW OF THE ALL STARS PROJECT ACTIVITIES “What if all the kids currently failing in school pretended to be good learners? What if all the adults – teachers, principals, parents, administrators – played along and pretended that the kids were school achievers, heading for college? What if this national ‘ensemble‘ pretended this was the case day after day, classroom after classroom, school district after school district?”All Stars Project believes that the performing arts can be used to help solve the education crisis in America. Theprogram’s basic tenet is that learning takes development, so if kids are underdeveloped, they cannot become learners.Children, having developed the capacity to pretend to be who they are not, i.e., good learners, also develop the capacityto become the thing they are pretending to be. And, thus, if ASP can assist poor and minority kids in pretending thatthey are classroom achievers, they could choose to become that.To accomplish its goals, the organization supports a number of programs, including: • Program: The All Stars Talent Show Network (ASTSN) • Description: The ASTSN is an after school, performance-based enrichment program for inner-city youth. Each year, thousands of children and young adults, ages 5-25, participate in several dozen All Stars events. These include auditions, rehearsals, talent shows and performance workshops that take place in local school auditoriums and at the All Stars Project headquarters. • Location: New York City, Newark, NJ, Chicago, IL and the Bay Area in California. The All Stars Talent Show Network has also been produced by local organizations in Atlanta, GA, and internationally in the Netherlands and Uganda • Program: The Joseph A. Forgione Development School for Youth (DSY) • Description: Young people between the ages of 16 and 21 participate in after-school workshops, led by senior executives, who introduce students to the worlds of finance, culture, communications and other leading industries. Students also learn public speaking, how to develop their professional costume, how to write a resume and interviewing skills. Graduates of the program then continue their training in 6-week paid internships provided by sponsoring companies. The internship gives the students the opportunity to continue to develop their leadership and professional skills. It also provides young people with their first professional job experience. • Location: New York City, Newark, NJ, Chicago, IL, and the San Francisco Bay Area, CA • Program: Castillo Theatre • Description: Located in the ASP’s performing arts and development center on West 42nd Street, the Castillo Theatre has produced over 175 productions, from multicultural and avant-garde plays to musical theatre and performance art. In each of its diverse productions, Castillo provides a creative environment in which people of all ages can produce and experience theatre that deals with contemporary and historical social issues. • Location: 543 West 42nd Street, New York, NY • Program: Youth Onstage! • Description: Youth Onstage! is the youth theatre of the All Stars Project, Inc. It offers young people, aged 14 to 21, the opportunity to perform on stage in plays that have something to say about the world and its future. In addition to its productions, Youth Onstage! has a free school, the Community Performance School, where professional theatre artists volunteer to teach classes and lead workshops for young people. Through the CP School, it offers free theatre training for young people of all experience levels and economic backgrounds. • Location: Based out of the All Stars Projects performing arts and education center on West 42nd Street • Program: Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids • Description: Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids is a program designed to foster positive interactions between the police and inner-city youth. It consists of a series of workshops that use performance, improvisational games and conversation to help teenagers and police officers to develop and improve their relationship. As of October 2011, the NYPD officially incorporated Operation Conversation: Cop and Kids into the training of its police officers. • Location: New York, NY • Program: UX (University X) • Description: UX is a unique development institution, free of cost, forward thinking and open to people of all ages and backgrounds who want to grow and develop. UX incorporates the ongoing programs and activities of ASP, including visits to Broadway theaters and other cultural institutions, and numerous workshops, classes and lectures by guest artists, business professionals, community and educational leaders. UX also encourages its students and teachers to initiate new developmental activities, classes, projects, productions, etc. "X" is the unknown variable, the part of the equation still to be discovered. UX is a continuous work-in-progress being created by its participants. • Location: New York, NY and Newark, NJ All Stars Project | Nonprofit Investor Research 2
  3. 3. PROGRAM RESULTS AND EFFECTIVENESSBecause All Stars programs focus on the general social, cultural and creative development of young people, all “softer”skills and experiences, it is difficult to quantify overall program results. The most telling view into ASP’s effectiveness isthe continued growth and expansion of the organization across the country and worldwide.Following the All Stars Project’s founding in 1981, its first Talent Show Network show in 1982, and the founding of theCastillo Theatre in 1983, the program saw only a small amount of growth limited to the New York City area for the next14 years. In 1997, however, ASP founded the Development School for Youth and the organization expanded steadilyboth programmatically and geographically from there. The All Stars Project Has Shown Steady Programmatic and Geographic Growth All Stars Project New Program Youth All Stars Project Operation Conversation Jersey Launched Onstage! Debuts Chicago Founded Becomes Part of NYPD Training 1997 1997 1999 1997 2001 1997 2003 1997 2005 1997 2007 1997 2009 1997 2011 Development School All Stars Project San Operation Conversation: University X for Youth Founded Francisco Launched Cops and Kids Launched FoundedOn a year-over-year basis, key programs also continue to grow. Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids, for example,has expanded from 45 officers and 92 inner-city youth in 2010, to 67 officers and 104 inner-city youth in 2011. Anotherexample is UX which taught approximately 900 students in 2010 (its first year of operation) and 1,192 in 2011. Otherprograms have likely continued to grow as well, but the annual reports and program descriptions ineffectively highlightexpansion and fail to provide year-over-year comparisons. We suggest the organization provide such figures and metricsin the future, as they might help assess the impact of ASP programs.In addition, ASP leadership has put out significant and well-cited literature supporting the organization’s missionprimarily that outside-of-school developmental experiences are crucial for academic and social success. The most recentof these is Let’s Pretend: Solving the Education Crisis in America (, it is important to note that neither program growth nor academic treatises can show the direct impact ofASP’s programs. As noted above, a good start would be to consistently track and present key figures such as the numberof students enrolled in each program and the number of volunteers active in each program. Additional metrics thatmight be insightful are the number of total practice hours (representing hours outside of school spent constructively),the breakdown by age group (tracking which age groups see the greatest impact), and the percentage of new youthversus those returning multiple times (showing effectiveness at both reaching new participants and creating compellingprograms that draw students back).Even more telling than showing these basic numbers would be for All Stars Project to track participants’ academic,occupational, and social success. If ASP could show that youth who spent time in its programs (1) performed better inschool, (2) found better job opportunities, or (3) were less likely to have problems with violence, drugs, or crime, itwould go a long way toward legitimizing the organization’s stated results and proving its effectiveness. NonprofitInvestor is a strong proponent of transparent and quantifiable results and suggests ASP support its impactful programswith the metrics necessary to track its performance, both for its own improvement and for attracting new donors.For information on the programs that ASP currently supports visit: All Stars Project | Nonprofit Investor Research 3
  4. 4. FINANCIAL OVERVIEWThe majority (84%) of ASP’s revenues are sourced through contributions from private foundations, corporate sponsors,and individuals, with the remainder coming from a mix of special events, program subscriptions, and ticket sales. Whilethe smaller revenue lines have fluctuated year by year, contributions have increased steadily each of the last three years,resulting in a 6% CAGR from 2009 to 2011. While having little impact on the organization’s overall finances, we do notethat Ticket Sales / Subscriptions have fallen each of the last three years. Without management commentary, it isimpossible to discern the drivers behind the decline, but we would identify it as an area of caution to be tracked in thefuture.A notable strength of the organization has been its ability to steadily increase funds raised since its founding in 1981.During the period from 1981 to 1990, ASP raised approximately $1.5MM in total. From 1991 to 2000, ASP raised$14.5MM. And from 2001 to 2011, ASP raised $61.6MM. The program has successfully weathered multiple recessionsover the last three decades and has even expanded programs through the 2001 and 2008 / 2009 downturns.Expenses have also been increasingly steadily, generally keeping pace with the growing revenues. Program costs areapproximately 75% of total expenses, though they have declined slightly as a percentage of total spend each of the pasttwo years (due to expanding fundraising costs). An important metric beyond just percentage of total spend is theorganization’s current fundraising efficiency level of $0.21. This figure represents that $0.21 is spent for every $1.00raised. As the organization continues to grow and gain operating leverage (i.e., programs become larger and morerecognizable in multiple geographies, increasing the potential donor base), we would hope that this cost would comedown. Fiscal Year Ended December 31 2009 2010 2011 Revenue Breakdown $ in ‘000 Support Revenues +6% Contributions $5,309,566 $5,440,533 $5,893,606 Net Revenues from Special Events 650,423 1,241,873 901,156 6,931 7,036 6,241 1,142 Membership Revenues 113,870 108,822 118,260 1,490 Ticket Sales / Subscriptions 108,240 101,315 93,501 932 Other Revenue 58,971 38,177 29,364 Total Support Revenue 6,241,070 6,930,720 7,035,887 5,310 5,441 5,894 Expenses Program Expenses $4,497,263 $4,859,751 $5,214,249 Management & General 522,418 510,181 566,110 Fundraising 956,253 1,121,445 1,214,659 2009 2010 2011 Total Expenses 5,975,934 6,491,377 6,995,018 Other Revenue Contributions Program Costs as a % of Total Expenses 75.3% 74.9% 74.5% G&A as a % of Total Expenses 8.7% 7.9% 8.1% Expense Breakdown Fundraising as a % of Total Expenses 16.0% 17.3% 17.4% $ in ‘000 Fundraising Efficiency $0.18 $0.21 $0.21 +8% 6,995 6,491 Revenue Less Expenses 265,136 439,343 40,869 5,976 566 510 522 1,215 1,121 Abridged Balance Sheet 956 Cash and Investments $3,433,658 $4,569,162 $4,558,955 Contributions Recievable 576,603 191,217 597,858 5,214 4,497 4,860 Other Assets 15,484,028 14,900,023 14,317,321 Total Assets 19,494,289 19,660,402 19,474,134 Total Liabilities 12,154,987 11,881,757 11,654,620 2009 2010 2011 Net Assets/Fund Balances 7,339,302 7,778,645 7,819,514 Management & General Program Expenses Source: Fundraising 2009, 2010 and 2011 Audited Financials All Stars Project | Nonprofit Investor Research 4
  5. 5. Additional detail on the organization’s historical program expenses is below. The largest programs are the All StarsTalent Show Network and the Development School for Youth, while Volunteerism and Education is the fastest growingand represents program spend on some of ASP’s new initiatives, including Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids and UX. Program Expense Detail 2011 Total Program Expenses 2010 Total Program Expenses Volunteerism and Education All Stars Talent Show Network All Stars Talent Show Network 15% Volunteerism and Education 15% Youth on Stage 30% 32% 11% Youth on Stage 12% 17% 18% Castillo Theatre 25% Castillo Theatre 25% Development School for Youth Development School for Youth Historical Program Expenses ($000s) +9% 1,680 1,475 1,418 +8% 2009 2010 2011 1,311 1,207 1,134 +3% 879 892 +18% 833 773 0% 720 556 557 578 558 All Stars Talent Development Castillo Theatre Volunteerism Youth on Stage Show Network School for Youth and EducationASP has a relatively healthy balance sheet. Cash and investments have steadily risen and are currently able to coveralmost a full year’s operations (Program Expenses + M&G). The largest liability by far is approximately $10MM New YorkCity Industrial Development Agency Bonds: $8,775,000 of Series A Bonds at variable interest rate due 2036 and$1,875,000 of Series B Bonds at a fixed 8.75% interest rate due 2023. The debt was first raised in 2002 and thenincreased and refinanced in 2007 to allow ASP to purchase and renovate office space in New York (capital lease). Thebonds’ covenants require ASP to hold a minimum of $1MM in cash and investments, and a minimum $1.75MM of cash,investments, and pledges outstanding net of any other lines of credit. The organization is well positioned to remainwithin the capital lease covenants and should not have any difficulty servicing debt through its maturity dates. All Stars Project | Nonprofit Investor Research 5
  6. 6. FUNDINGOne of the most impressive aspects of All Stars Project is its list of donors (including private foundations, corporatesponsors, and individuals) and the composition of its Board of Directors. Both include easily recognizable industryleaders that speak to the type of sophisticated support ASP has mobilized for its programs.A list of major donors and the BoD can be found at the end of ASP’s annual report: a part of our normal course due diligence, we found that All Stars Project has been the center of significantcontroversy in the past, most recently and notably when it applied for the NYC IDA Bond in 2006( The attacks leveled atASP seem to have focused on the founder’s and leadership’s sociopolitical beliefs, and were extremely vitriolic anddamaging (the most extensive attacks can be found here: the significant support the organization has received from well-respected circles in the face of this criticism, wewould not lend these detractors much credence. However, ASP’s lackluster rebuttal is not entirely satisfactory either(page 5 here: would note that there has been little press on the subject, positive or negative, since 2006. Therefore we do notthink that this issue should be a primary concern, but in the spirit of transparency, we wanted to provide informationabout the controversy to allow readers to reach their own conclusions.TRANSPARENCYThe organization has very strong transparency around its leadership, donors, financials, and general performance,including having form 990s, audited financial statements, annual reports, and detailed listings of leadership, BoD, anddonors readily available on its website.As noted above, ASP shows some weakness around the demonstration and reporting of the tangible impact of itsprograms. We would want ASP to share the metrics they use to track and quantify the organization’s progress and abilityto meet the needs of its beneficiaries. Eventually, we would expect ASP to detail the impact that each dollar donated canhave on the experience of disadvantaged youth.In addition, we were unable to contact the organization to conduct primary due diligence on either ASP’s programmaticimpact or the controversy discussed above. We attempted to reach the organization both through the contact email onits website ( and by leaving a voicemail on the primary telephone number listed onthe same website (212-941-9400).THIRD-PARTY RATINGS • Charity Navigator gives ASP an overall score of 62.91 out of 70.00, resulting in a 4‐star rating (out of 4). ASP achieves a 59.98 (a 3‐star score) for Financial and a score of 70.00 for Accountability & Transparency. We note that ASP fulfills all of Charity Navigator’s requirements for information provided on the Form 990 found on the evaluation checklist, as well as 5 of 5 for website information. • ASP earned the GuideStar Exchange Seal, demonstrating its commitment to transparency. • ASP is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity and participates in the BBB Charity Seal Program. This means that ASP meets all the requirements set forth in the BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability, which can be accessed here: All Stars Project | Nonprofit Investor Research 6
  7. 7. GET INVOLVED  Donate:  Volunteering:  Media Inquiries & General Questions:; (212) 941-9400DISCLOSURESSandy Gill certifies that he does not have any affiliation with The All Stars Project, Inc. and has never made a donation to theorganization. Additionally, Sandy has not supported directly competing organizations in a greater capacity than a nominal donation.NPI analysts and NPI as an organization do not receive any form of compensation from reviewed charities.This report is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a solicitation for donations. While the reliability of informationcontained in this report has been assessed by NPI, NPI makes no representation as to its accuracy or completeness, except withrespect to the Disclosure Section of the report. Any opinions expressed herein reflect our judgment as of the date of the materialsand are subject to change without notice. NPI has no obligation to update, modify, or amend any report or to otherwise notify areader thereof in the event that any matter stated herein, or any opinion, projection, forecast, or estimate set forth herein, changesor subsequently becomes inaccurate, or if research on the subject organization is withdrawn.Opinions and recommendations in our reports do not take into account specific reader circumstances, objectives, or needs. Therecipients of our reports must make their own independent decisions regarding any organization mentioned by NPI.ABOUT NONPROFIT INVESTORNonprofit Investor is a nonprofit organization with the mission of improving philanthropic capital allocation and nonprofiteffectiveness through research and analysis. NPI brings together volunteers with professional due diligence skills to produceindependent, in-depth evaluations of nonprofits. NPI research is available for free, public downloadhere: To suggest a charity for NPI to review or to apply as a volunteer, please contactus: NPI is a tax-exempt charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (EIN: 45-3627609). Follow Nonprofit Investor on Twitter: @nonprofitinvest All Stars Project | Nonprofit Investor Research 7