The Second Mile is asking its school "partners" and donors whether they can continue their commitment to the organization, given the child sex-abuse scandal that has ensnared its founder, Jerry Sandusky.
The answers to its questions will determine whether the charity continues, shrinks or disappears, the embattled organization's interim CEO David Woodle said Wednesday.
But even if the organization doesn't survive, The Second Mile hopes to ensure its programs and services continue in some way, as the "overwhelming" majority of partners and donors desire, Woodle said.
So far, the pro and con responses have been "balanced," though in terms of donor money, that doesn't necessarily mean a 50-50 split, he said.
"We live on donations," Woodle said.
The Second Mile had revenues of $2.1 million in 2009 and total assets of $9.4 million, according to IRS records.
The organization expects to learn enough to decide on its future by sometime next month, after getting the "situation put on paper," Woodle said.
The Second Mile services include teaching children the importance of academics, how to set and achieve goals, how to develop positive peer and family relationships, how to cope with difficult situations and how to work hard and succeed, according to the group's website.
While other organizations and agencies provide similar help, there are unique features with The Second Mile that ought to be preserved, he said.
If not enough support remains, the organization could assure the continuation of those features by handing off responsibility for the whole slate of programs and people to some existing organization, he said.
Or it could persuade one or more existing organizations to adopt some key features - saying "here are the lessons learned [by] us," he said.
The slump in support that resulted from the initial announcement of the grand jury investigation in the Sandusky case last spring might bode well for the organization, because it was slight, Woodle said.
But the "sickening," "horrific" allegations detailed in the recently released presentment could cause far more damage to that support, he admitted.
To deal with the implications of those allegations for The Second Mile, the organization has hired the law firm Archer & Greiner.
Former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham will conduct an internal investigation that will involve talking to everyone and constructing a timeline that "lays it all out," Woodle said.
Archer & Greiner has no prior history with the organization, he said.
Abraham will determine "who talked to whom," he said. "She knows how to ask what questions."
Might that investigation result in police charges against the charity's staff?
"I can't speculate," Woodle said.
Woodle didn't say much about the man he replaced this week, Jack Raykovitz, who resigned.
"There was some feeling from him that he's a focus and could be a distraction," Woodle said. "We want to focus on moving forward."
Raykovitz heard about a Penn State shower incident allegedly involving Sandusky and a boy in 2002 but didn't call police or cut off access to other boys associated with The Second Mile, court documents state.
In 2005 or 2006, Sandusky met another boy through The Second Mile and abused him the following year, according to the presentment.
Raykovitz' wife, Katherine Genovese, who is the vice president of programs, continues to work at The Second Mile, Woodle said.
Woodle isn't necessarily expecting more resignations, he said.
"But it wouldn't surprise me if somebody felt they wanted to get a different job, because of uncertainty about the future," he said. "Clearly there's a high risk on the future of the organization," he said.
The Second Mile has also hired a public relations firm expert in crisis management - Burson-Marsteller of New York City, according to a spokesman for Archer & Greiner, who referred a reporter to the PR firm.
Burson-Marsteller has advised parties connected with the Tylenol poisoning, the anthrax letter attack, "mad cow" disease, SARS and avian influenza, according to the website.
A company spokesman
didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.
Woodle, who is vice chairman of The Second Mile board, has taken on the interim CEO role without pay, for now, he said.
He will help develop a plan for the future but won't likely stay long-term, he said.
He's got a background in running a large public company and had the time to take the interim job, he said.
But "there are people a lot more qualified than me in human services" better suited to head the charity after the crisis, he said.
The Second Mile for now doesn't know the status of some already scheduled events, Woodle said.
That includes one in March that was to include the honoring of the DeGol family of Blair County.
A DeGol family spokesman said this week the family isn't being honored but declined comment otherwise.
The Second Mile has agreed with the Centre County commissioners that it will not longer pursue a $3 million state grant the commissioners had awarded for an $8.5 million learning center, Woodle said.
The commissioners withdrew its support for awarding a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to The Second Mile, according to Denise Elbell, director of administrative services for the county.
The state has put the money on hold, The Associated Press reported.
Depending on the outcome of its self-evaluation, the Second Mile may proceed with a scaled-down version of the learning center, Woodle said.
If the organization survives.
The next few weeks will tell, Woodle said.
"We want to make sure the kids are helped in some way," he said.