Major Pulse funds join forces

By : Jamie Hyman
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Orlando – The GLBT Center, National Compassion Fund and Equality Florida are teaming up with the city of Orlando to distribute funds raised for Pulse shooting victims, survivors and their families.

The city’s fund is called OneOrlando and its total is not publicly published, but as of June 30, OneOrlando, EQFL and The Center combined had raised more than $17 million. As of July 6, EQFL’s fund stood at nearly $7 million and The Center’s total was $545,022.

“The distribution will be handled all as one coordinated effort,” says Christopher McCullion, Orlando’s deputy chief financial officer. “The idea is that it all comes together in one pot and is distributed according to unified protocol, either by a claims process or unified distribution all at the same time. So technically, the money’s all going to be together and administered as one source of funding.”

The strategy to do so is inspired by how funds were distributed in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing in 2013. In fact, the fund’s administrator is Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney who helped distribute funding to Boston victims.

The rough schedule for distribution involves Feinberg meeting with the OneOrlando Fund board of directors during July to outline a process, followed by two town hall meetings Aug. 4. Feedback at those meetings will shape the final distribution plan, followed by a 30-day claims period.

“Claimants can file claims directly to the administrator and then once the claims window ends, there’s a review period where the administrator, Ken Feinberg, will meet face to face for questions with any claimants,” McCullion says.

Next, Feinberg will give his opinions about distribution, with final approval going to the OneOrlando Board.

“We will move very quickly once they adopt that and start cutting checks,” McCullion says. “It’s definitely a complicated challenge, but it worked really well for Boston, so we’re really hopeful that it’s going to work for our community here as well.”

The goal is to distribute funds Oct. 1.

As far as what the verification process will be like for applicants, McCullion says that’s still being finalized.

“Those [processes] have not been published yet, but Boston protocol was fairly straightforward,” he says. “If you look at Boston, there’s some basic contact information, some basic confirmation that shows that you were injured in the Boston bombing, and I think we’ll have something similar here.”

What about unexpected expenses for survivors, down the road? Cassandra Lafser, Mayor Buddy Dyer’s press secretary, says those decisions will be part of the final framework, still to be determined.

“We’re using the Boston model; we also acknowledge that Orlando’s not Boston. There are unique things and that’s why we have a board that has acknowledged the uniqueness of Orlando, the uniqueness of our victims and making sure that needs are being met,” says Matt Broffman, the city’s director of innovation.

Here are the members of the OneOrlando Board of Directors:

Rena Langley, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs & Worldwide Government and Industry Relations, Walt Disney World

Diane O’Dell, Vice President of Community Relations, Universal Orlando Resort

Stephanie Ghertner, Director, Darden Foundation & Community Affairs

Mark Meyer, Industry Manager, JPMorgan Chase

Paul F. Bryan, Chief Executive Officer, Grover Bryan, Inc.

Jennifer Foster, Owner and Executive Producer, Foster Productions, Inc.

Diana Bolivar, President, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando

Carlos Carbonell, Chief Executive Officer, Echo Interaction Group

Ken Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Phillips Inc. and the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation

Mark Shamley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals (ACCP)

Michael Farmer, Statewide Deputy Director of Development, Equality Florida Action, Inc.

Tim Vargas, Board President, GLBT Community Center of Central Florida (The Center)

Chris McCullion, Chief Financial Officer, City of Orlando

Walter G. Hawkins, Director of Urban Development, City of Orlando Downtown Development Board/Community Redevelopment Agency

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