As it prepares to shut its doors for good in 26 days, Philadelphia Safe and Sound is offering its employees bonuses to persuade them to stay until the last hour and minimize the potential disruption of after-school and summer services to thousands of children.
Safe and Sound officials said yesterday that 31 employees would remain - about a third of the original workforce - making the total bonus payout about $130,000, or equal to 6 percent of each employee's salary.
That includes president and chief executive officer Anne Shenberger, whose $140,000 salary means she will earn an extra $8,400.
Though Safe and Sound is primarily city-funded, the bonus money comes from $1.3 million that remains from a corporate fund-raising effort years ago.
The Nutter administration, meanwhile, is weighing the merits of two potential successors to Safe and Sound, with a single contractor expected to be chosen by June 23.
"What we want to do at Safe and Sound is step aside graciously in a way that preserves the services that we sustained for a long period of time," Shenberger said in an interview. "We would like to be remembered for the talent and the creativity and the innovation that we created, and not for some of the other things that have recently come up."
Safe and Sound was founded 10 years ago, and its core function had been to distribute millions in city dollars to more than 200 smaller nonprofit organizations that provide antiviolence programs. Its mission, along with its staff and budget, grew considerably under Mayor John F. Street, who championed it as a home for expanded after-school services and new curfew centers.
But given widespread concerns of Mayor Nutter, City Council and the state about its spending and the quality of its programs, Safe and Sound's board unexpectedly voted to dissolve in April. That was shortly after a state audit found the nonprofit had weak financial controls and after the nonprofit received no assurance that its city funding would continue.
The focus now is how to put the organization, which this fiscal year had a $54 million budget, to bed forever.
At its Market Street headquarters in Center City yesterday, packing boxes filled offices. One desk was stacked with 11 laptops and 10 desktop computers - some of the equipment and furniture the city is reclaiming.
Alleviating one major concern, a new tenant has been found for the 11th-floor offices, where Safe and Sound had expanded in December. But for now, Safe and Sound must continue to pay the recently renewed lease for its fourth-floor space, officials said.
Board chairman Ernest Jones said members approved the bonuses last week. "It is an incentive for them not to leave," he said.
The board also voted to give a consulting contract to Shenberger, who joined Safe and Sound in January 2006, to work with the new contractor during the transition. He said the amount of that contract had not yet been determined.
Among other issues, there is still no consensus regarding the fate of Safe and Sound's well-known "Children's Report Card," a yearly assessment of the health of Philadelphia's children.
In addition, it's also unclear what will happen to a computerized data warehouse that contains various databases from several public agencies. Safe and Sound officials have said they legally own it.
"We are evaluating with Safe and Sound what will happen to it," said Don Schwarz, deputy mayor for health and opportunity.