School Climate & Safety

Newtown Finalizes Donation Plan for Shooting Victims’ Families

By Ross Brenneman — July 18, 2013 2 min read
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The community foundation responsible for dividing donated money up among the families of those killed in the school shootings last year in Newtown, Conn., has announced the final distribution plan for those funds.

The foundation released the plan last week, and its board approved it Monday. The final outline emerged Wednesday evening.

Money poured into charities set up after the Dec. 2012 massacre that left 20 children and six educators dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Of the $11.4 million collected with help from the United Way, the foundation will distribute $7.7 million among the victims’ families, or $281,000 each.

The children who witnessed the attacks but survived will also receive smaller figures of $20,000 each, in part to help pay for psychological treatment. Two injured staff members will also each receive $75,000, according to the Associated Press. The rest of the money remains uncommitted for now.

Donations to Newtown have been a source of some stress in the months following the tragedy. There is, for instance, the false charity set up in New York by a woman indicted in May on the grounds that she claimed to be a victim’s aunt in order to solicit money. Then there are all the charities with funds left to distribute, which, according to the latest tally by Attorney General George Jepsen, totals $20 million. (As of April, only $3 million of that had been spent.)

To cap it all off, Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy suggested earlier this week that the foundation may be emotionally compromised through its members’ proximity to the attack, and that the remaining money should be overseen by an independent board.

So the distribution plan is only final in theory rather than practice, as the state and district wrestle over who would be best to oversee the last $4 million in the foundation fund, and the rest of the money collected through other sources.

Newtown has received other funds, too. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the town $1.3 million through a violence-recovery grant. And the state of the Connecticut offered up to $50 million to help build a new Sandy Hook Elementary School, after a different Newtown task force voted to demolish the old one.

Still, the community endeavors to move forward. Earlier this month, Newtown First Selectman Pat Llorda announced that the town would respectfully decline further special events organized outside the town, in the hope that doing so would allow the town to enter a “quiet period of rest, recuperation, and healing.”

Photo: Scarlett Lewis, mother of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Jesse Lewis, center, hugs Lynn McDonnell, mother, of victim Grace McDonnell, left, as Neil Heslin, father of victim Jesse Lewis, right, looks on after a public forum on the distribution of Newtown donations at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, Conn.—Jessica Hill/AP

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.