Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Clinton Foundation -- Wanting Something For Nothing

Ten years ago, in November 2006 (just one month after I completed my solo run across America) I received an unsolicited letter from the Clinton Foundation -- yes, the foundation of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The letter congratulated me on my coast-to-coast run to keep a promise to a group of elementary children in Montana, as well as my efforts to promote youth fitness via a virtual run/walk across America curriculum I had created for Russell Elementary School.

Accompanying the letter from the Clinton Foundation was an Agreement, a very legal document asking me to please 'donate' the educational curriculum to the Clinton Foundation so that it could be further developed and used on a national scale. I had an attorney specializing in contracts look over the Agreement... and he just shook his head in disgust. The letter and agreement sought for me to give the foundation my curriculum out of the goodness of my heart and without any compensation whatsoever. As the letter indicated, the fact that the Clinton Foundation could get the curriculum spread across the U.S. should be satisfaction enough for me.

Suffice it to say, I rejected the Agreement and did not reply.

You see, in August 2006 -- when I was halfway through my run across America -- The Alliance for a Healthier Generation (a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association) announced the first grantees of its "Healthy Schools Program." It was an effort to address the root causes of childhood obesity and 202 schools from twelve states received hands-on assistance in assessing their current health environment, developing appropriate action plans, and implementing changes designed to make their environments healthier. The Clinton Foundation was focused on improving fitness levels in schools through various strategies.

So, where did my virtual run/walk across America curriculum come into play? The Clinton Foundation believed my curriculum could be a way to get children running and learning simultaneously -- which is precisely why I developed the curriculum. As the Russell Elementary students used my curriculum during the 2005-2006 school year, they learned about the 15 states they virtually ran across. Classroom teachers used elements of the run to devise math problems, enhance history lessons, and more. The Clinton Foundation wanted to obtain the curriculum for free, enhance it, wrap it up, and sell it to schools nationwide -- taking ownership and credit for it while telling me that I should be content with knowing my initial efforts were elaborated upon and applied to a much larger school audience. I just could not do that. Had they offered to pay me (even minimally) for the curriculum and invite me to be a part of the advisory board for the project, then perhaps I would have. However, that is not how I was approached.

In the 2006 Annual Report of the Clinton Foundation it shows that the total revenue for 2006 was over $132 Million. Yet, the Clinton Foundation wanted me to simply donate the curriculum I had worked so hard to develop, and which ultimately is what put into motion my solo run across America to keep a promise, to promote youth fitness, and to share the curriculum with teachers. It's not an exaggeration to say that a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into the curriculum I developed (not to mention miles!), but I was expected to simply donate it to the Clinton Foundation.

The curriculum remains with me and some schools that I have shared it with have successfully implemented it. In 2009 I created The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation and perhaps I will eventually work on getting the virtual run/walk across America curriculum out to a wider audience. However, I certainly was not going to donate it to the Clinton Foundation.

On the Clinton Foundation website it lists the following as one of the foundation's guiding principles: "There is always a way to be faster, leaner, and better." I think they forgot to include the words "and cheap."

Keep reaching for life's mileposts!

Gotta Run,

Paul Staso, Founder & President
The P.A.C.E. Fitness Foundation, Inc.

P.A.C.E. is a non-profit organization aimed at Promoting Active Children Everywhere.