Crisis Communications: United Community Resources Agency
For over 35 years, the nonprofit United Community Resources Agency (UCRA) provided job training, placement and youth programs in Los Angeles to more than 100,000 refugees and low-income individuals. The organization obtained most of its $5 million revenue from government contracts, including $2.3 million from the L.A. Community Development Corp.
L.A. County’s district attorney served search warrants on the agency, seized its records, froze assets and ultimately criminally prosecuted three employees for claiming job placements at fictitious firms.
UCRA’S board of directors engaged FolFry to counsel it on how best to respond.
Our strategy was to cooperate fully with the D.A.’s office and, as much as possible, keep the organization out of the spotlight.
- Developed a crisis communications plan, and materials for the media, including written statements and UCRA profile.
- Conducted media training for key board members.
As the case evolved and additional facts came to light, we continued to counsel the board.
We were successful keeping individual board members—including numerous prominent Angelenos—out of the media spotlight, and none were charged with wrongdoing. Over a period of several months, we reinforced the UCRA’s body of good works and achievement over its history, and that the malfeasance was isolated to a few individuals acting alone. FolFry was able to favorably communicate the message that the board members were victims, as well, of rogue managers who betrayed both the public’s trust, as well as the longstanding mission of the UCRA. The organization agreed to make restitution of the $2.3 million in contracts with L.A. County. UCRA fully cooperated with the district attorney’s prosecution of alleged misuse of public funds and grand theft against the organization’s executive director.