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  • Writer's picturePulse Families and Survivors for Justice

onePULSE Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Grant

Updated: Mar 30

On September 22, 2022, the OnePULSE Foundation announced it received a grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for $247,000.00. About one year later, the OnePULSE Foundation announced that it was shutting down and dissolving.

As part of their dissolution, they had to return millions granted to them by state and local governments, including the Florida Department of State and Orange County.

The now-dissolved Foundation has misused and wasted millions of taxpayer dollars without ever fulfilling any part of its changing mission. They did not build a memorial, they did not build a museum, they did not build a survivor's walk, and they did not provide ongoing financial help to survivors and victims' families.

Furthermore, it appears the onePULSE Foundation lied on its application to the Department of Homeland Security to secure the funding it received.

What the onePULSE Foundation is now trying to pass off as "robust educational programming," was a shell website that was never marketed and never posted on their main website or social media pages. We call this a shell website because the content was never fully developed or utilized by the onePULSE Foundation.

When you go to the website, at first glance, it appears to be something substantial. However, when you inspect the actual content one can easily see that it is mostly copy-and-pasted content from the onePULSE Foundation's old website, videos from their YouTube channel, Placeholder Text that is gobblygook, and zero learning.

This was merely more smoke and mirrors crafted by the onePULSE Foundation as they squandered taxpayer dollars intended for counterterrorism efforts.

As you can see below, their Blog page—"A place where inspiration knows no bounds"—contains nothing but stock imagery and "Lorem Ipsum" placeholder text. It is a website that was never fully developed.

We have no idea when this "Pulse Academy" website was even created and published, but the Events Page suggests that this may have been sometime in the Fall of 2023. This is nearly a year after the onePULSE Foundation announced that it was a recipient of the DHS grant and just four months before the Foundation completely dissolved and deleted its main website.

As you can see from the screenshot below, the first event published on the website was slated for September 12-13, 2023.

Furthermore, when you click on the events, there is no real content. Again, a stock image and Lorem Ipsum placeholder text. This is not reflective of a "rigorous schedule of civil-centered programming."

It is also important to note, that the onePULSE Foundation said in their DHS grant application that as part of the onePULSE Academy, it would have a minimum of 10 events a year. However, this page shows only 6 events and the educational value of any of these events is questionable.

For example, Hispanic Heritage History Month is not an educational event or program put on by the onePULSE Foundation.

The never-marketed Pulse Academy website, accessible here, is not an "educational platform," as the onePULSE Foundation said they would created with the money granted to them by the DHS.

According to Forbes, a resource the onePULSE Foundation has loved to cite, an educational platform is a learning destination site like Coursera, Codeacademy, or Khan Academy. They can also be websites that have video-based lessons with explicit learning outcomes or Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Blackboard, Canvas, and Moodle. The Pulse Academy website lacks these features.

Educational platforms are not websites with copy-and-paste content from other sites, nor are they re-formatted YouTube channels. They are NOT host sites for previously-recorded events, previously-recorded zoom calls, video-recorded live entertainment, or poetry provided by another nonprofit. All of which had already been published on YouTube.

Many parts of this website, which according to the DHS application cost $120,000.00 to build, were still under construction showing that it was not utilized by the onePULSE Foundation—including for existing programs like their scholarship program that should still have over $400,000.00 in designated donations for future scholarships (after dissolution).

Rather, educational platforms are more than content delivery sites and educational aspects, like interactive features that engage learners like quizzes, assessments, simulations, and games. They typically contain communication tools: Educational platforms typically include communication tools that enable interaction between learners and instructors, as well as among peers. These tools may include discussion forums, messaging systems, video conferencing, and live chat. Assessments that measure learning, personalization features, analytics and reporting, and accessibility through alternative formats are also typical key features of educational platforms.

The onePULSE Academy site, which expires in July 2024, does not contain any of these features.

The Partnerships Page claims that there are 3 different courses, however, when you click on the links embedded on this page you are routed to the homepages of other nonprofits. Not to actual courses. In other words, you are redirected to content that is not educational, was created by other nonprofits, and not developed by the onePULSE Foundation through the DHS grant.

There are many other statements made in the onePULSE Foundation's application to the DHS, which can be downloaded below, that are not reflected in the onePULSE Academy's website:

Download PDF • 4.77MB

For example, in its application, the onePULSE Foundation claimed that it provides "innovative, reflective, and experiential learning methods." However, there is no evidence of any such learning exercises on their website.

The application also stated that the onePULSE Foundation provided "educational site tours that create safer learning communities," but there is no evidence of these either and such tours were never marketed to the public.

The application also stated that the onePULSE Foundation was "an education hub for knowledge and information on social issues," but clearly from both the onePULSE Academy and the onePULSE Foundation websites the Foundation was nothing of the sort.

The onePULE Foundation also stated that the grant would be used to "enhance our online services" and produce "secure online critical thinking exercises that can be used by all." There are no online services, nor are there any online critical thinking exercises on the onePulse Academy website. Still, the Foundation claimed to "have developed robust, educational programming around specific signature initiatives that exemplify onePULSE Foundation's ambitious reach."

In its DHS application, the onePULSE Foundation also asserted, "Success will be gauged through various assessment tools, including satisfaction surveys, scholarship rankings, communications analytics, community-engagement surveys, and attendance records." The onePULSE Foundation also stated they would develop, "surveys pre and post, metrics collection online after of violence exercises; ongoing annually as soon as online platform is launched." Nonetheless, there is no substantiating evidence for the existence of any of these assessments. Our firsthand experience attending their events indicates consistently low and diminishing attendance over time.

The onePULSE Foundation also falsely claimed that it would use the DHS grant to:

  1. Use the "Outlove Hate campaign [to create] practical, critical thinking virtual exercises" when the Outlove Hate campaign was a marketing campaign used to solicit donations by promising donors that for $49 their photo would appear on a mural inside the $100M museum that would never be built;

  2. "Rebuild [the] online platform to include secure and selt-guided exercises (provide different levels of exercises)" when there are no self-guided exercises on the onePULSE Academy website;

  3. Publish "Press releases on the new online presence and platform" when there are no press releases on the onePULSE Academy website.

  4. "Offer our global community activities and critical thinking programs through better designed and connected interdisciplinary programs, and curricular and co-curricular initiatives" when there are no learning activities or critical thinking programs of any kind on the onePULSE Academy website.

  5. Develop "no less than 40 critical thinking exercises... launched and tested on the platform... within 10 months of the grant... that have measurable results," when there are no exercises on the onePULSE Academy website.

The now-defunct onePULSE Foundation also made gross exaggerations about its public perception in its application to the DHS. Such as, "No other nonprofit organization is considered more credible than onePULSE Foundation" and that it was "a leader in critical social innovation thinking education."

They also perpetuated the false statement that the shooting was "both a terrorist attack and a hate crime," when the facts show that it was not a hate crime and the LGBTQ+ community was not targeted by the shooter. The Foundation continued to do this and disregard the facts because the "hate crime" designation gave them access to more federal dollars.

And of course the most fraudulent lie of them all, "[the onePULSE Foundation] will be building the largest LGBTQ+ memorial and museum over the next years."

After seven and a half years since the shooting, there is still no memorial or museum, and the onePULSE Foundation is nonexistent. Despite this, the foundation's executives received substantial compensation over the years. The Executive Director, CEO/Founder, and Vice President of Education each earned six-figure salaries, all while failing to deliver on their promised initiatives.

Just like the Federal PPP Loans that were forgiven so onePULSE Foundation Executives could continue taking a six-figure salary when they were no longer bringing in donations to sustain their nonprofit, the onePULSE Foundation will likely not be held responsible for this kind of waste of federal taxpayer dollars either because they dissolved. On paper, it appears that they were "on track" with their spending and project goals. However, when you look at the bigger picture of the nonprofit and not at how any singular grant was spent a different story is made clear.

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