15 Sep 2014
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Youth Center Gets 'Game Changing' Donation

The estate of a Pacific Palisades woman continues giving to children in Santa Monica, this time in the form of a $1.6 million to the Pico Youth & Family Center.

Youth Center Gets 'Game Changing' Donation

A $1.6 million donation will reportedly breathe new life into the Pico Youth & Family Center, a nonprofit under scrutiny by the city for how it has managed its finances.

The gift is from the estate of Peggy Bergmann, a former Pacific Palisades resident whose generosity touched the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Education Foundation earlier this fall in the form of a $4.6 million donation, the largest in the organization's 30-year history.

See also: $4.8-million Gift to Schools Is 'Spine Tingling'

The youth center's director Oscar de la Torre, who is also a member of the school district's Board of Education, told the Santa Monica Daily Press Bergmann's donation is a game-changer. He was unsure, however, how the money would be spent.

"At a time where our destiny was unsure, this gift brings new life to our mission as an organization," de la Torre told the local newspaper.

This spring, the Santa Monica City Council hired an independent agency to oversee the youth center's bookkeeping after city staffers said they learned de la Torre and an office manager had once received duplicate paychecks and that excess retirement contributions were being made on behalf of employees. The paychecks were later refunded.

The youth center receives an annual grant of about $305,000 from the city.

Also among the evidence of financial mismanagement cited by city staffers in a report this spring was the the youth's center's failure to meet a requirement of providing a 25 percent cash match for the grant in its history of accepting money from the city.

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According to the Daily Press, Bergmann's gift stipulates no more than 10 percent of the money can be used in any year and the rest must be invested. That could mean the donation might not help meet the cash match, the newspaper reported.

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