Uvalde Together We Rise Fund: Where’s the money?

As of July 15th, $14 million in donations have been made to the Uvalde Together We Rise Fund.

UVALDE – “What’s happened to that money that the families need now?” Elaine Castro said at the last Uvalde City Council meeting.

”Where’s all of the funds for these families?” Daniel Reyes added at the same meeting.

There’s confusion in Uvalde and here in San Antonio about the millions of dollars raised in wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting.

“The fund that’s in the bank, it’s it’s it’s tied up. There’s a committee,” Everardo “Lalo” Zamora, Uvalde city councilman said.

“Hold on. We have nothing to do with that fund in the bank,” Ernest “Chip” King III, another city councilman chimed in.

The city council wiped their hands of it, instead pointing to efforts by the Uvalde volunteer fire department that’s been giving money to families of the wounded since June.

Uvalde volunteer fire department Paypal charitable fund. If you guys want to get some money into people’s hands really quick, donate to that. We will make sure the families get money,” King III said. “Originally we started for the families who, for the injured for some of those who were still in the hospitals and we’ve expanded. If we can get more money in that account, the fire department is going to help all of the families.”

In fact, over 36 checks for over $2,000 each were distributed Friday and will continue to be handed out Monday to help families in any way they need.

A representative with the fire department says they’re just the vehicle helping to distribute the funds. Money is coming from all over.

According to a post on a now closed GoFundMe page, $21,000 were distributed to families of the wounded.

When it comes to the $14 million in the Uvalde Together We Rise Fund, families have a few more months to wait until they can get their hands on that.

In the days following the Robb Elementary shooting, an account was opened at the First State Bank of Uvalde to collect money in a centralized location. In total, $4.7 million was raised in the Robb School Memorial Fund.

In the weeks that followed, a steering committee was formed comprised of local individuals.

  • Veronica Conoley, PhD
  • Erika Garcia, M.D. (Vice Chair)
  • Mickey Gerdes (Chair)
  • Sheri Rutledge
  • Bianca Spies, LPC
  • Virginia Sosa, OD
  • Edward Trevino
  • Julio Valdez

On June 20th, the steering committee sent out a press release detailing a partnership moving forward with the National Compassion Fund, a subsidiary of the National Center for Victims of Crime.

Two members were added to the steering committee.

  • Anita Busch, President of VictimsFirst, co-founder of NCF, currently serves as a Mass Violence Relief Specialist and Advisor to the Fund and is recommended by NCF.
  • Paola Bautista, who was a survivor of the shooting at the Route 91 Concert in Las Vegas and is recommended by NCF.

They also decided to combine the Robb School Memorial Fund with four other philanthropic funds.

According to the NCF website, the leading national authority on mass-casualty crime has distributed more than $105 million in donations to people affected by 23 mass shootings since 2014.

Right now, NCF has two active funds available on its website -- the Uvalde Together We Rise Fund and the Buffalo 5/14 survivors fund.

The steering committee met on June 22nd to create a draft protocol in both English and Spanish to lay out how to best handle the donations coming in.

It was then published and made available for public comment on June 30th.

On July 19th, the steering committee held a town hall for public feedback.

So far they have decided the money donated will be split into three categories.

  • A) Legal heirs of the 21 people killed
  • B) People who were physically injured in the shooting.
  • C) People other than first responders who experienced it

The dollar amounts for each tier vary.

On August 11th, the steering committee will hold a town hall at the County Fairplex at 11:30 a.m. to hear from the public about the published draft protocol and to explain the application process.

The final protocol will then be published online on August 18th.

According to the published draft protocol Section Two: Process and Procedures, subcategory K, families can access some of the funds early.

Upon approval of a Final Protocol, applicants in Category A (Legal Heirs of those killed) may

request an advance payment of $25,000 per decedent. Applicants in Category B (injury) who

were hospitalized overnight may request an advance payment of $15,000. Applicants in

Category C (Psychological Trauma) who were in rooms 111 or 112, may request an advance

payment of $10,000. All advance payments will be deducted from the final distribution amount

for the category in which the applicant is validated.

Draft Protocol

Individuals who meet these criteria will need to apply to receive funds. That application process opens from September 8th until October 6th.

On October 20th, the donations will close and on November 14th the steering committee will approve the distribution of funds.

Those payments will begin rolling out on November 21st.

Three weeks after the end of the month when all of those funds are distributed, an independent auditing firm will make sure the funds were given out correctly.

It seems like a long time for families to wait to get ahold of their money, but it is standard.

NCF handled the donations for the Santa Fe High School shooting as well.

According to the NCF website, the $1.2 million donated after that tragedy in May 2018 wasn’t distributed until September 2018.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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