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D.A.R.E. is fundraising in the Princeton area, but should you give?

Paid fundraisers for D.A.R.E. solicit donations on Nassau Street in Princeton.

People have been collecting money for D.A.R.E. this Thursday on Nassau Street and other workers have been seen collecting for the group in the Greater Princeton area in recent weeks.

But should you give to D.A.R.E?

The people manning the table on Nassau Street couldn’t provide Planet Princeton with any literature to take with is when asked. Instead they directed us to the organization’s website, dare.org.

D.A.R.E. America, which is based in Los Angeles, is an independent non-profit and is not affiliated with the police in Princeton or the New Jersey State Police. Police Chief Nicholas Sutter said the Princeton Police Department does not participate in the D.A.R.E program.

The non-profit scores only one star with Charity Navigator, with only about half the agency’s money going towards programs and services. About 34 percent of the group’s money is spent for fundraising and another 14 percent is spent on administration. According to 990 tax forms, the executive director of D.A.R.E.. made $192,000 in 2014 and the group paid $832,000 to a professional fundraising firm based in New York City. The non-profit’s total budget that year was about $4 million.

D.A.R.E  was a drug and alcohol course students in New Jersey were taught for decades. It ceased to exist in New Jersey after a curriculum dispute and legal battle between the national organization and the state’s franchise, but a new program is now taking its place. The course was taught in fifth and sixth grade classrooms throughout the country by certified local police officers. It began in 1983 and grew from one school district to a nationwide initiative. The New Jersey’s D.A.R.E. program was called “Too Good for Drugs (TGFD).” The national organization switched to a new curriculum called “Keepin’ it REAL” in 2012. New Jersey’s organization claimed that the new curriculum is untested, and unproven to work for elementary school students – their core demographic — and decided to continue using the “Too Good For Drugs” program.

In 2012, D.A.R.E. America moved to revoke New Jersey’s charter saying it went against its franchise agreement by using the older curriculum and if it continued to do so it could not operate under its name. The NJ group lost the battle with the national group in 2015 and had to pay the national organization a fine.

A new group devoted to supporting D.A.R.E. in New Jersey has sprung up and recently began a fundraising push. About 125 New Jersey school districts have a D.A.R.E presence now. according to organizers.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Bob

    Made a donation the other day. Serves me right for not checking out Planet Princeton on a more frequent basis. Thanks for the valuable information Krystal.

  • Dan D’Menny

    Reminds me of the “food for the homeless” scam they had in NYC 5~10 years ago. Most of the money went to the solicitors / panhandlers, who weren’t too specific about the actual program efforts that they were purportedly raising money for.

  • Lynda

    Thank you for this information. I am all for doing what we can to stem the tide of addiction and overdoses (I lost a step-nephew that way) but DARE does not seem to be doing the most good. Is there an alternate organization that might be getting better results?

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