By Hannah Rappleye and Lisa Riordan Seville, NBC News
A New York-based charity sent about 30 children to a residential program run by The Second Mile, the charity founded by Jerry Sandusky.
The nonprofit, A Better Chance, was founded in 1963 to provide better learning opportunities to young people of color. The program places talented minority students in high schools around the country. A Better Chance is a favorite charity of Oprah Winfrey -- she donated over $12 million and has served as its national spokesperson.
While many Better Chance scholars are placed in private boarding schools, the charity also sends children to communities around the country with high-performing public schools. The Second Mile program was among the organizations that hosted such kids. Sandusky himself has no known connection to A Better Chance.
A Better Chance has not reached out to Pennsylvania authorities regarding the relationship between the two organizations, said A Better Chance spokesman Michael Paluszek.
“The information about the past relationship is public knowledge and A Better Chance has had no involvement with the foundation since 2001,” according to a statement from A Better Chance.
Sandusky, 67, faces 40 grand jury charges of sexually abusing eight young boys over 15 years. He retired as Penn State defensive coordinator in 1999 and is alleged to have met the boys through The Second Mile, which he started in 1977. He has denied the charges.
A Better Chance began sending students to a residence run by The Second Mile in 1988. Palusek said none of the A Better Chance kids lived with the Sadusky family.
However, one A Better Chance student was quoted in a news article as saying he attended a went to a Penn State event that Sandusky was at in 1997.
The relationship between the two charities continued for about 13 years. Bright young teenagers, many from inner cities, moved from as far away as Philadelphia and New York City to the Second Mile residence near Penn State. They attended local schools in the State College area and received tutoring. Many stayed multiple years.
Paluszek said that approximately 30 kids from A Better Chance lived under The Second Mile’s care over the years.
“A Better Chance did not participate in the operation of oversight of that Community School Program,” he said.
The Second Mile spent between $62,000 and $78,000 a year hosting kids from A Better Chance, according to tax filings from between 1997 and 2001. The money also provided assistance and services to foster families not related to A Better Chance.
A Better Chance stopped sending children to The Second Mile in 2001, when the latter ended funding for the program, Paluszek said.
“We have not had any involvement with the Second Mile Foundation in the past 10 years, nor have we received any complaints or inquiries from any of our students who attended their Community School Program,” he said.
A Better Chance is not the only charity associated with the Sandusky family. Last week, NBC reported that the Sanduskys may have hosted up to six children from the Fresh Air Fund program from the 1970s until the mid-1990s. The Fresh Air Fund connects New York City kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods to families in rural and urban communities.
The Fresh Air Fund later confirmed the Sanduskys hosted at least one child from the Fund. Unlike A Better Chance, The Fresh Air Fund alerted Pennsylvania authorities when it learned Sandusky may have hosted children from the program