A Loss for Project Most

Looking for creative solutions to close a hefty gap in funding
Project Most, a nonprofit that runs after-school programs in Springs and East Hampton and supports initiatives including the Seedlings Project greenhouse program, above, will not receive donations from the Hamptons Marathon now that the race has been moved to Southampton. Christine Sampson

As the Hamptons Marathon prepares to exit Springs for Southampton Village next fall, taking with it tens in thousands of dollars of charitable contributions, Project Most, a key beneficiary since the marathon’s inception nine years ago, is looking for creative solutions to close a hefty gap in funding. 

The nonprofit organization, which runs after-school and summertime programs in Springs and East Hampton, received $33,000 from the Hamptons Marathon last year and has gotten more than $200,000 over the past nine years. “It’s a significant loss,” said Susan Gentile Hackett, Project Most’s director of development. “It’s a big percentage of our annual fund-raising that we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to make up.” 

The Hamptons Marathon, which will take place on Oct. 1, officially announced in January that it will move to Southampton Village. Diane Weinberger, one of the marathon’s founders, explained on Tuesday that the village is requiring the race to have a beneficiary with a local ZIP code, meaning Project Most is not eligible. The Hamptons Marathon will instead benefit South­ampton Youth Services.

“Project Most has been a great partner with us for the past nine years. That was the biggest disappointment in leaving East Hampton Town,” Ms. Weinberger said.

Project Most, which serves 400 kids in East Hampton and Springs this year, is now working for the first time with Good Circle, a local company that connects businesses with nonprofit organizations for crowd-funding campaigns. This particular effort has Hampton Racquet matching donations from the community at large to Project Most’s iGrow Summer Learning Program. The iGrow program needs close to $40,000 to operate this summer.

“Hampton Racquet kind of came to our rescue to help us get the funding for our summer learning program,” Ms. Hackett said. “We put some of the marathon money toward it last year, but we can’t do that again this year.”

Ms. Weinberger said the Hamptons Marathon may be able to incorporate a fund-raiser for Project Most into one of its summertime training runs, but that it probably wouldn’t be able to come anywhere near the level of support the marathon had given Project Most in past years.

Ms. Weinberger and Ms. Hackett both said they hope East Hampton Town can step up to fill in where the marathon left off. The town provides $35,000 annually to Project Most. Larry Cantwell, the town supervisor, was out of town this week and unable to respond to an inquiry about the potential for increased Project Most funding. The Springs School District contributed $5,000 this budget year to Project Most and the East Hampton School District contributed more than $50,000 to support programming at the John M. Marshall Elementary School. 

Project Most is also supported by another local organization, Paddlers for Humanity. Fred Doss, one of its founders, who is also the co-founder of Good Circle, said in an email Tuesday that Paddlers for Humanity is funding Project Most’s arts and culture program this year with $22,000. “We certainly remain open to other and future funding” for Project Most, Mr. Doss said.

Ms. Hackett also said Project Most is looking into planning a big “turkey trot” community race this fall as a fund-raiser and is putting extra effort into an art and tree auction that it held last year for the first time. The organization has also sought and received some support from the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation. Parent fees account for $200,000 in annual revenue.

For the last four years Project Most has received a $375,000 grant from New York State. Next year is the fifth and final year for that grant, but the organization plans to reapply for future state funding. 

“We have reserve funds, but the problem is that the marathon supported the general operating fund as well,” she said, noting the organization has a budget of just under $1 million. “We might be really scrambling a year from now.”