U-T and L.A. Times publisher Austin Beutner (left) interviewed governor Jerry Brown earlier this week.
  • U-T and L.A. Times publisher Austin Beutner (left) interviewed governor Jerry Brown earlier this week.
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If the Chargers leave town, San Diego won't be losing just a football team, it also will likely be bidding adieu to a charity that in its time has spread some major money around town.

Like the team, San Diego Chargers Charities has had its up and down years but can generally be counted on to cough up cash for school weight rooms, college scholarships, and a program it calls Junior Charger Girls.

Junior Charger Girls

Junior Charger Girls

"Participants age seven to fifteen perform in front of 65,000+ Charger fans," says the nonprofit's federal disclosure report for 2013, filed last August 26.

"The program teaches the participants the importance of raising money for charitable organizations while also teaching teamwork as the girls learn the performance routine from the official Chargers Girls dance team."

In 2013, the charity posted $466,089 in contributions and grants. The year before, the total was $252,792; in 2011, income reached just $117,099, according to the filings. In 2009, the nonprofit took in $627,414. Federal law doesn't require the source of the money to be disclosed.

From 2009 through 2013, according to the 2014 report, a total of $1,374,321 in gifts, grants, and contributions was received by the charity.

Weight room at Mission Bay High School

Weight room at Mission Bay High School

Top donations in 2013 included $75,000 to Clairemont High School for aid to school programs; Mission Bay High got $76,500. Other recipients included John Muir Middle School ($45,000); Wangenheim Middle School ($40,000); Nye Elementary ($30,000); Cajon Park Elementary ($13,000); and the Make-a-Wish Foundation ($37,110).

"Clairemont High School received $75,000 for a new weight room and sand volleyball court," according to a post on the San Diego Unified School District's website.

"John Muir K-12 School received $45,000 for fencing equipment and an archery center. Wangenheim Middle School was granted $40,000 for an indoor fitness center. Nye Elementary School received $30,000 for its Peaceful Playground Program."

Chargers president Dean Spanos was quoted as saying, “The main goal of our program is to provide students in San Diego with the necessary means to living a healthy lifestyle through physical fitness.”

According to the team's website, 2014 grants included $70,000 to Rancho Buena Vista High School for a weight room and $40,000 to Woodrow Wilson Middle School for the same. Del Dios Middle School got $35,000 for a fitness lab and Edison Elementary got $30,000 for a railyard course and fitness equipment. Monarch School got $24,000 for a turf field.

But if the Chargers depart the city for a destination north, a new arrival from Los Angeles may be counted on by local fundraisers to pick up some of the charitable slack, though he has a way to go to catch up with the Spanos family.

Austin Beutner, the wealthy publisher of the Union-Tribune who reportedly got $100 million for his share in an investment banking firm he co-founded, runs the L.A.-based Beutner Family Foundation.

According to its most recently available federal disclosure filing, dated May 28 of last year, Beutner's nonprofit had total assets of $97,755 and gave $250 to the East Harlem Tutorial Program.

As previously reported here, Beutner was a major player in the administration of Bill Clinton and is a big donor to Democratic politicos, including California governor Jerry Brown.

Earlier this week, Beutner interviewed Brown at an event sponsored by the U-T and L.A. Times, of which he is also the publisher. Both papers are owned by Chicago-based Tribune Publishing.

"Some eyebrows went up about the interview being conducted by Beutner instead of a Times journalist," reported L.A. Observed.

"But Beutner is increasingly being put forth to the public as a high-profile name at the Times. He certainly keeps getting mentioned in the paper's own headlines, including in coverage of the Brown talk."

Added the item, "Brown talking about the drought isn't really a news-making event, but the event got lots of coverage in the Times — including a triple-byline story in print, an analysis by columnist Cathleen Decker, and full-press advance and live coverage online.”

Noted L.A. Observed: “The Times used the occasion to announce another in its growing roster of newsletters, Water and Power, covering the drought. Beutner is a big internal proponent of these sponsored newsletters as a new revenue source."

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monaghan June 12, 2015 @ 3:49 p.m.

I wouldn't call Spanos' charitable giving which averages out to about $200,000 per year over the last five years "major money," especially when it mostly perpetuates the concussion-causing game of football among secondary school kids. I'd also like to know how many girls ages 7 to 15 were recruited to become "Junior Charger Girls" -- surely a program that won't be replicated by newspaper publisher Austin Beutner or anyone else ever again post-Chargers.


Ponzi June 12, 2015 @ 4:01 p.m.

The Jr. Charger Girls is held once a year, at a home game. The participants are required to have sponsors that pony up at least $175 in pledges. That money, that the Jr. Charger Girls raise is given to the Make-A-Wish Foundation as well as the Charger Community Foundation.

So it seems that the Chargers are hosting the budding cheerleaders and letting them hang out with the Charger Girls to learn some cheer routines, but the girls, their friends and families are raising the money.


swell June 12, 2015 @ 4:40 p.m.

As often happens in these Reader columns, multiple unrelated stories have been mixed here. Is there a shortage of electrons or pixels at the Reader? Will the entire paper eventually appear as a single long web page? Let's try to keep one story per page because I get confused when they are blended.


Ponzi June 12, 2015 @ 7:38 p.m.

I respect Matt Potter and enjoy his stories. With the "Chargers moving drama" going on, I think he is sharing an aspect of the potential move to LA that the what good deeds they have done locally will also move to LA. The Reader has editors too, and they may have let us down on this story. Rock on Mr. Potter.


shirleyberan June 12, 2015 @ 6:18 p.m.

First and second leading cause of injury to children, football and cheerleading/gymnastics.


danfogel June 13, 2015 @ 6:50 a.m.

Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury for all age groups less than 15. For children ages 0 to 9, the next two leading causes were being stuck by or against an object and animal bites or insect stings, for children 10 to 14 years of age, the next leading causes were being struck by or against an object and overexertion. For children 15 to 19 years of age, the three leading causes of nonfatal injuries were being struck by or against an object, falls, and motor vehicle occupant injuries. Football and cheerleading/gymnastics are NOT the first and second leading cause of injury to children.


Visduh June 12, 2015 @ 7:57 p.m.

Uhh, I think the real point here is that after the Spanos gang milks the local taxpayers for millions in subsidies, it gives back a percent or two to deserving schools and activities. In the process it returns a small slice of the diverted (or stolen, if you prefer) funds to the folks who had to do without. But while doing that, it presents the team as a generous donor to all sorts of local needy organizations.

This is reminiscent of the time that So Cal Edison was attempting to take over SDG&E. One of the favorite objections was that our county would lose one of its largest sources of grants, gifts, and awards. That was, of course, SDG&E, which made some major gifts each year, and was supposedly keeping the Symphony along with many other cultural outfits afloat. Perhaps that was true, but it must be remembered that this controversy occurred when our local SDGE electric rates were among the highest, or the absolute highest, in the USA. While every ratepayer was having his/her pocket picked for no apparent reason, the pocket-picker, SDGE, gave back a small cut to favored charities. In the process, SDGE looked generous, civic-minded, and magnanimous. Nothing was farther from the truth. Those donations were buying friends among the affluent and influential residents of the county. When it came time for SDGE to call in the markers, it had friends and more friends, all bought and paid for, in many sectors of the local economy.

My take is that the Chargers learned from other such sources of charity, and will as needed, milk the grateful citizens for all it can get.


shirleyberan June 13, 2015 @ 10:22 a.m.

Defies logic. Girls were fine being dancer cheerleaders but now are doing aerial acrobatics hoping the other kids can catch. Tackle football probably turns off the majority of boys but dad's enforce manhood and their own missed meaning. San Diego indoctrination Charity represents organized business games and is the country's billion dollar mistake. They don't pay the Dr. for serious head injuries. They put kids in harms way by intention and design so stop calling it accidental, while parents sit by snorting the opium. Not a healthy choice.


shirleyberan June 13, 2015 @ 11:18 a.m.

The most immoral mentality is from those who would exploit our young; many would literally die for American values. Register and vote to help save them.


shirleyberan June 13, 2015 @ 7:54 p.m.

Def. - Opiate of the Masses (People) : Something regarded as inducing a false and unrealistic sense of contentment among people.


danfogel June 13, 2015 @ 9:43 p.m.

Quite often, your muddled posts make almost no sense at all. Almost as if you're the one snorting opium.


shirleyberan June 13, 2015 @ 10:30 p.m.

danfogel - I don't think like you, and that's not a bad thing. Move on.


danfogel June 14, 2015 @ 5:14 a.m.

shirleyberan, And I don't think like you. And that is a good thing.


shirleyberan June 13, 2015 @ 10:49 p.m.

I could look up outdated statistics too but I'd rather use creative critical thinking about what's happening, up for interpretation not a perfection award.


danfogel June 14, 2015 @ 6:33 a.m.

Well...since the statistics are from 2013, and the most recent available, I would not consider them as outdated, though perhaps you do. And saying "San Diego indoctrination Charity" puts kids in harms way by intention and design, while parents sit by snorting the opium certainly is creative ( I don't believe that "Opiate of the Masses" could properly be referenced). But fyi, I don't believe that creative thinking and critical thinking in this context and purpose, can be interdependent but rather separately applied.


JaredBascomb June 24, 2015 @ 6:29 p.m.

Probably too little and too late, but as pointed out, the Spanos family's contributions to the community are minuscule compared to what they've extorted from us. As I've pointed out elsewhere, look at what these other people/families have given to the community: Jacobs Shiley Prebys Copley Geisel White Price

Love 'em or hate 'em for how they goth their money, these people have given millions of dollars to San Diego's cultural, educational, medical, and community organizations. What the Chargers and Spanos family have given are chump change to what these people have given. Goodbye Chargers, and good riddance!


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