Official Statement by the Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out Board
May 9, 2014
We regret to inform the HARO/HA community that the Great Homeschool Conventions (GHC) board has — without any explanation — reneged on the offer for R.L. Stollar, Executive Director of HARO, to speak at the June 2014 GHC convention in Ontario, California. The HARO board has made repeated efforts to communicate with the GHC board and ask them to reconsider this reversal of their original invitation. However, the GHC board has not reconsidered. When they did respond after several days, they failed to give any reasoning for the decision beyond simply stating that they did not approve the application.
We know many of you were excited about this opportunity for HARO. The board members were beside ourselves with joy. Speaking at homeschool conventions is one of our most pressing goals for this organization, and we were grateful and humbled that GHC originally offered us a session. We are also overwhelmed with the love and support our community showed us by donating not only what we needed to make HARO’s presentation happen, but also donating above and beyond that need. We raised the full $1,250 necessary in 48 hours, and as of yesterday donations have continued to pour in, reaching $1,500 — 120% of our stated goal!
To everyone who shared and/or donated to our fundraiser: Thank you for the support. It is greatly appreciated. It is a blessing to know that so many people stand behind our vision and mission as much as we do.
It is with a heavy heart, therefore, we’ve had to face GHC’s reversal. We have to figure out how to handle the funds we already raised and what to do with Stollar’s almost completed 10,000-word speech. While we are not interested in speaking negatively of GHC at this time, we do owe it to you — our community and backers — to give you a basic timeline and details of the communications that occurred between HARO and GHC. That timeline and those details are as follows:
Timeline of HARO/GHC Interactions
On April 19, 2014, Kim McMillan — GHC’s Exhibitor Coordinator — received HARO’s application to speak at the Ontario convention. She responded by email that, “We will review your application the week of April 28th immediately following our Midwest Homeschool Convention – April 24 – 26th.”
On May 2, 2014, during the “week of April 28th” she previously mentioned, Kim McMillan told HARO that, due to another speaker’s cancellation, she could in fact “add a session for [HARO] on our schedule.” A screenshot of Kim’s offer follows below:
Later on the same day of May 2, HARO gratefully accepted Kim’s adding of a session for us, began filling out the paperwork she sent, and informed her that we are “going to need to raise money” because we are a “brand-new non-profit.” We asked Kim for financial deadlines.
On Sunday, May 4, HARO finished the paperwork Kim sent on Friday, May 2. We reiterated the need for information about payment, stating our fundraiser started the following day: “We are launching a fundraiser first thing in the morning (Monday). So please let me know what deadline we’d need to get you the money or deposit to you by. [We are] grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Ontario GHC!”
On Tuesday, May 6, HARO had yet to hear anything from Kim. We emailed her yet again, informing her of the fundraiser’s success: “We now have money through our fundraiser to pay for the exhibitor booth. So let [us] know if we should just get you a deposit for the time being or the full $500.”
Several hours after our final email on Tuesday, Kim McMillan left a phone message with HARO that the GHC board was denying HARO both a speaking and exhibiting spot at the convention. No additional information was given, and she never responded to our emails.
On Wednesday, May 7, the HARO board sent an official statement to the GHC board, asking them to reconsider this reversal of their promise. You can read HARO’s statement to GHC here.
24 hours after sending our official statement, we had not heard back from either Kim or the GHC board. We sent a follow-up email asking for a response within another 24-hour cycle. We emphasized the importance of being transparent with our backers and needing to inform them of any new developments as soon as possible.
Finally, today — Friday, May 9, 2014 — we received a response from Kim (but no response from the GHC board). Kim’s email contained no mention of the GHC board reconsidering their retraction, no reason for that retraction, and no willingness to dialogue. The extent of her email is as follows:
This “extra step” of approval was: (1) never mentioned in any correspondence between Kim and HARO, (2) never stated as an extra step in the email Kim sent when she said she could add a session for HARO, (3) never explicitly stated in the GHC speaker application itself, and (4) never explicitly stated on the GHC website.
Where We Go From Here
As much as we are reeling with disappointment from this decision, HARO’s number one priority at the moment is being transparent in our next few steps as we figure out what to do with the money we have raised. If it were up to us, we’d click a button and have our fundraising server — Indiegogo — cancel our campaign and refund everyone immediately. Unfortunately, Indiegogo will let us neither cancel our campaign nor refund anyone any amount.
HARO believes the best course of action is as follows:
1) Either explicitly earmark what we have raised for a future convention opportunity, or
2) Figure out how to refund our donors (which cannot happen until after our campaign ends, and may involve less than 100% refunds due to Indiegogo fees)
HARO would like to honor and respect each and every one of our donors’ individual wishes. So if you donated to our GHC campaign, we will be sending you an e-mail through Indiegogo. Please respond to that e-mail letting us know how you would prefer us to handle your donation. We also will update our Indiegogo campaign with this information, in light of the fact that we cannot manually cancel the campaign. Please note that we will need to figure out how to make each refund happen (PayPal donations will be the easiest to refund).
HARO Executive Director R.L. Stollar had nearly completed writing his hour-long speech for the Ontario convention. About 8,000 of the necessary 10,000 words were written before we received word that GHC was reneging on its offer. Regardless of whether each donor would like us to refund or save each donation, HARO as an organization values following through on its commitments. So every single one of our donors will still receive a digital download of Stollar’s presentation, “Facing Our Fears.” This presentation will be completed, formatted into an e-book, and possibly even recorded as an audio file as well — and then the presentation will be sent ASAP to our donors.
We will also make a copy of the presentation available to the general public within a month from now.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we figure out how to proceed with everything in the next few weeks. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask. We look forward to continuing our vision of “Renewing and transforming homeschooling from within.” While we are disappointed with this development, it does not faze us in the long-term.
On to the next one!
The HARO board
Aw. That’s sad. Better luck next time, though.
I really appreciate the transparency that you offer. I hope that the money you raised will soon fund another conference opportunity!
I really hope you keep the money ready for the next opportunity. I am certain that’s what most of your donors will want.
They realized your presentation was going to be heresy & thoughtcrime? Are they inviting Womb Tomb Swanson, the Pearls, or the Duggars instead?
I am so sorry that you have been uninvited. I do not go to that homeschooling convention. Is this common? As a current homeschool parent I would like to see you at these conventions. Your stories and concerns need to be heard. Abuse needs to stop. I am greatly saddened that they are turning a blind eye to you first generation homeschoolers and the wisdom and healing you have to help families and communities!
Both my husband and I read you blog posts. And take to heart the things you say.
It’s unfortunate that there does not seem to be a sizeable supportive organization (by which I mean one that offers an active framework to assist with the process and community culture of homeschooling.) within the “industry” that wants to represent the best interest of families and children through honest dialogue. I was initially excited about GHC but their roster of speakers and presenters is beginning to reflect certain ideological perspectives that are similar to what was already available. There has yet to emerge a positive, moderate & eclectic “voice” to represent and serve homeschooling families through conventions, and other structurally supportive activities, on a large scale. Best of wishes in finding larger reception for the wonderful work that HARO & HA are doing. It is an incredible service to the homeschooling community.
Thank you, Sarah!
I think you should go to the convention and rent a meeting room at the hotel. Leave flyers under the doors and invite people to speak with you. Make a press contact in Ontario and summarize your organization’s goals and message.