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CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort)

CharityWatch report issued
October 2023

CharityWatch Grade
Our independent grade based
on a number of factors.
Program Percentage
Amount spent on programs
relative to overhead.
Cost to Raise $100
Amount spent to raise
$100 of contributions.

Contact Information

CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort)
910 N Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Other Names


Tax Status


Stated Mission

To save lives and strengthen communities affected by or vulnerable to crisis.

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Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 12/31/2022

Program Percentage: 68%

The percentage of CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort)'s cash budget it spends on programs relative to overhead (fundraising, management, and general expenses).


Calculated Total Expenses



Cost to Raise $100: $9

How many dollars CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions.


Calculated Total Contributions


Government Funding

25% to 49%

Percentage of cash revenue
coming from government sources


Financial Documents

Entity Document Type Tax ID
CORE Community Organized Relief Effort IRS Form 990 27-1703237
CORE Community Organized Relief Effort Consolidated Audited Financial Statements 27-1703237
Entity: CORE Community Organized Relief Effort
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 27-1703237
Entity: CORE Community Organized Relief Effort
Document Type: Consolidated Audited Financial Statements
Tax ID: 27-1703237

Governance & Transparency

CharityWatch evaluates certain criteria related to a charity's Governance and Transparency. Donors may want to consider a charity's willingness to be open and transparent with CharityWatch to be a good litmus test for determining its commitment to public accountability.
CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort)
meets governance benchmarks.
CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort)
does not meet transparency benchmarks.
Provides Financial Information
Audit Accessibility
Governance: Policies
Reports regularly & consistently monitoring & enforcing compliance with a written Conflict of Interest Policy
Reports required, annual disclosure by officers, directors, and key staff of interests that could give rise to conflicts
Reports having a written Whistleblower Policy
Reports having a written Document Retention and Destruction Policy
Governance: Financials
Reports providing copy of tax form to all board members prior to filing it with IRS
Reports that financial statements were audited by an independent accountant
Governance: Board of Directors
Reports at least 5 voting board members
51% or more of voting board members reported as independent
Reports documenting minutes of board and board committee meetings
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy No Sharing  

  Name Title Compensation
1 Ann Lee Chief Executive Officer $305,623
2 Jerome Lebleu Chief Operations Officer $259,502
3 Jill Bennett Director, Finance $246,986
Name: Ann Lee
Title: Chief Executive Officer
Compensation: $305,623
Name: Jerome Lebleu
Title: Chief Operations Officer
Compensation: $259,502
Name: Jill Bennett
Title: Director, Finance
Compensation: $246,986

CharityWatch Analysts perform an in-depth analysis of charities' audited financial statements and IRS tax filings, and often review other documents such as state filings, annual reports, and fundraising contracts during their evaluations. Below are select notes that CharityWatch believes may be of interest to donors.

According to the CORE audit of December 31, 2022 (Note 8, In-kind Contributions):

CORE received in-kind donated goods and services in fiscal 2022 on which it placed a total value of $1,062,394, which included long-term assets of $375,075, and supplies of $687,319.

[Note: CharityWatch generally excludes the value of in-kind (non-cash) donations of goods and services from its calculations of Program % and Cost to Raise $100. More information on how grades are calculated and the treatment of in-kind donations can be found on the Our Process page.]

According to the CORE audit of December 31, 2022 (Note 2, Summary of Significant Policies, Section Concentrations of Risk):

"...The Organization operates in Haiti, a foreign country, which does not have a history of a stable government or economy, as well as other foreign countries where relief efforts are needed. To the extent negative events occur in these countries or geographic areas, the Organization may not be able to recover its assets or remove its cash from these countries. The Organization held approximately $565,000 in Haitian cash accounts and $817,000 in net property, plant, and equipment located in Haiti as of December 31, 2022. The Organization also held cash totaling approximately $1,160,000 in Poland and $202,000 in Brazil as of December 31, 2022. 

Contracts in one city represented 19% of the Organization's revenue for the year ended December 31, 2022 and represented approximately 41% of outstanding receivables at year-end. Other significant receivables at December 31, 2022, were due from various city, state, and private companies for COVID testing and vaccine work."

According to the CORE audit of December 31, 2022 (Note 9, Commitments and Contingencies, Section Litigation):

"The Organization is sometimes involved in various claims and lawsuits arising in the normal course of its operations. Management believes the Organization has adequate defenses and insurance coverage for these actions and the outcome of any such ongoing litigation will not have a material adverse effect on the Organization's financial position, results of operations, or liquidity. During 2022, the Organization was named a defendant in a class action lawsuit, which is expected to be settled in 2023. As of December 31, 2022, the Organization accrued approximately $2,000,000 based on management's estimate of related costs to be incurred."

CORE reports "Bonus & incentive compensation" payments to one individual in fiscal 2022. The Director of Finance, Jill Bennett, received a reported $10,000 and had reported total compensation of $246,986 (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part II).

According to IRS Form 990 Schedule J, Part III:

Regarding Part I, Line 4a:

CFO (through June 2022), "Noel R Russell-Unterburger received a severance payment in the amount of $51,923." 

CharityWatch issued CORE Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) a "?" rating for its fiscal year ended 12/31/2021 due to our specific concerns related to its independent auditors' "Schedule of Findings and Questioned Costs for the Year Ended December 31, 2021" in connection with its financial statement audit concerning CORE's receipt of federal government awards.

CharityWatch updated our letter grade rating of CORE in October of 2023 based on our analysis of its fiscal year ended 12/31/2022 audited financial statements and IRS Form 990, including a review of its Independent Auditors' Report on Compliance for Each Major Program and on Internal Control Over Compliance Required by The Uniform Guidance [for government grants]. Based on our review, we observed that the concerns previously raised by CORE's auditors related to its government grants had been adequately addressed such that the auditors reported:

Internal Control Over Financial Reporting

1. No material weakness(es) identified

2. No significant deficiencies identified

3. No noncompliance material to financial statements noted

CORE's auditors also reported with respect to Federal Awards, Internal control over major programs, that they identified no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies.

With respect to CORE's year-end close process, the auditors identified one significant deficiency, as noted below. However, relative to the size of the organization (which reports total revenue of more than $62 million in fiscal 2022), the amounts noted were not significant enough (in CharityWatch's judgment) to assign CORE a "?" rating in lieu of a letter grade rating for its fiscal year ended 2022.  

According to the auditors' report:

"There were several adjustments recorded as a result of audit procedures, which may indicate certain month-end close processes are not working as designed. These adjustments included a reduction of expenses by approximately $200,000 for an invoice booked twice, reduction of revenue of approximately $200,000 for artwork sold that was booked twice, and an adjustment of approximately $450,000 to reconcile balances between the US and Haiti divisions and the related expenses."

As previously reported by CharityWatch:

CORE reported receiving approximately $48.4 million in government grants in 2021, according to its IRS Form 990 tax filing (Part VIII, line 1e). The $48.4 million comprises approximately 42% of CORE's reported cash-based total revenue of $115,930,876 in 2021. CORE's auditors raised concerns about the organization's accounting for and reporting of federal grants in 2021, in addition to other items, as further detailed below.

According to the "Other Reporting Required by Government Auditing Standards" section of CORE's Independent Auditors' Report, dated December 15, 2022, issued in connection with the CORE consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2021:

"In accordance with Government Auditing Standards, we have also issued our report dated December 15, 2022, on our consideration of the Organization’s internal control over financial reporting and on our tests of its compliance with certain provisions of laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements and other matters. The purpose of that report is to describe the scope of our testing of internal control over financial reporting and compliance and the results of that testing, and not to provide an opinion on the effectiveness of the Organization’s internal control over financial reporting or on compliance. That report is an integral part of an audit performed in accordance with Government Auditing Standards in considering the Organization’s internal control over financial reporting and compliance."

Section I of the "Schedule of Findings and Questioned Costs for the Year Ended December 31, 2021" related to the independent auditors' reporting concerning CORE's receipt of federal government awards (the "Auditors' Schedule") states: "The auditors' report expresses an unmodified opinion on whether the consolidated financial statements of CORE Community Organized Relief Effort were prepared in accordance with general[ly] accepted accounting principles.” An “unmodified opinion” means that in the opinion of the auditors, the organization’s financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. However, such an opinion does not guarantee that an organization’s financial statements are free from error.

The auditors report that during the federal awards audit process they identified “Material weakness(es)” and “Significant deficiencies” in CORE’s “Internal control over financial reporting” of its financial statements. A material weakness is one or more control deficiencies that create a reasonable possibility of material misstatement in an organization’s financial statements. This does not necessarily mean that a material misstatement has occurred, but rather that the organization’s internal controls might not be good enough to detect or prevent a material misstatement from occurring. A significant deficiency is a single weakness or combination of weaknesses in an organization’s internal controls sufficient to merit scrutiny of those responsible for administering its financial reporting. Under "Internal control over major programs" for Federal Awards on the Auditors' Schedule, the auditors report that the "Auditee" (CORE) does not "qualif[y] as low-risk auditee".

Section II of the Auditors' Schedule, "Findings Financial Statements Audit," states that CORE's staff did not have sufficient information available to be able to prepare an accurate and complete Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards (SEFA) for the audit. This was "[d]ue to the Organization's rapid response to support [COVID] testing efforts nationwide" which caused CORE to experience "a surge in workforce capacity, while implementing systems, processes, and controls." Additionally, the Auditors' Schedule states that CORE "faced turnover in management and accounting personnel during 2021 as well as significant growth in the number and complexity of contracts..."

As a result, according to the Auditors' Schedule: "Significant auditor assistance was required to identify the grants and correct expenditure amounts to be included in the SEFA. Modifications to the original SEFA included the addition of 3 Assistance Listing programs, 9 grants, and approximately $20 million in expenditures." The Auditors' Schedule also reported: "Inaccurate reporting of the federal expenditures in the SEFA could result [in] inaccurate major program determinations, risk assessments, identification of compliance requirements, and ultimately incomplete reporting of federal funds expended to granting agencies." 

For the "Recommendation" regarding the material weaknesses in CORE's Schedule of Expenditures of Federal Awards, the auditors state: "We recommend management implement more robust procedures and policies around tracking of federal grants and the related expenditures to ensure accurate and complete reporting of the SEFA..." The "Management's Response" that follows the Recommendation states: "CORE disagrees that the observed condition represents a material weakness in internal controls over financial reporting." The Management's Response cites several mitigating factors, such as "noncompliance at the pass-through entity level" and "the delayed issuance" of information by the government necessary to complete required reporting. CORE's management also states: "CORE now maintains a matrix of all grant awards which includes information on the funding source, award and CFDA numbers [Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers assigned for each government award]. Management reviews this information monthly for accuracy and completeness." The "Auditor Response" to CORE's management acknowledges and agrees that not all necessary information was provided to CORE, but it also states: "The auditor believes ultimate responsibility for obtaining all necessary information from granting agencies lies with the receiving agency, including keeping up with changes in federal award requirements."

Regarding the Recognition of Revenue by CORE, the Auditors' Schedule reports: "Revenue may not be recognized accurately or in the proper period." The auditors' recommendation includes that "management implement more robust procedures and policies around tracking of grants, grant requirements, and revenue recognition..." In response, CORE's management characterized this revenue recognition issue, which related to $1.8 million, as an "oversight" and stated that "although regrettable, [it] represents 1% of total revenues." The "Management's Response" by CORE also includes: "These conditions surfaced during the 2020 audit which was finalized in January 2022. The 2021 audit started five months later in June of 2022. At the completion of the 2020 audit, CORE agreed that a significant deficiency in control design existed and immediately took action to resolve the control weakness by hiring seasoned non-profit accounting professionals, implementing more thorough monthly review processes, and starting the process to transition to a more robust ERP [Enterprise Resource Planning] system which includes detective revenue recognition controls."

With respect to CORE's Document Retention, the Auditors' Schedule reports: "During the course of the audit, we noted certain documentation was not maintained to support the review and approval process" of certain items. The items cited include:

–  No available documented approval of payroll prior to processing for approximately 50 of the 100 samples tested.

–  No available documented approval of invoices for approximately 35 of the 100 samples tested with respect to authorization and approval of disbursements.

–  No available documented approval of invoices for 37 of the 40 samples tested with respect to authorization and approval of revenue invoices.

–  Not all donated goods and services had available backup documentation regarding nature and estimated value.

–  Documentation was not available to substantiate management's oversight and review of the monthly financials for several months of the year.

According to the Auditors' Schedule: "There was no monetary impact to the exceptions noted as the auditor was able to get comfortable that the transactions did exist and were related to the location to which they were recorded. Such information used by the auditor included: a) the supporting payroll registers; b) invoice and check/payment support; and c) grant invoice." In response, CORE's management cited several measures it has taken to prevent such issues in the future, such as "hiring a veteran payroll director to manage all aspects of payroll activities" and transitioning to a "replacement payroll system."

Regarding CORE's "Year-End Close Process," the Auditors' Schedule reports: "There were several adjustments recorded as a result of audit procedures, which may indicate certain month-end close processes are not working as designed. These adjustments included a reduction of expenses by approximately $200,000 for an invoice booked twice, reduction of revenue of approximately $200,000 for artwork sold that was booked twice, and an adjustment of approximately $450,000 to reconcile balances between the US and Haiti divisions and the related expenses." The auditors cited CORE's "surge in workforce capacity" and "turnover in management and accounting personnel during 2021" as having contributed to the cited issues.

The Auditors' Schedule reports that the effect of the above cited Year-End Close Process issues is: "Financial reporting may not be accurate." The auditors' recommendation is that CORE "implement additional closing procedures to ensure all necessary journal entries are recorded, accounts are reconciled, and management reviews monthly financial reporting." In response, CORE's management stated that "CORE's 2021 expenses increased to $105 million from $49 million in 2020," and that the two adjustment and reconciliation "oversights" cited by the auditors "represent less than 1% of the total expenditures for 2021."

The above information from the Auditors' Schedule represents only a sampling of the independent auditors' findings and the responses of CORE's management. A complete copy of CORE’s audited consolidated financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2021 is available on ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer website.

During a financial audit, auditors conduct various forms of sampling, which involves checking a portion of an organization's financial transactions to ensure that they are accurately recognized and recorded, that sufficient documentation exists to substantiate them, and that proper internal controls are being maintained by an organization's management. Samples are planned, selected, and evaluated for the purpose of providing an organization's auditors with statistically representative data adequate for inferring the overall accuracy of the reporting. An audit does not entail the auditors checking 100% of an organization's financial transactions to confirm the accuracy of the total of the reporting. For this reason, errors may exist in an organization's financial reporting that go undetected by its auditors.

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