Is Tunnel To Towers Foundation a Good Charity?
Feb 01, 2024
Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation (Tunnel To Towers) receives an
“A+” rating from CharityWatch, our highest score, for spending 93% of its cash
expenses on its programs, keeping its overhead spending down to 7% of total
cash expenses, and for being an efficient fundraiser—Tunnel to Towers spent
only $5 to raise each $100 of cash support in fiscal 2022.
Based on CharityWatch’s
analysis of the Tunnel to Towers’ IRS Form 990 and audited
financial statements, Tunnel to Towers raised approximately $292 million in
cash contributions in 2022 and spent approximately $284 million in cash
expenses that year.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation describes its mission in its fiscal 2022 tax filing in the following way:
“The mission of The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers
Foundation is to Honor the sacrifice of FDNY Firefighter Stephen Siller, and
all those who laid down their lives to save others on September 11, 2001. We
also honor our military, and first responders who continue to make their
supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country.”
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was founded in 2001 (according to the charity's fiscal 2022 tax filing) by the Siller family in memory of their beloved brother, Stephen Siller. According to the charity’s website, “Stephen drove his truck to the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but it had already been closed for security purposes. Determined to carry out his duty, he strapped 60 lbs. of gear to his back and raced on foot through the tunnel to the Twin Towers, where he gave up his life while saving others.”
The foundation's primary mission is to honor the sacrifice of Stephen Siller and other first responders by providing support to military and first responder families. Tunnel to Towers states on its website that one of its major programs involves gifting mortgage-free homes to Gold Star families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty. The foundation also assists catastrophically injured veterans with specially adapted smart homes to enhance their quality of life.
In addition, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation offers
financial support to families of fallen first responders and provides housing
for homeless veterans through various initiatives. These programs include the Homeless Veteran
First Responder Home Program.
According to the Tunnel to Towers fiscal 2022 audited financial statements, Program Service expenses are broken out into two segments: In the Line of Duty & Never Forget.
Detailed in the charity’s fiscal 2022 IRS tax Form 990, the
In the Line of Duty & Never Forget program segments report total expenses
of $239,775,618 and $27,884,943, respectively. However, not all of these
expenses are cash. A significant portion of the charity’s program spending
includes in-kind goods and services. Audit Note 9 of the charity’s fiscal 2022
audit reflects that In-Kind Goods & Services totaled $99,606,373 and $76,417,444
for In the Line of Duty & Never Forget programs, respectively. The charity reports expensing additional In-Kind Goods & Services to Fundraising and Management and General expenses in the amounts of $6,881 and $4,992,010, respectively.
NOTE: Accounting rules offer only
very general guidance about how charities are required to value non-cash
donations, and different charities often assign very different values to the
same items and services. For this reason, CharityWatch excludes such In-Kind Expenses
when computing a charity’s Program %, Cost to Raise $100 Fundraising Ratio, and
Letter Grade Rating. To learn more about how we account for In-Kind Goods &
Services, read Our
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation lists the following additional programs in its fiscal 2022 tax filing.
Never Forget Programs
“The New York City 5k Run and Tower Climb as well as the National Runs and Climbs are memorial events held in honor of Stephen Siller (FDNY), and all who perished on 9/11, as well as first responders and military who continue to put their lives on the line to serve and protect our nation. The foundation has established these memorial events to ensure we never forget!”
Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Institute
“This is our September 11, 2001 Education Program. The Foundation has developed a curriculum for grades K-12 that can be accessed by teachers throughout the nation to educate children about the history of 9/11. The program also includes a mobile exhibit, which serves to educate and pay tribute to the sacrifices made on September 11, 2001.”
Wings of a Hero
“To help local community children in need who have lost a parent by providing assistance for school, counseling or other needs.
“To assist families of injured or fallen first responders with their specific immediate financial needs.”
Is the Tunnel to Towers Foundation a Top-Rated Charity?
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation meets CharityWatch’s benchmarks for financial efficiency, governance, and transparency based on our analysis of its fiscal 2022 audited financial statements and IRS Tax Form 990.
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s percentage spent on Programs relative to
overhead, and Cost to Raise $100, to be 93% and $5, respectively. Considering
these factors, The Tunnel to Towers Foundation maintains its status as a CharityWatch
Noteworthy Achievements and Events
The foundation has garnered attention and support through various events and partnerships. The annual Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk is a signature event that draws participants from around the country, raising funds for the foundation's initiatives. Notable collaborations with celebrities, corporations, and community leaders have further propelled its popularity.