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Is Tunnel To Towers Foundation a Good Charity?

   Feb 01, 2024

The 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.”

Inspirational Origin

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.”

Major Programs

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 Program, Fallen 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 Process.

Other Programs

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.

Legacy Awards

“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.

CharityWatch calculated 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 Top-Rated charity.

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.

Additionally, the foundation has been involved in responding to natural disasters and providing relief efforts. According to the charity’s website those efforts include: Hurricane Ian Relief, COVID-19 Heroes Fund, Superstorm Sandy Relief, Haitian Orphanage Relief, Hurricane Harvey Holiday Toy Drive, and Hurricane Florence Relief.

In response to a wake of destructive tornadoes impacting the
American Midwest in 2021, the Foundation reports that it loaded up a convoy of 26-foot trucks with various toys for children and, food and water for affected families. “The Tunnel to Towers Foundation supports families with young children, and right now the families that need help are here in America’s Heartland. After losing so much, I hope these gifts bring a little joy to these families this holiday season,” said Tunnel to Towers CEO and Chairman, Frank Siller.


Is the Tunnel to Towers Foundation a good charity to donate to? Based on CharityWatch’s analysis, Tunnel to Towers Foundation raises and spends public donations efficiently while also meeting critical benchmarks for governance and transparency. If its mission and programs align with your goals as a donor, it is a good charity to donate to.

This analysis was made possible by contributions from donors like you. As the only charity watchdog in the United States, CharityWatch relies on public support to fund our work with journalists, our research into wrongdoing in the nonprofit sector, and our charity ratings. Your donations are noticed, needed, and greatly appreciated.


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