PHOENIX - The ABC15 Investigators have uncovered complaints about a business that may be taking advantage of those hurting in a bad economy.
It's called the North American Program Planning and Policy Academy , or NAPPPA.
During the summer, NAPPPA held what was promised to be an advanced grant writing course here in the Valley
The paperwork says the two-day course would be intense and results-based.
VALLEY CONSUMERS COMPLAIN
It was geared toward non-profit organizations like Foothills Caring Corps of Cave Creek.
The organization works with seniors and tries to keep them in their homes by offering transportation and other services.
It relies on donations and grants to survive.
Director Debbra Determan thought the NAPPPA course might teach her new ways to better target grant proposals.
And she counted on learning how to do that locally.
So, Determan paid $398 and expected to learn so much that it would well be worth it.
And she liked the idea that the course would be taught at ASU's West Campus.
That's listed all over her NAPPPA paperwork.
But the night before the course, the location was changed from ASU, to a Phoenix hotel.
COURSE CALLED MISLEADING
Determan attended and says the course was nothing like the description.
She called the handouts basic and something anyone could find online.
She says that NAPPPA wouldn't even pay the hotel for an internet connection, so there was no online component as promised.
Carol Humble agrees with Determan.
And Humble taught the class!
Humble's business is Humble and Associates of Goodyear.
She says she was approached to teach the class just days before it began.
Humble says she was very disappointed in the curriculum NAPPPA sent her to teach.
She called it a mish-mash, saying it was disjointed, basic and "in my opinion, this class wasn't worth more than $10."
Humble says she didn't use what NAPPPA sent her.
Since her business deals with non-profit grant writing, she taught the class from her expertise.
And Determan says that's the only reason she learned anything from the course.
Seven Valley non-profit organizations were scheduled for the course.
But this didn't just happen in Phoenix.
NAPPPA SCHEDULES COURSES NATIONWIDE
The ABC15 Investigators discovered since March of this year, NAPPPA had scheduled similar courses around the country.
We found 21 courses from Harvard to the University of Miami to North Carolina State.
The fees were up to $600 for each person attending.
The courses targeted law students, academics and non-profit organizations.
And online complaints followed.
One person wrote in an online blog, the course and teacher were "poorly prepared and woefully underqualified."
Another comment said "6 hours the first day, 1.5 the next... A total waste."
And another said, "we walked out after no instruction."
Each complaint came from a different city.
NAPPPA HARD TO LOCATE
And NAPPPA is tough to find.
The ABC15 Investigators tried calling and emailing NAPPPA repeatedly, but got no response.
The website listing is privately registered and it has very few details about expertise or credentials.
And we found the address the company lists, is actually a Los Angeles UPS store mailbox.
NAPPPA agreed to pay Humble, the course's instructor, $1,000 within 7 days of the class ending.
When she contacted ABC15 more than a month later, she had still not been paid.
After we got involved, and after Humble pushed NAPPPA, she did get her money.
Determan wants to warn other non-profits, who might be struggling for money, to stay away from NAPPPA courses.
We found the NAPPPA website lists 20 upcoming courses this year around the country.
People have told us they filed complaints with the California and Arizona Attorneys General about NAPPPA.
But so far, there has been no government action against the company.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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