OnePULSE Foundation Disbands, Blames 'Unanticipated Challenges’

The site of the Pulse shooting. Wikimedia Commons.

The onePULSE Foundation announced on social media Wednesday that it would be dissolving and moving its assets, impacting its programming as well as the long-awaited building of a memorial to honor those killed at Pulse in 2016.

The foundation shared that its “good intentions are not enough” and that it could not secure a donation of the nightclub site from its owners, as well as other “unanticipated challenges.”

“We are offering the City of Orlando and Orange County access to all existing planning and design materials and all the valuable work over our six years of working with those so deeply affected by the Pulse tragedy,” the statement reads. 

A call to the onePULSE Foundation by OutSFL was sent to voicemail.

The foundation was founded one year after the shooting that claimed the lives of 49 people. Since then, it created the 49 Legacy Scholarship program and the CommUNITY Rainbow Run as well as spearheading the effort to build a permanent memorial at the site of the now-shuttered nightclub. In the works are also capital projects such as the Orlando Health Survivors Walk, which pays tribute to the first responders and law enforcement who answered the call for help. It’s unclear what the future of that project is with the dissolution of the onePULSE Foundation.

This year has been filled with even more setbacks. In May, it was announced that the foundation and the owners of the nightclub, Barbara and Rosario Poma, who also founded the organization, could not come to an agreement to donate the site. Poma stepped down from the organization in April to avoid a conflict of interest. In June, the foundation told OutSFL that it was pursuing leads on a few other properties for the memorial. WKMG in Orlando reports that in October, Poma sold the land to the city of Orlando and then earlier this month, executive director Deborah Bowie resigned from her post a little over a year after joining.

WESH2 also reported on Tuesday that the onePULSE Foundation was in violation of its building contract — its $3.5 million building with plans to be turned into a museum has been leased to an entertainment company — and would be evicted by the county.

One grassroots organization is celebrating the breakdown of the foundation — Pulse Families and Survivors for Justice. The group has long criticized the foundation, calling for transparency and accusing it of profiting off a mass shooting. 

“For years, we have criticized the OnePULSE Foundation for exploiting and harming us,” the group posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. "They never fulfilled any of their three changing mission statements. While we are grateful they are shutting their doors, we still demand a forensic audit so they are held accountable to their donors and to taxpayers for the millions wasted.”


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