Joshua Gotbaum, CEO of the Sept. 11 Fund

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, March 6, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Billions of dollars have been raised to help people affected by September 11. Some of that money went to funds just for rescue workers, but one fund was designed to help anyone and everyone who was affected by the events of 9/11. It's the September 11 Fund.

As of March 1, the organization has raised nearly $500 million. So far, half of that money has been distributed. The fund, today, giving its six-month report card. Joining me now with the report is Josh Gotbaum. Josh is the CEO of the September 11 fund. Josh, good to have you.

JOSHUA GOTBAUM, CEO, SEPTEMBER 11 FUND: Great to be here, Neil.

CAVUTO: So, half of the money has gone out?


CAVUTO: And what is the average distribution?

GOTBAUM: The September 11 Fund, when it was set up by the United Way and the New York Community Trust, was set up to meet both immediate and long-term needs, cash and other needs, so that thus far, we have distributed a little over $200 million, helped 39,000 people, distributed over $175 million in cash, but also provided grief counseling to thousands of people, provided legal advice to people, provided job training, et cetera. And so...

CAVUTO: The 39,000...

GOTBAUM: 39,000.

CAVUTO: So this isn't just relatives and friends of the victims? This is people who were dislocated or lost work as a result?

GOTBAUM: Yes, because when they set up the September 11 Fund, they were very clear that there was going to be a range of needs so that the fund was consciously designed to help not only those who lost someone on September 11, but also people who lost their jobs, people who lost their homes, people who were -- to help rescue workers, because one of the things we know from Oklahoma City is that in the months after rescue workers help, some of them have trouble sleeping…

CAVUTO: So, let me understand this. When I first heard about the fund, I thought it was to help the families and relatives of the victims. So it was obviously much more than that, right?

So if I gave to the fund thinking that this was going to be earmarked to help the relatives of those killed, it was not just that, right?

GOTBAUM: One of the things that was very clear from day one when they set up the September 11 fund is that it would meet a broad range of needs. One of the things that we have done is, since we have a very large donor group, is...

CAVUTO: Do you think most Americans knew what difference the funds were, though? I think they just heard, all right, another fund set up to help the victims, another fund set up to help -- they did not hear like, people who lost their homes, right?

GOTBAUM: I cannot say, Neil. But I can tell you we have surveyed our donors and said, does it make sense to help people who lost their job as a result of September 11? And more than four out of five said yes.

CAVUTO: So, none of the donors have come back and say I want my money back?


Actually, at this point, about one-half of one percent of the funds have -- someone has come back and said...

CAVUTO: But the half the money that you're allocating right now for long-term, I mean, how long-term are we talking about?

GOTBAUM: As long as people have needs. For example, in Oklahoma City, one of the things they discovered is more people asked for help with counseling after the first year than before.

CAVUTO: So you've got to earmark funds for that?

GOTBAUM: So we've got...

CAVUTO: Because half seems a little high, doesn't it? No?

GOTBAUM: Well, the reason is we can do that is because other charities in government are taking care of some long-term needs and some immediate needs. So we take into account the fact that the federal government, as part of its Federal Victim Compensation Program, is going to meet financial needs for some of the victims.

The Red Cross, through its programs, will be helpful for other needs. And so, what we have to do is, in order to be thoughtful and to meet the needs of as many folks as possible, is to take those programs into account in designing hours.

The reason we reserved $250 million is so that because we know that those needs will be substantial, mental health, job training, et cetera. And we want to make sure we can meet those needs when they arise.

CAVUTO: Joshua Gotbaum, thank you very, very much. Appreciate it, sir.

GOTBAUM: Thanks very much.

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