A project by the Spring Buds Plan (春雷计划), an educational charity run by the China Children and Teenagers Foundation (CCTF), has come under fire online for misleading its donors.
The Spring Buds Plan was created in 1989, with the express purpose of assisting girls and young women in poverty and providing them with educational opportunities. The program is quite high-profile, having offered financial aid or job training to a few million girls over the years.
The recent criticism came after a Weibo user published a post a couple of days ago, claiming that she had donated money to Spring Buds, only to discover that some of the beneficiaries of the program she was funding were actually boys, even though the charity is only supposed to help girls. The user also made further allegations about the program, claiming that some of the schools it funded already seemed to be doing quite well financially. In particular, she mentioned one school whose meeting rooms are equipped with “leather sofas”.
As often happens in such cases, the allegations spread quickly and led to a large amount of other Weibo posts criticising the program, many of which have since been removed. The CCTF soon released an official statement, in which it admitted that its program had indeed funded boys as well as girls. According to the statement, out of the 1267 high and middle school students supported by the current round of funding, there are a total of 453 boys. CCTF claims that it initially only intended to help girls, but it changed its mind when the teachers in some schools in particularly poor areas told them that some local boys also needed financial support to continue studying.
Regarding the issue of the leather sofas in the schools, the statement by CCTF claims that while some of the schools in the program may enjoy relatively good conditions, this does not mean that the children’s families are not in need of financial support. The CCTF guaranteed that it would continue to focus mostly on girls, and apologised for the confusion that had been caused.