November 2018 Annual Meeting
Meetings of the Fund Members and the Board of Directors were held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on November 17, 2018. Mr. M. Herman welcomed Messrs. J. Balaz, J. Hladký, J. Zlatuška, introduced Mr. Martin Mucha and asked the meeting to welcome him as a new member and Treasurer, replacing Ed Chlanda, who retired in June 2017.
Mr. Mucha highlighted his background - a cofounder & CEO of Igluu LLC, an innovator of the residential real estate industry, leveraging big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. Mr. Mucha is also a Vice President in Cerco Funding LLC, a New York based Real Estate lender pursuing bridge loan lending opportunities across the United States. All voted in favor and welcomed Mr. Mucha as a new member and Treasurer.
Mr. Herman briefed participants on activities of the Center for Talented Minds (CTM), the Fund's extended arm in Prague. He reiterated points from his note distributed on November 11, 2018. Following a lively discussion, the meeting was concluded with membership issues. Mr. Hladký proposed to restructure the Executive Committee, reducing it to three members: Messrs. Herman, President, Mucha, Treasurer, and Balaz, Secretary. Mr. Herman endorsed the motion and all participants approved. Mr. Herman thanked participants and the meeting adjourned.
November 2017 Annual Meeting
Meetings of the Fund Members and the Board of Directors were held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on November 18, 2017. Mr. M. Herman welcomed Messrs. E. Chlanda, J. Balaz, and J. Zlatuska. Proxies represented Messrs. J. Hladky, H. Kallan, K. Obluk, Mme. B. Racine and J. Bockova. Mr. B. Klesken and Mr. Kara were excused.
Mr. Balaz asked Mr. Herman to brief participants on activities over the last 12 months. Mr. Herman noted great progress of CTM making it realistic to get 800 – 1,200 students into CTM Online – a break even point. Referring to his note distributed to members on November 14 Mr. Herman highlighted: (i) 350 students already in CTM Online and more registering for winter semester; (ii) 75 students taking AP exams in May 2017 with grade average of 4.26 – beyond excellent; (iii) focus on children 11 – 12 years of age with “The World Around Us” CTM own course; (iv) CTM pilot school program combining CTM Online at home and in class; and (v) introducing AP Capstone to a few schools – eventually giving students the possibility to get an internationally recognized high school graduation exam – AP Capstone Diploma.
In closing, following a lively exchange of ideas, Mr. Herman appealed to participants to help rejuvenate the Fund, find new members. The Fund has a great history. We need to do all we can to live up to it with our education programs. The extended arm of the Fund - CTM in Prague – is connecting Czech and Slovak high school students to the rest of the world. CTM is here to stay. It should be easier for others to join us and make it an even greater success. The meeting adjourned.
December 2016 Annual Meeting
Annual Meetings of the Fund Members and the Board of Directors were held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on December 10, 2016. Mr. J. Balaz welcomed Messrs. E. Chlanda, M. Herman, and H. Kallan. Proxies represented Messrs. J. Hladky, T. Kara, Mme. B. Racine and J. Bočková. Mr. B. Kleskeň was absent.
Mr. Balaz congratulated Mr. Herman on his excellent work. He noted the reduced cost of the updated CTM Project Proposal, the support from the RSJ Foundation, and continued excellent results of students in the program. He also voiced a concern brought up by Mr. Zlatuska through his proxy. Mr. Zlatuska advises to be cautious about inviting clearly political persons on the CTM advisory board. The point was well taken.
The meeting discussed the December 2016 CTM Project Proposal, support of the RSJ Foundation and other Czech institutions, membership issues, and fundraising.
In closing, Mr. Balaz proposed Mr. Herman for AFCSLS executive vice president. Responding, Mr. Kallan proposed to step down and offered the presidency to Mr. Herman who agreed to take over. Mr. Balaz moved, Mr. Kallan provided a second and the motion was unanimously agreed to. Mr. Herman thanked the participants, assured them of his resolve to ensure CTM success and asked them for their continued support. The meeting adjourned.
Executive Committee Meeting of April 3, 2016
The Executive Committee met at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on April 3, 2016. Mr. J. Balaz opened the meeting welcoming Messrs. E. Chlanda, M. Herman and J. Zlatuska. Messrs. H. Kallan, B. Klesken, J. Vilcek and Ms. B. Rasine could not attend.
Mr. Herman briefed participants on the work since the Annual Meeting of Novemnber 21, 2015. Most work was devoted to secure continuation of online education for Czech and Slovak gymnasia students. He elaborated on efforts to diversify and expand the online program. He briefed participans about innovations in online since the start of our work with CTY six years ago.
Mr. Herman informed that agreements were signed with three new providers, which makes it possible to reduce tuition fees and thus make quality online education more afordable to Czech and Slovak students. He pointed out growing financial support on the Czech site. He mentioned a letter of support and $16,000 for scholarships from RSJ Foundation. RSJ wants to do more for our program.
Mr. Zlatuska asked about the support from the Czech Ministry of Education. Mr. Herman explained that the Ministry erroneously disqualified one of our grant requests on the grounds that it was seeking – according to the Ministry’s evaluation experts – for university students. Ms. Bockova protested this “error”, which was acknowledged without apology. Mr. Zlatuska offered to follow up. Mr. Herman suggested that it would be more productive to ensure error free evaluations of future CTM grant requests. Our second grant request for scholarships of Kc1.5 million ($60,000) was approved but not disbursed to CTM yet.
In conclusion, Mr. Herman noted ongoing work including overhaul of CTM website, switching Fund Facebook domain to CTM, overhaul of management administration system, budgeting and financial projections, preparing and opening registration on May 10 into CTM Online courses for next school year. He cautioned that the response to the updated online program is uncertain. We will await the results of student registration and based on the actual response update our proposal for CTM as our operating entity in Central Europe. We will then turn our partners for co-funding. Our objective is still to make CTM Central Europe break even by the third year; i.e. tuition revenue (800 – 1,200 students registered) that would cover operating expenses.
November 2015 Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting of the Fund was held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on November 21, 2015. Mr. Balaz welcomed Messrs. E. Chlanda, M. Herman, and J. Zlatuska. Proxies represented Messrs. J. Hladky, T.Kara, B. Klesken, J. Renner, J. Vilcek and Ms. B. Racine. Ms. J. Bockova, nominated for membership by Mr. Herman, joined the meeting at the start. Arriving directly from the airport, Mr. Kallan joined the meeting already in progress.
Mr. Herman highlighted developments since the May 2015 meeting of the Executive Committee, referred to a Project Update, distributed to members on October 24 and congratulated Ms. Bockova to a breakthrough in finding support in the Czech Republic. Ms. Bockova provided details, informed about new found interest in our project from potential partners, noted also that uncertainly lingers concerning long-term cooperation with CTY, which is going through a reorganization and management changes.
Next on the agenda were membership issues. Mr. Herman noted excellent work of Ms. Bockova and proposed she becomes a member of the Fund. Mr. Balaz provided a second and all voted in support.
Mr. Chlanda distributed a tentative draft of the Fund finances for the year 2014/15. He noted the obligation of members to donate annually at least $500. He urged members to donate to sustain the necessary support of CTM operating cost. All agreed, much more needs to be done to raise funds. Mr. Kallan suggested to contact Czech and Slovak Honorary Consuls to help raise funds. It was agreed Mr. Herman will draft a letter for Mr. Kallan’s signature with a list of all 23 Czech and 12 Slovak Consuls. On this occasion, Mr. Herman reminded members of the Fund’s commitment to raise $400,000 provided an equal amount is raised by a Czech partner to support CTM operation.
In conclusion, Mr. Balaz asked Mr. Herman to summarize the main points. Mr. Herman noted excellent results of students, much greater interest in our program from potential partners, difficult negotiations ahead with CTY Johns Hopkins, and support of CTM operations in completing partnership arrangements.
May 31, 2015 Executive Committee Meeting
The Executive Committee met for updates by Mr. Herman and Ms. Bockova. Mr. Herman introduced Ms. Bockova to Committee members since this was her first meeting with the Board. Ms. Bockova briefed members on her work, responded to a number of questions. Mr. Herman and Ms. Bockova briefed members on just completed meetings with CTY. All present expressed their gratitude and support.
Noting a vacancy on the Board, Mr. Chlanda, introduced Jan Renner, a NY media executive, whose father came to the United States with the help of the American Fund for Czechoslovak Refugees. All present welcomed Mr. Renner as a new member.
In conclusion, the Executive Committee agreed to continue providing scholarships for CTYOnline courses for next school year based on excellent results of students in the CTYOnline program and growing public support.
March 29, 2015 Executive Committee Meeting
The Executive Committee met to discuss developments since the October 2014 Annual Meeting. Mr. Herman informed participants that after the initial enthusiastic support and a commitment in writing, the Czech Ministry of Education decided on December 23rd 2014 to cancel a two-year strategic partnership and a Kc10 million grant to our Czech partner Ms. Ms. Bockova’s Centrum pro talentovanou mladez. Facing mounting public and diplomatic pressure, the Ministry was forced to pay at least $135,196.80 in scholarships for 150 Czech students taking CTYOnline courses but cancelled the strategic partnership agreement. The payment for CTYOnline scholarships reached CTY account on March 26, 2015.
One positive aspect of the unfortunate actions by the Czech Ministry is that our program has gained great popularity. The public now sees CTY and our effort as a great opportunity to develop the talent potential of Czech students. It understands that no domestic program comes even close to the CTY system of talent development. In July 2014 even Minister Chládek agreed with the general public, was excited about CTYOnline and CTY Central Europe. Then in December 2014, the Ministry’s “experts on talent” forced the Minister to recant.
Mr. Kallan thanked Mr. Herman for his work and indicated he was ready to resume his support. He committed to match donations of members to cover pending expenses. He expressed great displeasure at the attitude of Minister Chládek refusing even to acknowledge our accomplishments and labeling us disparagingly as an “agent” interested only in personal financial gain. Mr. Kallan remarked that with a forthcoming attitude from Minister, he would have been ready to contribute $135,000 of his personal funds toward operating expenses this year. In any case, Mr. Kallan noted that because of strengthening US dollar the Minister had to pay at least Kc500,000 more than had he paid in October 2014 as agreed initially when the dollar exchange rate was much more favorable to the Czech Crown.
In conclusion, it was agreed to pledge $400,000 and to seek a matching contribution of $400,000 from a Czech side toward the establishment of CTY Central Europe. The funds will be used during a start-up period for over the next two years to (i) acquire a package of CTY support services including the rights to the CTY brand name and the Central European domain; and (ii) cover local operating cost.
October 2014 Annual Meeting
A combined meeting of the Fund Members and the Board of Directors was held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on October 4, 2014. As acting President, Mr. J. Balaz opened the meeting. He welcomed Messrs. E. Chlanda, M. Herman, J. Vilcek and J. Zlatuska. Proxies represented Messrs. M. Kallan, J. Hladky, J. Slavik, T.Kara, B. Klesken and Ms. B. Racine. Members discussed broadening of membership, fundraising, and program activities.
Mr. Herman informed about the decision of Mr. Marcel Chladek, the Czech Minister of Education, to support the Young Talents Program conducted by the Fund with Nadane dite, a Czech non-profit, and the Center for Talented Youth, Johns Hopkins University. Members welcomed the news but reiterated the decision of the Executive Committee of February 12, 2014 suspending all activities until the Czech government actually approves its support.
Mr. Herman informed the grant should be approved by October 2014. He informed also that the grant will be limited to the support of Czech students taking CTYOnline courses. Additional funds will be needed to cover local operating cost aimed at engaging more students, schools and instructors.
Mr. Herman noted the generous support from Mr. Klesken, LEAF, who provided Euro $20,000 for CTYOnline tuition, textbooks, and lab kits for Slovak students. In conclusion, it was agreed the Executive Committee will meet soon after the Czech Ministry of Education approves the grant. Assuming the grant is approved, fundraising and broadening the membership base will become top priorities. This concluded the proceedings of the 2014 Annual Meeting.
Meeting on February 12, 2014
Messrs. Kallan, Vilcek, Chlanda, Balaz and Herman met on February 12, 2014 at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City to discuss the Young Talents Program and the establishment of the Center for Talented Youth - Central Europe. The meeting decided that the Fund cannot continue the program without substantial financial support in the Czech Republic. Mr. Herman will continue to seek partners in the Czech Republic and try to maintain momentum and grassroots enthusiasm generated over the past three years. Without a Czech partner willing to join the Fund by April 2014, the Young Talents program will be suspended indefinitely. It was agreed to reconvene again in about six weeks to review the situation.
January 2014 Executive Committee Meeting
The Executive Committee met in disappointment on January 26, 2014. Despite strong support in the Czech Republic, Prof. MSc. Dalibor Stys, PhD, the Czech Minister of Education, declined to support the Young Talents Program calling it "exceptionally unsuitable". Mr. Samuel Robfogel, Senior Director, International Development, CTY, joined the meeting as guest following the executive session. The meeting took place at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City.
Mr. Herman highlighted the main points: (i) the Czech government grant failed to materialize and it may be even harder to try gain support of the incoming minister of education; (ii) a decision needs to be taken urgently on the CTY Summer Program and registration to CTYOnline for next school year; (iii) the Fund’s program is growing and gaining recognition among students, parents, participating educators, and schools. Nearly 200 students are enrolled in CTYOnline, 60% paying their own tuition;
(iv) public funds may be gained indirectly (charging fees for training of instructors, subsidizing fees for CTYOnline, etc); (v) the Fund should establish CTY CE as a Czech legal entity, which among others, will help with indirect access to public funds; and (vi) CTY/JH know-how is vital for the Fund to advance as intended.
Mr. Chlanda pointed out a severe shortage of funds and a lack of donations this year. The Fund has about $25,000 available. He pointed out the Fund was established in 1948, 66 years ago, and members are not here to bankrupt it. The Fund needs a small balance to remain on "life support." It's non-profit status and history has a value beyond any single program. Mr. Herman offered a major money donation and in addition to work for $1 plus expenses this year provided his offer receives a response from members sufficient to continue the program as intended.
The committee then discussed options ranging from between closing down by June and the full-fledged $3 million in startup capital over the next three years to establish CTY CE as an independent self-funded institution. It was agreed that suspending the Young Talents program until funding becomes available should be avoided. Mr. Klesken suggested scaling down so CTY CE can be financed and momentum maintained.
Mr. Robfogel joined the meeting following the executive session. He noted the excellent quality of the program, appreciation of CTY for this opportunity, CTY experience that piecemeal approach is generally unsuccessful, agreed that setting up a Czech legal entity is important, and mentioned recent inquiry from Hungary. He could not provide a cost estimate for an intermediate solution, mentioned high CTY opportunity cost and the growing demand for CTY services in Asia and the Middle East. CTY cannot support the Fund indefinitely.
Mr. Kallan asked Mr. Robfogel about CTY experience with fundraising. Generally, CTY receives donations in two ways. Smaller donations come from those who benefited from CTY programs. Large donations come from governments and/or private foundations interested to start projects such as CTY CE.
In conclusion, it was agreed another emergency meeting be held within the next two weeks to focus on fundraising and on finding a solution for the Young Talents program to continue. Mr. Balaz will announce the date in the next few days.
November 2013 Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting of the Fund was held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on November 2, 2013. Mr. Balaz opened the meeting welcoming participants. The agenda was set by a brief submitted to members by Mr. Herman on October 29, 2013. The brief provides an overview of negotiations with the Czech government for a grant to help start the Center for Talented Youth Central Europe (CTY CE), recent adjustments to legal arrangements for CTY CE and transition from the pilot program to CTY CE. Mr. Chlanda, the treasurer, reported on finances and a looming loss of Fund support in case expected contribution from the Czech government fails to materialize. He emphasized a generous infusion of donations and careful spending is vital for the Young Talents Project/CTY CE to become reality.
Mr. Herman stated the strategy of the Fund from the very beginning of the Young Talents pilot program has been to create reality that is so appealing it becomes irresistible. This has worked in part. The pilot program is a terrific success. However, starting CTY CE is unthinkable without a major grant from the Czech government. Mr. Kallan asked Mr. Klesken for opinion on the status of the grant negotiations. Mr. Klesken responded that the Minutes of the latest government meeting suggest it is about technical issues of how to release the grant rather than should the government approve it. Still the outcome is uncertain.
Mr. Herman noted the excellent support from Mr. Klesken. He asked Mr. Klesken to brief members on his work in Slovakia. Mr. Klesken set a huge task for himself – help to shape a new generation of Slovak leaders. He elaborated in some detail on his vision and actions already taken. His work dovetails with the work of the Fund. A long discussion among members on this broad subject ensued.
Mr. Simeon Brodsky, Senior Director, International Development, CTY, joined the meeting as a guest to provide CTY perspective on the establishment of CTY CE. Without government funding available by June 2013, CTY/JH agreed to continue in the pilot mode. Mr. Brodsky noted the exceptional quality of Czech and Slovak students, much has been accomplished which gives solid prospects for CTY CE. However, CTY/JH is increasingly reluctant to continue in an indefinite transition mode.
The meeting concluded with unanimous approval of continued support until June 2014 and - in the meantime – expecting to obtain support from the Czech government so CTY CE is established.
November 2012 Executive Committee Meeting
The Executive Committee met on November 29, 2012 to decide on how to sustain and to expand the Young Talents Program. The meeting was held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City. Mr. Simeon Brodsky, Senior Director, International Development, Center for Talented Youth, joined the meeting as a guest to brief members about CTY and its international activities. Mr. Balaz, Secretary, reported that Fund members had approved Corporate Resolution to authorize Mr. Herman to complete negotiations leading to the establishment of the Center for Talented Youth Central Europe (CTY CE). He noted substantial progress partly because the Fund has invested into the program nearly $500,000 already. He emphasized the importance of maintaining the momentum of preparation activities while the Czech National Education Fund (NEF) is working on securing funds for CTY CE startup. Participants agreed that the Fund would continue preparation activities this fiscal year (October 2012 - September 2013) supported by bridge financing. It expects to be refunded for expenses in the current fiscal year as soon as NEF financing becomes available. In case NEF financing will be delayed or withdrawn, the Fund will be forced to a much reduced funding level of the program while seeking a suitable alternative.
September 2012 Annual Meeting
Chaired by Mr. Kallan, President, the Annual Meeting of the Fund was held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on September 8, 2012. The agenda focused mainly on the Fund's Young Talents program and finances. In general, members were happy with progress and voted to approve preparation activities for setting up the Center for Talented Youth in Central Europe including ongoing negotiations with Masaryk University and the Czech National Education Fund. Moreover, Fund Members agreed to extend cooperation with CTY and support the Young Talents program for another year even if negotiations with Czech partners fail or are delayed. Mr. Chlanda, Treasurer, noted that at the current level of expenditures and donation income, Fund operations will run out of cash in about two years. On fundraising, Messrs. Vilcek and Kallan confirmed from their personal experience the difficulties of obtaining donations in the Czech and Slovak Republics.
October 2011 Annual Meeting
Chaired by Mr. Balaz, Secretary, the Annual
Meeting of the Fund was held at the Bohemian National Hall
in New York City on October 14, 2011. The agenda focused
mainly on the Fund's programs and finances. Mr. Herman briefed
members on the Young Leaders and Young Talents programs.
Members expressed their appreciation of how the Young Talents
program has evolved over the last year. Mr. Chlanda, Treasurer,
briefed members on finances. He emphasized the importance of fund raising
for sustaining and expanding the Young Talents program in
the coming year and beyond. Members also discussed various
membership and organizational issues. They expressed interest
in adding members sharing the Fund's mission. Following
the meeting, Mr. Balaz invited those present for lunch to
a wonderful meal in the "Hospoda" restaurant in the Bohemian National Hall.
December 2010 Annual Meeting
Chaired by Mr. Kallan, President, the Annual Meeting of the Fund was held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on December 4, 2010. The agenda included discussion of the financial report presented by Mr. Chlanda,
an update on the Young Leaders Program presented by Mr. Herman, a consideration of a proposal for a Young Talents
Program submitted by Mr. Herman and various membership and organizational issues. It was agreed to start a pilot version of the Young Talents Program in 2011.
May 2010 Executive Committee Meeting
A meeting of the Executive Committee was held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on May 14, 2010. Chaired by Mr. J. Balaz, Secretary, Messrs. E. Chlanda, Treasurer, J. Zlatuska, Vice President, J. Kejval, Vice President, M. Herman, Member, and J. Vilcek, Member, participated. Mr. H. Kallan, President, joined later.
Following a welcome statement by Mr. Balaz, the meeting commenced with a report on the status of the fund finances from Mr. Chlanda, Treasurer, who noted appreciable recovery of the fund's investment portfolio. Next Mr. Herman briefed participants on the selection of participants for the 2010 Young Leaders program. It was agreed to accept six applicants in 2010. All six have quality individual programs well deserving the fund's support.
The next point discussed was the status of considerations for starting a new Young Talent program - aimed at exceptionally talented Czech and Slovak high school students interested in pursuing undergraduate degrees at top American universities. Messrs. Herman and Kejval outlined possible options. Others offered their suggestions. It was agreed Mr. Herman will draft a formal proposal for the Young Talents program. The draft will be distributed to members and discussed at the 2010 Annual Meeting.
In conclusion, Mr. Balaz turned to the last point on the agenda - searching for potential new members and advisory members (non-voting) of the Fund. Several names were suggested. It was agreed to circulate a list of potential candidates beforehand and to invite them for introductions at the Annual Meeting.
Following the meeting, Mr. Balaz invited the meeting participants for lunch. An off-the-record discussion continued at the lunch table. All participants enjoyed a wonderful meal, great coffee and desert while discussing topics of common interest.
The Executive Committee of the Fund in Session, May 14, 2010
2009 Annual Meeting
Chaired by Mr. Henry Kallan, the Annual Meeting of the Fund was held at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City on November 20, 2009. The agenda included membership issues, discussion of improving financial position after investment losses in 2008, review of program results in 2009 - reasons for small number of applications, planned fundraising arrangements, and exploring new directions such as development of a new "Young Talent Program" for high school teenagers.
2008 Annual Meeting and Opening of the Bohemian National Hall
The American Fund held its Annual Meeting on October 31, 2008 at the just renovated Bohemian National Hall in New York City. Agenda items included: (i) current and anticipated budget and finances; (ii) outstanding legal issues; (iii) implementation of the Young Leaders Program; (iv) fundraising strategy; and (v) confirmation of the current Executive Board in office for another term. The Annual Meeting approved ongoing Fund activities and agreed to call for a new round of applications for the "Young Leaders Program".
The Fund Board in Session - October 31, 2008