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MobilizeGreen, Inc. v. The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

April 29, 2015

MobilizeGreen, Inc., et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, et al., Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For MOBILIZEGREEN, INC., LEAH ALLEN, Plaintiffs: Lorelie S. Masters, LEAD ATTORNEY, PERKINS COIE LLP, Washington, DC.

For COMMUNITY FOUNDATION NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, TERRI LEE FREEMAN, In her capacity as President of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, MARK B. HANSEN, In his capacity as the Chief Financial Officer of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, ANGELA JONES HACKLEY, In her capacity as Vice President of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, ADRIENNE BROWN, Individually, and in her capacity as Director of Financial & Accounting of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Defendants: Seth A. Rosenthal, LEAD ATTORNEY, Benjamin E. Horowitz, VENABLE LLP, Washington, DC.

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OPINION

ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs MobilizeGreen and its founder, Leah Allen (collectively MobilizeGreen), move to remand this matter to the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, where MobilizeGreen first filed suit. Defendants The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and its executives, Terri Lee Freeman, Mark B. Hansen, and Angela Jones Hackley (collectively the Community Foundation), having removed the case to federal court, oppose remand. As explained below, the motion to remand will be granted.

I. FACTS

MobilizeGreen is a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia and located in D.C. Compl. [Dkt. 1-1] ¶ 6. Its mission is " to build the next generation of environmental leaders, stewards, and volunteers from under-represented communities using MobilizeGreen's innovative internship, mentoring, career coaching, and collaborative partnership model." Id. Leah Green is MobilizeGreen's Founder and serves as its President. Id. ¶ 7. The Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3)[1] non-profit organization based in the District of Columbia that " manages donor-advised funds, gives grants to non-profits, and fiscally sponsors new organizations." Id. ¶ 16.

In 2011, MobilizeGreen proposed to develop a " national diversity internship pilot program" (Internship Project) for the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agricultur. The Forest Service agreed to provide funding for the Internship Project. Id. ¶ 18. As " a then new non-profit with no employees, no revenues, and no federal or state tax-exempt status," MobilizeGreen asked the Community Foundation to serve as its fiscal sponsor. Id. " Fiscal sponsorship is a relationship between a tax exempt organization like [the Community Foundation] that serves as the official recipient of charitable donations for a new or smaller organization that is not yet recognized as tax-exempt." Id. ¶ 16. The Community Foundation agreed to serve as a temporary fiscal sponsor for MobilizeGreen. Id. ¶ 21. To that end, the parties executed an Agreement to Create a Sponsored Program Fund on July 28, 2011, which was " established to provide temporary fiscal sponsorship for a period not to exceed November 1, 2011, at which time [MobilizeGreen] will transfer to another fiscal sponsor." See Opp'n, Ex. 1 [Dkt. 13-1] (Sponsor Agreement) at 2. As consideration for the services provided by the Community Foundation to MobilizeGreen, MobilizeGreen agreed to pay an annual administrative fee of two percent of monies managed under the Sponsor Agreement. See id. at 1.

Shortly after entering into the Sponsor Agreement, the Community Foundation executed a Challenge Cost Share Agreement with the Forest Service, which awarded funds to the Community Foundation as authorized under the Interior and Related Appropriations Act of 1992. See Opp'n, Ex. 2 [Dkt. 13-2] (Forest Service

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Agreement) at 1. The stated purpose of the ...


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