KC-based People to People travel program files for bankruptcy

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The bad news came this week in an email announcing that People to People student travel programs were filing for bankruptcy.

The 270 students, who paid up to $7,000 each for trips, were told that if they wanted a refund they would have to plead their case with the bankruptcy trustee.

In the bankruptcy petition, however, the once well-regarded student travel program claimed it did not have enough assets to repay most of its debt.

It was an inauspicious end to a student travel program that has been around for decades.

People to People Student Travel is the for-profit arm of People to People International, the nonprofit humanitarian program launched under the leadership of President Eisenhower. Both are based in Kansas City and operate out of the same office at the Crown Center.

As FOX4 first reported, the People to People student travel programs website suddenly went dark this month. Additionally, the organization has stopped responding to emails and phone calls. Parents, including Kate Eich who paid more than $7,000 for her daughter to take a trip this summer, were concerned.

“They were going to Rome and Athens, and she’s really looking forward to it,” said Eich, who FOX4 first spoke to three weeks ago.

Around this time, People to People spokesperson Mary Eisenhower, President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, told FOX4 that People to People was struggling financially, but was still a viable organization.

This week, he filed for bankruptcy with the court.

The petition claims the group owes approximately $1.5 million to creditors, many of whom are students.

A FOX4 review of People to People’s tax returns showed that even the nonprofit side of the organization had been struggling financially for years. Most of its income is spent on salaries, with the majority going to members of the Eisenhower family who run the organization.

People to People accepted more than $200,000 in federal COVID payroll relief funds during the pandemic, but apparently that still wasn’t enough to keep it afloat, much to the chagrin of parents like Eich.

“My daughter will be devastated, so I haven’t even told her yet,” she said.

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