KC-based People to People trip program files for bankruptcy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The bad news came this week in an email announcing that People to People Student Travel Programs was filing for bankruptcy.

The 270 students, who paid as much as $7,000 each for trips, were informed that if they wanted a refund they would have to plead their case to 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 ending to a student travel program that’s been around for decades.

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

As FOX4 first reported, People to People Student Travel Programs’ website suddenly went dark this month. Plus, the organization 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 worried.

“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.

At that time, People to People spokeswoman Mary Eisenhower, the granddaughter of President Eisenhower, told FOX4 that People to People was having financial problems, but was still a viable organization.

This week, it filed a bankruptcy petition with the court.

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

A review by FOX4 of People to People’s tax filings showed even the nonprofit side of the organization has been struggling financially for years. The bulk of its revenue is spent on salaries, with the majority going to members of the Eisenhower family who head 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, 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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