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The Square Roots Conglomerate

How public funds might build a cocktail bar instead of a school or food bank - read more here
A story of the tangled interests and politics potentially leading to the waste of millions of public dollars in Kennett 

Chapter 1: Tangled Roots

The first part of this story starts with Square Roots Collective, a self-described collection of for-profit and non-profit initiatives that claims that all profits benefit the community: "When people drink a beer at the Creamery, they are helping to build a trail". Too good to be true?  We thought so.


For years, residents have raised questions at public meetings in the Borough and Township about whether the for-profit and non-profit interests are properly separated.  And neither the diagram (left) from their website or the answer finally offered by Square Roots (below) allays these concerns

"The non-profit owns The Creamery and other for-profit ventures, with the profits being invested into non-profit community initiatives."

How SHOULD non-profits separate public and private interests to ensure the best use of tax-free donations? Read more below about how we are beginning to try to untangle the Square Roots Conglomerate.

Chapter 2: Why funnel millions to a private restaurant instead of a school or food bank?

So a grant application now under consideration submitted by the "Square Roots Community Initiative" (SRCI), a newly established 501(c)4, caught our eye, prompting us to take a closer look. The centerpiece presented to Borough leaders in February 2023An Underground Railroad themed craft cocktail bar.  SRCI is seeking $2M in public funds to rehabilitate the Creamery, claiming that

  1. SRCI "do(es) not have the money, and expects the public should cover 80% of construction

  2. SRCI "provide(s) social services" (see right)

  3. SRCI will "create a sustainable revenue source that can be deployed for charitable uses to improve greater Kennett Square" (see below)


SRCI Contributions (from 2022 990s, p. 19)

Lincoln University $10K; Brandywine Red Clay $20K; Kennett Trails Alliance $25K; Voices Underground $25K; Borough of Kennett Square $48K; United Way $20K Total: $148K  Independent non-profits


Our review summarized in a letter to legislators raises serious questions about each claim. There is a bigger problem. SRCI's request could come at the expense of others for which public support is clearly merited: Kennett Area Community Services (KACS) is also seeking $7M for a new food bank, and Kennett Consolidated School District is seeking $4M for a new school. Read more.

 Read the post that lays out the evidence supporting our review. Evaluate claims like these just by looking at annual reports and 990's (left). 

  • KACS delivered almost $1M in direct support just to Kennett residents last year.

  • SRCI delivered $148K, only $50K of which was to independent non-profit entities.

Chapter 3: Does the state funnel millions to agencies without vetting them or their plan?

Our inquires may have revealed a startling fact: once an applicant meets basic eligibility requirements for a grant, some grants are awarded based largely on the recommendations of local, county, and state officials without a thorough review of the project's feasibility or merits. If so, this system stands to reward those with the best lobbyists most willing to peddle grandiose claims to legislators ill-equipped to assess the flood of inquiries. Follow our posts to see what we learn! 

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Chapter 4: The cycle of self-interest and self-deception.  The Kennett Greenway reveals just how easily public leaders allow money to be wasted on grandiose claims. After 10 years of lobbying, KTA led Kennett Township to spend almost $4M for two sections of 6-8' wide sidepath totaling barely 1/3 mile. Now KTA has backed public officials into an impossible corner because the only way to connect these sections is to seize private land, an option which many privately abhor but publicly refuse to rule out. And still, officials profess continued support for a project without a plan, a budget, or a timeline. 

So why might politicians and others be so keen to cling to such obviously flawed and failing projects once the facts are clear?  Follow our posts to learn more.

The Square Roots Conglomerate

For profit enterprises


The Creamery

The flagship entertainment complex on Birch St.

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Kennett Real Estate

Dozens of linked LLCs own almost 40 properties in Kennett.

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Other SR businesses

Are these being reimbursed by SR foundations and non-profits? 

Non-profits funding a variety of programs

Square Roots Community Initiative

Assets = $12M; Claims to funnel Creamery profits to area causes 

White Horse Group Foundation

Assets = $24M; Seeded by SR founders, inc. Kennett real estate

Other associated funders

Will foundations tapped by Square Roots crowd out others? 

Specific nonprofits
With targetted goals

KTA Rectangle.png

Kennett Trails Alliance

Primarily promoting the Kennett Greenway

VU Rectangle.png

Voices Underground

Promoting activities around the Underground Railroad

Non profit Q.png

Other non-profits

Does Square Roots only support non-profits it seeks to influence? 

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