AG sues nonprofit for misusing grants intended for BIPOC communities

Attorney General (AG) Bob Ferguson announced on Tuesday that his office is suing a nonprofit organization based in Vancouver. The lawsuit asserts that the organization's founder and executive director paid herself nearly $1 million in charitable grants intended to serve communities of color in southwest Washington.

According to the AG’s lawsuit, Ophelia Noble, founder and executive director of the Noble Foundation, allegedly paid herself hundreds of thousands of dollars from foundation funds to buy vehicles for herself and her mother back in 2019. It also asserts that Noble directed the foundation to buy her father’s house and resell it to her at a cheap discount. 

The lawsuit names Ophelia, the Noble Foundation, both her parents – who are also foundation directors, Alyce Noble, Joann Hampton and Virginia Prioleau.

According to AG Bob Ferguson, Noble’s misuse of funds brought in from generous donations is a violation of Washington’s Nonprofit Corporation Act, which has potential penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

Ferguson says he will ask the court to order her and her co-defendants to return the money so it can be directed toward its intended purpose of helping BIPOC communities in Vancouver, Kelso and Longview. He will also ask the court to dissolve the foundation and prevent Noble and her co-defendants from serving for any Washington nonprofit in the future.


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"Preying on the generosity of Washingtonians is shameful — and unlawful," Ferguson said. "We will hold those responsible accountable and work to ensure the diverted money is paid back and directed towards its intended purpose: advancing racial equity and serving communities of color."

According to the AG’s Office, the Noble Foundation began in 2012, but really started to expand in 2019 during the pandemic and at a time when the public’s attention was focused on racial injustice and policing issues. It provided emergency rent assistance, cash assistance for general household needs and community education about COVID-19 and vaccinations.


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The lawsuit does point out that most of the money raised by the foundation was spent properly, but large grants from private entities were misused, or accepted without proper approval from the board.