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The Gates Grant Addiction

February 24, 2014

While writing my post on the NEA-Teach Plus “partnership,” my attention was drawn to more of the information available regarding grant payment on the Gates grants search engine.

My curiosity concerned the simple word, “term.”

Gradual Grant Disbursement (?)

On the Gates grants site, “term” definitely means the number of months expected to fulfill the grant agreement. The “term” may also be connected to monthly payment.

The Gates site does not clearly state that “term” means monthly disbursements; I inferred as much from reading this gates grant recipient progress report form‘s required reporting of “project duration” in months coupled with project “sustainability” “after the grant period has ended” (emphasis mine).

A comparison of Gates’ 2011 and 2012 990s to the information available on the Gates grants site is inconclusive regarding a definite monthly disbursement of grant monies. Based upon the 990-to-grant-search-engine comparison, it seems that some grant monies might be disbursed in one installment and others, definitely not.

In this post, I would like to examine the possibility that Gates pays his grant money in monthly installments. This makes sense for larger sums: It allows his foundation to continue earning interest on the bulk of the money while preventing “take the money and run” ripoffs.

Paying money in installments also would ensure that the Gates Mission (in the case of his education grants the Gates goal of test-driven, privatizing “reform”) continues via recipient dependence upon receiving that monthly payout from a larger grant sum.

However, even grant monies are not disbursed in monthly installments, examining the possibility is still a worthy exercise toward considering Gates grant money dependence. Even if an organization receives the Gates money in one lump sum, the recipient organization must somehow budget the money in order to last for the duration of the grant. Thus, the money is likely utilized in some type of incremental fashion.

Before I present my monthly disbursement scenarios, let us consider who approaches whom regarding the Gates Golden Goose.

Gates: Soliciting Prospective Grantees

One might assume that the typical Gates grant recipient has approached Gates for the money.

Not so.

It is the Gates Foundation that primarily seeks grant recipients, not vice-versa:

Q. How do I apply for a grant from the foundation? 
A. We do not make grants outside our funding priorities. In general, we directly invite proposals by directly contacting organizations. We do occasionally award grants through published RFPs or letters of inquiry. [Emphasis added.]

Gates grants are designed to implement Gates Plans:

We collaborate with organizations to develop proposals that align with our strategic priorities and the organization’s focus and capabilities. This is an interactive process, building on the strengths of both organizations to shape a well-crafted grant that will achieve the intended results. [Emphasis added.]

The Gates Foundation trolls for organizations willing to take its millions in exchange for doing Gates’ bidding.

Supporting organizations via trolling lends the illusion that education privatization is the offspring of our democratic society.

If there exist so many education privatizing nonprofits, it must mean that America wants education privatization.

However, the truth is that such nonprofits are all too willing to sell themselves to Gates for a fat monthly installment check. In doing so, they forfeit the ability (desire?) to objectively consider whether the so-called “reforms” that they support are actually working.

This is an important point, for it means that organizations accepting Gates grants cannot step back and objectively question the core assumptions of education privatization without risking the loss of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars on which they have likely become dependent.

The “reforms” must work since our organization is dependent upon a billionaire who has decided he wants education privatization to “work.” Never mind if it does.

It’s Gates’ call: If a “reform” does not work, Gates can simply shrug it off as an “oops” and move on to the next Big Idea at the Expense of the Once-democratic Institution of American Education.

Never mind the damage to educational communities, to schools, and to individual lives.

Gates’ trolling for organizations to carry out his version of education reform makes me wonder what Gates “strategic priorities” are served in his offering organizations grants “for general operating support.”

Perhaps Gates wants to be certain that organizations advocating his test-driven, education privatization are never in short supply.

Example One: Education Trust

Let us examine the idea of Gates’ funding organizations for “general operating support.” Consider No Child Left Behind (NCLB) founding promoter, Kati Haycock, and her education privatizing nonprofit, Education Trust. (I examine Ed Trust in this post.)

Gates obviously wants to keep Haycock’s Ed Trust in the education privatization business. (Though a nonprofit, Ed Trust is very much in the “business” of education privatization.) In November 2007, Gates agreed to give Ed Trust $10 million, possibly over 38 months:

The Education Trust

Date: November 2007 
Purpose: for general operating support 
Amount: $10,000,000 
Term: 38 

Assuming that the $10 million was disbursed in 38 equal payments, and assuming that the first such payment occurred in November 2007, this would mean that Ed Trust received a payment of $263,158 for each month until December 2010.

Ed Trust also received other “general operating support” Gates grants that overlapped in timing with the one above (e.g., $1 million in January 2010 for a term of 67 months, and $8.3 million in August 2010 for a term of 41 months).

The above underscores Ed Trust’s financial dependence upon Bill Gates.

Example Two: AFT

Let us now consider the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and its Gates money. From January 2009 to May 2013, AFT has received $11.3 million in Gates money. The January 2009 amount was for $1 million, possibly paid over 21 months. Its purpose: “to support teacher-and union-led reform efforts to improve public education and raise student achievement.”

Thus, assuming equal disbursement (which I will do for the remainder of this post), in January 2009, AFT began receiving monthly payments of $47,619 from Gates until September 2011.

The next Gates grant to AFT overlaps with the first: In June 2009, Gates granted $250,000 “to support the work of a teacher evaluation task force,” possibly paid over 14 months. Thus, in addition to the monthly $47,619 noted above, from June 2009 to July 2010, add another $17,857.

The third Gates-AFT grant overlaps by two months with the two above; it was for $217,200 for “conference support” in June 2010, possibly paid over 7 months. That’s an additional $31,029 per month from June through December 2010.

Following my monthly disbursement scenario, on June and July 2010, AFT would have received $96,505 from Gates given the overlap of the three grants mentioned above.

However July 2010 brought AFT yet another Gates grant– a whopper compared to the previous three: just over $4 million, possibly payable over 42 months, “to support the American Federation of Teachers Innovation Fund and the union’s teacher development and evaluation programs.”

Thus, the previously-noted July 2010 potential receipt of $96,505 from the three previous Gates grants almost doubled with the fourth grant’s potential monthly disbursement of $95,755– a monthly payment that AFT would count on from July 2010 to December 2013.

(There was yet another Gates-to-AFT, “teacher evaluation” grant, in February 2011 for $230,000 possibly paid over 14 months “to provide conference support for the conference on teacher development and evaluation systems.” However, this grant’s $16,428 potential monthly payment would have ended in March 2012.)

Consider the two dates bolded above: July 2010 and December 2013.

In July 2010, AFT President Randi Weingarten invited Gates to speak at the AFT convention.

A recap: In July 2010, AFT receives a possible $96,505 + $95,755 in Gates monthly disbursement– with the $95,755 the possible first payment of a $4 million grant payable over three and a half years.

July 2010: AFT is now potentially receiving four Gates grant payments.

July 2010: Bill speaks at AFT.

On to December 2013:

In December 2013, Gates makes the final AFT payment on the teacher evaluation grant. (At any rate, the grant term expires whether monthly disbursement or no.)

In January 2014, Weingarten opposes value-added modeling (VAM).


Coincidence, or “market driven epiphany”?

Sure looks like, “I need to push VAM until the free money runs out.”

And then there’s the Gates-to-AFT Common Core (CCSS) money:

In April 2011, Gates granted AFT $1 million “to assist teachers in understanding and implementing the Common Core State Standards” (emphasis added), potentially payable over 27 months– which would equal a monthly disbursement of $37,037 from April 2011 to June 2013.

Mind you, in April 2011, if the money had not already been disbursed in larger sums, AFT was also still potentially receiving $16,428 + $95,755 per month from two previous Gates grants.

Pile it on.

The big Gates-AFT CCSS money was yet to come, in June 2012: $4.4 million over a possible 36 months “to support the AFT Innovation Fund and work on teacher development and Common Core State Standards.”

So, from June 2012 to May 2015, AFT could have received $122,222 per month, in part to push CCSS.

I suppose Weingarten is scheduled to have her “CCSS is bad epiphany” in June 2015– the month after this CCSS grant term ends– assuming no more Gates money comes AFT’s way for the selling of the CCSS product.

For now, she continues to push CCSS implementation.

AFT also received two more Gates grants– one in May 2012 for $75,000 possibly payable over 8 months “to provide AFT conference support.” Thus, another $9,375 per month from May to December 2012.

The last Gates-AFT grant is such a surprise that I just have to print the Gates report:

American Federation of Teachers Educational Foundation

Date: May 2013 
Purpose: to enable the American Federation of Teachers Educational Foundation to support the Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools to become a self-sustaining organization [Bolding added.]
Amount: $150,000 
Term: 17 

If not already disbursed in larger sums, AFT could be receiving $8,824 per month from May 2013 to September 2014 to assist a floundering effort to have union-run (??) charter schools in Minnesota.


Is AFT addicted to Gates grant money?

It seems so.

Until yesterday, I believed that Gates grant money was disbursed on the date of grant approval. I thought that if AFT received a Gates grant in 2010 for $4 million, then AFT received that $4 million in 2010. Could be, but not necessarily so. The money may be coming in “monthly dependency installments.”

At any rate, on average, AFT has been receiving over $100,000 per month from Gates for years.

On its 2011 990, the AFT Education Foundation reported its total end-of-year assets at $8.8 million– up from $4.5 million at the beginning of the year (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012).

Thus, the Gates money is a notable contribution to the AFT Education Foundation.   (Note: It is the AFT Educational Foundation that is the 501(c)3 set up to receive grant money.)

Now, on AFT’s 2012 990 (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) (different from the AFT Ed Foundation 990), total assets equaled $104 million. However, the beginning-of-year assets were $106 million– and this $106 million was down from the $114.7 million listed as beginning-of -year assets on the 2011 990.

On its 2010 990, AFT had a notable increase in total assets from beginning-of-year ($104.4 million) to end-of-year ($114.7 million).

Thus, AFT’s end-of-year assets in 2012 were less than its beginning-of-year assets two years prior, in 2010.

Does this fiscal slump justify an AFT alignment with Bill Gates or any other pro-education-privatizing philanthropist willing to write checks to AFT in the name of  “trying to make” privatizing reforms “work”?

It does not.

By the Month, or in Lump Sums?

The information regarding grant disbursement on Gates’ grant search engine does not exactly match grant information provided on his IRS 990s. This discrepancy leads me to believe that at least in some cases, Gates grant monies are not paid in a single lump sum.

Gradual disbursement can lead to a “lullabye” dependence in which a recipient organization grows accustomed to having a certain percentage of its expenses covered by that regular Gates check.

The “lullabye” is not necessarily in the amount, but in the regularity.

Simply put, the recipient becomes accustomed to having Gates cash. This is complicated by the likelihood of receiving more Gates money if one proves to be a “good” recipient, following through on the Gates-approved agenda.

The man has billions, and he is willing to seek out organizations to do his bidding.

Free, regular money– lots of money– and likely repeat money.

Education privatization grant addiction.

Just say no.





  1. Reading this helped crystalize for me how Gates Foundation philanthropy is different from the classic model. It’s astroturf philanthropy.

  2. Everyone in any type of political office as well as education needs to read this. Very interesting as well as informative.

  3. Laura h. Chapman permalink

    “AFT has been receiving over $100,000 per month from Gates for years.”
    About right for an organization functioning as a high class prostitute working for a billionaire pimp.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  3. What do IRS Form 990s tell us? Public education is being wrested from the public! | Dr. Rich Swier
  4. Gates and Duncan and Their Common Core “Freedom” Charade | Dr. Rich Swier

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