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United Way’s Common Core Promotion Costs It a Louisiana District

November 14, 2015

On November 12, 2015, the St.Tammany Parish School Board (Louisiana) voted unanimously to discontinue its employee payroll deduction campaign for the United Way. Included in the concern that United Way had become “too political” was the national organization’s decision to actively promote the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

To date, United Way has accepted $2.4 million from the Gates Foundation expressly for supporting CCSS.

In June 2014, the Gates Foundation paid United Way Worldwide (located in Alexandria, Virginia) $1.2 million “to build support for the Common Core State Standards by engaging stakeholders and community leaders nationally and locally.”

United Way Worldwide included advocacy for CCSS in its Policy  Agenda for the 112th Congress (January 03, 2011 to January 03, 2013):

Common Core Standards

Common Core State Standards provide a consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn from state to state, across the nation. These standards promote high expectations to fully prepare young people to succeed academically and compete in the global economy.

United Way supports federal incentives for states to align standards with college-and-career expectations, through common core or individual state action.

And in its Policy Agenda for the 113th Congress (January 03, 2013 to January 03, 2015):

United Way Supports:

Common Core Standards:

Incentivizing states to align standards with college-and career expectations, through common core or individual state action, and providing the resources so that the standards can be well implemented in classrooms.

By the time of its Policy Agenda for the 114th Congress (January 03, 2015 to January 03, 2017), United Way Worldwide no longer headlined Common Core and also included “individual state action” in its promotion of “college-and-career-ready standards:

United Way Supports:

College-and-Career Ready Standards:

Incentivizing states to align standards with college-and-career expectations, through common core or individual state action, and providing the resources so that the standards can be well implemented in classrooms.

In addition to Gates support to United Way Worldwide for CCSS, just last month, in October 2015, Gates paid United Way of New York City $1.2 million for the purpose of “building United Way New York City’s capacity as an advocate, school-based technical assistance provider and community-based organization trainer in support of Common Core in NYC and NY state.”

Interestingly, the United Way of New York City website does not include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among its list of Partner Organizations for Education:

Partner Organizations


Adelaide L. Sanford Institute
Bank Street College of Education
Catholic Charitites Community Services
Center for Children’s Initiatives (CCI)
Center for Children’s Initiatives (CCI)
Central Queens YM & YWHA
Children’s Aid Society
Children’s Defense Fund
Chinese American Planning Council
Citizens Committee for Children
Citykids foundation, Inc
Committee for Hispanic Children and Families
Community Mediation Services, Inc
Counseling in Schools Inc
Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation
Door- A Center for Alternatives, Inc
East Side House Inc.
East Side House Inc.
East side House, Inc
Fashion Institute of Technology Precollege Programs
Fund for the City of New York
Fund for the City of New York
Global Kids, Inc
Good Shepherd Services
Goodwill Industries of Greater NY & Northern NJ
Grand Street Settlement, Inc
Henry Street Settlement
Johns Hopkins University
Medgar Evers College- RFCUNY
Metis Associates, Inc
New York Center for Interpersonal Development
New York Center for Interpersonal Development
New York City Early Childhood Professional Development Institute
Partnership with Children
Philanthropy New York
Phipps Community Development Corp.
Public Policy and Education Fund of New York
Queens Community House
SCAN New York volunteer Parent-Aides Association
Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy
Sports & Arts in Schools Foundation
St. John’s University
St.Raymond Community Outreach
Urban Arts Partnership
YWCA of the City of New York

United Way of New York City does not even mention Common Core on its education page.

The timing of the Gates grant to United Way of New York is significant. It happened right on the heels of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s September 2015 announcement of a Common Core Task Force to allegedly review CCSS. However, many New Yorkers view Cuomo’s CCSS task force as phony.

CCSS is a political bomb, and United Way has taken multiple millions to promote it.

Kudos, St. Tammany Schools, for severing United Way payroll deduction ties.



Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education (April 2014, Information Age Publishing).

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? (June 2015, TC Press).

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. United Way, of course, doesn’t have a clue about the problems with Common Core. That is no excuse, in my mind, considering the huge salaries of its leaders. On the surface, UW should have thought twice about promoting something so political and something so unattached to their central mission of reducing poverty.

    UW should know that poverty is a huge barrier for children and that standardized tests, promoted by. Common Core, present another obstacle for children of poverty. Common Core’s central message is that poverty is simply an excuse for poor teaching and poor standards. It expects all students to achieve at the same level of proficiency, special, needs, poor, gifted….UW should know that Comment n Core diverts attention from the poverty mission and using Gates money to promote Common Core diverts money and attention from poverty. UW should know better. Money corrupts and blinds.

  2. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Thanks. You have given me a reason not to support United Way. I will choose and vet where my contributions goes, trusted, local, small scale. The arrogance of Gates is astounding. This NO to United Way could become a national campaign, but too many in education, social and civic organizations have become part of Gates’ payroll.

  3. Jill Reifschneider permalink

    Wow. I am so glad that I made a point of refusing to have the payroll deduction taken from my paycheck which otherwise it was assumed, like all the school district employees, I would have done. I had to inform payroll that I give to chosen causes with my limited funds and United Way is not one of them. Little did I know the connection to standards and testing!!! I would have made a bigger stink about it if I had known. I was just put-off by a charity having a monopoly over all school district employees’ annual charitable giving by having it automatically taken out of our paychecks unless I told payroll no.

  4. LAEducator permalink

    I put a stop to a twenty+ year paycheck donation to United Way, the day that I heard about their promotion of CCSS. I have also stopped shopping at Walmart & boycott Koch products. I may not be able to control the rich & powerful, but I will not willingly give them my own money to use against me. Glad to see so many others feel the same way. Thanks, Mercedes, for keeping us up with the latest.

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