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More About “Education Post, the Nonprofit”–Including Its Anonymous Donor

April 21, 2016

On September 01, 2014, Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post officially introduced Peter Cunningham’s Education Post to the world. Below is an excerpt from Layton’s article:

Into the fray steps Education Post, a nonprofit group that plans to launch Tuesday with the aim of encouraging a more “respectful” and fact-based national discussion about the challenges of public education, and possible solutions.

Peter Cunningham, the former communications guru for U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is leading the organization, which is backed with initial grants totaling $12 million from the Broad Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Walton Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Layton identifies Ed Post as a nonprofit. So does Ed Post, as noted on its “about” page:

We are a non-partisan communications organization dedicated to building support for student-focused improvements in public education from preschool to high school graduation.

Thus, it seems logical that one might locate the nonprofit, Ed Post, when using a nonprofit search engine.

Not so. There is no nonprofit registered under the name, Education Post. Furthermore, the Ed Post website offers no indication that Education Post is associated with any otherwise-named nonprofit.

This sure makes it difficult for the public to examine the financial situation of this “nonprofit”– including possible identity of that anonymous donor.

If Education Post were a legitimate nonprofit established by fall 2014, then by spring 2016, it should have at least one 990 tax form on file. And so it does– but not under the name, Education Post.

In order to locate the Ed Post-related nonprofit, I used the Broad Foundation’s 2014 990 tax form. I knew from Layton’s article that Broad financed Ed Post in 2014. No Ed Post was listed among Broad’s 2014 grants, so I began to search Broad’s 2014 grants to organizations in Chicago. (The Ed Post website has a Chicago address.)

The first search result on the Broad 2014 tax form yielded a $1,000,000 grant to the nonprofit, Results in Education (RIE) Foundation. The memo for the contribution was, “Support startup of Education Post” (page 39).

Bingo.

RIEF (as it is abbreviated on its own tax form) received its nonprofit status in September 2014. It has one 990 tax form on file, for May 19, 2014 to December 31, 2014. That form was officially filed on November 25, 2015.

Under “name of foundation,” RIEF’s 2014 990 has “Results in Education Foundation (aka Education Post).” However, RIEF’s EIN (employee identification number) is filed under “Results in Education Foundation,” not “Education Post.”

Peter Cunningham is a communications guy, so he ought to have the nonprofit name, Results in Education Foundation, on the Ed Post website. Otherwise, it sure looks like his goal is to make it difficult for people to track the funding of Ed Post.

Calling Ed Post a nonprofit appears to underscore the intention to keep the public in the dark regarding Ed Post financing.

As for what is revealed on the RIEF 2014 tax form:

RIEF is “in the care of” Geller and Co., New York, NY.

The five highest compensated RIEF employees:

  • Tracy Barber, messaging and program director, $89,010
  • Michael Vaughn, communication director, $74,357
  • Antonia Whalen, policy director, $68,356
  • John Gordon Wright, social media director, $65,507
  • Christopher Stewart, outreach and external affairs director, $46,299

And, of course, there is Peter Cunningham, president, $190,700.

Note that the above compensation was for at most approximately 7 1/2 months.

As for RIEF board members (aside from Cunningham):

The address provided for Cunningham and the rest of the board is “C/O RIEF, 1360 N. Milwaukee, Unit 3, Chicago, IL 60622– the same address provided at the bottom of the Ed Post webpage without any reference to RIEF.

It is only right that Emma Bloomberg should be on the RIEF board. In 2014, her father, Michael Bloomberg, donated the largest grant, $3.2 million.

The second largest came from the Broad Foundation: $1.5 million. (According to the Broad 2014 tax form, the contribution was $1 million. Hmm.)

The smallest came from the Walton Family Foundation: $250,000. (That’s the same amount the Waltons pay for a charter startup.)

And that mystery donor?

The Emerson Collective, a “limited liability company” (LLC)  located in Palo Alto, California, founded by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs and that focuses on “education, immigration, and justice.” ( http://nyti.ms/1SUQt5i )

The Emerson Collective gave RIEF $500,000 in 2014. It has also made donations to a few other nonprofits: I Am Giving Foundation, PlusOnePlusOnePlusOne, and StudentsFirst.

According to the nonprofit search engine, CitizenAudit, Powell Jobs is also connected to the John and Lisa Pritzker Family Fund, Stand for Children, and Wendy Kopp’s Teach for All.

(The Chicago-based Pritzkers are close to Obama, as is Cunningham.)

The Milken Institute offers this 2013 bio on Powell Jobs:

Laurene Powell Jobs is founder and chair of Emerson Collective, which supports social entrepreneurs and organizations in education and immigration reform, social justice and conservation. Powell Jobs also serves as president of the board of College Track, an after-school program she founded to prepare underserved high school students for success in college. Started in East Palo Alto, Calif., College Track has expanded to serve students in Oakland, San Francisco, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Aurora, Colo. Its academic and extracurricular program aims to ensure admittance to and graduation from college. Additionally, she serves on the boards of NewSchools Venture Fund, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Conservation International, Next Generation and Stanford University. She also serves on the chairman’s advisory board of the Council on Foreign Relations. Powell Jobs holds a B.A. and a B.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

And Teach for All offers this bio:

Laurene Powell Jobs is founder and chair of Emerson Collective, an organization that supports social entrepreneurs and organizations working in the areas of education, immigration reform and social justice.

Ms. Powell Jobs serves as president of the board of College Track, an after-school program she founded in 1997 to prepare underserved high school students for success in college. The program’s intensive academic and extracurricular program is designed to ensure admittance to and graduation from college. More than 90 percent of College Track high school graduates go on to college, and the program’s college graduation rate is more than double to that of low-income students.

In addition to her work with the Emerson Collective and College Track, she serves on the boards of directors of NewSchools Venture Fund, Conservation International, and Stanford University. She also serves on the Chairman’s advisory board of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ms. Powell Jobs holds a BA and a BSE from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Earlier in her career, she spent several years working in investment banking and later co-founded a natural foods company in California.

Why Emerson Collective’s fronting $500,000 to Ed Post should have been kept a secret seems odd. But here is some 2016 news that shows just how small the world of corporate ed reform is:

In March 2016, the Emerson Collective gained a new “managing partner”:

Arne Duncan.

Yep. According to this March 20, 2016, EdSurge article:

Last week, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he was joining the Emerson Collective as a managing partner, aiming to look for ways to help “disconnected youth,” kids ages 17 to 24 years old who are not in school, not working and may have criminal records, reports the LA Times.

Duncan and the Emerson Collective will “focus first on Chicago,” noted this release. The Emerson Collective is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) based in based in Palo Alto and focuses on education, immigration and social justice. It is supported by Laurene Powell Jobs, who serves as the organization’s president. “The immediate goal [of Duncan’s work] is to provide job opportunities for young people today in Chicago and to help forge a safer, surer path from home to school to work for at-risk kids,” said the release.

In addition, Duncan will support the XQ Institute and the XQ Super School Project, an Emerson Collective project that proposes to reimagine high school. The program includes a grant competition open to all communities; nearly 700 applications have been submitted. The first grants are slated to be announced in the summer.

Duncan is opening a Chicago office for Emerson and is already hiring.

Well. If Duncan’s new role is why Emerson Collective wanted anonymity in donating to close Duncan associate, Cunningham’s Ed Post, so much for that.

I look forward to dissecting RIEF’s 2015 tax info when it becomes available. At least now I know where to look.

magnifying glass

__________________________________________________________

Coming June 2016 from TC Press:

 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Stay tuned.

 

***

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.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

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

17 Comments
  1. Nonpartisan???

    • Michael Fiorillo permalink

      Non-Partisan?

      Certainly, in that groups like this assist both legacy political parties in continuing the hostile takeover of public education.

  2. A better name for this e-rag would be “Post-Education Post”.

    Reminds me of the Big Bang Theory episode about ManBatMan.

  3. rbeckley permalink

    Good sleuthing. Amazing how much $$$ it takes for ed reform to prop up phony arguments. Contradicting reality is expensive!

  4. Thank you for this.

  5. Alison McDowell permalink

    I have a lot of concerns about the Emerson Collective. Last fall the University of Pennsylvania sponsored a conference on University-Assisted Community Schools. I had been reading a lot at the time about credit-bearing ELOs (expanded/extended/enhanced learning opportunities) and later about “learning eco-systems.” Once digital badging/competency based learning is fully established and community partners align their program offerings to CCSS, education can bypass the school building entirely. Students will be offered cyber instruction complemented by the community-based learning opportunities available to them in this nifty “learning eco-system” or “vibrant learning grid” – no certified human teachers needed.

    Information on ELOs in the Manchester School District in NH: http://elo.mansd.org

    Powerpoint by Great Schools Partnership (pushing Competency/Proficiency Based learning in New England on ELOs: http://www.greatschoolspartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/ELOs_Final_for_web.pdf). Note the slide that mentions their potential for “unlimited” credit, which I believe is their actual intention.

    It appears that the Emerson Collective is very much involved in crafting legislation to support this move. They are funding two fellowships at the Netter Center, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania.The Netter Center currently manages a credit-bearing ELO for students at a West Philadelphia high school where students earn science credits for participating in programs with medical students at the University of Pennsylvania. http://www.med.upenn.edu/pipeline/about.shtml

    Many comprehensive high schools in the city are unable to retain science teachers. It is unclear if this credit replaces a core science credit for high school graduation. The instructors are NOT educators. While such a program could be a valuable supplement to a strong science curriculum, my fear is that under current austerity conditions these “programs” will gradually replace true science instruction in the classroom. See this article about another West Philadelphia high school that lacked a human biology teacher for most of the school year: http://thenotebook.org/articles/2015/02/09/overbrook-high-school-could-have-a-biology-teacher-by-friday Note: the high school in this piece also sends students to the UPenn pipleline program.

    Below is the job description for one of the two Emerson Fellows at the Netter Center:

    “The National Policy Emerson Fellow will work in close partnership with a major national organization in Washington, D.C, the Coalition for Community Schools (CCS), which is housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership. This position will provide experience in public policy in general, and in education and university-assisted community schools policy more specifically.

    The National Policy Fellow will work under the direction of CCS Director Martin Blank, who also serves as President of the Institute for Educational Leadership and with other Coalition staff. The Fellow will report to Joann Weeks, the Netter Center’s Associate Director for National/International programs. The Fellow will work closely on upcoming legislative issues, explore new opportunities for intergovernmental collaboration that advances development of community schools, particularly university-assisted community schools, and assist with Coalition efforts to promote curricular changes in community schools that are consistent with the Netter Center’s strategy of learning through community problem solving.

    The position will include policy research, working with the CCS and partners on draft legislation, interacting with Capitol Hill and Administration (e.g., Education, HHS, HUD, and Labor) staff, and writing reports. Working with the Netter Center’s Director in his roles as Chair of the Anchor Institutions Task Force and Emeritus Chair of the Coalition for Community Schools, as well as with the Coalition Director and staff, this Fellow will have a significant opportunity to help develop and promote public policy that advances university-assisted community schools.” – See more at: https://www.nettercenter.upenn.edu/programs/emerson-fellows#sthash.w1ri0l2C.dpuf

    • Laura H. Chapman permalink

      Allison’s report is a great complement to Mercedes’ dogged research and disclosure of the sources of support for the Education Post.

      The language of a new “ecology of education” has been promoted for at least two decades by (among others) KnowledgeWorks.org, based in Cincinnati. KnowledgeWorks is great at promoting all things “futuristic.” It publishes future scenarios where there are no teachers, only unlimited learning made possible by a networked world, a sharing economy, and all-the-time learning services. This ecological landscape is, of course, friendly to edupreneurs who look for niche markets and management opportunities. It is based on the assumption that all of the existing social services and civic/cultural agencies in a community will be on-call, all the time, at low or no cost to provide “learning modules” that learners can add to their playlists, perhaps guided by a learning sherpa. Badges and certificates can be acquired based on tiers of “competency.”

      Alison you have observed:

      “While such a program could be a valuable supplement to a strong science curriculum, my fear is that under current austerity conditions these “programs” will gradually replace true science instruction in the classroom.”

      I agree with your observation–supplement versus supplant–has long been an issue in arts education. Here is what that means, in brief.

      The National Endowment for the Arts, and the network of arts councils it spawned, promote the idea that artists and arts organizations can and should provide educational programming for schools and school-age groups. These are almost all fee-for-service programs, but they are much less expensive than hiring full time teachers of the arts, and some local philanthopists may take care of the fees.

      The programs and individual artists who become part of these programs offer “a chance” for some exposure to the arts, but are far short of offering a basic and reasonably comprehensive instructional program across the grades/age spans of school. These extra-curricular and non-curricular programs are easily marketed to parents and the community as if to say these “dab-will-do-you” events take care of “arts education.”

      The arts/cultural organizations, including arts councils that assist in placing individual artists in schools, are keen to use “education” as a justification for their existence, even if there are no full time and professionally trained art teachers in local schools. A perverse incentive operates. Community programs devoted to the arts thrive in the degree that art education is not otherwise available in schools and even if those programs and individual artists have no idea about education in the arts other than “Doing a Gig for Kids.”

    • Linda permalink

      Great Schools CEO, Jackson, is a Pahara Aspen Institute Fellow, as is the Dean of the school of education at USC. David Koch is on the Aspen Institute board. The Pahara Aspen Institute received almost $2 million from Gates. Pahara’s founder, Kim Smith, co-founded New Schools Venture Fund ($22 million from Gates), co-founded Bellwether (which received Gates funding), was a founding team member of TFA and, is a board member of Rocketship. (According to her bio. at Pahara Aspen Institute).
      John King is a Fellow of Aspen’s New Schools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education.
      IMO, the difference between Gates and the Koch’s is that Gates has better PR, courtesy of the Democratic Party.

  6. speakstrong32@gmail.com permalink

    Nice job!

    >

  7. camb888 permalink

    Excellent research. Thank you! Once again you have connected the dots for us. Another organization to keep very high on the list of ed deformers, the Emerson Collective. No real surprise to see connections to Chicago and to Duncan and beyond. Chicago is ground zero, and its public school teachers need all our support!

  8. Outstanding work–thank you!

  9. Linda permalink

    Schneider, the outstanding Sherlock Holmes of “backpacks of cash”!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: Who Funds Education Post? | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Ed Post Is Really RIEF. Time to Look Closer at RIEF’s Board. | deutsch29
  3. Poverty and Education: Some Honest Talk | The Patiently Impatient Teacher
  4. Peter Cunningham vs Martin Luther King: Whose Vision of Education Do You Follow? #trythetruth Indeed. – Missouri Education Watchdog

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