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Bill Gates Has Not Yet Issued Any Common Core Grants in 2016

May 4, 2016

I think billionaire Bill Gates’ love affair with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is officially cooling.

It is already May, and his foundation has not yet issued a single 2016 grant specific to CCSS.

If one searches the keywords, “common core” on Gates’ grant database search engine,  one discovers that 245 grants include the term. However, as of this writing, grant number 246 has yet to appear– Gates’ first “common core” grant for 2016.

The most recent CCSS grant is from December 2015. That’s four months (January – April 2016) without a fresh commitment from Gates’ foundation to the CCSS is has been supporting since October 2008 (almost two years before CCSS was officially presented to the public in June 2010.)

Based on the language in Gates’ first CCSS grant, one can tell that Gates assumed CCSS would come to pass– and he was willing then to finance a CCSS coalition and begin shaping curriculum and professional development to fit a CCSS that didn’t even exist at the time.

Ironically, Gates’ first CCSS grant was to an organization in Texas– one of only five states that did not officially adopt CCSS:

Military Child Education Coalition

Date: October 2008
Purpose: to create an alliance with Achieve and other national partners to support ADP Common Core Math Standards, identify middle school supporting content critical for mobile students, and create training modules accessible to students and educators
Amount: $269,998
Term: 34
Topic: Global Policy & Advocacy
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Harker Heights, Texas
Grantee Website:

Gates did hold off on his second CCSS grant until September 2009, but he did issue six CCSS grants between September and December 2009 totaling $10 million to CCSS insider organizations such as Education Trust and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Even has he was paying Ed Trust to develop literacy courses for CCSS, he was paying Fordham Institute to review CCSS.

And before CCSS existed, Gates paid the James Hunt Institute for CCSS’ “rapid implementation”:

James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy Foundation, Inc.

Date: November 2009
Purpose: to provide state-level policy and communications support to states seeking to rapidly implement the Common Core
Amount: $5,549,352
Term: 46
Topic: K-12
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Durham, North Carolina
Grantee Website:

Now, according to the CCSS memorandum of understanding (MOU), CCSS was supposed to be finished in December 2009. Then, it was supposed to be finished in March 2010. But it was finally presented to the public in June 2010. (For more details, read my book, CC Dilemma.) But Gates knew it was coming, and he had agreed in the summer of 2008 to finance it.

And finance it he did. He bought curriculum, and publicity, and stakeholder “awareness” (even to P-20 CCSS) and professional development, and he promoted legislative support, and “implementation fidelity,” and “objective reviews” of standard comparisons, and “learning games,”

He even paid to pilot literacy tools— but he didn’t bother to push to pilot CCSS itself. Irony.

From October 2008 to December 2015, Gates paid $292 million in the form of those 245 “common core” grants. His biggest year was 2013 (83 grants totaling $64 million), with July 2013 (32 grants totaling $18 million) and October 2013 (19 grants totaling $20 million) being his biggest months.

Here are Gates’ total CC grant expenditures by year and including the number of grants:

$269,998.00 2008 1 grant
$10,100,849.00 2009 7 grants
$25,442,639.00 2010 22 grants
$74,636,679.00 2011 30 grants
$30,129,285.00 2012 18 grants
$64,247,151.00 2013 83 grants
$41,216,092.00 2014 45 grants
$45,506,299.00 2015 40 grants
$291,548,992.00 2008-15 245 grants

And here is the total for January through April of 2016:


CC to Gates: You don’t bring me flowers any more.

Sad. I know.

I examined the issue dates of all 245 grants to see if Gates had ever allowed four months to lapse without issuing a fresh CCSS grant. (I compiled data in this Excel file: Gates_CC.)

A four-month lapse had not happened since his foundation began issuing a fairly steady stream of CCSS grants in September 2009. The largest break until then was between December 2012 and February 2013 (three months).

So, is Gates’ love affair with CCSS over?

Time will tell. Interestingly, Vicki Phillips, who was the Gates Foundation education director since August 2007, resigned from that position effective the end of 2015— which happens to be the same time that CCSS grants took a break. Just noticing.

The last Gates CCSS grant to date is an interesting one: An investigation into the effects of social media on policymakers.

In other words, how is the CCSS reputation on Twitter affecting lawmaker about-face regarding CCSS?

Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania

Date: December 2015
Purpose: to analyze the debate about Common Core and other education topics on Twitter and to investigate policymakers use of social media and its influence on their decision making
Amount: $399,453
Term: 18
Topic: Global Policy & Advocacy
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Grantee Website:

In other words, Gates tried to build bottom-up support for CCSS via top-down purchase, and it didn’t work (imagine that). So now, he wants to find out how the bottom-up communication via social media is affecting policymakers, many of whom have turned tail on previously-professed CCSS fidelity.

I know that there are those who insist that CCSS is a success. However, that is like saying a cruise is successful because parts of the ship continue to float in the water and some have even made it onto life boats. Though evidence of the whole still exists, it is not functioning as intended. CCSS might still be afloat, but it is in shipwrecked form, and Gates is well aware of it.

He stopped sending flowers four months ago.

We’ll see how long it takes for him to definitely cut his CCSS money supply– and how much of the CCSS debris can continue to float without the assistance of Gates Foundation cash.

money in water


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.

  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Gates seems to have moved on to higher education and personalized learning. Look for the 8 grants under ” interaction effect.” That was an invitational get-together in late 2015 with some grants following on. Read his introductory remarks and who else presented.

    Late 2015 also saw three- year grants for teacher prep. The request for proposals specified common core as a component.

    Overall I think you are correct on the CCSS. I think that the Education Trust is still pushing for absolute compliance, but one of the senior persons there just left for a post in Maryland.

    I am boggled by your spreadsheet.

  2. Have we reached the tipping point when Bill and Melinda Gates aren’t having fun anymore with the Common Core experiment?

    I sure hope so.

    In the meantime, let’s give an earful to anyone who defends the Common Core or education reform.

  3. Make no mistake he is not out of the education business. Way too much more money to be had. He has moved on to bigger and different ways of destroying education and turning our children into computers.

  4. Christine permalink

    He’s on to “competency based,” “personalized” learning now. Must have always been the end game to computerize lessons.

  5. pnwarriorwoman permalink

    Fantastic work Mercedes. We’re still fighting Gates out here in Washington State. Stay tuned for when the Washington State Supreme Court declares our state’s recent legislative action to fund charter schools through lottery money unconstitutional. We should see a decision after the election.

  6. reposted to

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