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In 2015, The 74 Media Was Overwhelmingly Funded by Litigious, Union-Busting, Partnership for Ed Justice

October 10, 2017

In June 2015, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) announced the creation of “a non-profit, education-focused news site called The Seventy Four, which [former CNN host Campbell Brown] says refers to the 74 million school-age children in classrooms across the U.S.”

WSJ continues:

The site – which will launch July 13 [2015] with 13 employees — is well-funded, with an annual budget of $4 million. Its finances will rely solely on philanthropic donations, and it won’t sell any advertising – a departure from one of the mainstays of typical news organizations. Its founding backers — Bloomberg Philanthropies (former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic organization), the Walton Family Foundation (the philanthropic group for the family that owns Wal-Mart), Jonathan Sackler, and the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation….

And even more from WSJ:

The website, www.the74million.org, says its mission is to “lead an honest, fact-based conversation” about education.

Now, here is the problem:

A search of the tax records of the listed donors is mysteriously short on direct contributions to Brown’s nonprofit, The 74 Media, Inc. (EIN 47-2788684). For example, in its 2015 annual report, the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) paid no grant to The 74 Media, or The Seventy-four, or Seventy-four, or 74 (no matter how one looks up the name), or even LoudSpeaker (The 74’s former name). However, in 2015, WFF did send $1,281,750 to Brown’s teacher-tenure-lawsuit-specializing nonprofit, Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ).

As for the Peter and Carman Lucia Buck Foundation (PCLB): Its 2015 annual report indicates that PCLB did contribute to “SeventyFour fka LoudSpeaker”; however, that contribution was only $150,000, and Brown’s interview with WSJ indicates that The 74 has an annual budget of $4 million.

So, the question becomes, who was The 74’s major donor for its start-up?

Michael Bloomberg or Jonathan Sackler could have made major individual donations. However, these would not likely be part of any public document. As it stands, Bloomberg’s private foundation did not donate to either The 74 or PEJ in 2015.

In WSJ, Brown says that she wants “an honest, fact-based conversation.” Even so, as of this writing, The 74’s website lists a number of funders, yet a principal funder (indeed, the principal funder) has been omitted.

It is Brown’s own PEJ.

In December 2016, I challenged Brown to disclose a detailed history of the interconnection among The 74 and PEJ:

By far, the largest 2014-15 expense for Brown’s PEJ was a “special research project”:

The 74 Media (i.e., The Seventy Four). $2.37 million.

From the 2014 PEJ tax form:

74 Media The [PEJ] organization undertook a special research project to explore the landscape of digital media and communications about education. This research included an analysis of key stakeholders and organizations and development of several potential strategies for using digital media to inspire a conversation about education.

In the above “special project” language, Brown does not identify The 74 Media as a nonprofit in its own right, one that she also runs, and that is receiving a $2.37 million grant from arguably-union-busting PEJ. However, this does come up later on the PEJ tax form when The 74 Media is identified as a nonprofit and as PEJ’s sole grant recipient, with the purpose of the grant identified as “fiscal sponsorship & general support.”

The PEJ financing of The 74 Media is not mentioned on The Seventy Four funders page or on its “about” page.

Brown’s The Seventy Four bio includes info about her founding PEJ. But for some reason, the Seventy Four fails to mention its PEJ funding connection at all– and it should.

At the time that I wrote the above post (December 2016), The 74 Media, Inc., had no tax forms yet available. According to WSJ, projected annual funding for The 74 was $4 million.

As of this writing, The 74 Media, Inc., now has its first tax form available, for 2015.

The 74 Media, Inc., did not come close to its projected $4 million. According to its 2015 tax form, The 74’s gross receipts totaled $2.9 million.

This means that in 2015, The 74 Media, Inc., was funded almost exclusively by Brown’s tenure-law-busting PEJ via a $2.4 million grant.

Indeed, in 2015, PEJ provided 83 percent of The 74 Media, Inc.’s total revenue.

Only $500,000 of the reported $2.9 million of The 74’s 2015 total revenue came from sources outside of PEJ. As previously noted, one of those sources was PCLB (the Buck Foundation), which contributed $150,000.

That leaves only approximately $350,000 that could have come from Sackler and Bloomberg (assuming that slice of info that Brown provided to WSJ in June 2015 is accurate).

The 74 Media, Inc.– which mentions twice on its 2015 tax form, “Our mission is to lead an honest, fact-based conversation”– fails to do so in disclosing that the bulk of its 2015 funding came from PEJ.

Not honest, Campbell. Not honest at all.

campbell brown  Campbell Brown

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

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

From → litigation, Tenure, Walton

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