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Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective Becomes a Nonprofit (?)

January 7, 2018

Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple Co-founder, Steve Jobs, operates an organization known as Emerson Collective.

Powell Jobs has been able to fly under the ed-reform-funding radar because her organization operated as an LLC (limited liability company), which means that she could keep her funding of ed reform largely out of public view.

For example, in September 2014, Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton introduced to the world a new ed-reform mouthpiece, Education Post, operated by Peter Cunningham, longtime associate of former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO and former US ed sec Arne Duncan.

In her Ed Post introduction, Layton referred to an anonymous donor, and for a year and a half, the identity of that donor remained hidden from the public– until nonprofit Ed Post’s 2014 tax form identified Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective as that anonymous donor (which it was required to do since nonprofit Ed Post filed as “private foundation,” which means it must disclose its donors).

So, as an LLC, Emerson Collective could fund ed reform orgs and choose not to disclose. However, if Emerson Collective donated to a “private foundation” (PF) nonprofit, then the donation could be eventually identified.

The problem comes if LLC Emerson Collective donates to an ed reform nonprofit that is an “exempt organization” (EO), the EO does not have to specifically identify its donors.

However, it seems that in November 2016, Emerson Collective (or an associated entity) was granted nonprofit status (EIN 81-3242506) as Emerson Collective Foundation.

Now, it is possible for nonprofit Emerson Collective Foundation to fund LLC Emerson Collective, or vice-versa. (In other words, it is possible that Powell Jobs will keep the LLC and add a similarly-named nonprofit. However, the operations of that nonprofit will be available to the public via tax filings.)

Emerson Collective Foundation has yet to file its first tax form as a nonprofit, which it will likely do in 2018 for 2017.

Creating an Emerson Collective-styled nonprofit allows for donors (including Powell Jobs) to receive tax breaks for donations. It also means that nonprofit Emerson Collective Foundation will have to identify its grantees by name. Moreover, according to Guidestar, Emerson Collective Foundation will file as a PF, which means, like Ed Post, it must specifically identify its donors.

It is also possible for a PF to apply to become an EO (the more general designation, it seems) by converting to a public charity.

(An aside: Emerson Collective handsomely funds Ed Post, which is operated by former US ed sec, Arne Duncan crony, Peter Cunningham. In 2016, Duncan became a managing partner of an Emerson Collective related entity, Chicago CRED. So, both Cunningham and Chicago pal Duncan are drawing Emerson Collective bucks.)

At any rate, the public will have a greater opportunity of knowing how Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective is financing market-driven ed reform once Emerson Collective Foundation begins filing its returns.

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(Disclaimer: I am not a tax expert; I have learned about nonprofit filings from writing about education issues these past five years, and I draw on that increasing knowledge in continued writing.)


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

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

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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.

  1. jake jacobs permalink

    Jobs is reportedly collaborating with the Trump administration on STEM initiatives but she also say on the board of Jeb Bush’s ed reform organization, alongside Betsy DeVos.

    Emerson collective also quietly bought the remnants of InBloom from Rupert Murdoch.

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