Skip to content

Results for America: Nonprofits Manfacturing Nonprofits

July 22, 2019

I give you newly-formed (sort of) Results for America (RFA), which started as an “initiative” of the self-described “nonprofit accelerator,” America Achieves.

In other words, America Achieves became a nonprofit that works to create other nonprofits to promote corporate-styled-and-advertised change. (” America Achieves is a nonprofit accelerator that helps young people succeed and lead in a changing world. Our strategy is to support transformational leaders, who have game-changing ideas, with results-oriented funding, and operational and strategic support.)

In fine top-down, corporate-reform style, America Achieves manufactures nonprofits like RFA and also tries to manufacture the buy-in (i.e., state, community) to *effect change.*

Though the name, “Results for America,” is close to the name of “Teach for America” (TFA), RFA is not a TFA creation. It is all America Achieves.

Results for America (RFA) has been a nonprofit in its own right since September 2016. Its mission as stated in RFA’s 2016 tax return begins as follows:

RFA’s activities are focused on non-profit leaders, government decision-makers, and community members as RFA attempts to build their awareness of, support for, and ability to implement funding of “evidence-based,” results-driven social programs, i.e., social programs that have results that can be measured and evaluated for whether they are accomplishing their objectives. RFA’s initiatives fall into three program areas: implementation support, momentum and commitment building, and developing standards of excellence.

RFA’s initial, 2016 tax return spans eight months (May to December 2016), and right out of the gate, it reported $5M in total revenue (all contributions and grants).

In its second year (and first full year), 2017, RFA’s revenue almost doubled, to $9.4M.

The reason for RFA’s abundant, ready funding is that RFA was “incubated” by another nonprofit, America Achieves. Info on this incubation history RFA also includes with its mission statement– which continues from its 2016 tax form as follows:

From 2012 until May 2016, RFA was a program arm of America Achieves, a 501(c)(3) organization. In May of 2016, RFA was incorporated as a free-standing non-profit organization and will continue the kind of programs that it was previously operating under America Achieves.

RFA’s CEO is Michele Jolin, who appears on America Achieves’ 2011 tax form as a “managing partner” (30hrs/wk) for zero compensation. RFA is not yet mentioned. In 2012, Jolin is still recorded as a “managing partner” at 30 hrs/wk, but now for $131K total compensation. Still no mention of RFA.

In 2013, RFA is mentioned on America Achieves’ tax return under “program service accomplishments,” as follows:

Results for America (RFA) initiative believes that in this age of scarce resources and growing social problems, government funding should support programs that have demonstrated that they work well this way millions of families and young people will be better positioned to succeed. Over the past year, RFA has begun to build a high-level bi-partisan coalition to develop and share policy ideas; has worked with leading academics to research and propose new funding mechanisms; and has developed a road map for how federal agencies can build the infrastructure to support evidence-based funding. RFA supports policy makers who wish to implement evidence-based funding with training, Fellowships, and policy ideas.

Jolin’s 30hr/wk America Achieves “managing partner” compensation is up to $172K, but it is David Medina who is first connected to RFA by being named “COO (chief operating officer), RFA” (4ohrs/wk; $217K) on America Achieves’ 2013 tax form.

In 2014, America Achieves continues its RFA incubation, which is described below:

Our third area of focus is investing in what works and driving evidence-based policy making to address this challenge. Results for America (RFA) is an America Achieves initiative based on an important idea: in this age of scarce resources and significant challenges, millions of young people and their families will be better positioned to succeed if government funding supports programs that are based on good evidence and demonstrate that they are effective over time. That’s why Results for America supports efforts to make public funding more evidence-based and supports a coalition of public officials and others working on this problem.

For example, RFA worked with leading experts and practitioners to establish a standard of excellence through its Federal Invest in What Works Index for federal departments and agencies that defines the infrastructure necessary for building and using data and evidence when making budget, policy and management decisions — and supports federal departments and agencies to implement specific changes.

In November 2014, RFA released a national best-selling Moneyball for Government book authored by a bipartisan group of nationally-recognized experts to help ensure that budget, policy, and management decisions by governments at all levels are informed by the best possible data and evidence about what works (a second edition has since been released).

RFA also manages a national initiative to help 100 mid-size U.S. cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve the lives of their residents.

In 2014, America Achieves’ tax return first names Jolin as “CEO, RFA”; Medina, Jolin, and four others are paid by America Achieves in the name of RFA, and that pay is sweet:

  • Michele Jolin, CEO, RFA (30hrs/wk); $220K
  • Patrick Bryden Sweeney Taylor, CEO, RFA (40hrs/wk); $238K
  • David Medina, COO, RFA (40hrs/wk); $202K
  • Evangelina Garcia, VP, RFA (40hrs/wk); $182K
  • Simone Brody, ED WWC (executive director, What Works Cities), RFA (40hrs/wk); $195K
  • Jeremy Ayers, VP Policy, RFA (40hrs/wk); $193K

In 2015, America Achieves describes RFA as follows, including a “strong coalition” that RFA “has built”:

Results for America (RFA) is improving outcomes for young people, their families, and communities by promoting evidence-based, results-driven solutions.

RFA has become a leading voice in advancing and driving evidence-based policy change, increasing awareness and building credibility for the practice among more elected officials and policymakers, particularly around the insufficient use of data and evidence in policymaking and decisionmaking.

RFA has built a strong, bipartisan coalition of 134 high-level decision-makers from nonprofits, philanthropy, and government, as well as 220 disparate stakeholders from the public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors into an Invest in What Works coalition. Results for America offers tools, trainings, and opportunities to learn and share what works regarding data and evidence across all levels of government, including new work globally, such as its annual federal Invest in What Works Index released in April 2016.

Results for America is transitioning to become an independent 501(c)3 organization in October 2016– a validation of the strength of RFA’s track record and of the America Achieves accelerator model.

America Achieves is the rich, well-connected parent that is Making Thinks Happen for its offspring RFA then claiming its fiscal propping RFA as proof that RFA in its own right has a track record. But wait, this effort also validates the America Achieves accelerator model.

Keep in mind that this sales pitch is part of the 2015 America Achieves tax return and that in 2015, RFA is still umbilically dependent on America Achieves. (RFA became a nonprofit in 09/16, and America Achieves’ 2015 tax form covered 09/15 to 08/16.) These words would mean more if RFA had been a stand-alone nonprofit, responsible for its own fundraising, for at least several years.

Meanwhile, in 2015, America Achieves continues to handsomely pay RFA’s officers the same totl compensation that they received in 2014, with the exception that Sweeney Taylor is now a CEO of another America Achieves incubation, CollegePoint, and no longer a co-CEO of RFA with Jolin. (In 2016, Sweeney Taylor is again shuffled to yet another America Achieves incubation, as “CEO, College Access and Success.)

Okay. So now, its 2016, and RFA is supposed to be on its own. (Keep in mind that the 2016 tax return for America Achieves covers 09/16 to 08/17, with RFA officially becoming a nonprofit in 09/16.)

Below is the RFA description from America Achieves’ 2016 tax form:

Results for America (RFA) is improving outcomes for young people, their families, and communities by promoting evidence-based, results-driven solutions. RFA has become a leading voice in advancing and driving evidence-based policy change, increasing awareness and building credibility for the practice among more elected officials and policymakers, particularly around the insufficient use of data and evidence in policy making and decision making.

Results for America transitioned to become an independent 501(c)(3) organization in October 2016, a validation of the strength of RFA’s track record and of the America Achieves accelerator model.

But America Achieves continues to primarily pay for three RFA execs (who appear to be putting in the same hours with America Achieves as they did pre-nonprofit-RFA), and one new “advisor”:

  • CEO Jolin: $201K (30hrs/wk)
  • COO Medina: $246K (40hrs/wk)
  • ED WWC Brody: $233K (40hrs/wk)
  • Karen Anderson, Sr. Advisor, RFA: $215K (40hrs/wk)

Let’s now shift to the 2016 RFA tax form to see that Jolin and Medina are also collecting some funds from RFA, as well:

  • CEO Jolin: $51K (40hrs/wk)
  • COO Medina: $66K (40hrs/wk)

Laura Parkin is also listed on the 2016 RFA tax return as RFA’s “secretary and chief financial and strategy officer and is paid $44K (40hrs/wk). However, Parkin’s primary pay comes from America Achieves, where she is listed as a “managing partner” in 2016 and is paid $256K (30hrs/wk).

Finally, in 2017— RFA’s first full year of operation as its own nonprofit– RFA lists the following officers and their America Achieves-groomed total compensation (all for 40hrs/wk):

  • Chairman and CEO Jolin: $206K
  • CFSO/sec Parkin (half year only): $259K
  • COO Medina: $259K
  • ED WWC Brody: $252K
  • VP Policy Ayers: $192K
  • Sharman Stein, Director of Communications: $184K
  • Nicole Dunn, VP of Innovation and Community Impact: $175K
  • Abeba Taddese, Executive Director: $194K

And what, exactly, is this America Achieves-incubated RFA up to?

Here is what RFA lists on its 2017 tax form as its top four program service accomplishments. The descriptions are lengthy, but I include them here in full so that readers are informed. The first is “implementation”:

IMPLEMENTATION – RESULTS FOR AMERICA WORKS TO BUILD THE CAPACITY OF GOVERNMENT DECISION MAKERS AND NON-PROFIT LEADERS TO IMPLEMENT EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICES, WITH THE LONG-TERM GOAL OF HELPING THEM MAKE MORE EFFECTIVE USE OF RESOURCES, TO SCALE EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS, AND TO ACHIEVE BETTER OUTCOMES FOR THEIR CONSTITUENTS.

IMPLEMENTATION SUPPORT IS MADE UP OF FIVE (5) CORE INITIATIVES:

(1) WHAT WORKS CITIES (WWC) BUILDS THE CAPACITY OF MID-SIZED CITY GOVERNMENT TO USE DATA AND EVIDENCE. AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2017, WWC WAS WORKING WITH OVER 90 CITIES. WWC PLANS TO BUILD THE CAPACITY AT 100 CITIES BY THE END OF Q1 2018.

(2) RFA’S LOCAL GOVERNMENT FELLOWSHIP BUILDS LEADERSHIP AND CAPACITY OF EVIDENCE PRACTITIONERS, AND WORKS WITH FELLOWS FROM 16 CITIES AND COUNTIES.

(3) RFA’S NON-PROFIT FELLOWSHIP HAS 15 FELLOWS, AND HAS INFORMED AND DEVELOPED TOOLS TO HELP GOVERNMENTS AND NON-PROFITS WORK TOGETHER MORE EFFECTIVELY TO ADDRESS CRITICAL SOCIAL CHALLENGES, AND HAS HELPED THE FELLOWS COMMUNICATE THEIR WORK MORE EFFECTIVELY, TO BUILD SUPPORT FOR EVIDENCE-BASED SOLUTIONS.

(4) RFA CONTINUES TO EDUCATE POLICY MAKERS AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL ON BEST APPROACHES TO INCORPORATE EVIDENCE-BASED PRACTICES IN THEIR WORK AND LEGISLATION.

(5) AT THE STATE LEVEL, RFA LAUNCHED A STATE EDUCATION FELLOWSHIP, WHERE REPRESENTATIVES FROM 9 STATE EDUCATION AGENCIES RECEIVE SUPPORT AND SHARE LEARNINGS ABOUT HOW BEST TO USE EVIDENCE IN DECISION MAKING.

Second is “momentum/commitment building”:

MOMENTUM / COMMITMENT BUILDING – RFA CONTINUES TO BUILD A MOVEMENT AROUND EVIDENCE-BASED POLICYMAKING WITH THE CURRENT GOAL OF GETTING THE MAJORITY OF “EARLY ADOPTERS” OF THE PRACTICES TO SUPPORT AND IMPLEMENT EVIDENCE-BASED POLICIES.

TO ACCOMPLISH THIS GOAL, RFA COMMUNICATES RESEARCH AND SOLUTIONS TO POLICY MAKERS AT ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT AND TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC, THROUGH A VARIETY OF CHANNELS AND MEDIA.

ACTIVITIES INCLUDE:

  • PUBLISHING ARTICLES AND OP-EDS;
  • THE MONEYBALL FOR GOVERNMENT CHAMPIONS PROGRAM BY YEAR END SECURED THE PUBLIC COMMITMENT OF HUNDREDS OF LEADERS; AND
  • THE WHAT WORKS MEDIA PROJECT PRODUCED TWO DOCUMENTARIES, TO BE SHOWN AT EVENTS AND ONLINE.

The third is “standards of excellence”:

STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE – RFA RESEARCHES AND DEVELOPED STANDARDS OR “BEST PRACTICES” FOR THE PROCESSES, INFRASTRUCTURE, CAPACITY AND POLICIES THAT BEST ENABLE THE USE OF DATA AND EVIDENCE BY POLICYMAKERS AND GOVERNMENT DECISIONMAKERS. RFA PROVIDES THESE STANDARDS AS GUIDELINES FOR POLICYMAKERS.

(1) AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, RFA HAS INCORPORATED THE BEST PRACTICES IN THE RFA WHAT WORKS INDEX, AND IN 2017 ADDED ONE AGENCY AND RATED 8 FEDERAL AGENCIES AGAINST THE INDEX REQUIREMENTS. IN 2017, THE AGENCIES SCORED IN THE RANGE OF 70 AND 83 OUT OF A POSSIBLE 100, NOT ADVANCING SIGNIFICANTLY OVER THEIR STATUS IN 2016.

(2) IN 2017, RFA LAUNCHED THE WHAT WORKS CITIES CERTIFICATION PROCESS, FOR WHICH OVER 180 CITIES APPLIED. THE PROCESS RESULTED IN CERTIFYING 9 CITIES NATIONWIDE AS USING EVIDENCE AND DATA EFFECTIVELY IN POLICY AND DECISION MAKING. RFA IS LOOKING TO GROW THE NUMBER OF CERTIFIED CITIES TO OVER 40 IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS, WHICH WOULD MEAN MILLIONS OF RESIDENTS BENEFITING FROM RESOURCES ALLOCATED TO PROGRAMS AND SERVICES WITH EVIDENCE THAT THEY WORK.

(3) DURING 2017, RFA ALSO PRODUCED A “BEST PRACTICES” PAPER, DOCUMENTING HOW STATES ARE PLANNING TO IMPLEMENT EVIDENCE PROVISIONS IN THE FEDERAL EDUCATION LAW, THE EVERY STUDENT SUCCEEDS ACT. RFA WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH A SELECT GROUP OF 9 STATES TO TEST AND IMPROVE THEIR PRACTICES.

Finally, “impact and outcome assessment”:

IMPACT AND OUTCOME ASSESSMENT – RFA MEASURES AND TRACKS ITS ACTIVITIES AND OUTCOMES AGAINST QUARTERLY AND ANNUAL TARGETS. THIS EFFORT INCLUDES GATHERING AND ANALYZING DATA THROUGH SURVEYS AND OTHER MEANS, UNCOVERING PATTERNS, AND USING THE INFORMATION TO DESIGN AND RESHAPE ACTIVITIES IN ORDER TO INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF RFA’S PROGRAMS.

Here is how helicopter parent America Achieves brags on barely-out-of-gestation RFA. Note that the cord will likely never truly be cut:

Over a four year period, Results for America went from being a concept to a leading voice in advancing and driving evidence-based policy change. Results for America was launched and incubated within America Achieves over a 4-year period.  Results for America (RFA) helps policymakers at all levels of government harness the power of evidence and data to solve the world’s great challenges.

Notably, Results for America worked closely with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress to include a number of important evidence provisions in the rewrite of the nation’s Federal education law, the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  These evidence provisions could shift more than $2 billion in federal education dollars each year to evidence-based solutions.   These accomplishments  paved the way for RFA’s next phase of progress, and for the transition of RFA to an independent 501c3.

Results for America became an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization on October 1, 2016.

RFA continues to collaborate with America Achieves to advance our shared agenda.

“Continues to collaborate… to advance our shared agenda.”

Yes, RFA is technically independent from America Achieves. However, America Achieves is the source of RFA’s corporate-reform-styled funding clout, and America Achieves has announced that both it and RFA have a “shared agenda” (Indeed, America Achieves created– or “initiated”– RFA’s agenda).

For these reasons, RFA might never truly break from America Achieves, but RFA’s heavy bent upon corporate-reform concepts of “evidence-based solutions,” “building a movement,” and “scaling” is a siren song for the likes of Bill Gates, whose foundation chose in 2018 to pump $5M into RFA:

Results for America


Date: October 2018
Purpose: to fund new research, test interventions, and share learnings with local government leaders to improve economic mobility issues in their communities
Amount: $4,997,028
Term: 27
Topic: US Poverty and Mobility Analysis
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Grantee Website: https://results4america.org/ 

Its time to fund some research on the effectiveness of trying to impose change from some well-funded “top,” incubated or otherwise.

Perhaps the tack of, “We get to tell you what you need because we have loads of money,” is a collosal waste.

Measure that, RFA.

tape measure

______________________________________________________________________________________

Interested in scheduling Mercedes Schneider for a speaking engagement? Click here.

.

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.

6 Comments
  1. Ellen Lubic permalink

    According to her Wikipedia page, Jolin worked in the WH for Bill Clinton, and also worked at the Fed for Yellin, and for Stiglitz. We have way to many 501c3 non profits all told. No religious organizations should be tax free 501c3 or c4 especially the many which are active with electing political candidates. That means Pat Robertson, etc. all should be paying taxes as they become multi millionares. And yes, Mercedes, this sounds like it will grow into one more convoluted money machine.

  2. pwtx23 permalink

    Mercedes, thank you for sending this.  Thank you for drawing attention to non-profits (not for whose profit?) who morph into each other then have babies.  Here’s hoping folks appreciate what you’re pointing out. 

    Re why folks won’t wake up even when presented with compelling facts, good to ask, Cui bono?  Catherine Austin Fitts has a wonderful Red Button talk which I think will resonate with you;  just over 2 minutes https://home.solari.com/the-red-button-story/

    Blessings —

    Peyton Wolcott

    P.O. Box 9068

    Horseshoe Bay, TX  78657

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Another remarkable job. These operations are insisting on criteria for governance that appear neutral, purely data-driven, but arebeing shaped and marketed by an NGO that is also making big bucks for those who oversee the operation.
    Everyone should know that data-driven decisions are NEVER neutral. Gates has been funding a “Data Quality Campaign” since 2005. It has infected the Civil Rights Data Collection which now includes a long list of Gates’ curriculum preferences for “college and career readiness” as if a gazillion AP courses for every student is just what Gates thinks American students need to become Great. Today Microsoft broke the news that it will be investing in AI. Two days ago I received a long list of data-gathering activities associated with my Microsoft for 1 Mac “School and Home software.” The company intends to claim ownershiip of any and all BING searches I make and all content I produce with the software. DATA is the new oil.

    Just wondering about America Achieves Educator Network. I could not muster a 990 form but this sounds like an accelerator for CTE of a kind that industry determines and also another arm of America Achieves. https://www.americaachievesednetworks.org

  4. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    There is nothing benign about the What Works Cities Program cited in the IRS form. It is intended to undermine all values outside of a “best bang for the buck” mindset at every level of governance federal, state, and large metro areas. I poked around at the website to see who else is supporting the program and how it is connected to international efforts. The multilevel aspiration is to shape governance by a systems of ratings and certifications for “effectiveness” with efficiency part of the rating system.
    IN 2017, RFA LAUNCHED THE WHAT WORKS CITIES CERTIFICATION PROCESS, FOR WHICH OVER 180 CITIES APPLIED. THE PROCESS RESULTED IN CERTIFYING 9 CITIES NATIONWIDE AS USING EVIDENCE AND DATA EFFECTIVELY IN POLICY AND DECISION MAKING. RFA IS LOOKING TO GROW THE NUMBER OF CERTIFIED CITIES TO OVER 40 IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS, WHICH WOULD MEAN MILLIONS OF RESIDENTS BENEFITING FROM RESOURCES ALLOCATED TO PROGRAMS AND SERVICES WITH EVIDENCE THAT THEY WORK.
    The aim is to have every social and gov’ment run program rated and “certified” by persons other than elected officials, with opportunities for NGOs to “nudge” decisions.

    https://whatworkscities.bloomberg.org/certification/

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mercedes Schneider: How One Corporate Reform Incubated Another Corporate Reform Group | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Jon Schnur and His Nonprofit Accelerator, America Achieves: A Deep Dig | deutsch29

Leave a Reply to Laura H. Chapman Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s