or, Follow the money.
Today’s publication of Massachusetts not getting Round 1 Race to the Top money, and the push that is sure to follow from Stand for Children, moves me to make sure we know who is influencing us. Cross-posted on who-cester.blogspot.com.
A few days ago, a commenter asked why Stand for Children came out in support of taking the federal turnaround funds that would require Worcester to implement one of the four federal turnaround models. My response was they want the federal money. It’s a bit more complicated than that.
Stand for Children has two arms: the Leadership Center is a registered non-profit 501(c)3, and the advocacy arm (which goes by just “Stand for Children”) is 501(c)4, which means that they [unlike 501(c)3's] may lobby for and against legislation. However, that arm is not a charity, and so donations to that arm are not tax-deductible(they also don’t have to be made public).
Foundation Center has online the 990–federal tax forms–of many non-profits. Stand for Children’s forms (they file two 990′s each year, one for each arm) tell the money story.
The 501 (c) 4 advocacy arm brought in $564,095 in membership dues (if you’re a local member, you sent in a check) and spent $498,465, largely, interestingly, on fundraising, office work, supplies, and travel. (That’s all on page 1 of the form; you can see the breakdown by state for Washington, Oregon, and Massachusetts on page 2. The breakdown of “other expenses is on page 10) In other words, about as much was spent on bringing in the money as money that came in.
The members are not funding the organization.
So what money is the organization running on, if it isn’t donations from members?
The Stand for Children 2008 annual report lists the major donors to the charitable arm (p.10).The list of donors of a quarter of a million dollars or above reads as follows:
Joshua and Anita Bekenstein
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
New Profit, Inc.
Moving over to the 2008 990 form, you’ll see (page 1) that the charitable arm brought in about $3.6 million that year, and spent nearly all of it.
So even if we assume that each of the above donors gave only $250,000, it’s clear that just those three donors gave nearly a quarter of the funding for Stand’s work in 2008.
So who are these donors?
The Bekensteins, who a quick Google search will turn up on plenty of donation lists, are best known otherwise for Mr. Bekenstein’s position in Bain Capital, founded, among others, by Mitt Romney. If you look farther down the donor list for Stand, you’ll see Bain’s charitable arm on there, too.
Bain Capital got a great deal of press during Romney’s presidential run for their history of buyouts that led to layoffs. They also took a number of previously public companies private.
Bain also has an educational and governmental consulting business, where, as they say, “Recently, the use of stimulus funds and regulatory reform has further blurred the lines between public and private entities.”(This gets us into the Bridgespan group, which is more than fodder for another post, as they’re connected not only to Bain, but also to the Broad Foundation and elsewhere.) Yes, they stand to make money on everything from Race to the Top to School Turnaround Grants.
New Profit refers to itself as a “social entrepreneurship” organization and speak of “advancing a national social innovation agenda.”
I think we all know who Bill Gates is, but what you may not know is that the Gates Foundation was the funder of grants for states in writing their Race to the Top applications, largely because the policies of Race to the Top, from expansion of charters to tying of perceived teacher proficiency to student test scores, lined up with the Gates Foundation vision of education.
The Denherts founded Hanna Andersson.
Michael Krupka is with Bain Capital, as is Jonathan Lavine. Lavine serves on Stand for Children’s Leadership Center Board of Directors. (A number of people associated with Bain have previously served on Stand for Children’s Board.)
Reuben Munger manages Bright Automotive, but has a history in investment.
Farther down, Paul G. Allen is a co-founder of Microsoft.
There’s a great deal of money here coming from two places: Microsoft and Bain Capital.
All of it can be declared as a charitable donation by the giver.
And added together, it’s a large piece of the operations budget of Stand for Children
It’s corporate money.
It’s a corporate vision.
Education, however, is a civic endeavor. Corporate influence in education, whether it’s an insistence that education be measurable on charts that go eternally up, or that those whose numbers don’t go up be fired,clouds what ought to be a common endeavor.
The places where Stand for Children in the past has stood for what is clearly in the interest of Worcester’s schoolchildren–the push to raise investment in education, the work against Question 1–undoubtedly are grassroots endeavors. Local people worked on issues that clearly mattered greatly in the education of our local children, and they were representing their own, and local children’s interests, in doing so.
The places where Stand’s public advocacy has been confusing locally–raising the charter cap, pushing federal policy–it’s worth looking at where the money and the influence come from.
It isn’t Worcester (or Gloucester, or…)