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American Council of Trustees and Alumni

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The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), founded in 1995, describes itself as, "an independent, nonprofit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities." [1] ACTA is an associate member of the right-wing State Policy Network (SPN) [2]

State Policy Network

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of July 2017, SPN's membership totals 153. It is an $83 million right-wing empire as of the 2011 funding documents from SPN itself and each of its state "think tank" members. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[3]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[4]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[5]

News

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation donated $150 million to Johns Hopkins University for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute, which promotes free speech. According to ACTA, "The Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s gift will fund the interdisciplinary study of 'dynamics of societal, cultural, and political polarization' to research civic literacy and engagement, diagnose weaknesses in public discourse and identify strategies to enhance public debate and civility" [6]

Ties to the Koch Brothers

The Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation's Associate Program has sponsored several of ACTA's employees and students. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]


Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

In 2011, Michael B. Poliakoff presented at the 2011 ALEC Academy for Legislators. Poliakoff's lecture, Unacceptable Outcomes: A Call to Action discussed student outcomes in higher education. [12]

ACTA's 2010 Annual Report listed their attendance at the December 2010 annual Policy Summit hosted by ALEC in Washington, D.C. [13]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.

Ties to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

In 2015, the Bradley Foundation was listed as a sponsor of ACTA's 20th Anniversary Gala held in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Professor Robert Paquette, an associate of ACTA, was awarded the Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick Prize for Academic Freedom. The award is co-funded by the Bradley Foundation. [14]

In 2008, The Bradley Foundation and ACTA published, E Pluribus Unum, a collaborative report that focused on America's "historical memory, civic education, assimilation, and national security" [15] [16] In 2007, Michael Grebe, then President and CEO of the Bradley Foundation, also spoke about the E Pluribus Unum collaborative project at ACTA’s 2007 ATHENA Roundtable annual conference. [17]

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

Publications

ACTA produces publications and surveys that monitor the trends and challenges in higher education. [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

Funding

Between 1995 and 2014, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni received $10,998,125 in donations. [23]

Top Donors (1995-2015):

  • Donors Capital Fund - $1,682,000 (2015)[26] $1,075,000 (2014), $300,000 (2014); $1,075,000 (2013); $600,000 (2012), $300,000 (2012); $500,000 (2011), $60,000 (2011); $500,400 (2010); $400,000 (2009). [25] Total: $6,492,400
  • DonorsTrust - $1,000 (2010); $20,100 (2007); $400 (2006). Total: $21,500
  • Bradley Foundation - $20,000 (2015)[27] $25,000 (2014)[27]; $30,000 (2013); $5,000 (2012); $30,000 (2012); $35,000 (2012); $5,000 (2011); $35,000 (2011); $5,000 (2010); $50,000 (2010); $5,000 (2009); $35,000 (2009); $35,000 (2009); $50,000 (2008); $75,000 (2008); $105,813 (2008); $5,000 (2007); $30,000 (2007); $35,000 (2007); $35,000 (2007); $50,000 (2007); $50,000 (2007); $50,000 (2007); $50,000 (2007); $35,000 (2006); $35,000 (2006); $35,000 (2005); $35,000 (2005); $35,000 (2004); $35,000 (2004); $40,000 (2003); $40,000 (2003); $50,000 (2002); $50,000 (2002); $50,000 (2001); $50,000 (2001); $50,000 (2000); $50,000 (2000); $5,000 (2000); $5,000 (2000); $100,000 (1999); $50,000 (1998); $50,000 (1998); $50,000 (1997); $50,000 (1997). [25] Total: $1,750,813
  • Sarah Scaife Foundation - $50,000 (2008); $50,000 (2007); $50,000 (2006); $50,000 (2005); $50,000 (2004); $50,000 (2002); $50,000 (2000); $50,000 (1999). [25] Total: $400,000
  • John M. Olin Foundation - $75,000 (2002); $100,000 (2001); $100,000 (2000); $10,000 (1999); $100,000 (1998); $100,000 (1997). [25] Total: $485,000
  • Randolph Foundation: $40,000 (2009); $4,255 (2007); $20,000 (2006); $125,000 (2001); $25,000 (2001). [25] Total: $214,255

Core Financials

2015 [28]

  • Total Revenue: $4,008,483
  • Total Expenses: $2,075,863
  • Net Assets: $4,606,619

2014 [28]

  • Total Revenue: $2,810,186
  • Total Functional Expenses: $1,988,869
  • Net Assets: $2,689,532

2013 [28]

  • Total Revenue: $2.085,541
  • Total Expenses: $1,724,509
  • Net Assets: $1,852,552

2012[28]

  • Total Revenue: $2,012,654
  • Total Expenses: $1,577,404
  • Net Assets: $1,491,520

2011[28]

  • Total Revenue: $1,596,155
  • Total Expenses: $1,590,115
  • Net Assets: $1,056,270

Personnel

Staff [29]

  • Michael B. Poliakoff, President
  • Lauri Kempson, Senior Vice President
  • Karen Hyman, Senior Vice President of Policy and Programs
  • Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill, Executive Director, Fund for Academic Renewal
  • Armand Alacbay, Vice President of Trustee & Legislative Affairs
  • Eric Bledsoe, Vice President of Curricular Improvement & Academic Outreach
  • Sherrill Berk, Director of Development
  • Ted Eismeier, Director of Communications & External Relations
  • Nicholas Barden, Administrative Director
  • Ryan Sabot, Program Manager for Development
  • Kara Brounstein, Program Officer for Trustee Affairs
  • Christine Ravold, Communications Officer & Digital Media Producer
  • Rushad Thomas, Program Manager, Fund for Academic Renewal
  • Megan Riethmiller, Program Officer for Curricular Improvement & Academic Outreach
  • Elise Denman, Executive Administrative Assistant
  • Alexis Zhang, Research Associate / Editor
  • Danielle Jack, Program Associate for Trustee Affairs
  • Dominique Ornelas, Program Associate for Development
  • Anne D. Neal, Senior Fellow
  • Dr. Elizabeth D. "Betty" Capaldi Phillips, ACTA Scholar-in-Residence

Board of Directors [30]

  • John D. Fonte, Ph.D., Secretary
  • Jane Fraser
  • Robert T. Lewit, M.D., Chairman
  • Edwin Meese III, Esq.
  • Carl B. Menges
  • Michael B. Poliakoff, President
  • Thomas M. Rollins, Esq.
  • Terence P. Ross, Esq.
  • Sandra Stotsky
  • Jody Wolfe

Scholar-In-Residence & Council of Scholars [31]

  • George E. Andrews
  • Mark Bauerlein
  • Marc Zvi Brettler
  • William Cook
  • Paul Davies
  • David C. Doughty, Jr.
  • William Fagan
  • Judith Farr
  • Niall Ferguson
  • Sidney L. Gulick III
  • Robert “KC” Johnson
  • Anatoly M. Khazanov
  • Alan Charles Kors
  • Jon D. Levenson
  • Molly Levine
  • George R. Lucas, Jr.
  • Joyce Lee Malcolm
  • Matthew A. Malkan
  • Michael Podgursky
  • James A. Sellers

Former Personnel:

  • Jerry L. Martin, Chairman
  • Anne D. Neal, President

Contact Information

EIN: 52-1870003

American Council of Trustees and Alumni
1730 M Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036-4525
Phone: (202) 467-6787
Toll-Free: (888) ALUMNI-8
Fax: (202) 467-6784
Email: info@goacta.org

Website: https://www.goacta.org/
ACTA's Blog: https://www.goacta.org/the_forum/overview
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoActa?ref=ts&fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/goacta
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/american-council-of-trustees-and-alumni?trk=company_logo

References

  1. American Council of Trustees and Alumni, About: Mission, American Council of Trustees and Alumni website, Accessed July 21, 2017.
  2. State Policy Network, Directory, Washington, DC: Associates", SPN website, Accessed August 5, 2017.
  3. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  4. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  5. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  6. Michael Poliakoff, A Campus Culture of Free Expression Brings Many Rewards, News: ACTA In The News, July 18, 2017.
  7. Inside Academe, New Faces at ACTA, ACTA Newsletter, 2010-2011 (No. 3).
  8. Inside Academe, 15 and Going Strong, ACTA Newsletter, 2009-2010 (No. 4).
  9. Inside Academe, Donors Establish New Fellowships, ACTA Newsletter, 2008-2009 (No. 4).
  10. Inside Academe, Change at ACTA, ACTA Newsletter, 2007-2008 (No. 3-4).
  11. Inside Academe, Meet ACTA's Interns, ACTA Newsletter, 2007-2008 (No. 3-4).
  12. Michael B. Poliakoff, Unacceptable Outcomes: A Call to Action, ACTA Publications: Speeches & Testimony, October 2011.
  13. American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Academic Freedom, Excellence and Accountability: 15 Years of Leadership in Higher Education Reform, ACTA Publications: Reports, 2010.
  14. American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Congratulations to Robert Paquette!, ACTA'S BLOG: The Forum, March 7, 2014.
  15. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, America is facing an identity crisis, Bradley Project on America's National Identity finds, ON-Lion Letter, June 2008.
  16. Inside Academe, Bradley Project Puts Focus on American Identity, ACTA Newsletter, 2007-2008 (No. 3-4).
  17. Inside Academe, An Invigorating ATHENA Roundtable at Mount Vernon, ACTA Newsletter, 2007 (No. 1).
  18. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Reports, ACTA website, Accessed July 21, 2017.
  19. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Guides & Essays, ACTA website, Accessed July 21, 2017.
  20. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Speeches & Testimony, ACTA website, Accessed July 21, 2017.
  21. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Newsletters, ACTA website, Accessed July 21, 2017.
  22. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Surveys, ACTA website, Accessed July 21, 2017.
  23. Conservative Transparency, Total Value Of Contributions: American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Conservative Transparency website, Accessed July 20, 2017.
  24. SourceWatch, Koch Family Foundations, SourceWatch website, Accessed July 24, 2017.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 25.6 25.7 Conservative Transparency, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Conservative Transparency website, Accessed July 20, 2017.
  26. SourceWatch, DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund Grant Recipients, SourceWatch website, Accessed July 24, 2017.
  27. 27.0 27.1 SourceWatch,Contributions of the Bradley Foundation, SourceWatch website, Accessed July 24, 2017.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 ProPublica, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer, Accessed July 20, 2017.
  29. American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Staff, ACTA website, Accessed July 21, 2017.
  30. American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Board of Directors, ACTA website, Accessed July 21, 2017.
  31. American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Scholar-In-Residence & Council of Scholars, ACTA website, Accessed July 21, 2017.