Over the years, the National Education Association has created many subsidiaries to fulfill a multitude of tasks not suitable for the union to handle directly. One of these is a 501(c)(3) charity organization called The NEA Foundation. Its activities have been similar to those of any other education-related charity. The NEA Foundation lists its mission priorities as closing the achievement gap, providing small grants to educators, and handing out awards. The foundation also purchases library books for needy schools and helps fundraise to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Member dues money helped create the endowment for The NEA Foundation, but its 501(c)(3) status allows it to accept donations from individuals, corporations and philanthropies – something the union itself cannot do. The foundation currently has net assets of more than $40 million.
But with teacher collective bargaining in danger in a handful of states, NEA is drawing on all of its resources to make a stand – and that includes The NEA Foundation.
Having already decided to tap the members for additional funds for its political war chest, NEA sees the opportunity to use the foundation to raise money from non-members and outside groups for its political battles to come.
Under the auspices of The NEA Foundation, the union created The 51 Fund:
By donating to the 51 Fund, support will go to where the need is greatest: to assist people fighting back on the frontlines. The 51 Fund will help feed volunteers, organize rallies, and get the message out to people everywhere that the right to collective bargaining ensures a strong middle-class. And, a strong middle-class is the back-bone of our economic vitality.
Checks are to be made out to the NEA Foundation, though the web site advises parenthetically “Please indicate on check that contribution is for the ’51 Fund’.” What isn’t clear is how much segregation exists between the 51 Fund and the rest of the charity. If I write a check to The NEA Foundation, will my donation buy library books for underprivileged children, or pizza for picket captains at state capitols?