WCPSS Enters Into “Digital Promise League”, Tied To Gates Foundation

Wake County Schools has been accepted into the “League of Innovative Schools” via a group called “Digital Promise”.  Sounds awesome right?  Yeah, not so much.

Think of Common Core as a stool and one of the biggest legs is the cost of Technology. I’m not saying increased technology and bandwidth in schools is bad, it’s inevitable. I’m saying the how and who doing it stinks to high heaven.
Bear this in mind as you read on.

Snippet from the WCPSS press release with emphasis added:

Digital Promise, a national, independent nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to accelerate innovation in education, recently announced that the Wake County Public School System is one of 11 new members accepted into the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of school district superintendents committed to innovation.

WCPSS was selected from a competitive and national pool of applicants based on its leadership, evidence of results, innovative vision for learning and commitment to collaboration.

“It is an honor to be recognized as a national leader in instructional technology by Digital Promise,” said Superintendent Jim Merrill. “We welcome the opportunity to share best practices and to collaborate in other ways with our colleagues across the nation.”


Another “national, independent non-profit” that just happens to be partnered with the two biggest Common Core funders: Gates and Carnegie.  Actually, their entire partners list is a who’s who of Common Core advocates and funders.

This is not a surprise, Dr. Merrill is part of the Large Districts Superintendent Consortium. A power bloc formed by the biggest school districts to drive education policy. One of the Large District’s first big pushes was to try to lock Common Core in for 7 years.

Side note: To date, the local media has not reported on this consortium, which serves to steer educational policy the way they see fit and circumvents the school boards and parents. That’s a scandal.


Yes, this outfit as the blessing of Congress and can receive funds from ‘any federal agency’ beginning in 2009 and continuing for 5 years after:

The purpose of the Center shall be to support a comprehensive research and development program to harness the increasing capacity of advanced information and digital technologies to improve all levels of learning and education, formal and informal, in order to provide Americans with the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the global economy.

Read:  20 U.S. Code § 9631 – National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies

Digital Promise was formed through Congress’s 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.  Read: The Higher Education Act H.R. 4137

This act was signed into law under George W. Bush, but was actually launched by Barack Obama’s White House and promoted by Arne Duncan.

The point wasn’t education advancements using technology, but rather the impact on the economy— we’re back to Common Core and the “workforce” rhetoric. Just look at Duncan’s statement:

“Created by Republicans and Democrats and championed by a coalition of educators and business leaders, Digital Promise is an independent nonprofit that will help spur breakthrough learning technologies.  And it will help make sure Americans of all ages and races, regions and backgrounds can benefit from them.  By harnessing the extraordinary work being done by educators, innovators, and citizens across this country, Digital Promise can help prepare Americans – and America – to succeed in the 21st Century,” says Secretary Duncan.

The U.S. Department of Education, Gates and Carnegie gave Digital Promise it’s seed money.   The 2008 presentation given by Digitial Promise asked for $5 million from the Omnibus bill and an additional $50 million to be granted in 2010.

Government FundraiserWhat we have here folks is the ultimate Public Private Partnership.

Your tax dollars are supporting this right alongside Gates and Carnegie money. Technology is arguably the most costly part of Common Core. How convenient that those who funded Common Core are also funding the drive for increased technology.

The reality is that a group of 1%ers are seemingly funding and directing all aspects of our educational system in a manner that cuts out the voice of the taxpaying citizen and undermines state sovereignty. Sound familiar?

But it’s all good because… DATA. PROGRESS. 21st CENTURY. WORKFORCE.


Start with the former VP, Adam Frankel, who has recently moved on to Andela. Here’s his LinkedIn profile, emphasis added:

As VP of External Affairs at Andela, Adam oversees business development, communications, and partnerships. Andela is a global talent accelerator that produces world-class developers and connects them with top companies.

Previously, Adam worked in corporate strategy at Microsoft and served as founding Executive Director of Digital Promise, a bipartisan nonprofit chartered by Congress to spur digital innovation in education. In that capacity, he raised more than $2 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Fortune 100 companies.

Before Digital Promise, Adam was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Speechwriter for President Obama. He left the White House in late 2011 after joining then-Senator Obama as the second speechwriter on his presidential campaign in early 2007.

Gee, worked for Microsoft then “raised” $2 million from Gates and friends and left the White House just in time to run Digital Promise.

At the bottom of the press release is this line, “For more information on the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools visit:http://www.digitalpromise.org/league.”

Check out the board of directors – former IBM and former president of NBC news? The latter of these two will make sense as you continue reading. Unsurprisingly, John P. Morgridge, Chairman Emeritus of Cisco is on the board.

Digital Promise’s partners are also a who’s who of Common Core, including Amplify, Discovery Education, McGraw Hill, Microsoft and Pearson. Also on the list, Amazon, Adobe, Apple and GALLUP. Yes, Gallup as in the polling firm.

As I mentioned previously, the press release directs to, “Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools visit:http://www.digitalpromise.org/league.”

I put Digital Promise League into the Bill Gates grant site. Nothing came up.

So, I copied their web address into the Gates Foundation grant look up tool.  Bingo, there they are but under this name, “National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies”.  Not quite the same ‘friendly’ and non-governmental sounding name as Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools, now is it?

Besides the Gates Grant database, you will find Digital Promise’s legal name (National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies) if you look on the Digital Promise “Tax and legal” section of their website and sift through the documents there.

Anyway, Digital Promise has received four grants from the Gates Foundation under the ‘College Ready’ category. Two in 2012 and two in 2013. These four grants total over $2.6 million. The largest grant was in 2012 and it for helping districts build ‘digital tools‘. The grants don’t go back any earlier because according to their own documentation, this non-profit group was only formed in 2011.  

The beginnings of the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies goes back to at least 2010 as evidenced by this NY Times write-up which says the initial recommendations to form such a venture go back to 2001.

“Their bold recommendation in 2001 was to set up a multibillion dollar trust that would act as a “venture capital fund” to research learning technology.”

The NY Times piece opens with who brought the idea forth,  “Lawrence K. Grossman, former president of both NBC News and PBS, and Newton N. Minow, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission“.  This collaboration was done hand-in-hand with the U.S. Department of Education.

The 2012 990 form lists two companies on their Schedule G (Supplemental Information Regarding Fundraising or Gaming Activities) of their IRS 990:

  1. Metsis Associates – National ‘research and consulting firm’ whose clients include The Soros Foundation and the NC Department of Public Instruction. They help write and shuffle grants from what it looks like.
  2. Education Elements – Also works with grants and more specifically ‘personalized learning’. From their services page, “We address a range of challenges including how to implement personalized learning, how to increase achievement, how to implement 1:1 devices and how to transition to Common Core.” Their partner list includes Pearson and an array of digital personalized learning companies. The same kinds of companies the Gates Foundation has been dumping grants into this year.  Education Elements board is well-connected from Google to Facebook.


Related Reads:

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
This entry was posted in A.P. Dillon (LL1885), Common Core and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to WCPSS Enters Into “Digital Promise League”, Tied To Gates Foundation

  1. Pingback: Common Core Weekend Reads - 10-12-14 - Stop Common Core NCStop Common Core NC

  2. Pingback: Education Big Data $1.2 trillion opportunity - Stop Common Core NCStop Common Core NC

Comments are closed.