Another Education “Non-profit”: EducationNC

On Monday, yet another ‘non-profit’ dealing with education was launched in North Carolina.

I went digging:

This was the answer:

“Nonpartisan”…right.
Nothing about Education in North Carolina is “nonpartisan” or at least never stays that way. Just follow the money.

So, according to Ms. Rash’s tweet, apparently the Lt. Governor is/was involved here?

Yes, Lt. Governor Forest was at the EWA Conference in a session called “Political points of view on the Common Core“. EducationNC reported on it. That’s about the sum of the connection there.

Note the host listed in the opening moments of the video of this conference which EducationNC has embedded on their site: “UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication”. The title of the session is “Taking political stock of the Common Core“.

A second session was reported on by EducationNC called “EWA Conference: The southern context of Common Core“. Check out the opening credits and note who was presenting. The opening question in the video is ‘why has Common Core generated such political heat in the South?’ No subtext or bias there. No sir.

I’ll take a look at both of these presentations in a separate article. In the meantime, remember these sessions, who hosted them and who presented in them as you read on. Be sure to read to the very end of the article.

Let’s take a closer look at EducationNC, shall we?
Remember, EducationNC is “a nonpartisan news source engaging NC in a bipartisan conversation”.

It is my personal assertion that this organization is less about “nonpartisan news” in education and more about branding and steering education narratives in North Carolina with an eye towards influencing public opinion.  Time will tell, but my gut says this is a PR outfit dressed up as a non-profit. Looking at their board and supporters lends some credence to this hunch; same people, same money.

All of what I am about to present is public record.

EducationNC Launch:  January 12, 2015
Tagline on the website: “Including you in a conversation about our public schools”
Website: https://www.ednc.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EducationNC/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/educationnc
Physical address: EducationNC 220 Fayetteville Street, Third Floor, Raleigh NC 27601
Mailing Address: EducationNC PO Box 1636 Raleigh NC 27602
EducationNC is a 501(c)(3):  View the NC Secretary of State profile for EducationNC. Registering agent is C. Conner Lee.
2014 990 Filing: View the November 2014 filing that lists Andrew Holton as the director.

EducationNC was previously called “Emerging Tar Heel Leaders Inc.” according to their website:

“EdNC was founded by Gerry Hancock and Ferrel Guillory. Mebane Rash serves as the CEO, President, and Editor-in-Chief. The CEO has independent control of all content. Our Board of Directors guides the mission, strategic vision, and financial sustainability of EdNC. EdNC is a 501(c)(3), formerly known as Emerging Tar Heel Leaders Inc., and our work is supported by foundation grants, corporate contributions, individual contributions, and event revenue. “

Emerging Tar Heel Leaders used to have a website that resided at “www.ethl.org ” according to its LinkedIn profile. The website is now defunct, however the WayBack Machine offered some archived page hits. The partners for Emerging Tar Heels included Blue Cross Blue Shield NC (BCBSNC). EducationNC’s board includes Brad Wilson, President and CEO of BCBCNC.

Gerry Hancock is also involved with NC Public Schools Forum. As are many of the EducationNC board members.  Ferrell Guillory has ties to Jim Hunt, The Hunt Institute and UNC. According to the excerpt on EducationNC for Guillory:

Executive Director, Program in Public Life & Professor of the Practice of Journalism, UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Author, Reporter, and Former Editor of the Editorial Page, News & Observer Member, NC Journalism Hall of Fame

Staff
EducationNC’s staff list consists of Mebane Rash, Alisa Herr and Alex Grandos. From looking at their bios, one has to wonder where they will draw the education  is aside from having attended various schools?

Mebane Rash is the CEO of EducationNC. A search at the Board of Elections shows Rash is not registered to vote in NC, at least not under the name Mebane Rash.  As an attorney who, per her LinkedIn profile, previously worked for The N.C. Center for Public Policy Research. Her bio is light on education and heavy on legal and states that, ” she currently serves on the inaugural Z. Smith Reynolds Leadership Council. ” Just remember who Z. Smith Reynolds funds. Read the whole bio.  Update: Apparently, I’ve been informed that Margaret is Ms Rash’s first name, not Mebane. This made it possible to locate her voter registration.

Alisa Herr is the CTO with a masters in Library Science and, according to her LinkedIn is very much into web development.  A search of the Board of Elections showed Herr has no voter record available.

Alex Granados, according to his bio, was a graduate from “the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism in 2005″.  Mr. Granados also has no voter registration record for viewing at the NC state Board of Elections.

It’s a heck of an odd coincidence that all three of these individuals have no voter records available for public view. Perhaps it is a glitch. Try looking for yourself.

Board of Directors
Many political heavy hitters, NC education officials and business people are on the list of the Board of Directors for EducationNC, including multiples ties back to the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Who funds this ‘nonpartisan news’ non-profit?
Just look at their “supporters” page, which I have included further down under the heading “EducationNC Supporters”.

As one can see from that list, a lot of cash is flowing into yet another ‘education non-profit’. See anyone familiar?  SAS, Goodnight, BEST NC, Z. Smith Reynolds…

What or who is the Low Wealth Schools Consortium (LWSC)? How are they Low Wealth and have $100k to drop on another non-profit? Apparently Superintendent Dr.Ed Croom runs it?  Is this anything like the “NC Large District Superintendent Consortium”?

A Google search turned up little to nothing on the LWSC, however I finally located information about the LWSC at the NC Secretary of State under the lobbying section. Coincidentally, Gerry Hancock is the primary lobbyist listed for LWSC.

EducationNC Supporters

$100,000+

  • Low Wealth Schools Consortium

Up to $100,000

Up to $75,000

Up to $25,000

Up to $10,000

Up to $5,000

  • Emerging Tar Heel Leaders, Inc.
  • International Affairs Council of North Carolina
  • Tom and Susan Rabon Charitable Foundation

In-kind

Individual contributors

  • Hunter and J.B. Buxton
  • Ann Campbell
  • Kathleen and Ferrel Guillory
  • Dennis and Betty Chafin Rash
  • Mebane Rash
  • The Lloyd and Margaret Rash Family Fund
  • Marsha and EJ Sherry
  • Amy Strecker
  • Hutch and Wells Whitman

Special thanks

Many thanks to Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych PLLC for representing EdNC on first amendment and communications issues.

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor at American Lens. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder of LadyLiberty1885.com. Her past writing can also be found at IJ review, Breitbart, FOX news, Da Tech Guy Blog, Heartland Institute, Civitas Institute and StopCommonCoreNC.org. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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