Charting the charter schools funding network
By Laurie Bennett
October 6, 2011
A map of the funders of the charter school movement looks much like a map of the funders of the conservative wing of the Republican Party.
To create the map below, we started with the Alliance for School Choice, an organization headed by Betsy DeVos, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party.
DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater. Her mother, Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, is a big donor to conservative organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Media Research Center. Broekhuizen was also a major contributor to the effort to outlaw same-sex marriage in California.
The alliance is affiliated with the American Federation for Children, also chaired by Betsy DeVos.
Carrie Penner, a director of both organizations, is also on the board of the Walton Family Foundation, run by the Wal-Mart heirs. The Waltons give generously to charter school organizations around the country. (See a larger, expanded version of the map.)
You'll note in both versions of the map connections to conservative think tanks and nonprofits, including the Hoover Institution, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the Federalist Society.