Employees asked to donate to the DCEF

On March 13, 2015, employees received the following email asking them to donate a gift of “any amount” to register their “name for a future payroll deduction with the Douglas County Educational Foundation (DCEF)” for a chance to win Garth Brooks concert tickets.

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Financial experts often recommend that people investigate any charity before donating money. However, finding a rating for DCEF is difficult; they are not listed on Charity Navigator. A quick Google search for DCEF brings up some interesting articles:

In 2013, the DCEF paid the majority of a fee charged by Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute to write a white paper titled the Most Interesting School District in America with the remaining cost covered by DCSD, violating Colorado’s Fair Campaign Practices Act.  

To be fair, the new director of DCEF Jason Christensen, who is paid $7,500 a month or $90,000 a year (about $35,000 more than the average DCSD teacher–see screenshot below), has promised that “under his direction and a newly created strategic plan, the DCEF has no intention of following a similar path.” And that the good work of the DCEF has gotten lost in “so called controversy.”

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Because the DCEF is not subject to Sunshine Laws, the full cost of past spending on white papers touting DCSD’s innovations as well as a recent DCSD Innovation Summit will remain unknown.

Of course, it is completely up to employees if they want to donate to an organization that in the past has worked to tout the current reforms in DCSD and has paid experts to share how well the reforms are working.

Perhaps the DCEF, under new leadership, will finally open their books to show exactly which groups are donating and how those donations are being spent.