Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

ALEC Revisited

April 10, 2012

Over the past several weeks, many of our friends, partners and grantees, as well as some members of the general public, have expressed their concerns about the foundation’s recent grant to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  Many asked us to stop funding them, especially after news reports that identified ALEC as an organization associated with controversial voter identification laws and the “Stand Your Ground” law now at the center of controversy surrounding the tragic death of an unarmed teen in Florida.  These issues of course have nothing to do with the grant the foundation made to ALEC, which focused on education issues. But in the heat of these sensitive and emotional issues, this is a distinction that means little to many.

In recent days, several organizations have called on corporations to end their membership with ALEC. The foundation has been targeted as well. In fact, Roll Call is reporting today that the foundation is “withdrawing” its funding to ALEC. 

Given this recent turn of events, we think it’s important to provide an update to my previous blog and to also clarify some of Roll Call’s reporting.

The foundation is not a member of ALEC, as many of the targeted companies are. We do not pay dues or endorse ALEC’s agenda. We made a single grant last year, narrowly and specifically focused on providing information to ALEC-affiliated state legislators on teacher effectiveness and school finance. As I wrote previously, we are a nonpartisan organization and will continue to work with partners across the political spectrum.

We are not “withdrawing” funding to ALEC, as the Roll Call story headline reported. Rather, we have decided that we will not make another grant to the organization in the future.

We appreciate the feedback we have received since we first wrote about this grant.

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