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See the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s Education- and Child-Related Donations

By Andrew Ujifusa — April 18, 2016 6 min read
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Donald Trump’s thoughts about education policy are tough to get a bead on. We know he doesn’t like the Common Core State Standards. It’s not clear whether he wants to drastically scale back or eliminate the U.S. Department of Education, or make education a top priority for the federal government—or both. And he thinks American students produce lousy test scores.

But Trump has a clear background in education in at least one tangible form: the record of his charitable foundation’s contributions.

We looked through all the contributions the Donald J. Trump Foundation made from 2001 through 2014, as listed on 990 forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service and posted at Citizen Audit, which tracks U.S. charities’ financial disclosures. We focused on donations to organizations with clear links to K-12, but also to groups that focus on child health and welfare issues. Hover over each color-coded shape in the selected list below to see which organization it represents and how much money Trump Foundation gave that organization over 14 years:

Representatives for the Trump Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

Here’s one very important caveat: At least a few of the donations, and the timing of them, appear to be made to groups that celebrities had selected to be the recipients of charity donations based on their appearances on “Celebrity Apprentice,” the reality TV show Trump has appeared on and for which he’s been an executive producer. The Advocate, for example, a website focusing on LGBT news, reported last month that the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (more on that below) said that while the organization received money from the Trump Foundation, it was entirely related to singer Aubrey O’Day’s appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice” and her designation of GLSEN as the charity she wanted to benefit from the show.

There appear to be similar connections between Trump Foundation donations and “Celebrity Apprentice” for groups included in the graphic like St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the Busey Foundation for Children’s Kawasaki Disease, and others. NBCUniversal, which produces and broadcasts the show, did not provide us full information about the groups that received donations on the several seasons of the show, when they received them, and how much they received.

Although Trump controls decisions about donations from his foundation, it’s pretty much pure guesswork to say whether he would have donated to any one, some, or all of these organizations without agreeing to do so as part of “Celebrity Apprentice.” (However, to use GLSEN as an example again, the donation linked to “Celebrity Apprentice” appears to be the only one the Trump Foundation made to the group from 2001 to 2014.) Trump’s involvement with the show ended last summer.

Basic Numbers

In total, we found that the foundation gave donations to at least 88 organizations that appear to focus on either education or child health and welfare. Because of formatting restrictions with Infogram, five such organizations that received less than $1,000 each from the Trump Foundation from 2001 to 2014 could not be included in the chart above. The Children’s Museum of the East, Harlem RBI, and the Marty Lyons Foundation each received $500, and the Dwight School Foundation and the Queens Library Foundation each received $350.

In total, the Trump Foundation’s donations to organizations that deal with education or focus on child welfare total just over $2.5 million from 2001 to 2014. For 2014, the foundation listed $1.27 million in net assets on its 990 form.

Here’s one other caveat: The donations we looked at don’t include any contributions that Trump himself may have made in recent years related to K-12 education and children outside of his foundation. Last week, the Washington Post reported that a very large share of the gifts given out by Trump, of which the foundation’s giving is just a small portion, often consisted of things like free rounds of golf. And the Post also reported that the foundation relied heavily on donations from individuals other than Trump.

Here are a few noteworthy groups that got Trump Foundation donations that might be familiar to those in K-12 and the broader education and child-welfare world:

Donations for Teachers, Gay and Lesbian Students

Focus on Special-Needs, Disadvantaged, and Abused Children

  • Several of the Trump Foundation’s donations that deal with education or children focus on children with special needs. It has given donations on multiple occasions totaling $55,000 to Autism Speaks, an educational and advocacy organization, for example. Another donation recipient was the National Inclusion Project, which works to promote inclusion of children with disabilities into various activities—the group got $10,000.

  • Boys and Girls Club chapters in Arkansas, Florida, and New York also received donations from the Trump Foundation at various points.
  • Two organizations with links to the New York Yankees also got relatively large amounts of cash—former manager Joe Torre’s Safe at Home organization got $85,000 for its work to help adults and children suffering domestic abuse, while retired shortstop Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, which promotes healthy lifestyles and academic success for children, got $32,000.
  • The child- and youth-related group that got the most money from the foundation is the Police Athletic League ($780,500), which provides recreational and other programs to children to help reduce crime and violence among juveniles.

Higher Education and Individual K-12 Schools

  • The Trump Foundation’s donations have also extended to universities, including Columbia College, Duke University, the University of Illinois, Seton Hall Law School, and The New School, a university in New York City.
  • Public schools that are the beneficiaries of the foundation’s largess include several in Florida; one of them is the Bak Middle School of the Arts, which is just a few miles from the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach that Trump owns.
  • The foundation also donated to Discovery Elementary School, a public school in Northern Virginia; to St. Dominic School on Long Island in New York state; and to New York Military Academy, his alma mater. (Because some of Trump’s donations to individual schools did not include addresses for those schools, it could not be immediately determined if those schools were public or private.)

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a news conference in New York last September. Over the past 15 years, the Donald J. Trump Foundation has given to a variety of causes related to education and children. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

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Education Week Library Staff contributed to this article.