American Federation of Teachers Education Fund (AFTEF) is the educational and charitable branch of the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest labor union in the United States principally representing teachers. The primary goal of the organization is to advocate for teachers’ union-aligned public education policies in the United States. It also advocates for other broadly left-of-center and liberal issues such as expansionist immigration policy and ethnic-interest identity politics.
Immigration Policy Advocacy
AFTEF joined AFT in releasing a public statement in 2020 denouncing Trump administration policies banning travel from certain countries to the United States. The organization claimed that this policy affected international students coming to the country to study at American universities, and that the policy created a “climate of intolerance and hate toward Muslims, nonwhite people, and real or perceived political adversaries of President Trump.” 1 International students from these countries were exempt from the ban.
AFTEF participated in the 2019 Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference (CBCLC) in a number of capacities. CBCLC is an annual series of lectures and other activities hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a left-of-center organization which advocates for identity-politics issues through training leaders and pushing racially motivated legislative platforms. 2 AFTEF has participated in the CBCLC by hosting forums covering organizing strategies in communities of color and working with educators to push pro-government-operated schooling legislation. 3
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers union, is the president and CEO of AFTEF. She previously worked as the president of the United Federation of Teachers (AFT Local 2) the New York City branch of the AFT. She is a member of the Democratic National Committee and advocates for Democratic-aligned policy issues. 4
Mary Catheryn Ricker is the executive vice president for AFTEF. She previously worked as the president of St. Paul Federation of Teachers, a Minnesota-based union local in AFT; and as a member of the board of directors for the Minnesota branch of the AFL-CIO labor union federation (of which AFT is a member union). Ricker serves on the boards of directors for the National Democratic Institute, United Way of America, and the Department of Trade Employees, AFL-CIO. Ricker was recently named as the Minnesota Commissioner of Education by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D), and is a strong advocate for labor unions. 5
David Hecker is a director for AFTEF. He is deeply involved in Michigan labor union practices where he works as the executive vice president of the Detroit AFL-CIO, chairs of the board of directors for the Michigan Jewish Labor Committee, and previously worked as the president of the metro Detroit chapter of the Industrial Relations Research Association. 6
AFTEF reported $1,259,625 in net assets in 2018. The organization’s main source of income came in the form of grants from other large organziations. 7
AFTEF has received grants from a number of large left-of-center organizations. The organization received a $4.4 million grant in 2012 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant was listed for the use of supporting Common Core State Standards in American public schools. 8
The organization also received a $1.5 million grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, one of the largest left-of-center donor-advised fund providers in the United States. 9 It also received a $522,650 grant in 2020 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a left-of-center grantmaking entity founded by HP Computers co-founder William Hewlett. 10
- “Opposition to Trump’s Travel Ban and Discrimination Against International Students.” AFT.org. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://www.aft.org/resolution/opposition-trumps-travel-ban-and-discrimination-against-international-students.
- “Annual Legislative Conference.” Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://www.cbcfinc.org/annual-legislative-conference/.
- “AFT supports educators at the Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference.” AFT.org. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://www.aft.org/news/aft-supports-educators-congressional-black-caucus-legislative-conference.
- “Randi Weingarten.” AFT.org. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://www.aft.org/about/leadership/randi-weingarten.
- “Mary Catheryn Ricker.” Unitedway.org. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://www.unitedway.org/about/leadership/mary-cathryn-ricker.
- “David Hecker.” AFT.org. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://www.aft.org/about/leadership/david-hecker.
- IRS Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: American Federation of Teachers Educational Foundation. Part I: Summary.
- “Grants made.” Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2012/06/OPP1060566.
- “Grants Made.” Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://www.siliconvalleycf.org/american-federation-teachers-educational-foundation-0.
- “Grants Made.” William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Accessed April 11, 2020. https://hewlett.org/grants/american-federation-of-teachers-educational-foundation-for-building-a-teacher-professional-development-course-to-teach-civics-education-in-classrooms/.