Non-profit

Democracy Builders Fund

Location:

MARLBORO, VT

Tax ID:

46-4897222

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $835,302
Expenses: $387,915
Assets: $978,731

Type:

Incubator of progressive education organizations

Democracy Builders Fund is a public-school funding advocacy group and nonprofit incubator that has funded and provided consultation to several education projects, including Democracy Prep Public Schools. [1] It was incorporated in 2014 by former Obama administration advisor Seth Andrew. [2]

Activity

While the organization was incorporated in 2014, it has allegedly been operating since 2005. [3] [4]

Democracy Builders Fund founded Degrees of Freedom, a nonprofit which helps students enrolled at accredited institutions manage their expenses and provides them with professional training. [5] Degrees of Freedom remains a fiscally sponsored project of Democracy Builders. [6]

Other programs and organizations it has sponsored and financed include Washington Leadership Academy, Alumni Revolution, the Arena Summit, VoteAmerica, Civics Nation, Blackstone Valley Prep, Virtual Reality in Education, Liberal Education & Achievement Resource Network (LEARN), the Global Fund for Emerging Scholars, and others. [7]

Controversies

VoteAmerica

Democracy Builders Fund received a $312,107 loan in March 2020 from the Paycheck Protection Program and then received a second loan for nearly a $1 million in May 2020. However, journalists discovered that the group had less than $400,000 in expenses during the 2018 fiscal year. The loan received in May was sent to an address that voter mobilization group VoteAmerica went on to use to incorporate itself. [8]

Debra Cleaver, the founder of VoteAmerica, has explicitly said that Democracy Builders fiscally sponsored her organization before it attained its own tax-exempt status. For a time, VoteAmerica’s roughly 20 employees received their paychecks from Democracy Builders. [9]

Seth Andrew Arrest

In April 2021, Seth Andrew was arrested on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements to a financial institution after he allegedly stole $218,005 from Democracy Prep Public Schools, the charter school network that he founded. [10] [11]

He reportedly used the money to obtain a lower rate on a mortgage for a Manhattan apartment for him and his wife, CBS News anchor Lana Zak. According to Bloomberg News, Andrew stole the funds in 2019 from the charter schools’ escrow accounts. [12] According to a Democracy Prep board member, Andrew refused to fund the schools with anything other than government money, meaning the money he stole was technically taxpayer money. [13] Andrew was ordered to remain in Vermont, where he had lived before purchasing the Manhattan apartment. [14]

By May 2021, Andrew was free on a $500,000 bond and the defense counsel was discussing a potential disposition to the case with the government. [15] On January 14, 2022, the Justice Department announced that Andrew had pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. [16]

References

  1. “Democracy Builders.” Idealist. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.idealist.org/en/nonprofit/2ee0690d36874c958924af4463193b01-democracy-builders-new-york. ^
  2. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Democracy Builders Fund. 2013. Line L. ^
  3. “Marlboro College to sell campus to Democracy Builders.” Vermont Biz, May 28, 2020. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://vermontbiz.com/news/2020/may/28/marlboro-college-sell-campus-democracy-builders. ^
  4. “Seth Andrew.” LinkedIn. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/sethandrew/details/experience/. ^
  5. “FAQs.” Degrees of Freedom. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.degreesoffreedom.org/faqs. ^
  6. “Join Us To Build Freedom Today!” Degrees of Freedom – ActBlue. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/dof-website. ^
  7. “Marlboro College to sell campus to Democracy Builders.” Vermont Biz, May 28, 2020. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://vermontbiz.com/news/2020/may/28/marlboro-college-sell-campus-democracy-builders. ^
  8.  [1] Lola Duffort, “A $1M PPP loan, a 500-acre property in dispute and a school in limbo: The Marlboro saga continues.” VTDigger, May 28, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://vtdigger.org/2021/05/28/a-1m-ppp-loan-a-500-acre-property-in-dispute-and-a-school-in-limbo-the-marlboro-saga-continues/. ^
  9. Lola Duffort, “A $1M PPP loan, a 500-acre property in dispute and a school in limbo: The Marlboro saga continues.” VTDigger, May 28, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://vtdigger.org/2021/05/28/a-1m-ppp-loan-a-500-acre-property-in-dispute-and-a-school-in-limbo-the-marlboro-saga-continues/. ^
  10. Bob Audette. “Co-founder of Democracy Builders arrested for stealing more than $200,000.” Brattleboro Reformer, April 27, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.reformer.com/local-news/co-founder-of-democracy-builders-arrested-for-stealing-more-than-200-000/article_1eafa280-a775-11eb-b1db-03c9c38017e2.html. ^
  11. Bob Van Voris, Chris Dolmetsch. “Ex-Obama White House Adviser Accused of Charter School Theft.” Bloomberg, April 27, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-27/ex-white-house-adviser-stole-from-charter-schools-u-s-says. ^
  12. Bob Van Voris, Chris Dolmetsch. “Ex-Obama White House Adviser Accused of Charter School Theft.” Bloomberg, April 27, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-27/ex-white-house-adviser-stole-from-charter-schools-u-s-says. ^
  13.  Stephen Rex Brown and Michael Elsen-Rooney. “Ex-White House adviser Seth Andrew charged with stealing $200,000 from NYC charter school network Democracy Prep to fund $2.37M Manhattan home purchase.” New York Daily News, April 27, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-seth-andrew-democracy-prep-charges-20210427-jbov67sa5jf7rjbnp4xtgjyoue-story.html. ^
  14. Stephen Rex Brown and Michael Elsen-Rooney. “Ex-White House adviser Seth Andrew charged with stealing $200,000 from NYC charter school network Democracy Prep to fund $2.37M Manhattan home purchase.” New York Daily News, April 27, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-seth-andrew-democracy-prep-charges-20210427-jbov67sa5jf7rjbnp4xtgjyoue-story.html. ^
  15. Dan Mangan. “Former Obama education advisor Seth Andrew in talks to resolve charter school theft case.” CNBC, May 28, 2021. Accessed January 9, 2022. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/28/former-obama-advisor-seth-andrew-in-talks-to-resolve-charter-school-theft.html. ^
  16. “Former White House Advisor Pleads Guilty to Devising a Scheme to Steal $218,000 from Charter Schools He Founded.” The United States Department of Justice, January 14, 2022. https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/former-white-house-advisor-pleads-guilty-devising-scheme-steal-218000-charter-schools. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 2016

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Jun Form 990 $835,302 $387,915 $978,731 $108,934 N $729,015 $106,287 $0 $90,599 PDF
    2018 Jun Form 990 $568,314 $453,087 $544,159 $121,749 N $315,519 $247,835 $0 $26,042 PDF
    2017 Jun Form 990 $608,347 $371,251 $405,873 $56,672 N $52,990 $346,550 $3 $70,849
    2016 Jun Form 990EZ $46,054 $1,040 $341,105 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2015 Jun Form 990EZ $49,865 $4,017 $296,091 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2014 Jun Form 990 $250,243 $0 $250,243 $0 N $250,000 $0 $243 $0

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Democracy Builders Fund

    2582 SOUTH ROAD BOX J
    MARLBORO, VT 05344-9801