Non-profit

Education Law Center (ELC)

Website:

edlawcenter.org/

Location:

NEWARK, NJ

Tax ID:

22-2014555

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $3,124,155
Expenses: $2,675,682
Assets: $3,387,780

Type:

Education Advocacy Organization

Formation:

1973

Executive Director:

Robert Kim, Esq.

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The Education Law Center (ELC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in left-of-center education policy advocacy and litigation in New Jersey. While the ELC describes itself as a “voice for New Jersey’s public school children,” the organization represents and is funded by teachers’ unions. 1

Background

The ELC was founded in 1973 by Rutgers Professor Paul Tractenberg. Tractenberg was involved in the 1970s Robinson v. Cahill case in the New Jersey Supreme Court, which ultimately determined that the state was obligated to provide “equal educational opportunity for children.” During the case, Tractenberg learned that the left-of-center Ford Foundation was looking to fund a “public interest law project” for education advocacy. Tractenberg reached out to the Ford Foundation, which agreed to help him launch the Education Law Center in 1973. Tractenberg directed and worked at the ELC alongside many of his Rutgers students and colleagues. The Ford Foundation provided the vast majority of the ECL’s funding for at least five years. 2 3

In 1981, ELC then-executive director Marilyn Morheuser, a student of Tractenberg’s and his successor as director of ECL, filed the Abbot v. Burke case, which became a landmark education legal case. In the Abbot v. Burke decision, the New Jersey State Supreme Court held that “the state must ensure urban children an education enabling them to compete with their suburban peers.” 4

The ELC has remained involved in school funding litigation but has also expanded to organizing for interested groups of parents and teachers in New Jersey and education policy activists around the country. 5

ELC activism initiatives often align with teachers’ unions’ priorities, particularly preserving and expanding public school funding. ELC is one of the groups supporting Public Funds Public Schools, an left-wing initiative started by the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center which seeks to limit school choice by opposing public support for private-school tuition and preventing education tax credits, and education savings accounts from being used to pay for private school tuition. 6

ELC is also involved with the union-aligned Alliance for Quality Education and Our Children/Our Schools. 7

Financials

The ELC is closely affiliated with and funded by teachers’ unions. The donors listed on the ELC website, as of 2024, include: 8

In addition, ELC is funded by various educational organizations (Educational Testing Service, Great Schools of New Jersey), foundations (Taub Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, the Fund for New Jersey), and activist organizations (Southern Poverty Law Center, Disability Rights New Jersey). 9

In 2017, ELC received $1.64 million in contributions and grants and $1.77 million in total revenue, up from 2016’s total of $1.5 million in grants and $1.62 million in total revenue. Of the $1.77 in total revenue, ELC spent $1.32 million on salaries with the rest going to various operational expenses, including fundraising. In 2017, ELC spent $237,156 on lobbying. 10

According to its 2021 990 form, the organization reported $5,841,701 in revenue, $3,525,700 in expenses, and $5,804,797 in total assets. 11

Leadership

Robert Kim, Esq. is the executive director of ELC. Prior to the ELC, Kim served as staff counsel for the ACLU of Northern California, senior policy analyst at the National Education Association (NEA), and as Senior Counsel and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach in the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration. 12

Elizabeth Athos, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is the senior attorney for ELC. She joined ELC in 1997. Her work has primarily focused on anti-harassment and bullying issues in New Jersey schools, including working to pass the New Jersey “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” law. 13 14

References

  1. Education Law Center, Supporters. Accessed September 15, 2020.
    https://edlawcenter.org/about/supporters.html
  2. [1] Rutgers Law School, Remarks of Paul Tractenberg, March 22, 2017. Accessed September 14, 2020.
    https://law.rutgers.edu/sites/law/files/attachments/Paul%20Tractenberg%20Full%20Remarks.pdf
  3. Education Law Center, Mission and History. Accessed September 14, 2020.
    https://edlawcenter.org/about/mission-history.html
  4. [1] New Jersey Department of Education, History of Funding Equity. Accessed September 14, 2020.
    https://www.state.nj.us/education/archive/abbotts/chrono/
  5. Education Law Center, Mission and History. Accessed September 14, 2020.
    https://edlawcenter.org/about/mission-history.html
  6. [1] Public Funds Public Schools, About. Accessed September 15, 2020.https://pfps.org/about.html
  7. [1] Alliance for Quality Education, About Us. Accessed September 15, 2020. https://www.aqeny.org/about-us/#:~:text=Our%20Mission,students%20regardless%20of%20zip%20code.
  8. Education Law Center, Supporters. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://edlawcenter.org/about/supporters.html
  9. [1] Education Law Center, Supporters. Accessed September 15, 2020. https://edlawcenter.org/about/supporters.html
  10.   Guidestar, Education Law Center, 2018 990. Accessed September 15, 2020.
    https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2018/222/014/2018-222014555-17018864-9.pdf?_ga=2.204795344.1380231448.1600097305-1301400723.1599680740
  11. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Education Law Center Inc. 2021. Part I. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/222014555/202331949349301618/full
  12. “Board & Staff.” Education Law Center, Accessed February 26, 2024. https://edlawcenter.org/about/board-staff/
  13. Education Law Center, Board and Staff. Accessed September 14, 2020.
    https://edlawcenter.org/about/board-staff.html
  14. Education Law Center, ELC’s Athos Honored for Anti-Bullying Work, May 13, 2014. Accessed September 14, 2020.
    https://edlawcenter.org/news/archives/bullying-and-residence/elcs-athos-honored-for-anti-bullying-work.html
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: September - August
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 1986

  • 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
    2021 Sep Form 990 $3,124,155 $2,675,682 $3,387,780 $925,059 N $2,875,350 $0 $14,324 $322,309
    2020 Sep Form 990 $2,915,237 $2,309,409 $2,328,904 $510,623 N $2,814,824 $0 $26,538 $322,437
    2019 Sep Form 990 $2,159,986 $2,075,704 $1,572,537 $465,914 N $2,032,381 $0 $16,581 $316,561 PDF
    2018 Sep Form 990 $1,769,556 $1,737,691 $1,630,578 $634,932 N $1,636,559 $0 $14,620 $260,550 PDF
    2017 Sep Form 990 $1,621,872 $1,953,793 $1,087,593 $184,078 N $1,502,272 $0 $12,812 $288,012 PDF
    2016 Sep Form 990 $2,029,424 $1,987,823 $1,360,708 $185,494 N $1,920,619 $0 $12,910 $257,116 PDF
    2015 Sep Form 990 $1,931,687 $1,842,266 $1,246,361 $152,649 N $1,816,482 $0 $13,930 $246,565 PDF
    2014 Sep Form 990 $2,046,162 $1,821,433 $1,380,271 $374,407 N $1,773,524 $187,075 $10,223 $240,993 PDF
    2013 Sep Form 990 $1,891,812 $1,737,063 $1,054,606 $323,129 N $1,607,430 $185,000 $10,524 $221,667 PDF
    2012 Sep Form 990 $1,459,743 $1,602,219 $765,883 $232,317 N $1,190,608 $189,000 $10,647 $213,792 PDF
    2011 Sep Form 990 $1,612,438 $1,677,209 $714,905 $82,372 N $1,554,072 $0 $12,968 $222,397 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Education Law Center (ELC)

    60 PARK PL STE 300
    NEWARK, NJ 07102-5514