Non-profit

Representation Project

Location:

ROSS, CA

Tax ID:

45-1611066

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2021):

Revenue: $1,082,077
Expenses: $1,303,040
Assets: $1,025,386

Type:

Filmmaking and educational organization

Founder:

Jennifer Seibel Newsom

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The Representation Project is a left-of-center filmmaking and advocacy organization that was founded and is operated by Jennifer Seibel Newsom, an actor and filmmaker who is married to California Governor Gavin Newsom (D). The organization promotes left-leaning feminist and economic policies by producing and screening documentaries, promoting left-of-center educational resources and leading social media activism campaigns. 1 The organization has faced criticism for accepting large contributions from companies and organizations lobbying the Newsom administration. 2

Background

The Representation Project was founded by Jennifer Seibel Newsom in 2011. Newsom continues to run the organization, using the title of chief creative officer. She uses the organization to fund film projects and has released several documentaries that promote left-of-center ideology on topics such as poverty and gender including Miss Representation, The Mask You Live In, and The Great American Lie. 3

Activity

The Representation Project screens its documentaries at independent film festivals. The Project premiered Miss Representation and The Mask You Live In at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and 2015, respectively. 4

The organization also runs a youth media training program in Oakland and Los Angeles, which it describes as training the next generation of “social justice filmmakers.” 5

Aside from its production work, the organization conducts research that promotes left-of-center ideology in television and film. Research published by the organization includes a report on the Academy Awards involving “intersectional gender representations in Best Picture Winners” 6 as well as reports that assess the larger television and film industry on gender issues. 7

The Representation Project also conducts social media activism campaigns that urge boycotts of products and media productions that it deems to be “sexist.” 8

Between 2011 and 2023, the group has raised roughly $17,489,680 in revenue. 9

The organization hosts an annual gala ““Flip the Script” that has taken place yearly since 2016, except for 2020. According to tax records, between 2016-2019, the gala has raised roughly $1,241,989. Jennifer Seibel Newsom and her husband Gov. Gavin Newsom have attended the gala in 2018, 2019, and 2022. According to Open the Books, attendants of the 2022 gala include Ken McNeely, the AT&T Western Region President and gala co-chair; Bert Gomez, the Senior Corporate & Government Relations Director for law firm Becker & Poliakoff; and David Nelson, the executive director of policy nonprofit California Forward Action Fund. 10

Criticism

In June 2021, the Representation Project, along with Governor Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Seibel Newsom, faced criticism following a Sacramento Bee report which alleged that donors to the nonprofit were also companies that had lobbied the Newsom administration. The Representation Project, which funds Jennifer Seibel Newsom’s $290,000 annual salary in addition to funding her film projects, was revealed to have received funds from companies with large lobbying presences in California including Pacific Gas and Electric, Kaiser Permanente, AT&T, and Comcast. Kaiser Permanente has received business from state contracts in excess of $35 million during the Newsom administration, and Pacific Gas and Electric has faced government scrutiny after admitting fault for multiple California wildfires. 11

A fundraiser held by the Representation Project a week after Gov. Newsom’s election in 2018 was funded by Pacific Gas and Electric with a $25,000 contribution. Comcast and AT&T also contributed $10,000 each to the fundraiser. Gov. Newsom denied the implication that the gifts were an attempt to find favor with his administration. 12

According to the Washington Post, the Representation Project charged roughly $270 for California school districts to license several documentaries by Jennifer Seibel Newsom including The Great American Lie and Fair Play. According to the article, Jennifer Seibel Newsom made, between 2012 and 2021, made nearly $1.5 million from film licenses and nearly $1.7 million from sales of her documentaries. Other significant donors to the Representation Project include AT&T, Comcast, Planned Parenthood, Kaiser Permanente, oil heiress Aileen Getty, and founder of genetic company 23andMe Anne Wojcicki. 13

According to Open The Books, the Representation Project’s form to register its charitable solicitation status within the state of California was rejected in early 2022, and thus the site claims that it solicited and accepted donations during the year of 2022 while designated as a “delinquent” organization. According to California state law, a “delinquent” group cannot solicit funds. Open The Books further notes that after reports of the group’s status made news in early 2023, the Representation Project was able to register its charity solicitation status and its Form was accepted and signed by the state Attorney General by January 12, 2023.  The news site claims that the process took a matter of hours whereas it normally takes weeks. 14 15

People

The Representation Project was founded by Jennifer Seibel Newsom, an actress, filmmaker and nonprofit executive who is married to California Governor Gavin Newsom (D). Jennifer Seibel Newsom attended Stanford University and sits on the Global Advisory Board of the Dove Self Esteem Project. She is also a co-chair of We Day California and a commissioner on the Girl Scouts of America Healthy Media Commission. 16

Caroline Heldman is the executive director of the Representation Project. She is also the chair of the critical theory and social justice department at Occidental College. She is additionally the national co-chair of ERANow, a left-of-center organization that supports to the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which critics have argued would formally codify a right to government-funded abortion. 1718

References

  1. “About.” Representation Project. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://therepproject.org/about/
  2. Johnson, Ted. “Newsom Sees No Conflict of Interest In Wife’s Nonprofit, Which Funds Her Films And Pays Her Salary, Getting Money From Big Companies Lobbying State — Sacramento Bee Report.” Deadline. June 4, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://deadline.com/2021/06/gavin-newsom-wife-nonprofit-jennifer-siebel-newsom-1234769678/
  3. “Timeline.” Representation Project. Accessed June 18, 2021.  https://therepproject.org/about/timeline-trp-milestones/
  4. “Timeline.” Representation Project. Accessed June 18, 2021.  https://therepproject.org/about/timeline-trp-milestones/
  5. “Youth Media Academies.” Representation Project. Accessed June 18, 2021.  https://therepproject.org/youth-programs/youth-media-academies/
  6. “Timeline.” Representation Project. Accessed June 18, 2021.  https://therepproject.org/about/timeline-trp-milestones/
  7. “Timeline.” Representation Project. Accessed June 18, 2021.  https://therepproject.org/about/timeline-trp-milestones/
  8. “Timeline.” Representation Project. Accessed June 18, 2021.  https://therepproject.org/about/timeline-trp-milestones/
  9. Andrzejewski, Adam. “Newsom Twosome: Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Charity Is Out of Compliance But Solicits Donations from State Vendors & Governor’s Campaign Contributors.” Open The Books Substack, January 12, 2023. https://openthebooks.substack.com/p/newsom-twosome-jennifer-siebel-newsoms
  10. Andrzejewski, Adam. “Newsom Twosome: Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Charity Is Out of Compliance But Solicits Donations from State Vendors & Governor’s Campaign Contributors.” Open The Books Substack, January 12, 2023. https://openthebooks.substack.com/p/newsom-twosome-jennifer-siebel-newsoms
  11. Johnson, Ted. “Newsom Sees No Conflict of Interest In Wife’s Nonprofit, Which Funds Her Films And Pays Her Salary, Getting Money From Big Companies Lobbying State — Sacramento Bee Report.” Deadline. June 4, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://deadline.com/2021/06/gavin-newsom-wife-nonprofit-jennifer-siebel-newsom-1234769678/
  12. Johnson, Ted. “Newsom Sees No Conflict of Interest In Wife’s Nonprofit, Which Funds Her Films And Pays Her Salary, Getting Money From Big Companies Lobbying State — Sacramento Bee Report.” Deadline. June 4, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://deadline.com/2021/06/gavin-newsom-wife-nonprofit-jennifer-siebel-newsom-1234769678/
  13. Luthi, Susannah. “Gavin Newsom’s Wife Rakes in Cash Charging California Public Schools To Screen Her Woke Movies.” The Washington Free Beacon, January 30, 2023. https://freebeacon.com/democrats/gavin-newsoms-wife-rakes-in-cash-charging-california-public-schools-to-screen-her-woke-movies/
  14. Andrzejewski, Adam. “Newsom Twosome: Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s Charity Is Out of Compliance But Solicits Donations from State Vendors & Governor’s Campaign Contributors.” Open The Books Substack, January 12, 2023. https://openthebooks.substack.com/p/newsom-twosome-jennifer-siebel-newsoms
  15. Schoffstall, Joe. “Gavin Newsom’s wife’s nonprofit operates as it remains out of compliance in California.” Fox News, January 12, 2023. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gavin-newsoms-wifes-nonprofit-operates-as-it-remains-out-compliance-california
  16. “Jennifer Seibel Newsom.” George Family Foundation. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.georgefamilyfoundation.org/feature/jennifer-siebel-newsom-founder-president-and-ceo
  17. “Caroline Heldman.” Representation Project. Accessed June 18, 2021.  https://therepproject.org/our-staff/caroline-heldman-ph-d/
  18. Stepman, Jarrett. “4 Potential Consequences of Passing the Equal Rights Amendment.” The Daily Signal, January 15, 2020. https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/01/13/4-potential-consequences-of-passing-the-equal-rights-amendment/.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: March - February
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 2012

  • 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 Mar Form 990 $1,082,077 $1,303,040 $1,025,386 $74,718 N $823,427 $257,448 $1,202 $275,029 PDF
    2020 Mar Form 990 $1,581,264 $1,384,518 $1,244,691 $73,060 N $1,393,571 $203,470 $1,247 $259,568 PDF
    2019 Mar Form 990 $2,128,913 $2,041,079 $1,053,335 $78,450 N $1,784,769 $220,476 $1,197 $253,928 PDF
    2018 Mar Form 990 $343,629 $572,149 $909,033 $21,982 N $242,743 $96,918 $798 $81,250 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $2,176,038 $2,481,334 $1,146,797 $31,226 N $1,826,305 $361,816 $549 $319,055 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $2,110,779 $2,062,867 $1,418,314 $25,787 N $1,265,172 $832,355 $1,228 $150,000 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $2,380,001 $2,027,191 $1,353,452 $8,837 N $1,596,314 $781,463 $1,223 $150,000 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,329,532 $1,623,168 $996,260 $4,455 N $1,091,443 $236,695 $1,394 $150,000 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,821,913 $1,460,395 $1,285,441 $0 N $1,450,706 $369,310 $1,897 $112,609 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $1,688,029 $1,069,939 $923,923 $0 N $621,711 $1,064,801 $1,517 $113,205 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $847,505 $541,672 $316,971 $11,138 N $532,687 $314,818 $0 $74,038 PDF

    Representation Project

    PO BOX 437
    ROSS, CA 94957-0437