The Instructional Telecommunications Foundation, doing business as Voqal, is a lobbying nonprofit which advocates for left-of-center policies, including increased government regulation of public broadcasting. Voqal provides substantial funding to groups involved with the Democracy Alliance, a donor collaborative for high-profile funding groups on the Left. Voqal generates revenue by leasing access to broadcasting spectrum that the nonprofit received under a federal effort to promote education to private telecommunications corporations.
Voqal was originally founded in 1983 as Instructional Telecommunications Foundation, alongside Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation, Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium, Portland Regional Educational Telecommunications Corporation, and the Twin Cities Schools’ Telecommunications Group. 
In 2013, the regional groups would come together under Instructional Telecommunications Foundation to rebrand as Voqal.  Voqal operates as an Educational Broadband Service licensee, meaning that Voqal is one of the organizations approved to utilize certain broadcasting spectrums that were set aside by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for educational purposes rather than commercial use. 
In its 2018 annual report, Voqal said that it “is committed to using the airwaves to benefit the public,” by promoting education, but also said that it “embraces a broader view of education” than most people. 
In January of 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed issuing $47,548,500 in fines on several public broadcasting nonprofits, including Voqal.  The FCC issued “Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture” on the grounds that the organizations were not fulfilling their role as Educational Broadband Services (EBS). The proposed fine for Voqal was just over $1.7 million. In comments regarding the fines FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Rosemary Hold said that Voqal and other EBS licensees had “apparently profited from their licenses without also providing measurable and verifiable support for the educational goals that EBS licenses were designed to serve. Disregard for license obligations is unacceptable.” The proposal by the FCC was not a final action, and reports are unclear on whether the fines were ever enforced. 
On January 7, 2021, Voqal released a statement on their website denying the accusations of misuse. The statement expressed that “The Commission’s findings ignore our exemplary record, full compliance with all FCC requirements, and longstanding commitment to educational service.” 
Voqal does not receive grants from other organizations or foundations. Instead, most of Voqal’s revenue comes from royalties and investment income. 
To generate these royalties, Voqal engages in excess capacity agreements, common among public broadcasting nonprofits, which lease out up to 95 percent of a nonprofit’s bandwidth to private corporations.  
In 2006, Voqal signed a 30-year lease of its highly valuable public broadcasting spectrum with Sprint, allowing Sprint to operate on the spectrum in exchange for “cash payments.” In 2007, Voqal’s tax returns show that the group received $22,789,260 in “royalty income.”    Just one year prior, Voqal had reported total revenues of negative $6,086. 
Since 2006, Voqal has received yearly payments of roughly $2-3 million in royalties continuing all the way to 2018. 
For more information, see Democracy Alliance (Other Group)
Voqal is a dues paying member of the Democracy Alliance, and regularly makes grants to fellow Democracy Alliance members across the country such as Color Of Change PAC, Faith in Action (formerly PICO National Network), and numerous state-level voter mobilization affiliates such as the Win Win Network.  Voqal also provides funding to major left-wing “dark money” groups such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund and The Advocacy Fund.   
The largest portion of Voqal’s fiscal support, roughly $1,000,000 in grants per year, goes towards Public Communicators, the non-profit group that operates Free Speech TV, a left-wing media outlet founded by Voqal’s president, John Schwartz.  Free Speech TV is also a known member of the Democracy Alliance. 
Another group that has received significant funding from Voqal is the Proteus Action League, a prominent left-wing “pass-through” organization, which has received a $350,000 grant from Voqal in 2012 for a “campaign against money in politics,” along with smaller grants of roughly $50,000 every year since. 
Criticism of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
In 2018, Voqal attacked Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to commercialize the Educational Broadband Services (EBS) spectrum, saying that the FCC ought to “keep EBS educational” and that the EBS frequencies should be preserved because “Successful public-private partnerships have been encouraged in this band for over 30 years.”  Voqal did not mention the multi-million-dollar agreement with Sprint that allows its EBS spectrums to be commercialized. 
Voqal has also entered the political sphere through PAC funding. In 2018 Voqal contributed $70,000 dollars to the Color of Change PAC, an organization associated with the liberal donor collective Democracy Alliance. 
In 2017, Mobile Citizen created the Street Ready Program, which offers one month of wireless internet and loaned mobile internet hotspot devices, free of charge to left-leaning nonprofits.  The Street Ready program offers portable devices which allow up to 10 people to connect to the internet at a time so that they can “livestream protests, rallies, and [their] organization’s other activities without using [their] limited resources.” 
According to Voqal’s 2018 annual report, the Street Ready Program was initially launched to provide left-wing lawyers free internet in airports during their efforts to work against the Trump administration’s ban on individuals traveling to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries where proper identification and background checks could not be obtained. 
Crash Course Civics
Voqal was the primary funder for the popular YouTube channel Crash Course’s series on government and politics.   Crash Course is a well-known educational YouTube channel that has upwards of 9 million subscribers, produces educational videos marketed towards children, and is a favorite source for many teachers looking for content to engage students during class.
Voqal contracts EBS Support Services, where John Scwartz is employed, to manage its funding and activism efforts. EBS is in charge of organizing the funding and management of each of the five organizations that formed Voqal.  Schwartz has also founded several television stations including Free Speech TV, an extremely left-wing news and activism station. 
On July 15, 2019, Voqal promoted its longtime COO, Adam Miller, to CEO in order to “oversee the principal operations and business activities administered at Voqal ensuring they are consistent with Voqal’s strategy and mission.”  This occurred on the same day that Voqal was required to submit information detailing the extent of their educational activities to Republican FCC commissioner Brendan Carr.  The group noted that Voqal president John Scwartz would continue to serve in his current role, though Miller’s promotion strongly suggests that Schwartz will be taking a lesser role in the organization moving forward.