Non-profit

ZeroDivide Foundation

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Tax ID:

94-3312181

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2014):

Revenue: $1,305,662
Expenses: $4,008,714
Assets: $2,200,066

Formation:

1998 (as the Community Technology Foundation of California)

President:

Tessie Guillermo

President’s Compensation:

$190,571, as of 2014 (Gross Salary)

ZeroDivide, founded in the late 1990s, began as a grant-making organization focused on bringing technology to low-income populations and later transitioned into a nonprofit consulting firm advising other nonprofits. The organization went from receiving millions of dollars in grants at its height, to closing its doors in 2016 amid allegations of financial mismanagement. [1]

History

ZeroDivide, formerly called the Community Technology Foundation of California,[2] was founded in 1998. [3] ZeroDivide was the creation of 10 coalitions congregating to create an organization focused on promoting community technology and bridging “the digital divide” for minority and low-income populations. [4] ZeroDivide began as a grant-making organization, and later repositioned itself as a nonprofit consulting firm that advised other nonprofits. [5]

Activities

ZeroDivide began as a grant-making organization and entrusted millions of dollars in grants to dozens of organizations including Hispanics in Philanthropy, United Pilipino Organizing Network, and Exceptional Parents Unlimited, for various projects including website enhancements, database creation, and digital information access. [6]

The organization also received millions in grants from nonprofit organizations, government programs, and private companies. ZeroDivide received more than $1 million from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), a government grants program. BTOP-funded programs included the ZeroDivide Generation ZD Digital Literacy Program, a program that provided training and broadband access for low-income youth,[7] and ZeroDivide Tribal, a program aimed at providing thousands of tribal residents with broadband training and access. [8]

ZeroDivide also received $500,000 from MCI, a global communications provider, in 2005 to support technology advocacy programs for underserved communities. [9] Other corporate contributions came from corporate foundations such as Aetna and Levi Strauss. [10] ZeroDivide also received funding from large left-of-center organizations such as the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. [11]

Finance

As of May 2018, the IRS had revoked ZeroDivide’s federal tax-exempt status for failing to file a tax return for three consecutive years. [12] The foundation’s latest returns from 2014 list the foundation’s annual revenue of $1,305,662, expenses of $4,008,714, and fund balance of $1,463,506. [13] The 2014 return is a stark contrast to the organization’s earlier filings. In 2011, ZeroDivide had a sizeable fund balance of more than $7 million – more than $5.5 million of which was spent down in the final years of the organization’s existence. [14]

Leadership

Tessie Guillermo served as the president and CEO of ZeroDivide for more than ten years, up until shortly before ZeroDivide closed its doors without warning. [15] Guillermo has a long history of board membership, including at The Nonprofit Finance Fund, Northern California Grantmakers, Dignity Health, and organizations aligned with the political left such as The California Endowment and the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. [16] Guillermo is also associated with President Bill Clinton, who appointed Guillermo to serve as a member of the Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. [17] Guillermo has also personally contributed to Democratic campaigns and causes, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. [18]

David Veneziano served as ZeroDivide’s chief financial officer and chief operating officer. Before working at ZeroDivide, David had decades of financial experience and worked at Schwab & Co. in a variety of roles including as vice president of strategy and planning. [19]

Demise

In 2016, after years of a dwindling fund balance and a lack of replacement capital, ZeroDivide seemingly appeared to collapse. When contributing organizations, such as the left-leaning California Wellness Foundation, learned that donated funds earmarked for community programs were unaccounted for, they were given no answer as to how the funds were used or where they went. Local-level organizations were left to cut their losses; the California Wellness Foundation directly replaced some funds promised to community programs. [20]

Other organizations that entrusted grants to ZeroDivide, such as the Ford Foundation and the Whitman Institute, filed formal complaints with the California Attorney General’s office. [21] When ZeroDivide closed its doors it not only inconvenienced donors and beneficiary organizations, but also reportedly failed to pay thousands of dollars of credit card charges. Employees were also laid off without notice and did not receive payment for unused vacation time. [22]

References

  1. Gunther, Marc. “A Foundation Collapsed. Its Money Is Gone. What Happened Is Shrouded in Mystery.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/A-Foundation-Collapsed-Its/247118. ^
  2. “Board Profiles.” Palo Alto Partners in Education. Accessed October 12, 2019. https://papie.org/board-profiles/.    ^
  3. “Interview with Tessie Guillermo, President and CEO of ZeroDivide.” NetSquared, 2008. https://netsquared.org/blog/britt-bravo/e-interview-tessie-guillermo-president-and-ceo-zerodivide. ^
  4. “Interview with Tessie Guillermo, President and CEO of ZeroDivide.” NetSquared, 2008. https://netsquared.org/blog/britt-bravo/e-interview-tessie-guillermo-president-and-ceo-zerodivide. ^
  5. Gunther, Marc. “A Foundation Collapsed. Its Money Is Gone. What Happened Is Shrouded in Mystery.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/A-Foundation-Collapsed-Its/247118. ^
  6. “Community Technology Foundation of California Awards Grants Totaling $1.8 Million.” Community Technology Foundation of California, July 23, 2003. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/community-technology-foundation-awards-1.8-million-to-california-groups. ^
  7. “ZeroDivide: BroadbandUSA.” National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Accessed October 11, 2019. https://www2.ntia.doc.gov/grantee/zerodivide. ^
  8. “ZeroDivide Tribal: BroadbandUSA.” National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Accessed October 11, 2019. https://www2.ntia.doc.gov/grantee/zerodivide-tribal. ^
  9. “MCI Awards $2 Million to California Nonprofits for Educational Initiatives.” Philanthropy News Digest (PND), July 28, 2005. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/mci-awards-2-million-to-california-nonprofits-for-educational-initiatives. ^
  10. Gunther, Marc. “A Foundation Collapsed. Its Money Is Gone. What Happened Is Shrouded in Mystery.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/A-Foundation-Collapsed-Its/247118. ^
  11. Gunther, Marc. “A Foundation Collapsed. Its Money Is Gone. What Happened Is Shrouded in Mystery.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/A-Foundation-Collapsed-Its/247118. ^
  12. [1] “Auto-Revocation List .” Internal Revenue Service. Accessed October 11 2019. https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/displayAll.do?dispatchMethod=searchAll&Id=852661&ein=943312181&country=US&deductibility=all&isDescending=false&city=&ein1=94-3312181&postDateFrom=&exemptTypeCode=al&submitName=Search&sortColumn=orgName&totalResults=1&names=&resultsPerPage=25&indexOfFirstRow=0&postDateTo=&state=All+States. ^
  13. ZeroDivide, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014. https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2014/943/312/2014-943312181-0bc1306a-9.pdf

    ^

  14. ZeroDivide, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2011. https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2012/943/312/2012-943312181-09c73a17-9.pdf ^
  15. Gunther, Marc. “A Foundation Collapsed. Its Money Is Gone. What Happened Is Shrouded in Mystery.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/A-Foundation-Collapsed-Its/247118. ^
  16. “Tessie Guillermo.” The Aspen Institute. Accessed October 11, 2019. http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org/Dialogue-on-Public-Libraries/2014/participants/details/201/Tessie-Guillermo ^
  17. “Tessie Guillermo.” The Aspen Institute. Accessed October 11, 2019. http://csreports.aspeninstitute.org/Dialogue-on-Public-Libraries/2014/participants/details/201/Tessie-Guillermo ^
  18. [1] “Browse Individual Contributions.” FEC.gov. Accessed October 12, 2019. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Tessie+Guillermo&two_year_transaction_period=2020. ^
  19. “Panel and Mixer: Careers in Social Impact.” Princeton Club of Northern California – Panel and Mixer: Careers in Social Impact. Accessed October 12, 2019. http://www.pcnc.org/article.html?aid=375. ^
  20. Gunther, Marc. “A Foundation Collapsed. Its Money Is Gone. What Happened Is Shrouded in Mystery.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/A-Foundation-Collapsed-Its/247118. ^
  21. Gunther, Marc. “A Foundation Collapsed. Its Money Is Gone. What Happened Is Shrouded in Mystery.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/A-Foundation-Collapsed-Its/247118. ^
  22. Gunther, Marc. “A Foundation Collapsed. Its Money Is Gone. What Happened Is Shrouded in Mystery.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, September 12, 2019. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/A-Foundation-Collapsed-Its/247118. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1999

  • 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
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,305,662 $4,008,714 $2,200,066 $736,560 N $738,742 $204,507 $75,458 $422,573 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $2,401,743 $3,741,611 $4,995,540 $816,186 N $2,007,913 $246,253 $83,078 $721,465 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $2,659,421 $4,666,215 $5,862,414 $531,755 N $1,911,966 $540,966 $185,170 $692,306 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $1,627,450 $3,858,209 $7,202,332 $166,147 N $1,276,917 $152,033 $307,822 $545,954 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    ZeroDivide Foundation

    2120 UNIVERSITY AVE
    San Francisco, CA 94704-1026