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Athletics, Philanthropists and Schools

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We know that San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s flag and national anthem protest against ongoing police maiming and murdering of unarmed black and brown people is having impacts. Allies in and out of amateur and pro sports are supporting the NFL player and his dissident message of protest against a status quo of racial injustice, a mainstay of US history.

Less well known is the history of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a deep-pocketed philanthropy, now receiving $500,000 from the 49ers Foundation for “the cause of improving racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area” The SVCF is no ordinary philanthropy.

According to its website, “SVCF is the largest community foundation, with more than $7.3 billion in assets under management. We partner with families, individuals and corporations to manage and facilitate their philanthropy.”

The SVCF’s mission statement continues.

“We connect donors’ interests to the most pressing needs, whether in Silicon Valley or around the globe. As a comprehensive center for philanthropy, SVCF shapes critical public policy issues, partners with nonprofit groups and institutions advancing the best ideas and directs resources swiftly and strategically toward unforeseen needs.”

One focus of the SVCF is reform of public education. This movement is an obsession of multi-billionaire philanthropists such as Eli Broad, Bill and Melinda Gates and the Walton family. They have made major inroads into reforming the public education system the old-fashioned way, marinating appointed and elected officials with plenty of greenbacks.

Back to the SVCF. It gave $3.2 million in 2014 to the Students First Foundation, the nonprofit behind StudentsMatter, the group that propelled the Vergara v. State of California lawsuit, reports Mercedes K. Schneider, an author, blogger and classroom teacher:

The California State Supreme Court declined to review a lower court’s ruling that the state’s public school K-12 teacher tenure law does not void the constitutional rights of students to the guarantee of equal education. The lawsuit claimed that state statutes such as due process, job probation and layoff procedures for California public school teachers violated the constitutional rights of students to equality of education.

Meanwhile in light of spreading opposition to police violence against unarmed minorities captured on cell phones and officer cameras, the SVCF seeks to improve race and class inequality in the SF Bay Area. Enquiring minds wonder how exactly this effort will proceed.

For example, will the SVCF support community control of police, e.g., hiring and firing of officers who shoot, strangle and Taser unarmed citizens? I asked Sue J. McAllister, SVCF marketing director, for a comment.

“Unfortunately, we do not have any further details on the donation from the 49ers at this time,” she said in an email. “Details are still being decided upon.”

McAllister declined a request for the names of who is deciding on the details, and when work will begin and end. Lucifer is in these details.

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Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Emailsethsandronsky@gmail.com

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