Donors Trust and Higher Education


A major new story about Donors Trust was published over the weekend, and it has important implications for higher education.

Donors Trust is a sort of money-laundering scheme for causes of the radical right. Basically, if you’re an oil company and you want to fund some climate denial science but you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you put your money into Donors Trust (which doesn’t have to report who funds them) and they funnel it into “research” organizations that they directly control.

How does this apply to higher education? Well, Donors Trust is also the funding organization behind the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. That’s the organization you see quoted weekly in the Chronicle as a research organization, the one whose director is also a regular columnist in the Chronicle’s “Innovations” blog. And from that perch, they’ve been able to push news stories pretty regularly into the mainstream press. Here’s a link to their latest, which at the time of this post is the “Bartender with a degree” story that is everywhere.

I keep saying this in the hope that someone will notice. If Donors Trust is willing to fund research that seeks to create confusion about the science of global warming, what are they willing to do in the much murkier world of education policy? And who is funding that effort? And if we don’t know, should we be quoting CCAP at all?

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