We told you yesterday about the new D.C. Public Education Fund, which has been established to raise money from the private sector for Chancellor Michelle Rhee's school reform efforts. Today we caught up with the fund's executive director Sara Lasner, who explained that the fund has applied for 501c3 status as a non-profit organization. The fund has a three-member board of directors. Lest anyone have any remaining doubts that this new operation is a Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) concoction, the board is comprised of mayoral allies: Ben Soto, Fenty's campaign treasurer, Earle "Chico" Horton, who helped Fenty's transition team before he took office, and Jason Washington, Fenty's former advance man.
For now, Lasner said, she's the only staffer and she's based in Soto's title company office at 14th and P streets NW. She said she's just getting situated, but plans to go to New York City, where Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) has a successful school fundraising operation. Lasner said the difference is that in D.C., the fundraising arm must be independent of the government, while Bloomberg is able to raise the money himself.
"I'm gathering my list now about everyone I need to talk to," Lasner said.
Lasner has a background in fundraising, having teamed with Fenty advisor John Falcicchio to organize the mayor's campaign fundraising (Soto was the campaign treasurer). She then left to work for Skyline Public Works, a San Francisco-based group establised by the Rappaport Family Foundation to invest money in for-profit companies whose products "enhance the public good." Lasner said that organization no longer exists, though its Web site still does.
Lasner returned last year to work as a Fenty aide in his bullpen office, before starting her new gig with the education fund. She said she's still setting up her official mailing address, phone and email but said anyone who is interested in donating to the schools should contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.