May 18 2011
11:59 am

Curious to learn more about the YES Prep charter school business model, I came across on the net this May 2009 financial "prospectus" detailing for prospective "investors" the school's $38 million "growth capital offering," which the non-profit then needed to open 13 more YES Prep campuses.

There's a lot to digest in the document's 36 pages--and I haven't yet--but in just my initial flip-through of it, I got stalled on Appendix I: Supporters of YES Prep Charter Schools (pdf page 32).

Among the Big Four foundations, three of them--Gates, Walton, and Dell--are readily apparent as benefactors and only Broad is missing. No surprises there.

A quick scan of the school's major for-profit donors, though, reveals something new: It's the oil and gas industries supporting YES Prep.


Some of those oil and gas companies jumped off the page--like Halliburton, Shell Oil, Marathon Oil, MultiFuels, KiwiEnergy, and Spectra Energy. I also knew Schlumberger as the tech company to have pioneered "pay-at-the-pump" technology for the oil industry.

I quickly learned that Alta Resources is a "leader in the development of shale gas resources," Noble Corporation is an offshore drilling contractor, and Vitol is an energy trading company.

Similarly, it turns out that Houston's Baker Botts LLP is "one of the city’s leading law firms with connections to key international energy markets in Asia, Europe and the Middle East" and Haynes & Boone LLP touts an "energy practice more than 75 lawyers strong."

Having then reviewed the complete list of for-profit businesses supporting YES Prep--and having then confirmed that every last one of them existed in the oil and gas industries--I planned to look into first those other foundations, then the individuals.

Alfred A. Annunziato of the Annunziato Family Foundation proved to be a founder of Montero Petroleum and also Pvl Ags Investments, specializing in oil and gas.

John Arnold of the Arnold Family Foundation, turned out to be a 35 year-old billionaire natural gas trader.

I just stopped--in the "A's," still.

Okay, I know YES Prep's home is in Houston, but couldn't they find anybody outside the oil and gas industry to support their work?

I don't want Halliburton Elementary offerin' up "public" education in my hometown.

Stick's picture


Just when I thought that I had reached the limit of my cynicism...

leavemealone's picture

I'm sure

Sarah Paline must be in there somewhere!

R. Neal's picture

That's very strange. I'm sure

That's very strange. I'm sure there's a logical explanation.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

In another (related) thread

See also "This lesson plan is brought to you by...," a link posted by Eric Lykins earlier today in another (related) thread.

jcgrim's picture

It's for the kids


Tamara Shepherd's picture

YES Prep's Board of Trustees


Some of these trustees are with the oil and gas companies (previously linked) which themselves comprise YES Prep's major corporate donors, including:

--Alta Resources

--Marathon Oil


--Spectra Energy

--Whitespire Ventures, which matches energy entrepreneurs with early stage capital of $50,000 to $1 million. Whitespire's owner, trustee Mickey Barrett, is a major donor contributing as an individual rather than through his company .

Other trustees represent more oil and gas companies, but they're not major donors, including:

--ExxonMobil Chemical, a name we know

--Andrews Kurth LLP, whose "energy (law) practice is one of the nation’s largest."

--El Paso Energy, "an industry leader in transporting natural gas."

--The Catalyst Group, consultants in "refining, chemicals, natural gas, polymers, specialty chemicals, and related industries."

--Centaurus Advisors, a hedge fund firm investing in "derivatives such as futures, options, and over-the-counter swaps for commodities including power, coal, natural gas, and crude oil."

Just one trustee, Boxer Property Management, is a major corporate donor not specifically involved in oil and gas (an oversight in my original blog post).

A few trustees represent companies not involved with oil and gas and not major donors, either, but they may nevertheless be handy to have around, including:

--Resevoir Research, corporate sneaks providing "in-depth intelligence on companies, managers and trends."

--First Southwest Company, bond underwriters--just in case.

There are also Red House Associates--"helping entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of early-stage information technology startups"--as well as Regions Bank and Ernst & Young. Meh...

Then there's the law firm of Liskow & Lewis, in which L & L shareholder and YES Prep Trustee Gary Rachlin has assisted these clients with these transactions:

--A Texas non-profit industrial development corporation in its issuance of bonds in connection with the acquisition by a third party of a major facility along the Houston ship channel. This transaction included the development corporation's leasing of the facility and assigning the lease to the eventual user.

--A Houston financial institution in its providing credit enhancement to support tax exempt bonds for the expansion of the facilities for a major Houston charitable institution.

Were either of these transactions for YES Prep or one of its affiliates, or is either transaction one of the sort in which YES Prep expects to engage in the future? Keep googling, I guess.

Oh...I suppose you noticed there are no educators among the trustees? The trustees running the schools?

EricLykins's picture

Maybe citizen control is

Maybe citizen control is overrated. Privatization might rid us of the hassle and argument. Maybe they'll bring the price of gas down by teaching kids how to extract fossils from our backyards. Maybe if we turn over our public libraries to investment bankers they'll rapidly penetrate that market with sexier librarians, and we'll all read more.

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