The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a simple question for education technology company ConnectEDU, which sought bankruptcy protection in April: Where’s our grant money?
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a simple question for education technology company ConnectEDU, which sought bankruptcy protection in April: Where’s our money?
In July 2013, the well-known foundation awarded a nearly $500,000 grant to ConnectEDU to develop an interactive program to help students master literacy under the Common Core standards that many states use to guide how public school students are caught.
The money came with some conditions, including a promise to only use the funds for the development of the new technology as well as a timeline requiring benchmarks to be met along the way. The grant, paid out in two installments, was set to expire this December. (Read ConnectEDU’s grant pitch here.)
The project, however, got derailed earlier this year when ConnectEDU filed for Chapter 11 protection, citing an estimated $33.7 million in liabilities and $17.7 million in assets.
Since then, the Gates Foundation has tried to ensure that its grant money is kept in a separate account and that any unused portion will be returned to the organization, according to a filingmade this week in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. Requests for information from ConnectEDU’s counsel at Lowenstein Sandler, however, have gone unanswered, the foundation says.
Attorneys from Lowenstein Sandler didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Now, the foundation is asking the court to direct ConnectEDU to respond to its questions and turn over documents related to the grant funds by Sept. 12. Without more information, the foundation says, it can’t tell how large of a claim it has in the bankruptcy and is “in danger of non-compliance” with its federal and state tax reporting requirements.
ConnectEDU is one of a few dozen organizations awarded money as part of the Gates Foundation’s Literacy Courseware Challenge, which supports the creation of digital literacy tools to help students in grades 4 through 8.
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