CTU FOUNDATION? The officers of the Chicago Teachers Union Foundation are the same as the officers of the Chicago Teachers Union, but their answer when asked by CTU delegates and members about Foundation business is 'none of your business'...

This is the first of what will be several articles to be published at Substance explaining, reporting and analyzing the questions that are arising from the nearly secret existence of the "Chicago Teachers Union Foundation." As most CTU members now know, the CTU Foundation is a $50 million (plus) charitable foundation that gives money to selected organizations and individuals (usually doing business as organizations). The Foundation was established after the Chicago Teachers Union sold the old Fewkes Tower building on Chicago's Gold Coast.

According to the most recent (2015) Internal Revenue Form 990 report on the CTU Foundation, the officers of the CTU Foundation, all of whom are paid as Foundation officers, were, left to right: Kristine Mayle (Financial Secretary of the Foundation); Karen Lewis (President of the Foundation);Michael Brunson (Recording Secretary of the Foundation) and Jesse Sharkey (Vice President of the Foundation. Kristine Mayle is no longer Financial Secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union, having chosen not to run for office again in the May 2016 CTU election. Readers assume that Mayle's successor, Maria Moreno, is now Financial Secretary of the Foundation as well as Financial Secretary of the CTU. But the most recent Foundation 990 report is not available from the federal government. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. All foundations are required to file public federal IRS forms (the "990") detailing their operations, donations, and expenses. So far, the CTU Foundation has filed these reports for three years, and they are available from the federal government.

According to the 2015 990, the CTU Foundation has four officers, each of whom is paid a small salary by the Foundation. They are (Name, Title, Foundation Salary)...

Karen Lewis, President, $20,891

Jesse Sharkey, Vice President, $17,275

Michael Brunson, Recording Secretary, $24,475

Kristine Mayle, Financial Secretary, $14,468

Kristine Mayle did not run for re-election as CTU Financial Secretary in May 2016, and members assume that he successor as the CTU Financial Secretary, Maria Moreno, is now the Financial Secretary of the Foundation.

Despite the fact that the "Foundation" executives are the same as the union's executives, nothing about the Foundation's finances has been reported to the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates, including the fact that CTU officers are also being paid to be officers of the Foundation.

We will report on the complete Foundation donations, which have also been kept secret from the CTU House of Delegates and members, in future articles in this investigation.


January 3, 2018 at 7:07 PM

By: Danny van Over

That's interesting...

Granted, I have no small amount of trepidation arguing Union history with the likes of George Schmidt (and that's sincerely meant), but I am puzzled by the line "The Foundation was established after the Chicago Teachers Union sold the old Fewkes Tower building on Chicago's Gold Coast."

I thought the Foundation was established when it built/acquired Fewkes Tower way back when.

It's always been a shadowy organization--and I've been a HoD member since 2001, but I think the current administration has made it far more widely known than in the past.

It will be interesting to read what your investigative reporting will reveal about the CTUF, but I hope you're not angling for some scandalous expose (a la the Sun-Times headlines about fat-cat, you'll pardon the expression, Union Boss Karen Lewis owning multiple properties, which turned out to be a time-share and family home). Please also let readers know that their CTU dues do not go to the Foundation.

January 5, 2018 at 6:23 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

'Interesting' historical facts, CTU Foundation's reality...

For decades, Fewkes Tower was operated by an entity called the "Fewkes Tower Corporation." The officers of the "Fewkes Tower Corporation were the same as the officers of the Chicago Teachers Union as late as 2010, when the CORE slate was elected to lead the CTU.

When Fewkes Tower was sold (liquidating a major asset of the Chicago Teachers Union), the officers of the corporation transferred the dollars from the sale NOT to the Chicago Teachers Union, but to a new corporate entity called the "Chicago Teachers Union Foundation." The Chicago Teachers Union Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, governed by the rules applying to such entities. But the officers of the "new" foundation (the CTU Foundation) were the same as the officers of the old corporation.

Surprisingly to many of us in the House of Delegates, the activities of the "Foundation" became secret from the union's members and delegates -- despite the fact that the money to establish the "Foundation" came as a result of the liquidation of a massive asset owned in fact by the Chicago Teachers Union (i.e., the members).

To compare the research and investigations into the current scandals (viz., for example, the union leadership's claim that there is so little money in the "union" that the union had to suspend the annual production of the membership calendar date book) with that Sun-Times stuff about Karen Lewis's assets is a silly diversion. The issues arise all along the historical line from the Fewkes Tower Corporation's liquidation through the current activities (largely secret) of the "Foundation."

Anyone can call up and read the IRS 990 reports from the CTU Foundation since it was established a little over three years ago. But one major thing that such reveals is that the union's officers (now, as officers of the "Foundation") have been giving away millions of dollars (that's what 501(c)(3) foundations do) in our name using our assets without asking us whether that's where we want the dollars to go or reporting to us later about how they have disbursed those dollars.

While, at the same time, claiming that CTU is too broke to provide complete member services or even to print and distribute the CTU calendar and date book.

January 6, 2018 at 1:33 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

CTU officers always in charge of Fewkes monies

I'm glad to get all this info about Fewkes Tower monies. I did not know that CTU officers were always in charge of that great union asset--for decades as George Schmidt explains here in his answer in the comment section. I thought that only the union officers (CORE slate since 2010) had put themselves in charge of the Chgo Teacher Union Foundation (CTUF) created after the sale of the Fewkes Tower. It's interesting for me to know that our union officers (of many different caucus' slates)have been in charge of what used to be the Fewkes Tower Corporation for decades.

January 6, 2018 at 6:20 PM

By: Therese Boyle

Tower Corp | CTUF | C&T Foundation of CTU

According to Crain's (October 2014)CTU built the high-rise in 1966 as a place for retired teachers to live, naming it John M. Fewkes Tower in honor of the union's founding president. Following the sale of Fewkes Tower, the Tower Corporation, a 501(c)(2) filed its final 990 tax return during the tax period ending September 30, 2014.

According to, the CTUF, a 501(c)(4) was established in 1970. A review of CTUF's IRS 990 forms from 2005 through the 2014 indicates that the sole beneficiaries of money granted through CTUF were scholarships awarded to the high school senior sons and daughters of CTU members. The 2015 CTUF 990 shows that the CTUF discontinued funding the scholarships to children of CTU members. Note: In tax year 2013, CTUF awarded $1,013,000 in grants. In tax year 2014, $1,942,000 in grants; and in 2015,$1,932,860 in grants were awarded. Tax year 2016 990 Form is not yet available.

In 2014, CTU leadership established a 501(c)(3), "The Children and Teachers Foundation of the Chicago Teachers Union" by making a $250,000 grant from the CTUF. I'm thinking the scholarships to children of CTU members may be funded out of this new foundation going forward, but I have not yet been able to review a 990 Form showing this.

January 8, 2018 at 7:41 PM

By: jay C Rehak

CTU Fewkes Tower

I was amazed the CTU was able to sell the Tower, but I think the more important point is I think the leadership owes everyone an accounting as to where ALL the money from the sale has gone. I think the new CTU offices are great, and it was probably a wise move to leave the Merchandise Mart, but again, it's all about accountability. The officers need to explain, in detail, where the money has gone.

January 9, 2018 at 8:08 AM

By: Therese Boyle

CTUF Detailed Financials

The CTUF put a link on its website,, under the Grantmaking tab, that has their 2015 IRS 990 Form available for review. CTUF explains they have filed for an extension for their 2016 990.

In addition to the 990 Forms, the CTUF should share a detailed statement of financial position outlining assets and liabilities. CTUF should provide a statement of activities detailing its support/revenue and expenses.

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