Indiana State University, a red-state taxpayer-funded institution with an endowment of $70.1 million, spent tens of thousands of dollars to co-sponsor an education conference that is giving a platform to critical race theory activists.
Financial documents reviewed by The Federalist upon receipt of a public records request show Indiana State has funneled a total of $95,000 to Black Expo, Inc., a far-left nonprofit. The group hosts an annual education conference for primarily public school and public university teachers. This year’s conference is titled “Education Equity: The Role of Schools and Universities in Leveling the Playing Field.”
For the 2021 conference, the documents show, Indiana State sent $27,500 to Black Expo, the same number as its contribution last year, and just shy of its $40,000 contribution in 2019.
As The Federalist reported earlier, Black Expo’s conference slated for July 13 to 15 will feature Dena Simmons and Dr. Bettina L. Love. The “anti-racist” speakers, who frequently lecture on “systemic racism” and “white privilege,” will deliver keynote speeches for an unknown sum.
Tanya McKinzie, president of Black Expo, declined to say how much Simmons and Love are raking in. Instead, McKinzie said the conference “presents an opportunity to explore approaches to enhance culturally responsive culture in our schools and universities.”
Simmons will lecture on “psychological and emotional safety through emotional intelligence, cultural responsivity, and anti-racist practices,” and Love on “the struggles and the possibilities of committing ourselves to an abolitionist goal of educational freedom, as opposed to reform, and moving beyond what she calls the educational survival complex.”
Neither Simmons nor Love responded to The Federalist’s request for comment.
As a benefit of sponsoring this year’s conference, Indiana State is receiving an advertisement blitz and the ability to participate directly in the conference. Receipts show the $27,500 earns the taxpayer-funded institution the following.
- “ISU listed as a co-sponsor of the Education Conference”
- “Opportunity to conduct a workshop during the Education Conference”
- “ISU’s logo on video screen signage”
- “ISU’s logo included on all e-blast marketing advertising the event”
- “ISU’s logo included in the program”
- “A print ad will be included in the Education Conference program (ad to be provided by ISU)
- “Representation on the Education Conference steering committee”
- “ISU’s logo and link on IBE website”
Spokesman Mark Alesia for Indiana State defended the university’s participation in Black Expo, noting it is pleased to continue its relationship with the group.
“Indiana State University did not choose the speakers for this conference but supports free speech, a bedrock value of this institution,” Alesia told The Federalist. “ISU is a longtime sponsor and exhibitor at Indiana Black Expo, which offers significant opportunities to connect with alumni and prospective students. We are proud of our graduates who have, and have had, leadership positions in the organization. Indiana Black Expo helps connect young people in Indiana to higher education institutions like ISU while inspiring individuals of the endless possibilities for success that come with earning a college degree.”
Alesia declined to comment after asked in a follow-up question whether the university will continue to stand by the conference given its lurch toward critical race theory.
The brand appeal for the state university appears to be a driving force in its relationship with the non-profit. Indiana State’s 2019 contributions to Black Expo’s week-long “summer celebration” earned it a great deal. As a benefit of being recognized as a “Crystal Level” sponsor, the school received the following:
- “ISU’s logo on Business Conference and Mayor’s Breakfast Signage”
- “ISU’s Listing on Business Conference and Mayor’s Printed Materials”
- “ISU’s Name on Video Screens at Corporate Luncheon
- “Half Page Color Ad in Summer Celebration Event Guide”
- “6 Public Announcements in Exhibition Hall During Three-Day Exhibition Hall”
- “10’x15′ Exhibit Space in Sponsor Zone”
- “Table of Ten (10) at Corporate Luncheon”
- “Table of Ten (10) at Mayor’s Breakfast”
Indiana State is hardly the only taxpayer-funded group to have involvement in the conference.
Indiana University is named in the title on the conference’s website and is also a co-sponsor. Several professors from the school will deliver speeches, including, Dr. James C. Wimbush, vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs, Assistant Vice President for Diversity Education Monica M. Johnson, and Director of Diversity and Inclusion Rachel Ann Brooks.
“For more than five decades, Indiana University (IU) has been a proud supporter of the Indiana Black Expo (IBE) Summer Celebration, one of the largest African American cultural events in the country,” the school’s website states. “During the weeklong celebration, Indiana University partners with IBE to ensure educational equity for all.”
Multiple government agencies in the Republican-run state are participating in the conference. As documents by The Federalist last week show, the state’s Department of Child Services paid Black Expo $20,000 this year. Representatives from the Department of Education and Commission for Higher Education will speak, and the commission has sent the group $7,500 in the last three years. All three agencies are listed as “partners” on Black Expo’s website.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office did not respond to a request for comment, nor did several other Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly. It remains unclear if conservatives in office will take action.
Below are the full check requests from Indiana State to Black Expo, which The Federalist obtained with an open records request.