Four Chattanooga Foundations Reportedly Funding Left-Wing UnifiEd


Four Chattanooga-based foundations help fund the city’s left-leaning UnifiEd, according to a letter The Chattanoogan published Monday.

The author of the letter, April Eidson, listed the Benwood Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the Footprint Foundation as UnifiEd donors.

Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd linked to Eidson’s letter on his Facebook page Monday.

Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga spokesman Joda Thongnopnua told The Tennessee Star Monday that Eidson’s letter lacked some important context.

“I want to be clear. We supported the (UnifiEd) 501C3. They have a 501C4 as well. That is a more political organization, but all our money went explicitly toward the 501C3,” Thongnopnua said.

“We did that to fund some pretty specific non-controversial things like successfully advocating for the adoption of some changes that improved the transparency and accountability of things like school board meetings and putting the budget online. They also did these community input sessions that engaged about 2,600 local residents and that kind of community voice where we invested in UnifiEd and other groups that work to make sure every kid has access to a great public education regardless of what zip code they are in.”

No one at the Benwood Foundation or the Lyndhurst Foundation returned The Star’s repeated requests for comment Monday.

Contact information for the Footprint Foundation was apparently unavailable online.

On his Facebook page, Boyd asked his followers not to dismiss Eidson’s letter.

“Just absorb the documented numbers in this post about all the money that has flowed in to Unified, which is nothing but a political operation aimed at replacing conservatives with liberals on the school board and County Commission,” Boyd wrote.

“It’s amazing the superintendent, county mayor, school board, Republicans, conservatives and chamber buy into all of this.”

As The Star reported last month, many people in Hamilton County believe UnifiEd members orchestrated an unsuccessful attempt to add 350 new positions to the county school system, at a cost of $34 million, and at taxpayer expense. As reported, many of those proposed positions were for social workers and new administrators.

Most school board members voted for the plan, but most county commissioners said no. Going along with the plan might have required raising property taxes.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Tim Boyd” by Tim Boyd. Photo “Rhonda Thurman” by Hamilton County Schools. Background Photo “UnifiEd” by UnifiEd. 


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2 Thoughts to “Four Chattanooga Foundations Reportedly Funding Left-Wing UnifiEd”

  1. LB

    The Deep State is in every City and in every County! It’s so interesting to see how in county after county the same plan is being played out. Since the school budget takes the largest slice of the “money pie” the Schools Superintendent and the school boad push for more money and then if the county commission comes into agreement the taxes sky rocket. The Liberals are working especially within the school boards in the planning departments so that the developers can take land and build more without paying their fair share of improvements such as schools and roads. The citizens of this nation must come together and unify and stop the infiltration.

  2. April Eidson

    Joda is the spokesperson for the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. How funny is that? Joda is a former Dem Party officer, the Foundations also funds Joda’s nonprofit, Metro Ideas, and the trustees donated to Joda’s run for state representative against Esther Helton. It rains foundation cash on Joda for his nonprofit and for his campaign. These Foundations are going to be exposed for using Foundation trust money in this manner.