- The Key Worldwide Foundation, the organisation at the center of the massive college admissions scandal made public Tuesday, claimed that it made real donations or had partnerships with actual non-profits and charities.
- Multiple groups listed on the foundation’s website have denied this, and told INSIDER they have no record of donations from the foundation or its creator, William “Rick” Singer.
- One group on the foundation’s website doesn’t appear to exist.
- IRS filings show that the foundation says that it mostly gave to college athletics programs, in line with Department of Justice charges that the non-profit was primarily used as a way to funnel money for the college admissions scam.
- Singer is pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice.
When wealthy parents turned to William “Rick” Singer to get their children into elite colleges, prosecutors say some sent him bribes disguised as charity donations through his non-profit, The Key Worldwide Foundation.
“Your generosity will allow us to move forward with our plans to provide educational and self-enrichment programs to disadvantaged youth,” read a letter parents received from the The Key Worldwide Foundation after they sent the money, according to the Department of Justice.
Then, prosecutors allege, parents deducted those “donations” from their taxes.
But the non-profit’s funds actually went to bribe coaches at elite schools, and to rig students’ test scores, according to federal investigators. And multiple non-profits and charities that the foundation said it donated to are now disputing those claims, saying they never partnered with Singer or The Key.
Singer is pleading guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice.
Non-profits say they never worked with Key Worldwide Foundation
The Key Worldwide Foundation’s website says it “has touched the lives of hundreds of students that would never have been exposed to what higher education could do for them,” listing several non-profits and community organisations it partners with.
But the leaders of at least three charities Singer listed on the organisation’s website said that’s a lie.
Hal Pastner, founder of Houston Hoops, a youth basketball program in Texas, flatly denied any association with Singer or Key Worldwide Foundation despite being listed on the foundation’s website as a “partner.”
“We’ve never heard of this guy or his organisation,” Pastner told INSIDER. “We even had someone look through all of our records and couldn’t find anything.”
The Key Worldwide Foundation’s website said it helped fund Houston Hoops “travel teams” and “an educational program for all 250 boys and girls from 3rd-12th grade once a week.”
Pastner told INSIDER that those programs don’t exist.
Similarly, Thais Rezende, Bizworld.org CEO, told INSIDER that Singer “inaccurately identifies Bizworld.org as a partner organisation.
“Bizworld.org has never had any partnership or other business relationship with The Key Worldwide Foundation,” Rezende said. ” Bizworld’s legal counsel has sent a letter to The Key Worldwide Foundation demanding that The Key Worldwide Foundation immediately remove all references to Bizworld.org from The Key Worldwide Foundation website.”
One group listed on The Key Worldwide Foundation website, Smile On U Cambodia, doesn’t seem to exist.
A search for the group on Google only returns three results – two pages from The Key Worldwide Foundation’s website, and a forum post referring to the foundation’s website. A search of Twitter and Instagram for the group returned no results either.
Prosecutors say non-profit donations were used as bribes
According to public IRS filings from 2014,2015, and 2016 that NBC Bay Area obtained, The Key Worldwide Foundation brought in just over $US7 million in contributions and spent nearly $US5 million from 2013-16.
But the founders of a group called Friends of Cambodia, which The Key Worldwide Foundation listed giving nearly $US40,000 to on its IRS filings in 2015 and 2016, told NBC Bay Area that they had no records of a donation from Singer or his foundation.
“I would have noticed those – we’re not that big,” Elia Van Tuyl told the station in an on-camera interview.
Four other organisations listed on the website didn’t immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment. One, Ladylike Foundation, declined to comment.
According to the filings, most of the money leaving the foundation went to colleges. The Department of Justice is accusing Singer of using the non-profit to funnel money to university coaches and administrators as payment for student admission under the auspices of athletics, regardless of athletic ability.
In one instance outlined in the criminal complaint against Singer, prosecutors allege parents paid him $US1.2 million to get their child into Yale University. About $US900,000 of that money went to Key Worldwide Foundation, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors allege Singer paid Yale’s soccer coach $US400,000 to recruit the student to be on the team, even though they didn’t play soccer. Yale said in a statement that the women’s soccer coach named by prosecutors is no longer coaching at the school, and said the university was a victim in the scheme.
“For every student admitted through this fraud, a legitimate, talented student was not accepted,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a press conference.
- Read more about the college admissions scandal:
- 8 colleges were named in the massive college-admissions scandal. Here’s how they’re responding.
- The FBI busted rich parents for allegedly bribing their kids into elite schools. Here’s the not-so-secret way the superrich game college admissions.
- Actress Felicity Huffman released on $US250,000 bond, forced to surrender passport amid college admissions scandal
- Here’s how Lori Loughlin got her 2 influencer daughters with millions of followers into USC through an admissions scam, according to investigators
- Here’s the full list of people charged in the college-admissions cheating scandal
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