The Frontier Newspaper Blasts Oklahoma’s Every Kid Counts For Not Disclosing Its Donors, But There’s More

The Frontier Newspaper Blasts Oklahoma’s Every Kid Counts For Not Disclosing Its Donors, But There’s More

Though The Frontier blasts Every Kid Counts Oklahoma (EKCO) for not disclosing their donors, the real story here appears to be that an Oklahoma non-profit embroiled in controversy on several levels has no publicly-filed 990 since 2019.  Though there are Republicans who might dismiss information ferreted out by The Frontier as ‘biased’ or ‘ax-grinding’, the research I’ve been doing independently for some time, supports most reports made by The Frontier.

Here’s what I have found – including as always – screen shots and URL locations where you can find this information for yourself and not take my word, or the word of an ‘independent’ newspaper supported by funds from enormous leftist Tulsa donors, including Kaiser and Schusterman


{All information listed is from documents filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office unless otherwise mentioned.}

12.6.2016 – The beginning of ECKO lies with a non-profit organization founded in December of 2016 called Upward Oklahoma, Inc.  It’s purpose was to engage in “various charitable, educational, and scientific activities in the state of Oklahoma”.  

Secretary of State filings show that the Registered Agent was Brett Farley (now Executive Director of the Catholic Conference) addressed from a post office box at the Post Office on Covell in Edmond.

The principle Incorporators were Brett Farley, Cordon DeKock (former Vice-President of Political Affairs for the Oklahoma State Chamber), addressed at 330 NE 10th Street (the address for the Oklahoma State Chamber) and Jason Reese (former General Counsel to Governor Stitt) addressed at 100 Park Avenue Suite 500.  Upward Oklahoma’s Directors are listed as the same three men.

2.10.2017 – February 10th, 2017, An Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation of Upward Oklahoma Inc. was made, describing it as a 501(c)(3) entity officing from the 10th Floor of Two Leadership Square and the Registered Agent as McAfee & Taft A Professional Corporation.  At that time, Jennifer Carter (former Chief of Staff to former State Superintendent Janet Barresi and Senior Advisor for American Federation for Children Oklahoma) and Kyle Beauregard (a tax manager from Oklahoma) were added to the list of incorporators.

3.30.2020 – Upward Oklahoma is re-named ECKO (Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, Inc.).

Interestingly, the Scissortail Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization that houses the Choice Matters school choice program headed, until recently, by Robert Ruiz (now the Executive Director of External Affairs At Oklahoma City Community College) and funded in large part by grants from the Walton Foundation, filed for trade name reports for ECKO and Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, January 14th, 2020.  March 30, 2020, both were withdrawn.

Under the March 30 filing, the business is described as being located at 16212 Sonoma Park Drive in Edmond (a building housing Atlas Construction) and Trent Smith (Governor Stitt appointee to the Oklahoma State School Board) is listed as ‘President’.  Smith’s LinkdIn account also verifies that he carried this title.  AJ Griffin (former state Senator and Director of Government and Community Affairs for PayCom) is listed as the Secretary of ECKO.

12.3.2021 – Finally, in December of 2021, the address for ECKO is changed to 309 NW 13th Street, Suite 103, OKC (the site of the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center) and the President is listed as Jake Yunker (former Policy Director for Governor Mary Fallin and the President of the Board of ECKO) and the Treasurer listed as Cory Christofferson (Vice-President of Corporate Banking at Bank of Oklahoma and ECKO Board Member)


From 2016 to 2019, it appears that Brett Farley dutifully posted 990-N postcards for the non-profit Upward Oklahoma from the post office box on Covell.

But after that – filing stops.  The IRS has no record of anything filed after 2019.


From 2016 until March of 2020 when Upward Oklahoma is re-named Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, little seems to have happened in the life of the organization.  In fact, it looks like the State Chamber and friends were considering a new school choice venture at some point and secured a non-profit filing with the Secretary of State toward that end.  In fact, a June 26, 2020, press release verifies that “Oklahoma Achieves Transitions To [a] New Reform Initiative” called “Every Kid Counts”.

No harm, no foul – lots of people create organizations, even changing names and personnel along the way.  

The State Chamber ran the initiative, Oklahoma Achieves, from 2013 to 2020 – fighting FOR the Common Core State Standards along the way – and hiring Secretary of Education Ryan Walters in May of 2019.  Walters then became CEO of the transition initiative ECKO. 

There is no line item on the Oklahoma Achieves 990 filing for 2019 for a ‘Ryan Walters’ salary and the IRS has no public 2020 990 filing for Oklahoma Achieves at all.  Walters worked for Achieves until he was named CEO of ECKO in the summer of 2020.

This is also the case with ECKO – there are no public IRS filings for 2020 or 2021 for an organization that – today – reports having six employees, (though according to their LinkdIn profiles, it appears 2 may be contract employees and 3 were hired in 2021 – April, August and December) and CEO – Ryan Walters – who makes over $100,000 dollars per year

According to The Frontier, Every Kid Counts produced ‘tax forms’ (there was no specific information provided as to what kind or for what year) after a month of asking.  They also report these ‘tax forms’ showed that ECKO raised just under $140,000 in 2020 – nothing is reported for 2021.  Of interest on those ‘tax forms’ should be the salaries and expenses of ECKO compared to the $140,000 raised.  Where’s that information?


I’m going to make this very clear:  I don’t fault any non-profit for raising funds – that’s what a non-profit does to advance their mission statement.  I do think, however, that the public should know who the largest donors of non-profits are, as that provides an idea of that organization’s political lean.  

Our organization also believes that if Ryan Walters is directing education policy as the Governor Stitt-appointed Secretary of Education, his work for an education non-profit (501(c)(3)) where there is a LOT of crossover, should be 100% transparent because of the ethics concerns this type of situation generates – how easy is to push the agenda of ECKO through legislative policy when the CEO of ECKO is a legislative liaison?  

The Frontier has reported that some of ECKO’s funds come from The Walton Foundation.  This I cannot corroborate.  The Walton Foundation has a very transparent search tool in their grant database that identifies the organizations to which they donate and no search ever returned a grant for “Every Kid Counts” or “ECKO”.  The Walton Foundation filed an extension on their 2020 990’s and don’t have a publicly filed 2021 990 via the IRS, so there was no way to corroborate via that method either.  

The Walton Foundation DID provide a total donation of $500,000 for Oklahoma Achieves over three years (2017, 2019, 2020), however, under the name Oklahoma Education Excellence Initiative.  If the Walton grant was given to ECKO under a different name, I didn’t find that either. 

I did locate a $10,000 donation to ECKO from the Koch/Walton start-up non-profit, Yes. Every kid, for 2020.

It is of interest that the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center – the building in which ECKO offices, has received MILLIONS of dollars from The Walton Foundation over the years, but then OPSCR is very transparent that it is funded via “annual membership fees [and] 4 foundations that fund the OPSRC: The George Kaiser Family Foundation, The Inasmuch Foundation, The Charles & Lynn Schusterman Foundation, & The Walton Family Foundation.”  According to the filed 990 for 2020, OPSCR collected 3.7 million dollars in funding.  It also had a payroll of 1.3 million and gave grants to schools in excess of 2.6 million dollars.

Suffice it to say, ECKO has a long, interesting history and discovering exactly how ECKO has supported Ryan Walter’s $100,000 + salary and numerous employees on the $140,000 reported by The Frontier, has raised more questions for yet another blog.