WASHINGTON — An Oklahoma school specializing in teaching advanced computer skills has rejected a donation offered by Melania Trump, who said Friday that “politics got in the way of my mission to support children.”
Ms Trump revealed the conflict with the school in a statement defending her charitable fundraising efforts since leaving the White House, which she says focus on supporting foster children.
Mrs. Trump did not name the school she said rejected her donation, noting only that it was “a Silicon Valley-based school of computer science with a campus in Oklahoma.”
That fits the description of an organization known as the Holberton School, a San Francisco-based education company with more than 30 schools worldwide specializing in computer training as an alternative to traditional college for young people. students who wish to become software engineers. It opened a location in Tulsa, Okla., in 2020.
Julien Barbier, the general manager of Holberton, confirmed on Friday that Mrs. Trump had tried to donate money to the Tulsa school.
“We were approached about a scholarship by his team but we never came to an agreement on the logistics of the scholarship,” he said, declining to discuss the matter further.
Ms Trump said she had offered to make the donation anonymously, with the money intended to support scholarships. She said she had signed an agreement detailing the expected contribution when the school decided to reject it, which she said was part of an effort to “cancel me”.
“It was made clear to me that the school board staged a politically motivated decision,” Ms. Trump said in her statement, which was posted on her website on Friday. “Obviously I was disappointed but not surprised. This is not the first time that politics has stood in the way of my mission to support children.
She added that this was at least the second time her efforts to support a charitable cause were rejected, saying a “business partner turned down the opportunity to further our shared philanthropic goals surrounding my visit to Africa”, which has took place in 2018. She provided no further details.
Since December, Mrs. Trump has accelerated her efforts to raise or earn money – for herself and for charitable causes – by hosting an online auction last month to sell a white hat she had worn at the White House during a visit by the French president in 2018, as part of what she called the Head of State’s collection.
She also recently announced plans to host what she called an “exclusive high tea” she calls Tulips & Topiaries, selling tickets up to $50,000 for “VIP table sponsors.” The money raised at the event, which is to be held in Naples, Florida, in April, would be at least partly donated to a cause that supports children in foster care or leaving foster care. , said Mrs. Trump.
The money, she told The New York Times in a statement this month, would be used “to provide children in the foster community with the opportunity to obtain entry-level jobs in the technology”, resembling the mission of the Holberton School.
But the planned event in Florida has prompted questions from officials investigating whether Mrs. Trump has complied with state law. Florida requires anyone soliciting charitable donations to register with the state, and officials could not find a registration filed in Mrs Trump’s name or the programs she said she was collecting for. funds, called Be Best and Fostering the Future.
In Friday’s statement, Mrs. Trump said she had no plans to start her own formal nonprofit, registered with Florida or the federal government.
Instead, she said, the money raised from the April event would go to Gen Justice, an existing nonprofit also known as Generation Justice that uses legal action to try to improve the foster care system in the United States. Ms Trump also said she worked with a conservative nonprofit called the Bradley Impact Fund, which screened the foster-related charities she intended to support. Both organizations are registered in Florida to collect charitable donations.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees charitable giving in the state, declined to comment on the investigation Friday.
“As the investigation is still ongoing, we are unable to comment further at this time,” agency spokeswoman Erin M. Moffet said Friday.
Mrs. Trump, in a series of public statements, said she followed all state rules.
“The media has created a narrative in which I try to act illegally or unethically,” his statement said on Friday. “This portrayal is simply false and negatively affects the children I hope to support. Those who attack my initiatives and create the appearance of impropriety are literally dream killers. They have quashed children’s hopes and dreams by trying to cancel me.
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Mrs Trump’s money-making efforts have only intensified in recent weeks as she announced a partnership with Parler, the conservative social media site, to use the platform to promote her sales in line.
She disclosed on Talk This Week a plan to sell what she calls the POTUS TRUMP NFT Collectionwho features a virtual work of art known as a non-fungible token, or NFT, on USAmemorabilia.com, a website she is creating.
A total of 10,000 NFTs will be sold for $50 each or possibly more, and will feature “iconic moments from President Trump’s administration, such as the 4th of July visit to Mount Rushmore and Christmas at the White House.” The sales will take place with cryptocurrency, Ms. Trump said, similar to the previous auction.
She did not say where the NFT footage would come from, but a former aide asked in a tweet if it was appropriate to sell photographs of White House events.
“Trump selling PEOPLE’s House archives?!!” writes Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Mrs. Trump, who fell out with the family after a row over spending during Mr. Trump’s inauguration. “Is it legal? »
When asked if the NFT images Mrs. Trump will be selling are based on photographs taken by federal government employees, Mrs. Trump’s office said in a statement that “all images are copyright free and are within the domain of public”. It’s an apparent reference to a long-standing federal policy that the government’s “creative works” are not protected by copyright law, suggesting that she believes she has the right to use them and benefit from them.
Her statement did not mention whether the money raised from the sales would support her charitable efforts or would simply be raised by Mrs Trump and her business partners. Mrs. Trump also indicated that images of the virtual artwork she is selling – with names like Air Force One Platinum, First Lady Platinum and Mount Rushmore Platinum – would not be released publicly before being sold.
“Collectors will appreciate an element of surprise, as each NFT’s artwork is not revealed until after purchase,” the ad reads. “Of course, collectors can make multiple purchases to own the entire POTUS Trump collection.”