Values & Policies

Code and Values

The About The Kids Foundation’s Board of Directors and staff adhere to these fundamental commitments:

  • To honor the commitment to philanthropy and ethos established by the founder.
  • To use the Foundation’s resources effectively to support education, culture, and the performing arts, and to address serious social and environmental problems facing society.
  • To govern the Foundation in accordance with the law and at the highest standards of practice.
  • To act honestly and with integrity in all our transactions and dealings.
  • To treat applicants and grantees fairly and respectfully.
  • To be inclusive and non-discriminatory in our hiring and appointments, and to maintain a healthy, respectful, fulfilling, and productive workplace.

Social Investment Policy

Foundation Objective

About The Kids Foundation’s broad purpose is to promote the well-being of humanity. In other words, our objective is to generate maximum social benefit from our financial and human resources. The Board believes that the Foundation creates substantial social benefit through its grants and related philanthropic activities.

The Foundation’s Approach to Social Investing

Organizations may also express their social priorities through their financial investments, through mechanisms including proxy voting, negative screening, positive screening, and mission-related (“double bottom line”) investments. When considering a social investment initiative, the Foundation will assess the expected social benefit relative to the possible investment return forgone and also consider the resources required to develop a policy, assess alternatives, make the investments, and monitor progress and results. The Foundation’s assets are invested by carefully selected outside managers. Most of these managers are given wide discretion relative to the underlying investments they choose. This discretion includes making decisions with respect to economic sectors, geographies, degree of maturity of individual companies, etc. The Foundation is cognizant of the fact that many of these managers selected by the Foundation see the greatest investment promise in companies with enlightened managements that recognize that sustainable practices and sound employment policies are in the best long-term interest of their companies and shareholders. The rising importance that investment managers and company managements each give to these policies is leading to a convergence between the portfolios of social investors and mainstream investors.

Current Social Investing Activity

Among the various avenues trying to generate social return through investing, the Foundation has investigated proxy voting the most fully. We were attracted to this strategy because it appears to be having an increasing influence on management decisions, is unlikely to degrade investment returns, and can be accomplished (we are hopeful), with minimal administrative burden.

In general, the Foundation is not attracted to either positive or negative screening. Typically, the reasons why a company might be positively or negatively screened are highly subjective and are subject to significant differences of opinion among reasonable observers. In addition, as mentioned above, mainstream and socially driven portfolios are gradually looking increasingly similar.

One exception, where the Foundation does choose to screen, is tobacco. This product, even if used as intended, has deleterious consequences for both individuals and society. Consequently, where the Foundation is able to do so, it excludes from its portfolio the stocks of any companies for which manufacture of tobacco products is a significant contributor to sales or earnings.

Equal Employment Opportunity

The Foundation is firmly committed to diversity in staffing and the maintenance of an environment free of discrimination. We provide opportunities to all employees based on merit, qualifications, and job requirements. The Foundation is committed to a policy of non-discrimination and equal opportunity in all aspects of employment to all persons without regard to gender, pregnancy, age, color, race, national origin, ancestry, marital status, religion, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, medical condition, veteran status, or any other legally protected characteristic.

This policy governs all aspects of employment at the Foundation, including hiring, assignments, training, promotions, compensation, employee benefits, discipline, and discharge. Any individual who has concerns or believes this policy has been violated should contact his or her supervisor or the Human Resources Director promptly.

Website Privacy Policy

This Privacy Policy sets forth the standards that About The Kids Foundation (the “Foundation”) will follow with regard to all activities undertaken and information provided by visitors to www.aboutthekids.org (the “Foundation’s website”) who apply for grants, subscribe to any of the Foundation’s electronic information services, or otherwise affirmatively communicate with the Foundation (all such visitors are referred to in this Privacy Policy as “Users”).

Section 1. Information collected

The Foundation collects information about Users of the Foundation’s website in order to process grant applications, provide electronic information services, and construct a secure and personalized Internet resource.

The following list includes the different types of information the Foundation collects:

(A) Personal Information

“Personal Information” is information that would allow someone to identify or contact Users, including, for example, Users’ names, organizations, addresses, and email addresses. Personal Information does not include aggregated information or information about Users that, by itself, does not permit the identification of individual persons. For example, statistics about how many persons visited the Foundation’s website last month is not Personal Information.

(B) Nonpersonally Identifiable Information

“Nonpersonally Identifiable Information” is anonymous information about Users that does not include Users’ names or contact information. Examples of such aggregated data would be IP addresses, browser types, and access times. The Foundation may use this information to customize the Foundation’s website for Users and may not include or refer to Personal Information, such as Users’ email addresses, when using this type of data.

(C) Aggregated Information

“Aggregated Information” refers to information the Foundation gathers by aggregating Nonpersonally Identifiable Information to provide summaries of use of the Foundation’s website. The Foundation uses Aggregated Information to show usage patterns and to do such things as negotiate with vendors of Internet services. Such Information is not linked to Users’ Personal Information.

Section 2. Personal information the Foundation collects

The Foundation may collect Personal Information when Users:

  • apply for grants or check on the status of grant applications;
  • sign up as subscribers to electronic information services;
  • make changes to their subscriber profile information; or
  • send messages, forms, or other information to the Foundation via email or the Foundation’s website.

When Users apply for grants, they must provide the Foundation with such Personal Information as name and title of a contact person, organization name, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address, and a brief statement outlining the organization’s need for support.

When Users sign up as subscribers to electronic information services, the Foundation asks for Personal Information, such as email addresses, to allow the Foundation to create Users’ accounts, respond to Users’ questions, or contact Users regarding their accounts.

[The Foundation’s website uses a standard technology called “cookies.” Cookies are small pieces of information stored on a User’s hard drive and not on the Foundation’s website. Cookies allow Users to log in without entering Users’ log in information each time Users use the Foundation’s website. Cookies help the Foundation understand how subscribers use the Foundation’s website, which allows the Foundation to improve and tailor the Foundation’s website. Users may not be able to use the Foundation’s website if they disable cookies.]

Section 3. Foundation’s use of personal information

The Foundation uses Users’ Personal Information to process grant applications, to provide electronic information services, to create a secure and personalized service for its Users, and to contact them, if Users expressly consent, regarding updates about the Foundation’s website. Users may opt out of receiving mailings from the Foundation at any time by following the instructions in Section 7.

Section 4. Disclosure of personal information

The Foundation shall not disclose Users’ Personal Information to third parties without Users’ permission. So, for example, the Foundation does not sell Users’ email addresses or other Personal Information to mass marketers. The Foundation may disclose Nonpersonally Identifiable Information and Aggregated Information about its Users, but that information does not contain Personal Information. If law enforcement or judicial authorities require the Foundation to provide Personal Information concerning any Users, the Foundation must cooperate with the authorities if their requirement is supported with the necessary legal documentation.

Section 5. Consent

When Users use the Foundation’s website, they are using a service provided by the Foundation and therefore agree to be bound by this Privacy Policy. This Privacy Policy addresses only activities connected with the Foundation’s servers. Other sites, including those that the Foundation links to and third-party sites or services that the Foundation co-brands, may have their own policies, which the Foundation does not control and are not addressed or controlled by this Privacy Policy.

Section 6. Choices regarding collection, use, and disclosure of personal information

Users may limit the collection and use of different elements of their Personal Information by not participating in those activities in which the Foundation collects Personal Information, as listed in Section 2. Users may choose to discontinue the collection, use, and disclosure of their Personal Information by using the Foundation’s website without registering or by discontinuing their use of the Foundation’s website altogether.

Please note that if Users provide any information directly to parties other than the Foundation, including sites linked to by the Foundation’s Website, different rules may apply to their use or disclosure of the Personal Information Users disclose to them. The Foundation encourages Users to investigate and ask questions before disclosing information to third parties.

Section 7. Correcting, updating, and deleting personal information

Users can access and update their registration information or choose to have their Personal Information deleted by contacting the Foundation (see Section 11 Contact Information).

The Foundation shall provide Users with the opportunity to opt in to receive communications from the Foundation. Once Users opt in, they can discontinue receiving updates about or other information from the Foundation by sending a message to [email address].

Section 8. Security procedures

The Foundation has implemented security measures to protect Users’ information from loss, misuse, and alteration. The Foundation uses industry-standard practices, such as encrypted storage and password protection systems, to safeguard the confidentiality of Users’ Personal Information.

Section 9. Privacy protection for children

In compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, the Foundation shall not knowingly permit persons under the age of 13 to provide Personal Information to the Foundation through the Foundation’s website or otherwise. If the Foundation later learns that any User is under the age of 13, the Foundation shall take appropriate steps to remove that User’s information from the database and restrict that User’s access to the Foundation’s website.

Section 10. Notification of changes

If the Foundation decides to use Users’ Personal Information in a manner different from that stated at the time of collection, the Foundation shall notify Users via email. Users may choose whether or not the Foundation may use such information in this manner. In addition, if the Foundation makes any material changes in its privacy practices that do not affect Users’ information already stored in its database, the Foundation shall post a prominent notice on the Foundation’s website notifying Users of the change. In some cases where the Foundation posts such notice, the Foundation may also email Users who have opted to receive communications from the Foundation, notifying them of the changes in the Foundation’s privacy practices.

The Foundation believes strongly in respecting the privacy of its Users. The Foundation shall update and amend this statement if and when it is necessary. Please check back often to read the Foundation’s most updated and amended statement. Upon posting the amended version, the Foundation shall take reasonable measures, either through email or other electronic medium, to obtain consent from Users to the amended terms. If you have any questions regarding this Privacy Policy, please contact the Foundation (see Section 11 Contact Information).

Section 11. Contact information

About The Kids Foundation

PO Box 3775

Los Altos, California 94024

Corporate Phone: (408) 736-4266

Conflict of Interest Policy

Preamble

Joseph Anthony Ekman established About The Kids Foundation exclusively to advance charitable purposes for the public good. The Board honors the Founders’ values by requiring the highest ethical standards of the directors, advisors, and staff; by using the Foundation’s assets efficiently for the Foundation’s philanthropic objectives; and by taking measures to assure that decisions are not influenced by self-interest. This Policy is intended to provide guidance on how to deal appropriately with situations that involve, or may appear to involve, conflicts of interest, and to comply with federal and state laws concerning conflicts of interest.

While it is the Foundation’s policy that conflicts of interest and appearances of conflicts of interest be kept to a minimum, the Foundation has always included, and benefited from including, directors, advisors, and staff with close associations with other charitable entities that are appropriate recipients of grants. It is predictable that people with interest and expertise in the nonprofit sector often will have such associations; the Foundation will not discriminate against worthy grant recipients because its Board members or personnel serve those recipients in some role. This Policy describes, among other things, how decisions involving these and similar situations should be dealt with to ensure the integrity of the process. Its basic purpose is to avoid both the reality and the perception that directors, advisors or staff used their positions to derive inappropriate financial, personal or institutional benefits, and it should be interpreted and applied to achieve this purpose.

Policy Statement

In order to assure impartial decision making, it is the policy of the About The Kids Foundation that any conflicts of interest, or apparent or potential conflicts of interest, be fully disclosed before a decision is made on the matter involved, and that no director, advisor, or staff member participate (other than by providing information) in any decision in which he or she has a conflict of interest. The Board of Directors will not approve, and the Foundation will not participate in, any self-dealing transaction prohibited by law.

It is the continuing responsibility of all directors, advisors, and staff to review their outside business interests, philanthropic interests, personal interests, and family and other close relationships for actual, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest with respect to the Foundation, and to promptly disclose the nature of the interest or relationship.

Implementation of the Conflict of Interest Policy. Conflict of Interest Defined.

Generally, a conflict of interest with respect to a proposed Foundation transaction or grant exists if a director, advisor, or staff member of the Foundation: (a) is in a position to make or influence the Foundation’s decisions about whether and how to proceed with the proposed transaction or grant, and (b) has an affiliation, as described below, with any other party to a business transaction or with the potential beneficiary of a grant. An apparent conflict of interest is one that a skeptical viewer might reasonably believe might cause the director’s, advisors’, or staff member’s decision to be tainted by self-interest.

For purposes of this policy, an affiliation is the close involvement with a vendor, service provider, or grantee on the part of: (a) a director of the Foundation, (b) an advisor to the Foundation, (c) a staff member of the Foundation, (d) board member, or (e) the spouse, domestic partner, parent, other ancestor, lineal descendant through great-grandchildren, or spouse or partner of such descendants.

Affiliation includes, but is not limited to, serving as a Board member, employee, or consultant to a current or potential grantee, service provider, or vendor, or doing business with the grantee, service provider, or vendor. Directors, advisors, and the staff of the Foundation shall communicate fully with the Foundation regarding such affiliations and any other relationship or commitment that could affect, or be seen to affect, the impartial fulfillment of their roles in the affairs of the Foundation. Doubts about whether a relationship warrants disclosure under this policy should be resolved in favor of disclosure.

Disclosure of Affiliations Generally.

Appendix B of this document is a disclosure statement that each director, advisory committee member, and staff member must complete on appointment and annually thereafter. The disclosure form covers ongoing affiliations that may present conflicts, but directors, board members, advisors, and staff should also be alert to other potential conflicts that may arise during the course of the year.

Disclosure of affiliations in the disclosure statement does not substitute for the disclosure requirements in connection with any specific transaction or grant. Affiliations or interests should be disclosed to other participants in the Foundation’s decision making process whenever there is any doubt about whether disclosure is required.

Abstention from Decision Making Generally.

In all situations calling for disclosure of affiliations, the director, board member, advisor, or staff member should abstain from voting or otherwise participating in the decision other than by providing information requested by the disinterested decision makers. That abstention should be formally noted in the minutes in the case of directors, or in the docket memo and minutes or other appropriate written record in the case of staff.

Disclosure and Abstention in Specific Situations.

  • Conflicts Arising from Recommendations and Approval of Grants. Unless well known to the Board or staff considering a proposed grant, disclosure should be made, orally or in writing, whenever a grant involving a conflict or apparent conflict of interest is being considered. Staff members should make disclosure to the President (see section relating specifically to staff below). Directors should normally make disclosure to the Board at the time the grant is first discussed with the Board or any committee of the Board, or sooner to the Chairman of the Board.

    If there is a Board deliberation on the merits of a grant to an organization with which a director is affiliated, the interested director shall, in addition to abstaining from voting, leave the room after having answered any questions posed by other directors. If the grant is authorized without discussion as part of a motion to approve the docket, the interested director shall note his or her abstention from that particular docket item.

    While grants may be made to organizations that employ a director, advisor, or family member of a director, advisor, or staff member, or that contract for the provision of goods or services from any of those individuals, no grant to such an organization shall include funds designated to pay the compensation for such employment, goods, or services.

  • Conflicts Arising in Transactions Other than Grants. Disclosure should be made, orally or in writing, any time a transaction involving a conflict of interest or apparent conflict of interest is being considered. Generally, directors, board members, advisors, and the President should make disclosure to the Chairman of the Board (or, if the conflict involves the Chairman, to the Vice-Chairman). The staff should make disclosure to the President. Formal notation of the disclosure should be part of the process.

    The Chairman, Vice Chairman, or President, as the case may be, shall investigate the facts; seek advice from outside counsel on legal issues as necessary; and report to the Board at the time it considers the transaction. When the proposed transaction is considered, the interested director or advisor should leave the room and not participate in the deliberation on the merits or the vote. Directors who leave the room under these circumstances are counted as present for purposes of a quorum.

  • Transactions Not Normally Considered by the Board. If there is a conflict of interest or apparent conflict of interest in connection with a transaction that would not normally go to the Board (such as a contract within the discretion of the President or other staff, or a Presidential Discretionary grant), the President may determine that the transaction involves no economic interest of any affiliated party. In that case, the President shall consult outside legal counsel to determine whether federal or state law treats the transaction as self-dealing even in the absence of any economic interest. If outside legal counsel concludes that, on the facts provided, there is no self-dealing, the matter may be referred to the Executive Committee of the Board for review and, if appropriate, approval. The provisions of this Conflict of Interest Policy that specify how the Board shall proceed in reviewing an actual or potential conflict of interest shall govern the operations of the Executive Committee, substituting “Committee” for “Board” as appropriate. The minutes of any meeting of the Committee shall be distributed to the Board within two weeks of such meeting, together with any supporting documentation reviewed by the Committee in reaching its decision. In the event the potential or apparent conflict involves the President, the Chairman shall have the responsibilities otherwise assigned to the President under this paragraph; in the event it involves either the President or the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman of the Board shall participate in the Executive Committee’s review in lieu of the individual involved.

The Foundation will generally avoid any transaction that results in direct or indirect material economic benefit to any affiliated person. If the Board believes that such a transaction is in the best interests of the Foundation, and if the transaction is not prohibited by federal or state law, the Board may, with the advice of counsel, consider the transaction in accordance with the relevant procedures set forth in the California Non-Profit Corporation Law.

Self-Dealing Transactions.

The Internal Revenue Code imposes a penalty on self-dealing between the Foundation and disqualified persons (see Appendix A). The Foundation will not engage in such self-dealing. Generally speaking, sales of property, goods, or services; exchanges and loans between a foundation and a disqualified person (such as a director or officer or a member of their families); payment of compensation to a disqualified person; and use of Foundation assets by or for the benefit of a disqualified person constitute self-dealing and, unless an exception applies, are prohibited.

Gifts.

With the exception noted below, directors, board members, advisors, and staff members, and members of their families, may not knowingly receive or accept any pecuniary gain or anything else of value (including gifts, honoraria, loans, and entertainment) from recent, current, or potential grantees, vendors, suppliers, consultants, or others who have existing or proposed business or grantor-grantee relationships with the Foundation. It is permissible to accept gifts of nominal value, meals, and social invitations that are in keeping with good business ethics and do not obligate the recipient to take or refrain from taking any action or decision on behalf of the Foundation. Where it would be awkward to decline a proffered gift, it should be accepted on behalf of the Foundation, and the President should be consulted as to its disposition.

Provisions Specific to Staff.

Full-time employees have a full-time responsibility to the Foundation and may not engage in activities that would interfere with the discharge of this responsibility. No employee may have business dealings with the Foundation beyond receipt of salary and personnel benefits and reimbursement of authorized expenses. Any service as a director of, or advisor or consultant to, any business or nonprofit organization must not only be stated on the employee’s Disclosure Statement but, in the case of a relationship with an organization doing business with or receiving a grant from the Foundation, permission must be sought in advance from the President (or from the Chairman of the Board if the President is involved). Permission will be granted only when it is determined that the interests of the Foundation are not compromised by the service to the other organization. Full disclosure of the relationship to the proposed grantee must be made again before the employee recommends any grant or transaction to or with the other organization and, if the recommendation goes forward, the disclosure must be presented to the Board and recorded in the Board minutes.

Appendix A Private Foundation Self-Dealing Rule

As a private foundation, About The Kids Foundation is subject to the self-dealing rules established by section 4941 of the Internal Revenue Code. These rules tightly regulate all transactions between the Foundation and its directors, officers, and other “disqualified persons.” The conceptual starting point of the self-dealing rules is that a private foundation should not engage in economic transactions with disqualified persons even if those transactions result in the net transfer of value to the foundation. The rules establish an important, but limited, exception under which a foundation may pay reasonable compensation to a disqualified person and reimburse reasonable expenses for personal services that are reasonable and necessary to advance the exempt purposes of the foundation.

Sanctions. The sanctions for violating the self-dealing rules fall primarily on the disqualified person(s) involved in a self-dealing transaction, who must both pay a penalty tax and “correct” the violation. Correction generally requires both undoing the transaction to the extent possible and also placing the foundation in a financial position “not worse than that in which it would be if the disqualified person were dealing under the highest fiduciary standards.”

Directors and officers who knowingly, willfully, and without reasonable cause approve a self-dealing transaction are also subject to financial penalty and a correction obligation.

Definition of Disqualified Persons. For purposes of the self-dealing rules, disqualified persons include:

  • A foundation’s directors and officers as well as other “foundation managers” who have decision authority over a specific transaction;
  • Substantial contributors to the foundation;
  • Family members of the foregoing (i.e., spouses, ancestors, lineal descendants through great-grandchildren, and spouses of such descendants); and
  • Any entity (other than another section 501(c) (3) organization) in which disqualified persons own a 35 percent or greater ownership interest.

Transactions Prohibited Under the Self-Dealing Rules.

  • Selling, exchanging, or leasing of property between a private foundation and a disqualified person is an act of self-dealing, even if the foundation pays demonstrably less than the fair market value of the property it receives. A contribution of property subject to a mortgage is treated as a sale or exchange, and hence, constitutes self-dealing.
  • Lending of money or other extension of credit by a foundation to a disqualified person is an act of self-dealing. In addition, a disqualified person may not lend to a foundation unless the loan is interest free and the proceeds are used exclusively for charitable purposes. Where a disqualified person has made an interest-free loan to a foundation, the foundation may not repay the loan with property other than cash.
  • Furnishing of goods, services, or facilities by a disqualified person to a private foundation is an act of self-dealing unless these items are offered free of charge. Conversely, a foundation may provide goods, services, or facilities to a disqualified person only if the disqualified person is treated no differently from other members of the public to whom the foundation also makes these items available.
  • Payment of compensation to a disqualified person and reimbursement of related expenses are acts of self-dealing unless the services are personal services that are reasonable and necessary to carrying out the purposes of the foundation, and the compensation and reimbursements are reasonable in amount.

Reporting of Financial Improprieties (Whistleblower Policy)

Policy Regarding Reporting of Financial, Auditing or Governance Improprieties

About The Kids Foundation is committed to facilitating open and honest communications relevant to its governance, finances, and compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. It is important that the Foundation be apprised about unlawful or improper behavior including, but not limited to, any of the following conduct:

  • theft
  • financial reporting that is intentionally misleading
  • improper or undocumented financial transactions
  • improper destruction of records
  • improper use of Foundation assets
  • violations of About The Kids Foundation’s conflict-of-interest policy; and
  • any other improper occurrence regarding cash, financial procedures, or reporting.

We request the assistance of every employee who has a reasonable belief or suspicion about any improper transaction. The Foundation values this input, and each employee should feel free to raise issues of concern, in good faith, without the fear of retaliation. Employees will not be disciplined, demoted, lose their jobs, or be retaliated against for asking questions or voicing concerns about conduct of this sort.

We encourage any employee who has a concern regarding an action concerning the Foundation’s governance, finances, or compliance with all applicable laws and regulations to raise the concern with a supervisor, Human Resources, the president, the general counsel, the treasurer, the chair of the Board of Directors or of the Audit Committee, or any other Board member.