Ruling clarifies Clark College Foundation’s nonprofit status

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Washington’s Superior Court rules in favor of nonprofit’s private records


Clark County’s Superior Court has ruled in favor of a summary judgment clarifying that Clark College Foundation’s donor and partner records are private.

On September 11, 2020, the foundation filed a motion for summary judgment with the court to clarify its rights and responsibilities as a nonprofit organization under Washington law. The filing followed a request from Oregon Public Broadcasting for information regarding a story the media outlet was working on in 2019.

Judge Suzan L. Clark’s decision on December 3, 2020, determined that the foundation’s records are not subject to the Public Records Act. The foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and is not a Washington state public agency. It serves to assist Clark College with philanthropy.

The judge’s decision is key for Clark College Foundation because it protects information about its donors and partners. The ruling allows the foundation to continue what it has done since it was established in 1973: act in good faith for its donors and partners by establishing trust and providing consistent stewardship of their investments that ultimately benefit Clark College.

“We are pleased that the court recognizes the independence of Clark College Foundation, thus supporting our crucial efforts to protect donor and volunteer confidentiality,” says Lisa Gibert, CEO of Clark College Foundation. Moving forward, Gibert wants to work together with Oregon Public Broadcasting so that the two entities continue to be productive nonprofit organizations striving to fulfill their respective missions for the community.

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The 2020 prsa spotlight awards was held December 3.Eric Merrill is the foundation's board chair.