Follow up: CVUSD school board ballot designations

First Avenue Vs. First Ave.

CVUSD school board candidate Amy Chen listed her ballot designation as “Educational Nonprofit Director,” in reference to her role with the nonprofit organization Top Goal Education. Her alternative designation was listed as “Educational Organization CF,” in reference to her role in First Ave. Education (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Chen is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of First Ave. Education (see Figure 2), a for-profit organization in Arcadia, CA that aims to promote Chinese culture and language enrichment through after-school programs. First Avenue Education is a nonprofit branch of First Ave. Education. Chen is not listed as the CFO of First Avenue Education (see Figure 3), which has a separate Statement of Information form than First Ave. Education. First Ave. Education and First Avenue Education (First Ave./nue Education) work jointly to provide Chinese tutoring services.

Figure 2

Figure 3

However, the creation of the nonprofit, First Avenue Education, and its affiliation with the for-profit, First Ave. Education, has been questioned by Conejo Valley constituents. Specifically, constituents question if the non-profit entity only exists to save money for its for-profit entity.

A flyer taken from the headquarters of First Ave./nue Education (see Figure 4), uses a non-profit postage stamp, allowing the flyer to be distributed free of mailing charge. However, as seen in the bottom right-hand corner of the flyer, it is directed to send registration (which includes registration fees) to First Ave. Education.

Figure 4

Non-profit organizations receive special privileges that for-profit organizations do not receive. Nonprofits are tax exempt, have free postage and are given reduced rent fees. Ryan Foran, chief communications officer for the Arcadia Unified School District, recently told the Thousand Oaks Acorn that using a nonprofit status saves an organization roughly half off original rates on facility rentals. In addition to receiving nonprofit status reduced rates, First Ave./nue also rents space at First Avenue Middle School, using First Avenue Education and its nonprofit status (see Figure 5). This means that First Ave./nue Education saves 50% on rent and pays nothing for postage. However, they charge people for their services using First Ave. Education, the for-profit.

Figure 5



Top Goal Education   

Despite the existing non-profit (First Avenue Education), Chen created a non-profit organization last March called Top Goal Education.  Chen told the Acorn in their Oct. 18 publication that “Top Goal was created earlier this year as an offshoot of First Ave. Education to provide more families access to the program; at the time, First Ave. Education already had a nonprofit arm called First Avenue Education.”

Although Top Goal Education is affirmed on state documents, it virtually has no online presence and the address listed on its official documents is the same as that of First Avenue Education. It remains unclear if the organization has any current initiatives or if it is in operation, and no one contacted was able to verify its existence.

On Sept. 19 Shannon Diffner, voter constituent, visited 57 California Street, Arcadia, which is the listed address for both First Ave./nue Education and Top Goal Education. “I just wanted to confirm that Top Goal Education really was there. I’d seen some questionable background information about First Avenue Education, the nonprofit, and First Ave. Education, the for-profit, which raised some questions in my mind. So I just wanted to go and gets the facts for myself,” said Diffner on her reasoning for visiting the site.

However, when Diffner visited the address listed as Top Goal Education, the woman, named Be-Jean Kyan sitting in the front office of First Ave. Education Inc. said she “didn’t know what [Diffner] was talking about” and that Kyan “had never heard of Top Goal Education.” Diffner then asked to take a business card. Kyan said yes and handed her one.  The card contains Kyan’s business information and two addresses: one for First Ave. Education Inc. on California St. and another for First Ave. Middle School at 301 S. First Ave., both in Arcadia, Calif. (See Figure 6 for business card.)

Figure 6

As mentioned in a previous Panther Prowler article, Chen’s ballot designation was challenged by Mary Van Zuyle, director of Conejo Together, due to questions over legitimacy. President of Top Goal Education (and of First Ave. Education) Jocelyn Lin sent an email to the Ventura County Registrar of Voters confirming Chen’s position. (See Figure 7 for state document.)

Figure 7


Chen Speaks at Godspeak Calvary Church

Recently at Godspeak Calvary Church in Thousand Oaks, Pastor Rob McCoy invited Chen to speak in front of the congregation. Chen took the stage, delivering her campaign speech to the crowd of people. According to the official Internal Revenue Service (IRS) nonprofit organizations are not permitted to engage in political activity (see Figure 8).

Figure 8