Fairfax County Public Schools’ TJ Partnership Fund has received over $1,000,000 worth of donations from Chinese interests since 2014. Documents reveal that the 501c (3) nonprofit operating out of Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ) received funding amounts of $500,000+ from Shirble HK, and $250,000+ from Tsinghua University (Beijing) and the Ameson Foundation, respectively.
- The Ameson Education and Cultural Exchange Foundation (Ameson) is a “non-profit, non-governmental organization headquartered in DC that is dedicated to promoting cultural exchange and educational cooperation between China and the rest of the world. In what Sean Zhang, Ameson’s Executive Vice Chair, called ‘a new beginning to our seven-year collaboration,’ TJ Partnership Fund (TJPF) committed to assist Ameson as it embarks on launching its first STEM high school in China.”
- According to its website, “Shirble Department Store Holding China LTD was “incorporated in the Cayman Islands with limited liability on 5 November 2008. The Company and its subsidiaries (collectively, the ‘Group’) are principally engaged in department store operations, property development and provision of property development consulting services in the People’s Republic of China (the ‘PRC’).”
In June 2013, Thomas Jefferson Partnership Fund (TJPF) launched “Campaign for TJ.” The campaign was established to raise money for the TJ renovation project. TJPF is a 501c3, “charitable organization that raises funds to meet TJ’s unique needs as a premier public science and technology high school.”
During the 2013-2014 school year, Thomas Jefferson High School (TJ) developed a partnership with Tsinghua University High School in Beijing. According to a 2014 Back-to-School TJ Partnership Fund newsletter, the partnership “will allow TJ to share best practices to assist them as they (Tsinghua University High School) develop their own STEM models. These relationships help to fulfill a long-term goal of the school, that of sharing TJ’s uniquely successful approach to teaching science and technology with other schools in order to expand educational opportunities for students, no matter where they reside.” In addition, it said that “Chinese educators, concerned that their educational system’s emphasis on speed and memorization over discussion and debate may not produce tomorrow’s most successful students, are increasingly eager to adopt the best instructional models from abroad.” China’s Tsinghua University contributed $300,000 to the capital campaign.
In 2015, Tsinghua University High School was established in Beijing, China, built upon the TJ model. The school is across from Tsinghua University, a STEM-focused Chinese university that is designated as a “Strong Base Plan” school. Faculty representatives from the Beijing based high school and university visited TJ for “an intensive introduction to our unique approach to high school education.” The visit “encompassed eight very full school days, exposing the Chinese educators to a board cross-section of TJ faculty and staff” and leaving the Chinese educators “overwhelmed with information but extremely appreciative of both the formal presentations and the warm welcome they received.” The Beijing based high school “has made a significant contribution to the Campaign for TJ to assist the school with its growth and development.”
The Campaign for TJ concluded in December 2017, exceeding its goal of $8 million. Another Chinese delegation visited the top STEM school in 2022.
The TJ Partnership Fund states: “As a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, we pursue our mission by engaging in partnerships with, and soliciting private donations from, corporations, parents, alumni, and friends of TJ in the STEM community who recognize TJ’s status as a leader in STEM education. The PF is not affiliated directly with the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.”