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Portland Tech Leader Donates $250,000 to High School Improvement Measure

A contribution from Survey Monkey's founder is an example of Portland's tech executives venturing into politics.

One of the biggest names in Portland's growing tech industry wrote a big political check last week.

Ryan Finley, the founder of Survey Monkey, chipped in $250,000 to the increasingly well-funded effort to force the Oregon Legislature to allocate money for a variety of high school improvement tools.

Initiative Petition 65, backed by a group called Oregonians for High School Success, would allow schools to seek more funding for college-credit programs, vocational education and dropout prevention.

Most of the money the group has raised so far—nearly $3 million—has come from the Portland- and Boston-based advocacy group Stand for Children.

Finley's check is the largest individual contribution to a ballot measure so far this year and is by a factor of 10 the largest political contribution he's made in Oregon. (He gave $25,000 to then-Gov. John Kitzhaber in 2014.)

Finley founded Survey Monkey in Portland in 1999, but after he sold the company in 2009, the new owners moved its headquarters to Silicon Valley.

In 2015, Survey Monkey's then-CEO, David Goldberg, died suddenly while vacationing in Mexico. After his death, Goldberg's wife, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, joined the online polling firm's board.

Survey Monkey has employed as many as 100 people in its Portland office this year, including Finley, although the Portland Business Journal reported in March layoffs would reduce headcount here.