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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "ford foundation"

Leading Foundations Pledge to Give More, Hoping to Upend Philanthropy

Westlake Legal Group leading-foundations-pledge-to-give-more-hoping-to-upend-philanthropy Leading Foundations Pledge to Give More, Hoping to Upend Philanthropy Walker, Darren (1959- ) Stocks and Bonds Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Philanthropy Nonprofit Organizations Mellon Foundation MacArthur, John D and Catherine T, Foundation Kellogg Foundation ford foundation Endowments Duke, Doris, Charitable Foundation Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

The week after the U.S. economy shut down in March, Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation, fielded a stream of phone calls from the heads of dozens of organizations that Ford supports. Many were panicked. One was in tears.

“There was a sense of desperation and panic from these usually self-assured leaders,” Mr. Walker recalled. “There’s never been such an existential challenge to the future of the nonprofit sector.”

In 2019, the Ford Foundation handed out $520 million in grants. Mr. Walker quickly realized that was not going to be anywhere near enough in this crisis-engulfed year.

His solution: Borrow money, spend it quickly and inspire others to follow Ford’s lead.

The Ford Foundation plans to announce on Thursday that it will borrow $1 billion so that it can dramatically increase the amount of money it distributes. To raise the money, the foundation — one of the country’s iconic and oldest charitable organizations — is preparing to issue a combination of 30- and 50-year bonds, a financial maneuver common among governments and companies but extremely rare among nonprofits.

Four other leading charitable foundations will pledge on Thursday that they will join with Ford and increase their giving by at least $725 million.

The decision by the five influential foundations — major sponsors of social justice organizations, museums and the arts and environmental causes — could shatter the charitable world’s deeply entrenched tradition of fiscal restraint during periods of economic hardship. That conservatism has provoked anger that foundations, which benefit from generous federal tax breaks, are hoarding billions of dollars during a national emergency, more interested in safeguarding their endowments than in helping those in need.

The Ford Foundation, which has a $13.7 billion endowment, plans to distribute the newly raised money over the next two years, effectively increasing the percentage of its endowment that it pays out annually to about 10 percent from nearly 6 percent.

The four other foundations are among America’s most storied: the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The MacArthur and Doris Duke foundations plan to issue bonds. Mellon and Kellogg are still working out their financing plans.

Major charitable foundations traditionally spend a little more than 5 percent of their assets in a given year — the minimum required under federal law for the tax-exempt organizations. The less they distribute, the larger their endowments grow and the higher their odds of surviving in perpetuity.

The Ford-led plan provides a workaround. By using borrowed money, foundations would go into debt but wouldn’t erode their endowments. While foundations have issued bonds in the past to finance projects like building new headquarters, bankers said it was virtually unheard-of for them to borrow money that they plan to distribute.

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Updated 2020-06-10T20:07:47.101Z

“For most foundations, the idea of taking on debt is outside of normative thinking,” Mr. Walker wrote in a letter last month to Ford’s board. “Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges that require foundations to consider ideas — even radical ones that would have never been considered in the past.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group 10Virus-Foundations-03-articleLarge Leading Foundations Pledge to Give More, Hoping to Upend Philanthropy Walker, Darren (1959- ) Stocks and Bonds Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Philanthropy Nonprofit Organizations Mellon Foundation MacArthur, John D and Catherine T, Foundation Kellogg Foundation ford foundation Endowments Duke, Doris, Charitable Foundation Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Bryce Vickmark for The New York Times

“This is unprecedented for us, but these are unprecedented times,” said John Palfrey, president of the MacArthur Foundation, which will start with a $125 million bond offering and then assess whether more is needed.

With 300 years of experience between them and fortunes forged in insurance and tobacco, automobiles and banking, the five foundations carry the cachet of America’s unofficial aristocracy. They are closely watched trend setters in the philanthropic community.

There are more than 100,000 private foundations in the United States, and they are together sitting on endowments worth nearly $1 trillion, according to Candid, a group that tracks nonprofits and foundations. Some — including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — already pay out a substantial chunk of their endowments every year. But many more hover near the legal floor, on average distributing roughly 7 percent of their funds annually.

Philanthropy Rises and Falls With the Stock Market

The assets of private foundations generally rise and fall with the stock market. The share of their assets that they give away fluctuates as well but has risen in general.





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Westlake Legal Group foundations-335 Leading Foundations Pledge to Give More, Hoping to Upend Philanthropy Walker, Darren (1959- ) Stocks and Bonds Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Philanthropy Nonprofit Organizations Mellon Foundation MacArthur, John D and Catherine T, Foundation Kellogg Foundation ford foundation Endowments Duke, Doris, Charitable Foundation Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Total assets of private foundations

Their total giving

Giving as a share of assets

Westlake Legal Group foundations-600 Leading Foundations Pledge to Give More, Hoping to Upend Philanthropy Walker, Darren (1959- ) Stocks and Bonds Police Brutality, Misconduct and Shootings Philanthropy Nonprofit Organizations Mellon Foundation MacArthur, John D and Catherine T, Foundation Kellogg Foundation ford foundation Endowments Duke, Doris, Charitable Foundation Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Total assets of private foundations

Their total giving

Giving as a share of assets


Sources: Candid (foundation data); Refinitiv (S&P 500)

By Karl Russell

An increasingly vocal network of charitable figures, lawmakers and others wants to pry that piggy bank open. The Patriotic Millionaires — a group of about 200 wealthy individuals, including the Disney heiress Abigail Disney, that pushes for higher taxes on the rich — and the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies have been pressing Congress to force foundations to double their required payout to 10 percent of their assets for the next three years.

That would generate about $200 billion in additional payouts, the Institute for Policy Studies estimated.

“I’ve been appalled for years how many foundations treat the 5 percent federal floor as a ceiling and refuse to spend a penny more than they are required to,” said Scott Wallace of the Wallace Global Fund, whose family foundation plans to give away one-fifth of its $120 million endowment this year.

“If in our hour of greatest need, America’s greatest crisis in generations, philanthropies are planning to spend less, then they need a big kick in the butt,” added Mr. Wallace, a grandson of the progressive Henry A. Wallace, who was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vice president from 1941 to 1945. “Only Congress can deliver that kick.”

Mr. Walker said he had approached six more leading foundations about joining Ford but was rebuffed. Some were adamant they wouldn’t increase their spending rates. A few said they might, but weren’t ready to make a public pledge.

The reluctance to spend big in a crisis reflects in part foundations’ desire to preserve their endowments in perpetuity. Because those endowments tend to be invested, the amount they distribute typically declines during recessions and stock market downturns — precisely when their money is needed most.

The Carnegie Corporation was among those that declined to pledge to spend more. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund was another. Stephen Heintz, its president, said its spending would go up this year but that its board hasn’t yet decided by how much.

Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, said in March that the $9.7 billion foundation would not increase its spending because doing so “would require selling devalued assets from an already diminished endowment, thus locking in losses permanently, to the certain detriment of future grantees and the communities they will serve.”

Since then, financial markets have almost entirely rebounded from their March lows. Vidya Krishnamurthy, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said it is “reassessing how best to meet immediate and future needs of our grantees, amid the current crises and changing market conditions.”

Thousands of nonprofits — from community theaters to food pantries to small rural hospitals — are fighting for their survival. A study released this week by the Center for Effective Philanthropy found that 90 percent of nonprofits surveyed had to cancel or postpone fund-raising events and 81 percent had to reduce programs or services. At the same time, more than half said that demand for their services had increased.


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  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 5, 2020

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Many of those nonprofits rely on foundations as a major source of funding.

“Frankly, the house is on fire right now, and if they don’t save the nonprofits, they’re going to have to rebuild the entire sector,” said Chitra Hanstad, executive director of World Relief Seattle, which provides services to refugees, asylum seekers and others. Its funds running low, the group is planning a round of layoffs.

The Ford Foundation was started in 1936 with a grant of $25,000 from Edsel Ford, a son of the Ford Motor founder Henry Ford. In recent years it has devoted itself to attacking economic and racial inequality, financing groups like Campaign Zero, which seeks to end police brutality, and Color of Change, which works to help black communities.

Mr. Walker said he realized in March that this was the moment to borrow money. He was listening to a speech by Federal Reserve chair Jerome H. Powell, who said he was slashing interest rates. “It occurred to me that the cost of borrowing for highly rated institutions would have to be very low,” Mr. Walker said. The foundation’s board approved the plan.

Ford is betting that it can earn a higher return on its endowment assets than it will pay in interest on the bonds, allowing it over time to repay the borrowed money without reducing the size of the endowment.

Credit…Andrew Seng for The New York Times

To keep the plan private, Ford code-named it Project Wanda. It was a reference to a striking 2015 portrait of an African-American woman, Wanda Crichlow, that hangs in the foundation’s lobby.

The Ford Foundation debt will be marketed as “social bonds” whose proceeds will be earmarked for grants that advance environmental, social and corporate governance goals, according to Wells Fargo, which is selling the bonds for the foundation. That means they can be bought by funds focused on socially responsible investments.

Mr. Walker hoped Ford’s clout in the charitable world would lead other foundations to take similar actions. In March he began reaching out to the leaders of large foundations to enlist their support. “My message was that it’s not defensible to pay out only 5 percent,” Mr. Walker said.

When he called Mr. Palfrey of the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, the foundation was already looking to tap the bond market for money that could be used to increase donations. But Mr. Palfrey described Ford’s plan as “wind in our sails.”

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, named after the tobacco and energy heiress, is the smallest of the five organizations taking part in the plan. It has an endowment of just under $2 billion and usually distributes about $110 million a year. This summer, the foundation plans to issue $100 million worth of 30-year bonds, and it will distribute those funds by 2022, said the foundation’s president, Ed Henry.

“The downside of that is, of course, that it creates an obligation for the foundation for the next 30 years,” Mr. Henry said. “Basically we’re taking out a mortgage.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will increase its giving this year to $500 million from $300 million, or about 8 percent of its total assets, said Elizabeth Alexander, the foundation’s president.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which usually distributes about $300 million a year, is pledging to increase grants by a total of up to $300 million over the next two years.

Credit…Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

“We have to increase our payout and we have to go big,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, the Kellogg president and chief executive. “Let’s come together and set an example for how, no matter where your portfolio is in this moment, you can still increase your payout.”

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America’s Top Foundations Bankroll Attack on Big Tech

Westlake Legal Group 10Antitrust-illo-facebookJumbo America’s Top Foundations Bankroll Attack on Big Tech Wu, Timothy Open Markets Institute Omidyar, Pierre M Income Inequality Hughes, Chris (1983- ) Hewlett, William and Flora, Foundation ford foundation Economic Security Project Athena (Coalition) Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues

WASHINGTON — Critics of big tech companies are eager to keep up their momentum — and some of country’s wealthiest foundations are providing the financial firepower.

Major nonprofits including the Ford and Hewlett Foundations have pledged millions of dollars in total toward taking on the power of the country’s corporate giants like Facebook and Amazon. Other supporters include groups run by George Soros, the billionaire financier, and Pierre Omidyar, an eBay founder.

The foundations regularly fund critical looks at capitalism. The Ford Foundation, for example, supports many organizations that study and fight inequality. The Hewlett Foundation, whose lineage goes back to a founder of Hewlett-Packard and has a $10 billion endowment, has put a slice of its money toward organizations re-examining the free market economic policies that dominate Washington.

But the financial support is reaching new heights, and it could help the activists keep pressure on Silicon Valley by building the sort of political might that has powered liberal policy victories on issues like civil rights and net neutrality. Activists recently announced a coalition to take on Amazon, for example, that includes organizers around the country.

One of the groups receiving foundation money is led by Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder who now publicly argues for breaking up the social media giant. His group, the Economic Security Project, is pooling some of the money and then distributing it to projects focused on antitrust and concentration concerns. Mr. Hughes, wealthy from his time at Facebook, has contributed some of the money himself.

The Economic Security Project plans to give antitrust activists $10 million over the next 18 months. On Tuesday, the organization will announce how it plans to spend the first $3 million, putting the money toward grass-roots organizers, researchers at several Washington think tanks and a group that recruits artists to make graphics that “expose how our economy really works.”

The coming years will test whether the efforts of the advocates can harness the skepticism about large corporations and the wealthy that is animating the Democratic presidential primary race. Federal and state officials have already announced investigations into Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple.

Ultimately, these advocates hope to address corporate concentration in numerous businesses, including drugs and farm products, and combat rising economic inequality.

They have their work cut out for them. Tech companies spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying every year. And antitrust issues hinge on dense questions of law and economics that don’t fit on a bumper stickers.

“It’s not just about trends and corporate accountability,” said Maria Torres-Springer, the vice president for United States programs at the Ford Foundation, which has a $12 billion endowment. “It’s about creating and sustaining a movement that rebuilds political and economic power for everyday Americans.”

A leading beneficiary of the money is the Open Markets Institute, a research group whose focus on antitrust issues has been pivotal in making corporate concentration a matter of public debate. It expects to bring in more than $3 million in 2020, according to an internal document from the first half of this year. In 2016, before the group split off from a bigger organization, New America, its revenue topped out at just over $900,000.

This year, the Knight Foundation, which focuses on journalism, awarded Open Markets $2 million to study the impact that concentration among technology platforms has on the media. In September, the Ford Foundation gave it $200,000 to examine how tech monopolies affect workers. A public campaign it has led to break up Facebook will expand to include Google next year, according to Sarah Miller, the organization’s deputy director.

Mr. Hughes’s Economic Security Project is contributing to that campaign. It is also paying for Open Markets to conduct public opinion polling.

“Our view is you need an ecosystem,” Mr. Hughes said. “You need a community of people who generally share the same values but who, among themselves, may even have different approaches to the issues.”

Another progressive group, Jobs With Justice, plans to hold sessions next year explaining to people the antitrust case against tech companies in simple terms. In the draft script of the training, the session’s leader seizes on a simple metaphor, asking attendees to consider two lemonade stands.

The first stand belongs to someone whose family owns the local grocery store, so it gets its lemons free. The family’s neighbors, who opened a competing stand, aren’t so lucky. Over time, the first stand is able to slash its prices to undercut the second stand.

The session leader asks for a volunteer to play the person running the stand that can’t use a family connection to get free fruit. The volunteer has to decide whether to engage in a price war with the more powerful competitor while an organizer charts the volunteer’s dire financial situation on butcher paper.

Each situation ends with the volunteer’s lemonade stand closing and a revelation: Amazon, the session leader will tell participants, has used this tactic against its competitors.

“What we wanted to do was create some field materials, some training materials, just to even explain what a monopoly meant for people,” said Erica Smiley, Jobs With Justice’s executive director. “Outside of people maybe playing the board game, it’s kind of an old idea that maybe they learned in their fourth grade civics class but haven’t necessarily re-upped on.”

Ms. Smiley’s group is one participant in Athena, the new coalition organizing opposition to Amazon over antitrust, privacy and other concerns. The coalition says it wants to raise $15 million in its first three years.

Athena will receive money from Mr. Hughes’s fund, along with other groups trying to rally the grass roots to the cause.

The civil rights group Color of Change plans to use its funding from the project to pay for new hires to lead public campaigns around antitrust issues, while the Action Center on Race and the Economy will run “corporate campaigns designed to influence the public narrative on corporate concentration and win real victories for communities of color around the country.”

Other projects, like the artists’ group, are focused on finding new ways to explore the antitrust issue. Mr. Hughes’s group paid for a New York event in November — held by a project called the Museum of Capitalism — where people could play versions of the board game Monopoly that are meant to call out inequities in the economy.

Mr. Hughes will also finance some groups doing academic research on corporate concentration and intends to support more researchers in the future.

“If you’re going to see real change, you need a community of scholars who are in dialogue with one another,” he said.

Money is already flowing to campuses. In November, the Knight Foundation allocated $3.5 million to researchers to examine questions about digital platforms, including competition issues.

The foundation, along with Mr. Omidyar’s philanthropic network, has also provided the money to introduce an antitrust-focused initiative at Yale’s business school. In an interview, Sam Gill, a Knight executive, said the foundation had not yet taken a position on whether there should be an antimonopoly movement but felt it was important to finance inquiries into the questions posed by major tech companies.

In recent years, more potential solutions to corporate concentration have emerged. While some believe in aggressive approaches like breaking up companies, others prefer new regulations or other measures.

At a conference at the University of Utah this fall, Dan Crane, a conservative law professor, challenged a group of participants including Tim Wu, a legal scholar and New York Times contributing opinion writer who is a leading voice calling for more aggressive antitrust enforcement. Mr. Crane pushed them to be more specific about the changes they would like to see in how antitrust laws are interpreted and enforced.

Over box lunches, the group wrote a statement, later published by Mr. Wu, listing legal precedents the group hopes will be overturned and policies it hopes will be enacted.

“Those who believe in a strong revival of antitrust, and a return to its antimonopoly roots, have a duty to specify what, exactly, they mean, in concrete, legal detail,” the statement said.

Mr. Wu said that, among other purposes, the statement could be a test for judicial nominees. It’s a focus reminiscent of the playbook that helped build the conservative legal movement — which in turn shaped the antitrust laws Mr. Wu and his compatriots criticize today.

“Over a 30-year period, they won almost every one of those battles,” Mr. Wu said. “They just sort of said, ‘Here’s what it should be,’ and it happened.”

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Big Tech’s Critics, Flush With Cash, Try to Build a Movement

Westlake Legal Group 10Antitrust-illo-facebookJumbo Big Tech’s Critics, Flush With Cash, Try to Build a Movement Wu, Timothy Open Markets Institute Omidyar, Pierre M Income Inequality Hughes, Chris (1983- ) Hewlett, William and Flora, Foundation ford foundation Economic Security Project Athena (Coalition) Antitrust Laws and Competition Issues

WASHINGTON — Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have discussed breaking up the biggest tech companies during their presidential campaigns. Federal and state regulators are investigating whether the companies have violated antitrust law.

But the activists and scholars who first raised concerns about the market power of companies like Facebook and Amazon don’t plan to stop there. They want to sell their thinking to the public, and they’re amassing wealthy backers to help them do it.

Major nonprofits, including the Ford and Hewlett Foundations, have together pledged millions of dollars toward taking on the power of the country’s corporate giants. Other supporters include groups run by George Soros, the billionaire financier, and Pierre Omidyar, an eBay founder.

The foundations regularly fund critical looks at capitalism. The Ford Foundation, for example, supports many organizations that study and fight inequality. The Hewlett Foundation, whose lineage goes back to a founder of Hewlett-Packard, has put a slice of its nearly $10 billion endowment toward organizations re-examining the free market economic policies that dominate Washington.

But the financial support is reaching new heights, and it could help the activists keep pressure on Silicon Valley by building the sort of political might that has powered liberal policy victories on issues like civil rights and net neutrality. Activists recently announced a coalition to take on Amazon, for example, that includes organizers around the country.

One of the groups receiving foundation money is led by Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder who now publicly argues for breaking up the social media giant. His group, the Economic Security Project, is pooling some of the money and then distributing it to projects focused on antitrust and concentration concerns. Mr. Hughes, wealthy from his time at Facebook, has contributed some of the money himself.

The Economic Security Project plans to give antitrust activists $10 million over the next 18 months. On Tuesday, the organization will announce how it plans to spend the first $3 million, putting the money toward grass-roots organizers, researchers at several Washington think tanks and a group that recruits artists to make graphics that “expose how our economy really works.”

The coming years will test whether the efforts of the advocates can harness the skepticism about large corporations and the wealthy that is animating the Democratic presidential primary race. Ultimately, these advocates hope to address corporate concentration in numerous businesses, including drugs and farm products, and combat rising economic inequality.

They have their work cut out for them. Tech companies spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying every year. And antitrust issues hinge on dense questions of law and economics that don’t fit on a bumper stickers.

“It’s not just about trends and corporate accountability,” said Maria Torres-Springer, the vice president for United States programs at the Ford Foundation, which has a $12 billion endowment. “It’s about creating and sustaining a movement that rebuilds political and economic power for everyday Americans.”

A leading beneficiary of the money is the Open Markets Institute, a research group whose focus on antitrust issues has been pivotal in making corporate concentration a matter of public debate. It expects to bring in more than $3 million in 2020, according to an internal document from the first half of this year. In 2016, before the group split off from a bigger organization, New America, its revenue topped out at just over $900,000.

This year, the Knight Foundation, which focuses on journalism, awarded Open Markets $2 million to study the impact that concentration among technology platforms has on the media. In September, the Ford Foundation gave it $200,000 to examine how tech monopolies affect workers. A public campaign it has led to break up Facebook will expand to include Google next year, according to Sarah Miller, the organization’s deputy director.

Mr. Hughes’s Economic Security Project is contributing to that campaign. It is also paying for Open Markets to conduct public opinion polling.

“Our view is you need an ecosystem,” Mr. Hughes said. “You need a community of people who generally share the same values but who, among themselves, may even have different approaches to the issues.”

Another progressive group, Jobs With Justice, plans to hold sessions next year explaining to people the antitrust case against tech companies in simple terms. In the draft script of the training, the session’s leader seizes on a simple metaphor, asking attendees to consider two lemonade stands.

The first stand belongs to someone whose family owns the local grocery store, so it gets its lemons free. The family’s neighbors, who opened a competing stand, aren’t so lucky. Over time, the first stand is able to slash its prices to undercut the second stand.

The session leader asks for a volunteer to play the person running the stand that can’t use a family connection to get free fruit. The volunteer has to decide whether to engage in a price war with the more powerful competitor while an organizer charts the volunteer’s dire financial situation on butcher paper.

Each situation ends with the volunteer’s lemonade stand closing and a revelation: Amazon, the session leader will tell participants, has used this tactic against its competitors.

“What we wanted to do was create some field materials, some training materials, just to even explain what a monopoly meant for people,” said Erica Smiley, Jobs With Justice’s executive director. “Outside of people maybe playing the board game, it’s kind of an old idea that maybe they learned in their fourth grade civics class but haven’t necessarily re-upped on.”

Ms. Smiley’s group is one participant in Athena, the new coalition organizing opposition to Amazon over antitrust, privacy and other concerns. The coalition says it wants to raise $15 million in its first three years.

Athena will receive money from Mr. Hughes’s fund, along with other groups trying to rally the grass roots to the cause.

The civil rights group Color of Change plans to use its funding from the project to pay for new hires to lead public campaigns around antitrust issues, while the Action Center on Race and the Economy will run “corporate campaigns designed to influence the public narrative on corporate concentration and win real victories for communities of color around the country.”

Other projects, like the artists’ group, are focused on finding new ways to explore the antitrust issue. Mr. Hughes’s group paid for a New York event in November — held by a project called the Museum of Capitalism — where people could play versions of the board game Monopoly that are meant to call out inequities in the economy.

Mr. Hughes will also finance some groups doing academic research on corporate concentration and intends to support more researchers in the future.

“If you’re going to see real change, you need a community of scholars who are in dialogue with one another,” he said.

Money is already flowing to campuses. In November, the Knight Foundation allocated $3.5 million to researchers to examine questions about digital platforms, including competition issues.

The foundation, along with Mr. Omidyar’s philanthropic network, has also provided the money to introduce an antitrust-focused initiative at Yale’s business school. In an interview, Sam Gill, a Knight executive, said the foundation had not yet taken a position on whether there should be an antimonopoly movement but felt it was important to finance inquiries into the questions posed by major tech companies.

In recent years, more potential solutions to corporate concentration have emerged. While some believe in aggressive approaches like breaking up companies, others prefer new regulations or other measures.

At a conference at the University of Utah this fall, Dan Crane, a conservative law professor, challenged a group of participants including Tim Wu, a legal scholar and New York Times contributing opinion writer who is a leading voice calling for more aggressive antitrust enforcement. Mr. Crane pushed them to be more specific about the changes they would like to see in how antitrust laws are interpreted and enforced.

Over box lunches, the group wrote a statement, later published by Mr. Wu, listing legal precedents the group hopes will be overturned and policies it hopes will be enacted.

“Those who believe in a strong revival of antitrust, and a return to its antimonopoly roots, have a duty to specify what, exactly, they mean, in concrete, legal detail,” the statement said.

Mr. Wu said that, among other purposes, the statement could be a test for judicial nominees. It’s a focus reminiscent of the playbook that helped build the conservative legal movement — which in turn shaped the antitrust laws Mr. Wu and his compatriots criticize today.

“Over a 30-year period, they won almost every one of those battles,” Mr. Wu said. “They just sort of said, ‘Here’s what it should be,’ and it happened.”

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How Being a 13-Year-Old Busboy Prepared Darren Walker to Lead the Ford Foundation

Darren Walker is the first to acknowledge his own privilege. As president of the Ford Foundation, he oversees a $13 billion philanthropic giant. As a board member at PepsiCo, he has the ear of the business world’s elite. With a magnetic personality, he enjoys friendships with everyone from Elton John to Mark Zuckerberg.

Yet even with such success, Mr. Walker says he has not lost sight of his mission. In all he does, Mr. Walker says he is focused on trying to improve life for people who, in his words, are “invisible in our society.” That is, people like the child he once was.

Born in a charity hospital in Louisiana and raised in a rural town in Texas, Mr. Walker charted an unlikely course to the pinnacle of philanthropy. He grew up poor, black and gay in the South. He went to public schools, attended college on a scholarship, then came to New York City to practice law, eventually moving into investment banking.

Once he had made some money, Mr. Walker walked away from Wall Street to work for a nonprofit economic development organization in Harlem. From there, he took an executive role at the Rockefeller Foundation, then joined the Ford Foundation in 2010, becoming president in 2013.

Since then, he has reoriented the foundation’s work, which was already focused on social justice, to concentrate on reducing inequality. “Justice isn’t some left-wing idea that was concocted in the 1960s,” he said. “Justice is fundamental to the DNA of a successful America.”

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted at the Ford Foundation’s newly renovated offices in New York City.


What was your childhood like?

My mother gave birth to me in a charity hospital, and it was in a segregated time. We lived in a little town outside of Lafayette called Rayne, La., the frog capital of America. I never knew my father and so I really can’t speak about him. But my mother took me and my sister to live with our great-aunt in a small town in rural Texas, called Ames, population 800. The county seat was the town of Liberty, which was white only. And the next town was Ames, which was the colored town, where we lived in a little shotgun house.

In 1965, I was sitting on the porch with my mother and a lady approached and told my mother about a new program called Head Start. And I was fortunate enough to be in the first class of Head Start, in the summer of 1965. I was one of the speakers at the 50th anniversary, and I remarked that I’m grateful to America, because I was a boy at a time when America believed in little poor black boys and girls living on dirt roads in shotgun houses in small towns across this country.

You say “believed.” Is that past tense intentional?

I think it is a question. We are at an inflection moment for America. We have some choices to make about the kind of America we want to have in the future. Is it one where people from my background have an opportunity to get on the mobility escalator I got on? The economic system then made it possible for my mother to never be on welfare. We were always on the edge, but my mother, even with just a high school diploma and a technical degree as a nurse’s assistant, was able to eke out a living. She could not do that today because the economic system for low-skilled workers produces a wage that does not allow for a worker to provide a decent standard of living for their family. That’s what I worry about.

I went to good public schools and was prepared when I arrived in college. And I went to a public university that had cheap tuition and I went on scholarship. The wind was behind me pushing me forward. Sometimes people say, “Oh, my gosh, it must have been so tough growing up poor and a gay kid in the south.” But I always felt that my country was cheering me on, that America believed in me. That’s why I feel both gratitude and rage at the same time. The gratitude I feel is deep and profound and unwavering. And the rage and the anger I feel is palpable, like that Langston Hughes idea of letting America be America again.

More on Mr. Walker
The Man With the $13 Billion Checkbook
Darren Walker has some of New York’s best connections. How he uses his influence could affect philanthropy’s future.

July 12, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 14FORD1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X How Being a 13-Year-Old Busboy Prepared Darren Walker to Lead the Ford Foundation Walker, Darren (1959- ) Philanthropy Income Inequality Head Start ford foundation

Was your social consciousness this developed when you came to New York as a young lawyer?

It was not so much top of mind. To be clear, I wanted to make sure I had some financial security. One of the things about growing up poor is that you never want to be poor again, and to have clarity on that is good. For me, it was always about working in a profession that allowed me to have some semblance of financial security. There was nothing romantic about it. But when you work on Wall Street, you realize a lot of people are passionate about piling up money. To really do that, you have to actually have a passion for it, and I don’t.

When did you realize that?

What happened is that in 1991, I was walking past the reception area on the trading floor at UBS, and there was a copy of The Economist sitting on the table with the headline “America’s Wasted Blacks.” It was just such a provocative headline, and this was right around the time that I met Calvin Butts at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, and he was starting this new development organization in Harlem.

I had some money, and I realized I wanted to work in Harlem. So I took a year to figure out what I was going to do. And eventually I was hired as chief operating officer at the Abyssinian Development Corporation. What got me excited was, “Oh my gosh, I can really add value to this idea of revitalizing Harlem, because I actually know something about financing projects.”

What was the transition from Abyssinian to Rockefeller like?

At Abyssinian we worked with a sense of urgency. Every day, more often than not, I was the first person to arrive in the office, and there were people lined up wanting to get into Head Start, looking for housing, looking for jobs. Every day you have to be accountable to those people in that line. When I went to Rockefeller, there was a more, I would say, deliberative approach to everything. Some of it felt academic.

For me, there is always a tension between the need to think and the need to do. Among my challenges is that I want to do, and doing without thinking things through is hazardous. I have had to temper my urgency with reflection. But on the other hand, I think, in philanthropy we have to have a sense of urgency, because we are enormously fortunate to have resources and networks and assets to have an impact.

There’s a school of thought that says philanthropy has not been nearly urgent enough. Has this informed your work at the Ford Foundation?

First of all, my lived experience gives me a perspective on the work of the Ford Foundation. The experience that most prepared me to be president of the Ford Foundation was working as a busboy when I was 13. When you work as a busboy, you are the lowest person in the organization, along with the dishwasher. You are invisible, and relevant only to the extent that you are cleaning up after people and taking away the things they discard. No one acknowledges you, no one speaks to you, no one recognizes your dignity. There was something about being rendered invisible and the perniciousness of the systems that render too many people invisible in our society that has informed how I think about our work here at Ford.

For me, this question of how I settled into philanthropy is one that I really struggle with, because there is an enormous amount of privilege. And so the question for me is, what are we doing with our privilege?

There’s a bit of a backlash against big philanthropy brewing. What’s changed?

Inequality has changed. The level of inequality that we see in our society is breeding greater cynicism and more hopelessness. And hopelessness is the greatest threat to American democracy. It is absolutely fair for the average American citizen to be more cynical about the idea of fairness in America today, because there is less fairness in America today. This is going to sound snarky, but if you want the American dream, move to Canada, because Canada has a higher level of social mobility and economic mobility than we do in this country.

In philanthropy, we’re in the business of hope. We should be builders of hope. We should be investing in the things that help create more hope. And one pathway to more hope is more justice. They are inextricably linked.

What are some reasonable changes you think could be made to our economic system that would reduce inequality?

We have had inclusive capitalism in this country. We have had shared prosperity in this country. These are not fanciful ideas. Part of the way we get back there is understanding that we can’t have an economy that produces flat wages for a decade and expect people to be able to live with dignity. We can’t have public systems that are woefully underperforming. Those are the things that contribute to the kind of inequality and the kind of capitalism that Adam Smith would be ashamed of.

There are solutions, but we capitalists don’t like to talk about two things: redistribution and regulation. If our capitalism is to be successful, we’ve got to talk about those two things. My belief in our capitalist democracy is unwavering. But if we continue to have a capitalism that produces higher and higher levels of inequality, our society is doomed.

Read more from the Corner Office.
Jane Goodall Keeps Going, With a Lot of Hope (and a Bit of Whiskey)
During her girlhood, Tarzan was her role model. When she realized how chimpanzee habitats were being destroyed, she turned into a crusader. At 85, she’s still preaching.

Sept. 12, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 12CORNEROFFICE-GOODALL-01-threeByTwoSmallAt2X How Being a 13-Year-Old Busboy Prepared Darren Walker to Lead the Ford Foundation Walker, Darren (1959- ) Philanthropy Income Inequality Head Start ford foundation
He Ran an Empire of Soap and Mayonnaise. Now He Wants to Reinvent Capitalism.
As chief executive of Unilever, Paul Polman tapped into the company’s history in an effort to make it more sustainable, and profitable.

Aug. 29, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 01CORNEROFFICE-UNILEVER-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 How Being a 13-Year-Old Busboy Prepared Darren Walker to Lead the Ford Foundation Walker, Darren (1959- ) Philanthropy Income Inequality Head Start ford foundation
Thasunda Brown Duckett of Chase: ‘People Need to Know Who You Are’
With a passion for increasing financial literacy and a gift for establishing personal relationships, Ms. Duckett has had a meteoric rise through corporate America.

April 4, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 04CORNEROFFICE-01-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 How Being a 13-Year-Old Busboy Prepared Darren Walker to Lead the Ford Foundation Walker, Darren (1959- ) Philanthropy Income Inequality Head Start ford foundation

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New Democratic talking point: Did you hear that Trump called asylum-seekers “animals”?

Westlake Legal Group t-2 New Democratic talking point: Did you hear that Trump called asylum-seekers “animals”? Trump The Blog MS-13 mark elliott immigration ford foundation Animals

It’s amazing how many big-name Dems and media types leaped at the blithe assertion in the tweet below. Alex Griswold of the Free Beacon is keeping a running tally. Among others, there’s DNC chair Tom Perez, Kirsten Gillibrand, Ben Rhodes, even New York Times reporters whose profession ostensibly involves fact-checking things. Watch:

If that clip seems familiar, there’s a reason: It’s almost a year old. And Trump wasn’t referring to asylum-seekers as “animals.” He was answering a question posed to him by a sheriff specifically about MS-13, as some news outlets forthrightly noted at the time. It goes to show how short political attention spans are in 2019 that none of the lefties harrumphing over this clip remembered Trump’s comments from last year, since there were days of “controversy” over it then too. The media naturally did its best to distort what he said but Trump clarified that it was in fact MS-13, not everyone seeking entry into the U.S., whom he was describing. Pelosi was reduced to grumbling that even degenerate gang members have the spark of divinity in them, but the public took Trump’s side in the dispute. The RNC even got some attack ad footage out of the mess, as you’ll see below.

Am I giving them too much credit in assuming that they forgot all of this? It’s not a memory problem, it’s a bad-faith attack in the cynical belief that only one percent of the people who retweeted Elliott’s tweet will ever encounter the truth, right? Our politics is trash.

The post New Democratic talking point: Did you hear that Trump called asylum-seekers “animals”? appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group t-2-300x159 New Democratic talking point: Did you hear that Trump called asylum-seekers “animals”? Trump The Blog MS-13 mark elliott immigration ford foundation Animals  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com