* Assets: $10,373,847,207 (2009)
* Grants Awarded: $476,173,989 (2009)
The Ford Foundation was chartered on January 15, 1936 by Edsel Ford and two Ford Motor Company executives “to receive and administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare.” During its early years, the Foundation was based in Michigan (it would relocate to New York in 1953) under the leadership of Ford family members and their associates. After the deaths of Edsel Ford in 1943 and his father Henry Ford four years later, Henry Ford II (Edsel’s son and Henry’s grandson) assumed leadership of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. He promptly appointed the Gaither Study Committee, headed by California attorney H. Rowan Gaither, to draft a long-term plan for the institution’s future.
In its final report, the Committee recommended that the Ford Foundation should focus its philanthropy on groups and causes that: “promise significant contributions to world peace and … a world order of law and justice”; “secure greater allegiance to the basic principles of freedom and democracy in the solution of the insistent problems of an ever-changing society”; “advance the economic well being of people everywhere and improve economic institutions for the better realization of democratic goals”; “strengthen, expand and improve educational facilities and methods to enable individuals more fully to realize their … potentialities”; “promote greater equality of educational opportunity”; and “through scientific work, increase knowledge of factors which influence or determine human conduct, and extend such knowledge for the maximum benefit of individuals and society.”
Those ideals were the precursors to the Foundation’s present-day, fourfold mission: “to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.”
But as with any objective, the methods used to pursue each of the foregoing goals may vary widely depending upon how a particular organization — in this case the Ford Foundation — defines the operative terms contained therein; how it defines the problems; and how it defines success. Because Ford’s leading officials pursued an ever-more leftist orientation politically and ideologically, the Foundation naturally began to direct its funding disproportionately toward donees of similar leanings. When Henry Ford II eventually resigned from the Foundation’s Board of Trustees in 1977, he expressed his profound disgust with how the institution and most of its trustees had drifted so radically to the political left over time. Lamenting the Foundation’s rejection of the economic system that had made its very existence possible, Mr. Ford wrote in his resignation letter: “In effect, the Foundation is a creature of capitalism, a statement that, I’m sure, would be shocking to many professional staff people in the field of philanthropy. It is hard to discern recognition of this fact in anything the Foundation does. It is even more difficult to find an understanding of this in many of the institutions, particularly the universities, that are the beneficiaries of the Foundation’s grant programs.”
The degree to which the Ford Foundation’s values and ideals have continued to move leftward since Henry Ford II wrote those words is reflected in the objectives and worldviews of the organizations it currently supports. These objectives and worldviews include: the weakening of homeland security and anti-terrorism measures on the theory that they constitute unacceptable assaults on civil liberties; the dissolution of American borders; the promotion of mass, unchecked immigration to the United States; the redistribution of wealth; the blaming of America for virtually every conceivable international dispute; the depiction of Israel as an oppressor state that routinely victimizes its Palestinian minority; the weakening of American military capabilities; a devotion to the principle of preferences based on race, ethnicity, gender, and a host of other demographic attributes; the condemnation of the U.S. as a racist, sexist, homophobic nation that discriminates against minorities, women and gays; the characterization of America as an unrepentant polluter whose industrial pursuits cause immense harm to the natural environment; the portrayal of the U.S. as a violator of human rights both at home and abroad; the depiction of America as an aggressively militaristic nation; and support for taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand as an inalienable right for all women.
By using its enormous wealth (derived solely from investments in international securities) to promote these ideals, the Ford Foundation plays a major role in shaping American culture, popular opinion, and public policy.
Currently headed by President Susan Berresford, the Ford Foundation identifies the following as its three major Program Areas:
(a) The Asset Building and Community Development program “helps strengthen and increase the effectiveness of people and organizations working to find solutions to problems of poverty and injustice.” Grants in this area “support vibrant social movements, institutions and partnerships that analyze contemporary social and economic opportunities and devise responses to them.”
(b) The Peace and Social Justice program is founded on the premise that “[a]rmed conﬂict destroys not only human lives but also livelihoods, governments, civil institutions, trust— in short, everything in its wake”; and that “[s]ocial justice is the aspiration of all healthy societies and the only long-term guarantee for sustaining peace.”
(c) The Knowledge, Creativity and Freedom program works “globally to advance achievement in the arts, education and scholarship and to advance a positive understanding of sexuality. … It also affirms the importance of freedom to think and act critically, originally and responsibly in facilitating the building of more just and pluralistic societies.
One of the Ford Foundation’s most notable disbursements was its 1968 “seed grant” to create the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), an open borders group that is now the most influential Hispanic advocacy organization in the United States. Between 1970 and 2005, Ford gave more than $25 million to MALDEF; nearly half of that amount ($11,285,000) was donated between 2000 and 2004.
The Ford Foundation is also a longtime supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union, as evidenced by its $7 million grant to the ACLU in 1999. “The ACLU has no better partner and friend than the Ford Foundation,” said the ACLU’s then-Executive Director Ira Glasser. “It is fitting that the largest single gift … ever to the ACLU, should come from Ford.”
The Ford Foundation is a member organization of both the Peace and Security Funders Group (which supports anti-war and radical environmentalist groups) and the International Human Rights Funders Group (a network of more than six-dozen grantmakers dedicated to funding leftwing causes).
A further sampling of Ford Foundation donees includes: the Tides Foundation; the Tides Center; People for the American Way; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense & Education Fund; the American Friends Service Committee; the National Council of La Raza; the United States Student Association; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the National Lawyers Guild; Fenton Communications; the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; LAW; Ittijah; MIFTAH; the New Israel Fund; the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organization Network; Alliance for Justice; the World Social Forum; the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute; the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund; the National Organization for Women; the Save The Children Fund; the Union of Concerned Scientists; the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism; the Union for Palestinian Medical Relief Committee; the Rainforest Action Network; Public Citizen; the Earth Action Network; the Environmental Working Group; the Environmental Defense Fund; the Earth Island Institute; Friends of the Earth; Human Rights Watch; Human Rights First; the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; the Institute for Public Accuracy; the Migration Policy Institute; the Brookings Institution; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the International Federation of Human Rights; the National Immigration Forum; Physicians for Human Rights; Physicians for Social Responsibility; the William J. Brennan Center for Justice; the Center for Community Change; the Neighborhood Funders Group; the Council on Foundations; the International Crisis Group; the World Wildlife Fund/Conservation Foundation; the National Wildlife Federation; the Urban Institute; Trust for Public Land; Political Research Associates; Oxfam International; the Pacifica Foundation; the National Women’s Law Center; National Public Radio; the National Immigration Law Center; the American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education; the National Alliance for Choice in Giving; the Feminist Majority Foundation; the Immigrant Workers Citizenship Project; Democracy Now Productions; the Center for Women’s Policy Studies; the USAction Education Fund; the Rockefeller Family Fund; the Proteus Fund; the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy; the Ploughshares Fund; Oxfam America; the Palestinian American Research Center; the Institute for Social Justice; EcoTrust; the Worldwatch Institute; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; the Womens Institute for Leadership Development for Human Rights; the Drug Policy Alliance; the Women’s Environment and Development Organization; the Constitutional Rights Foundation; the Democracy Matters Institute; the Womens Action for New Directions Education Fund; the World Resources Institute; the Women of Color Resource Center; the Center for Reproductive Rights; the Women’s Foundation; the Woodstock Institute; the World Conference on Religion and Peace; the World Order Models Project; the United Nations; Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada; Planned Parenthood; Catholics for a Free Choice; Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health; the New America Foundation; the Native American Rights Fund; National Partnership for Women and Families; National Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice; the Center for the Advancement of Women; the National Council of Negro Women; the International Forum on Globalization; the National Center for Lesbian Rights; the National Center for Human Rights Education; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center; the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force; the National Center for Fair and Open Testing; the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights; the Center for Voting and Democracy; American Council for Voluntary International Action; Global Rights; the Global Peace Congress; the Fund for Peace; the Environmental Health Coalition; the Environmental Law Institute; the Environmental Grantmakers Association; Earth House; EarthRights International; Earth Day Network; the Center for Public Policy Priorities; the Center for Public Integrity; the Center for Law and Social Policy; the Carter Center; the Border Network for Human Rights; the International Peace Academy; the Aspen Institute; the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; the Western Prison Project; We the People Media; Center for International Conflict Resolution; War and Peace Studies; Human Rights Justice Project; the United Nations Foundation; the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Educational Fund; Refugees International; the Rebecca Project for Human Rights; the Rainforest Alliance; the Public Agenda Foundation; Progressive, Inc.; the Progressive Jewish Alliance; the Poverty and Race Research Action Council; the Population Council; the Organization for a New Equality; the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers; the Nine to Five Working Women Education Fund; the Institute for Women’s Policy Research; the Immigration and Refugee Services of America; the Humanitarian Project; the Human Family Educational and Cultural Institute; Friends of the Khalidi Library; Free Press; the Center for Economic and Social Rights; the Center for Economic and Policy Research; the Center for Defense Information; the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society; Arts of Peace; the Arms Control Association; the Tamer Institute for Community Education for Palestinians Living in the West Bank; the Arab Image Foundation in Lebanon; the Arab Studies Society; the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizen’s Rights; and the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights.
The Ford Foundation also gives large sums to fund various projects, programs, and academic departments in universities across the United States. These include: Harvard University (for its black studies program); Wayne State University (ethnic, black and poverty studies); University of Wisconsin (black and poverty studies); Clark Atlanta University (Environmental Justice Resource Center); the University of Virginia (black studies); the University of Texas (for the [Mexican] Border Philanthropy Project); the University of Southern California (Center for Urban Education); the University of North Carolina (black studies); the University of Notre Dame (Hispanic studies); the University of Minnesota (Institute of Race and Poverty); the University of Michigan (Environmental Justice Initiative); the University of Massachusetts (Center for Inclusive Teaching); the University of Maryland-College Park (Consortium for Gender, Race and Ethnicity Program, African-American Studies Program, and Women’s Studies Program); Barnard College (black and ethnic studies); the University of Kansas (School of Social Welfare); the University of Illinois at Chicago (for integrating diversity into its research, teaching and living environment); Cornell University (Africana studies and the Peace Studies Program); Tufts University (peace studies); Temple University (labor and poverty studies); Swarthmore College (Islamic studies); Spelman College (Women’s Research and Resource Center); Smith College (feminist studies); San Francisco State University (National Sexuality Resource Center); City University of New York (Hispanic, black, women’s and queer studies); Princeton University (diversity studies); Pace University (black and women’s studies); Arizona State University (to study affirmative action and diversity in wake of Grutter v. Bollinger); Ohio State University (to study affirmative action and diversity in wake of Grutter v. Bollinger); Oberlin College (Islamic studies); Brown University (women’s studies); Northwestern University (Institute for Policy Research – urban studies); New York University (civil rights advocacy, black studies, and women’s studies); Duke University (Center for Study of Muslim Networks); Hamilton College (multicultural studies); Boston University (Islamic studies, and peace and security studies); Johns Hopkins University (Institute for Policy Studies); Emory University (Islamic and black studies); Colorado State University (environmental advocacy); and Columbia University (black studies).