- 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).
The Ford Foundation played a large part in funding the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism (in Durban, South Africa), which degenerated into a circus of anti-Semitic and anti-American displays. Ford has given funding to a number of the NGOs that played key roles in the Durban Conference. Among these were: LAW (which received $1.1 million from Ford between 1997-2003); the Palestinian NGO Network, or PNGO (which, from 1999 to 2002, received several Ford grants, totaling $1.4 million, and an additional $270,000 supplemental grant); the Al Mezan Center (which, around the time of the Durban Conference, received $100,000 in Ford money for "community based advocacy work on economic, social and cultural rights in Gaza" -- i.e., the disruption of Israeli Defense Force activities); and the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute (which, around the time of the Durban Conference, received two Ford grants totaling $135,000). Ford has also provided large amounts of funding for Rabbis for Human Rights, for "rabbinically based" educations efforts "supporting human rights policies by Israel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip."
Ford has provided financial backing to the New Israel Fund (NIF) since 1988. In 2003 Ford awarded a $20 million grant to NIF; four years later, it gave another $20 million to the organization.
Through its Cairo office, Ford disbursed more than $35 million in grants to 272 Arab and Palestinian organizations during 2000-2001 period alone — plus 62 additional grants (totaling more than $1.4 million) to Arab and Palestinian individuals. From the 1950s through 2003, Ford's Beirut and Cairo offices awarded over $193 million to more than 350 Middle East organizations, almost all of which were Arab, Islamic or Palestinian. Edwin Black, in a four-part article series titled "Funding Hate: Ford Foundation finances anti-Israel Activists," written for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, states: "The overwhelming majority of Ford's monies for the Middle East are granted to pro-Palestinian and Islamic rights groups."
A further sampling of Ford Foundation donees includes: Alliance for Justice; the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; the American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education; the American Friends Service Committee; the Arms Control Association; the Aspen Institute; the Brookings Institution; the Carter Center; Catholics for a Free Choice; the Center for the Advancement of Women; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; the Center for Community Change; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Center for Economic and Policy Research; the Center for Economic and Social Rights; the Center for Reproductive Rights; the Center for Women's Policy Studies; the Council on Foundations; the Democracy Matters Institute; Democracy Now Productions; the Earth Action Network; Earth Day Network; the Earth Island Institute; EcoTrust; the Environmental Defense Fund; the Environmental Working Group; the Feminist Majority Foundation; Fenton Communications; Free Press; Friends of the Earth; the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute; Human Rights First; Human Rights Watch; the Immigrant Workers Citizenship Project; the Institute for Public Accuracy; the Institute for Women’s Policy Research; the International Crisis Group; the International Federation of Human Rights; Ittijah; LAW; the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; MIFTAH; the Migration Policy Institute; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the National Alliance for Choice in Giving; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense & Education Fund; the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy; the National Council of La Raza; the National Immigration Forum; the National Immigration Law Center; the National Lawyers Guild; the National Organization for Women; National Partnership for Women and Families; National Public Radio; the National Wildlife Federation; the National Women’s Law Center; the Neighborhood Funders Group; the New Israel Fund; the Nine to Five Working Women Education Fund; Oxfam America; Oxfam International; the Pacifica Foundation; the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organization Network; People for the American Way; Physicians for Human Rights; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Planned Parenthood; the Ploughshares Fund; Political Research Associates; the Proteus Fund; Public Citizen; the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund; the Rainforest Action Network; the Rainforest Alliance; the Rockefeller Family Fund; the Save The Children Fund; State Voices; the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center; Trust for Public Land; the Union of Concerned Scientists; the Union for Palestinian Medical Relief Committee; the United Nations; the United Nations Foundation; the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism; the United States Student Association; the Urban Institute; the USAction Education Fund; the William J. Brennan Center for Justice; the Womens Action for New Directions Education Fund; the World Resources Institute; the World Social Forum; and the World Wildlife Fund/Conservation Foundation.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Ford Foundation, click here.
The Ford Foundation also gives large sums to fund various projects, programs, and academic departments in universities across the United States. These include: Arizona State University (to study affirmative action and diversity in wake of Grutter v. Bollinger); Barnard College (black and ethnic studies); Brown University (women's studies); City University of New York (Hispanic, black, women's and queer studies); Colorado State University (environmental advocacy); and Columbia University (black studies); Cornell University (Africana studies and the Peace Studies Program); Duke University (Center for Study of Muslim Networks); Emory University (Islamic and black studies); Harvard University (for its black studies program); Johns Hopkins University (Institute for Policy Studies); Oberlin College (Islamic studies); Ohio State University (to study affirmative action and diversity in wake of Grutter v. Bollinger); Princeton University (diversity studies); San Francisco State University (National Sexuality Resource Center); Smith College (feminist studies); Swarthmore College (Islamic studies); Temple University (labor and poverty studies); the University of Massachusetts (Center for Inclusive Teaching); the University of Michigan (Environmental Justice Initiative); the University of Minnesota (Institute of Race and Poverty); the University of North Carolina (black studies); the University of Notre Dame (Hispanic studies); the University of Southern California (Center for Urban Education); the University of Texas (for the [Mexican] Border Philanthropy Project); the University of Virginia (black studies); and the University of Wisconsin (black and poverty studies).
To view a list of additional noteworthy college and university grantees of the Ford Foundation, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)