- Assets: $87,279,542 (2009)
- Grants Awarded: $11,244,886 (2009)
Jacob Merrill Kaplan (1891-1987) established the J. M. Kaplan Fund in 1945 with the proceeds from the sale of his Welch Grape Juice Company. He served as President of the Fund until 1977, at which time his daughter, Joan K. Davidson, took over that position -- which she would hold until 1993. After leaving for two years to serve in the administration of Governor Mario Cuomo (D - New York), she rejoined the Kaplan Fund in 1995 as a Trustee and President Emeritus. Under Ms. Davidson's stewardship, the Kaplan Fund has developed into a strong supporter of leftist agendas in the areas of civil liberties, human rights, civil rights, social justice, the arts, and the environment.
From 1993 to 2000, the Fund was co-chaired by Richard D. Kaplan (Jacob Kaplan's son) and Betsy Davidson (Joan K. Davidson's daughter); these two helped propel the Fund further toward the left end of the political spectrum. Today, Jacob Kaplan's four children and seven grandchildren comprise the Fund's Board of Trustees. They have aggressively supported activist organizations that advocate on behalf of expanded rights for illegal immigrants.
The Kaplan Fund's North American Migration Program calls for "the right of citizens of any member country of NAFTA (or an expanded hemispheric version) to reside and work in any other member country" (emphasis added). Under such an arrangement, illegal immigration from countries such as Mexico would no longer exist -- because all migration would be considered permissible and would thus go unregulated. A notable beneficiary of the Kaplan Fund's philanthropy is the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, an open-borders group that seeks to secure amnesty and full civil rights for illegal aliens, as well as immigration policy reforms that include no provisions for any future restrictions on immigration. The Kaplan Fund’s “Migrations” program also supports programs that "assure the well-being of recent immigrants"; "provide services to new arrivals"; "facilitate immigrants' links to their home communities"; "improve conditions of employment and reward entrepreneurship"; and "provide access to information on housing, education, jobs, health, or government services."
Three-fifths of the Kaplan Fund's grants are non-discretionary and focus on the environment, the arts, and immigration. The remaining two-fifths are earmarked for specific recipients selected by the Fund's individual Trustees and focus on civil liberties, human rights, civil rights, social justice, the arts, and publishing endeavors.
The Kaplan Fund’s Environmental program is subdivided into three geographic domains: In New York City, it seeks to “preserve and improve parks [and] public spaces,” and to “advocate for more and better mass transit, regulate truck and auto traffic, [and] enhance pedestrian mobility.” In North America generally, the program “supports the conservation of important ecosystems that straddle national frontiers.” And worldwide, it “supports the development of international laws and procedures to safeguard the ecological integrities of the high seas.”
The Kaplan Fund also has a Historic Preservation program that seeks to “preserve the physical integrity of historic sites” locally, regionally, and worldwide. The recent focus has been on Islamic nations, where many sites are in danger of destruction by Muslim radicals who wish to destroy all non-Muslim art and architecture.
Among the recent recipients of Kaplan Fund grants are the Alliance for Justice; the American Civil Liberties Union; the Center for Reproductive Rights; the Environmental Defense Fund; Food First; the League of Conservation Voters; the Migration Policy Institute; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Nature Conservancy; the Rainforest Alliance; the Rockefeller Family Fund; the Sierra Club; the Southern Poverty Law Center; State Voices; The Nation Institute; the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center; Trust for Public Land; the Union of Concerned Scientists; the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund; the Waterkeeper Alliance; the Wilderness Society; the World Resources Institute; and the World Wildlife Fund.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)