- Assets: $48,921,773 (2011)
- Grants Received: $60,000 (2011)
- Grants Awarded: $2,109,783 (2011)
Susan Reynolds (1910-85), whose father founded the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco
the Arca Foundation in 1952 as the Nancy Reynolds Bagley
Foundation. In 1968 the Foundation changed its name to Arca—the Italian
word or “ark,” to evoke an image of “a
affording safety and protection.” It was around this time that Arca, like many other U.S. foundations,
took a decidedly leftward turn ideologically and began to earmark
numerous grants for radical environmentalist groups.
1980s Arca expanded its philanthropy to include also a number of anti-corporate, pro-Sandinista, and pro-Fidel
Castro organizations among its grantees. For
instance, the foundation awarded numerous grants to groups opposed to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
In 2000 a spokesman for the Cuban American National Foundation, an
anti-Castro organization, said:
“Arca is a walkup window for free checks passed out to any and all
comers with an ideological ax to grind against U.S. policy on
Today Arca's mission
is to “advanc[e]
social equity and justice, particularly given the growing [economic]
disparities in our world.” Toward that end, the foundation seeks
use its financial resources to “affec[t] public policy” by “empower[ing] the
experts on the front lines” to make a cogent case for a variety of leftwing agendas. For instance, Arca
such policies as widespread wealth redistribution, increased funding for failing public schools, tax
hikes on high earners, the implementation of a government-run
healthcare system, and a ban
on capital punishment.
since the U.S. financial crisis of 2008, Arca's chief domestic
concern has been “the promotion of a more equitable, accountable,
and transparent economic recovery”—an
objective that, according to the foundation, has been hindered by
“the increasingly dominant role of corporations in our Democracy.”
To address this matter, Arca directs much of its philanthropy toward projects and organizations
that seek to create “a more just economy and Democracy” as well as “greater corporate accountability”—i.e., the idea that a company should have social-welfare goals that take precedence over concerns about profitability.
Arca has long viewed America as an antagonist on the world stage.
Thus the foundation boasts of its own “long history of supporting
policy advocacy that advances more just U.S. foreign policies and
Bagley (born 1935), the son of Nancy Reynolds Bagley, served as the Arca Foundation's president
until his death in 2010. He was succeeded by his daughter, Nancy
Bagley, who: (a) had been a staffer with the Clinton-Gore
presidential campaign of 1992; (b) had worked on the healthcare
initiative in the early Clinton White House; and (c) was
on the board of the Z.
Smith Reynolds Foundation.
Perhaps the Arca Foundation's most noteworthy asset is Musgrove,
a secluded, 600-acre estate on St. Simons Island, Georgia, which Nancy Susan Reynolds purchased with her inherited wealth in 1938. Reynolds and her husband subsequently built six houses on the property. For many years, Arca has made this estate available, on an invitation-only
basis, for use as a retreat by progressive policy-makers and
activists. President Jimmy
Carter, for one, held his first pre-inaugural Cabinet meeting at
Musgrove in December 1976. To view a list of noteworthy organizations that likewise have made use of Musgrove's facilities over the years, click
The Arca Foundation's best-known, present-day board member is
Tabankin, a New Leftist who studied
and is currently a leading figure with the Barbra
Streisand Foundation and Steven
Persons Foundation. Other
Arca board members
have had close ties, past and present, with such entities as the
For the American Way,
Anna Lefer Kuhn, once served as a program officer at George
Society Institute. She is also an
advisory board member with the Youth Engagement Fund, a project she
initiated through the Democracy
Of Arca's former
executive directors, the most prominent was Donna Edwards, a staunch supporter
of the (now-defunct) community organization ACORN.
Edwards today is
a member of the Congressional
in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she has served since
Arca Foundation is a member organization of both the Peace
and Security Funders Group and the International
Human Rights Funders Group.
From 1952-2007, Arca
more than $50 million to over 1,700 organizations. For a list of many
of the foundation's key grantees, click
additional information on the Arca Foundation, click
Ms. Reynolds's surname became “Bagley” when she married Henry
Walker Bagley, whom she eventually divorced
 For example, Arca
lauds the success of one of its grantees, the Illinois Death Penalty
Education Project, in helping persuade Illinois Governor George Ryan in
2000 to declare a moratorium on executions in his state, thereby
sparing the lives of some 167 death-row inmates.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)