- Assets: $12,817,751 (2011)
- Grants Received: $4,265,067 (2011)
- Grants Awarded: $7,731,343 (2011)
The California-based Liberty Hill Foundation facilitates the transfer of donor-advised funds from wealthy benefactors to a host of leftist groups and causes. It was established in 1976 by wealthy scions Larry Janss, Anne Mendel, Win McCormack, and Sarah Pillsbury, who were inspired by the writings of the socialist novelist Upton Sinclair to do whatever they could to radically transform American society, which they perceived as a bastion of class inequality and exploitation. This Foundation focuses its philanthropy primarily on grassroots community organizations it perceives to be working for "social and racial equality, environmental sustainability, economic justice, and shared social responsibility" in Los Angeles. It favors organizations that base their tactics on the confrontational strategies outlined by the famed organizer Saul Alinsky.
Torie Osborn, who has been a social activist since the 1960s, joined the Liberty Hill Foundation in 1997 and is currently its Executive Director. Before coming to Liberty Hill, she was the Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington, D.C. Under her direction, Liberty Hill boasts that it has achieved racial and gender parity (in its workforce) and has become the world's largest organization serving the gay and lesbian communities.
Condemning the income gap between America’s rich and poor, the Liberty Hill Foundation laments that within Los Angeles reside some of America's wealthiest people as well as many of its most destitute. "[T]he top 50 wealthiest Angelenos' combined net worth is $60 billion, more than the bottom 2 million people combined," says the Foundation. "L.A. has one of the nation's smallest middle classes." However, this assertion ignores the fact that the film industry's presence in Los Angeles accounts for much of the top 50 individuals' wealth, and, conversely, that much of L.A.'s poverty is a result of the large number of illegal aliens who live there.
Notwithstanding its professed distaste for extreme wealth, the Liberty Hill Foundation depends upon the Hollywood elite for moral and financial support via events like its annual Upton Sinclair Dinner, billed as an affair where "Hollywood Meets the Streets." Among those who have recently attended this yearly function are Anjelica Huston, Arianna Huffington, Eve Ensler, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen, Oliver Stone, Susan Sarandon, Ted Danson, Tim Robbins, and Tom Hayden.
The Liberty Hill Foundation's grant-making is divided into six program areas that describe themselves as follows:
- Seed Fund: "... provides grants to new and emerging community-based organizations. It helps groups establish themselves and become effective advocates and leaders in their communities.”
- Fund for a New Los Angeles: "... provides grants to groups that are actively organizing for racial equality and economic justice.”
- Environmental Justice Fund: "... makes grants to grassroots organizations that are working to decrease exposure to toxic substances in neighborhoods and workplaces, particularly in low-income areas and communities of color.”
- Special Opportunity Fund: "… provides grants of up to $3,000 to help groups respond to special organizational development and training opportunities that are timely and require a modest amount of funding.”
- LibertyVote!: “Liberty Hill began LibertyVote! to help excite, educate and engage low-propensity voters around the critical issues of social justice, healthcare and the economy … [and to bring] low-income communities and communities of color into the electoral process.”
- Lesbian & Gay Community Fund: "This fund provides critical support to new or ongoing projects addressing the issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities."
Among the recent beneficiaries of Liberty Hill Foundation grants are: the American Civil Liberties Union; the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN); the Central American Resource Center; Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice; Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles; Democracy Now!; the Environmental Defense Fund; Friends of the Earth; Human Rights Watch; the Jewish Fund for Justice; the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund; the National Lawyer’s Guild Foundation; Oxfam America; Physicians for Social Responsibility; the Proteus Fund; the Rainforest Action Network; the Ruckus Society; the Shefa Fund; the Threshold Foundation; the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center; and the William J. Brennan Center for Justice, Inc..
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Liberty Hill Foundation, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)