- Assets: $770,317 (2009)
- Grants Received: $753,212 (2009)
- Grants Awarded: $497,786 (2009)
The Agape Foundation Fund for Nonviolent Social Change is a small, non-profit, public foundation established in 1969 (in Palo Alto, California) to finance the activities of organizations opposed to the war in Southeast Asia. Its name, "Agape," is a Greek word meaning "the unselfish love of one person for another." The Foundation characterizes its originators as "[p]acifists, World War II conscientious objectors, and anti-Vietnam War activists" who sought "to build a movement that seriously challenged the Pentagon and the American culture of violence." Aimed at countering America's alleged warlike proclivities and forestalling their inevitably disastrous consequences, the Agape Foundation's self-defined purpose is "to fund nonviolent social change organizations committed to peace and justice issues." "Unlike social services that aid and assist individuals," says Agape, "social change efforts confront the root causes of social problems by challenging the responsible systems and institutions."
Directing its philanthropy primarily toward grassroots organizations throughout the western United States, the Agape Foundation's objectives are firmly rooted in socialist values, as evidenced by its declaration: "We are committed to true human security through equitably redistributing resources, and challenging all forms of oppression." The Foundation further boasts of its commitment to "creating systemic change for social justice," which writer Barry Loberfeld has described as "the theory that implies and justifies the practice of socialism . . . domination by the State . . . the absence of a free market . . . repudiation of property rights . . . the opposite of capitalism." Such are the ideals of the Agape Foundation.
The Agape Foundation makes no grants exceeding $2,000. Some of its disbursements are in the form of seed grants to new, California-based, peace and justice organizations to help them launch or expand their operations; these recipient groups are generally under five years old and have annual budgets of less than $100,000. The Foundation also makes emergency grants to help such organizations "respond to unforeseen governmental, corporate, environmental or military events." In 2004 the Agape Foundation awarded $1.18 million to 61 grassroots, peace and justice organizations, bringing its 35-year grantmaking total to $8.8 million, and pushing its total number of donees during that period to more than 700.
A member organization of the Peace and Security Funders Group, in recent years the Agape Foundation has provided funding for such anti-war, anti-military, and anti-nuclear power organizations as the following:
- Environmentalists Against War, a coalition of environmentalist groups and individuals that conduct anti-war workshops, presentations, and teach-ins condemning the U.S. War in Iraq as an ill-advised venture motivated by American lust for oil.
- Not In Our Name: With ties to the Revolutionary Communist Party, this Maoist organization opposes America's "injustices"; its pursuit of "endless war"; its greed-driven "transfusions of blood for oil"; its determination to "erode [our] freedoms"; and its eagerness to "invade countries, bomb civilians, kill more children, [and annihilate] families on foreign soil."
- War Resisters League: This was perhaps the first major anti-war organization to blame America for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. On that very day, WRL stated, "We urge Congress and George Bush that whatever response or policy the U.S. develops, it will be clear that this nation will no longer target civilians. . . . The policies of militarism pursued by the United States have resulted in millions of deaths."
- Witness for Peace: This pro-Castro organization coordinates trips for American college students to Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Colombia, to let them see firsthand the alleged "horrors" created by American foreign policy.
The Agape Foundation has also contributed money to the following economic justice, human rights, environmental, social justice, and progressive media organizations:
- Activist San Diego, which supports the activities of the anti-war organization Code Pink for Peace, and is a member organization of the Abolition 2000 and United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalitions.
- American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which opposes the Patriot Act and the U.S. war on terror, while supporting Palestinian "martyrdom" campaigns in Israel.
- Amnesty International, which gives America the lion’s share of the blame for the degenerative state of world affairs, and which recently went so far as to compare President Bush unfavorably to Osama bin Laden and the architect of Cambodian genocide, Pol Pot.
- Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship, which provides a leftist perspective on what it dubs "issues of peace and social justice around the world."
- Rainforest Action Network, an anti-capitalism activist group whose members have participated in such events as the 1999 WTO protest riots in Seattle, anti-Israel rallies, and anti-Iraq War demonstrations.
- Ruckus Society, a violent anarchist group with eco-terrorist origins.
- Tides Foundation and Tides Center, a major funder of the political left.
Apart from its grantmaking activities, the Agape Foundation administers a "fiscal sponsorship program" that "allows donors to make tax-deductible contributions to smaller groups in California who do not have their own tax-exempt status." The Foundation also makes available short-term, low-interest loans to peace and justice organizations in the western United States. These are called “donor-advised” contributions, where a benefactor can funnel his donation, earmarked for a specific group, through Agape, which in turn will forward the money to the intended recipient. This process permits the giver to claim a tax deduction for his donation, and allows the Agape Foundation to earn a handling fee in exchange for its assistance. Moreover, the Agape Foundation makes available short-term, low-interest loans to peace and justice organizations in the western United States.
Karen Topakian has been the Executive Director of the Agape Foundation since 1993. She is the former Director of the University of Rhode Island's Women's Center, and was a Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner for Greenpeace International, on whose board she currently sits.
Nina Dessart has been the Administrative Director of the Agape Foundation since January 2002. She formerly worked for Greenpeace International, the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and the Rikers Island Correctional Facility, also in New York.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Agape Foundation, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)