- Assets: $101,021,755 (2009)
- Grants Awarded: $6,066,405 (2009)
The Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation was incorporated in New York in 1959 by Joyce Mertz and her parents, LuEsther and Harold, who six years earlier had founded Publishers Clearing House, the largest multi-periodical subscription agency in the magazine industry. The Foundation, which added the Gilmore name upon Joyce's 1964 marriage to Robert Wallace Gilmore, currently identifies its principal funding priorities as: "human rights [in the United States], the environment, and New York City cultural, social, and civic concerns." Due to financial circumstances, at the end of 2004 the Foundation discontinued grant-making in four areas toward which it had previously directed considerable sums of money: international human rights; immigrant rights in the U.S.; lesbian and gay rights in the U.S.; and Israel and Palestine.
Mertz Gilmore's funding priorities, past and present, betray the premise upon which many of its grant-making decisions are predicated: that the United States is a nation rife with injustice against minorities and women; a place where human rights are routinely violated by the government. To address this alleged defect in the American character, the Foundation in 2004 launched a "Human Rights in the U.S." program "in response to" what it called "the growing number of social justice organizations interested in using human rights as a framework or tool."
The Mertz Gilmore Foundation declares its "recognition" of what it calls "the U.S. government's historical antipathy toward applying human rights standards within the U.S." The Foundation further expresses its support for "recent efforts to hold the U.S. accountable to human rights standards and law, efforts which range from the grassroots to the Supreme Court; that encompass human rights organizations traditionally focused internationally; and include the nation's pre-eminent civil rights organizations."
In 2004 Mertz Gilmore gave a $100,000 grant to the U.S. Human Rights Network, whose stated mission is "to promote U.S. accountability to universal human rights…” That same year, the Foundation gave $100,000 to the Women's Economic Agenda Project: Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. The Foundation describes this as "a national effort led by poor and homeless women, men and children of all races to raise the issue of poverty as a human rights violation."
Similarly, Mertz Gilmore contends that America's allegedly inherent, deep-seated racism must be closely monitored as well -- lest the nation's white majority resurrect the civil rights injustices of times past. Guarding against such presumed possibilities, the Foundation strongly supports race-, ethnicity-, and gender-based preferences for minorities and women in the business world.
The Mertz Gilmore Foundation is a member organization of both the Peace and Security Funders Group and the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG); the latter is a network of more than six-dozen grantmakers dedicated to funding leftist groups and causes. (For a complete list of IHRFG grantmakers, click here.)
In addition to the grantees named above, the following organizations are also among the many recent recipients of Mertz Gilmore Foundation support: Adalah: the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation; Betselem-Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories; the Brennan Center for Justice; the Center for Economic and Social Rights; the Council on Foundations; Earth Island Institute; the Energy Foundation; Environmental Defense Fund; the Environmental Working Group; Greenpeace; the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition; the National Council of La Raza; the National Immigration Forum; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the New Israel Fund; Physicians for Human Rights; Public Citizen; the Sierra Club; State Voices; the Tides Foundation and Tides Center; the Union Of Concerned Scientists; and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)