- Total Assets: $63,465,551 (2010)
- Grants Received: $527,534 (2010)
- Grants Awarded: $0 (2010)
Originally known as the Twentieth Century Fund, the Century Foundation (CF) was established in 1919 by the progressive businessman Edward Filene, who exhorted the “liberal business man” to combat the rising tide of conservatism in American society. This has remained CF's mission to this day, as the foundation currently aims to counter what it calls the recent “ascendance of conservative ideology” that “has obscured the value of progressive ideas and delayed a much needed correction to failed policies.”
During the first two decades of its existence, the Twentieth Century Fund sought to promote progressivism by granting money to liberal/left organizations. Shortly after Filene’s death in 1937, however, the Fund abandoned this practice and transformed itself into a think tank that focused on producing studies and literature on economic, social, and political policies. For the most part, CF has continued this policy, though it makes occasional grants to selected organizations. Most notably, the foundation supports The American Prospect magazine, subsidizing bi-annual special sections wherein CF scholars publish lengthy articles.
Each year, CF produces scores of articles and studies that “provide facts and opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of different policy strategies.” These publications focus on a wide variety of issues such as Social Security and pensions, health care, education, tax and budget policy, homeland security, immigration, election reform, international terrorism, war, the media, healthcare, affirmative action, America's relationship with the United Nations, and U.S. policies toward the Middle East and East Asia.
CF's proposed solutions to America's problems usually advocate taxpayer-funded intervention by the federal government. As the Capital Research Center puts it: “Many of [CF's] products reflect an almost quaint unreconstructed faith in the Great Society of the 1960s.... In everything the Century Foundation publishes, its scholars adopt the modern line of the Democratic Party: reverence for any and all welfare state programs.”
Emblematic of this mindset is CF's October 2008 publication, “A Safety Net for Bubble Buyers: Rescuing Homeowners from Collapsing Home Values.” This piece asserts that “a great many families” who became “caught up in the housing bubble” were “tricked by lenders,” “paid too much for their homes,” and consequently “will lose their homes in the next few years.” To address this problem, CF recommends that “all homeowners whose mortgage debt exceeds the value of their homes” should benefit from a federal bailout.
CF also calls for more taxpayer dollars to fund childcare costs for women seeking to enter the workforce. “In a nation that is eager to get and keep people off welfare,” says CF, “the problem of child care can be a major deterrent to employment.... The federal government will need to provide funds to ensure that programs already in place grow to meet demand.”
CF produces many papers on election reform. Its resident expert in this area is Tova Andrea Wang, who worked on a 1996 get-out-the vote campaign for Jesse Jackson, whose voter-motivation group has repeatedly been implicated in election-related improprieties. In a November 2005 op-ed, Wang denounced recommendations that a national ID card be implemented to prevent voter fraud, calling the proposal a “modern-day poll tax.” Wang also characterized a new Georgia law requiring voters to present photo ID as “draconian,” and she maintained that an Arizona law requiring voters to prove their citizenship would render people “disenfranchised.”
Lamenting America's “persistent economic inequality,” CF in December 2008 published “The Long Wait for Progress: Women and Economic and Social Equality. This report “analyzes the substantial gap in wages between men and women” and discusses “the continuing discrimination against women in the workplace.” In addition to sexism, the report also found what it perceived to be abundant evidence of racism: “[T]he inequities between white women and women of color are as striking as those between women and men.” “[D]espite some progress,” concluded CF, “America is a nation in which neither minorities nor women have yet achieved anything approaching economic or social equality.” One possible remedy to this problem, the foundation asserted, would be to promote the unionization of workers: “In 2007 [unionized] African-American women earned $184 more a week and Latinas $229 more than their nonunion counterparts....”
CF is closely allied with the Center for American Progress (CAP), the think tank conceived by billionaire financier George Soros and headed by former Bill Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. CF president Richard Leone was a co-founder of CAP. Moreover, CF and CAP have collaborated to sponsor a Security and Peace Initiative (SPI) that “places emphasis on identifying and promoting emerging voices in progressive foreign policy.” The director of SPI is Morton Halperin, who serves as vice president of CAP and as director Soros’s Open Society Policy Center.
In 2005, SPI and the Open Society Institute jointly produced a report titled “Restoring American Leadership: 13 Cooperative Steps to Advance Global Progress.” This report advocated international support for the International Criminal Court (the latter of which the U.S. had previously rejected); a repudiation of unilateral military action (most notably by the U.S.); an increase in U.S. aid to other nations; and increased U.S. cooperation with the United Nations on “climate change” proposals designed to transfer vast amounts of wealth from America to the Third World. The report suggested that if America were to take these steps, it could begin to attract international goodwill that previously had been withheld for good reason.
Another major CF project was its Partnership for a Secure America (PSA), an initiative that included former congressmen, senators, and administration officials of both major political parties. Among the notable Democrats were former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Warren Christopher, and former National Security Advisers Sandy Berger, Zbigniew Brezinski, and Tony Lake. In its final analysis, PSA rebuked military unilateralism; asserted that terrorism “is a political act requiring a political response”; and recommended that the U.S. and its allies should fight terrorism not by military means, but by addressing “global poverty, disease, and underdevelopment.”
In recent years, CF has received grants from such donors as the Carnegie Corporation of New York; the MacArthur Foundation; and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Century Foundation, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)