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NEW PROGRESSIVE COALITION (NPC) Printer Friendly Page

New Progressive Coalition: A New Way to Help Small (Leftist) Donors
By Fred Lucas
March 2009

 


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  • Helps individual donors to identify specific leftist organizations that are worthy of their financial support
  • Focuses on issues related to politics, health care, and the environment



Launched in October 2005, the New Progressive Coalition (NPC) describes itself as a “political giving advisor” that helps individual donors to identify specific leftist organizations that are worthy of their financial support. NPC has vetted and analyzed a large number of leftist groups, 37 of which it has deemed (as of March 2009) worthy of inclusion in its directory of “progressive” donees that purportedly promote “change for the better,” “forward thinking,” and “innovative and pragmatic solutions to our political problems.”

For donors who wish to distribute their money to more than one organization or cause, NPC has put together three separate “political mutual funds” which “diversify” the donors’ political “investments” by allocating pre-determined percentages to multiple recipients. Because of this “mutual fund” approach to political financing, NPC dubs itself the “Charles Schwab of politics.” But these are not mutual funds in the traditional sense; i.e., they are not designed to earn donors a monetary profit on their “investments.” Rather, the donors’ reward is measured by the degree of satisfaction they derive from advancing the agendas of the groups to which they contribute. NPC periodically sends its donors an “Impact Report” showing “how your contributions have made a tangible difference.”

The three NCP funds include the following:

(1) Victory in 2008 and Beyond: “There is a critical need to build a pipeline of leaders, and the potential to make a big impact by supporting political entrepreneurs.… This diverse portfolio trains candidates at all levels, registers and mobilizes voters, advances progressive agendas ... Some of these groups also work to elect progressive candidates.” In 2008, the Victory in 2008 and Beyond fund distributed $48,798 to the following activist organizations:

  • ActBlue: the “leading payment processor for Democratic candidates and issues”

  • Ballot Initiative Strategy Center: a “leading strategist for progressive ballot initiatives”

  • Bus Project: “trains and mobilizes a new generation of state political activists”

  • Democracy: A Journal of Ideas: “publishes and distributes innovative, progressive ideas”

  • Democratic GAIN: the “only networking hub for progressive and Democratic job-seekers”

  • Faithful Democrats: seeks to persuade more Christians to vote for Democrat candidates

  • League of Young Voters: “engages [a] cross-section of young people in [the] political process in urban communities”

  • Mainstreet Moms (the MMOB): “engages mothers in critical civic issues like climate change, voter registration, electoral integrity, and the [Iraq] war”; MMOB's immediate aim is to “recruit and train 25,000 new pollworkers.”

  • MAPLight.org: “provides the research infrastructure to easily spotlight incumbents who side with corporate donors, rather than with the interests of voters”

  • The Media Consortium: “coordinates progressive media outlets to improve content distribution”

  • Netroots Nation: “uses the Internet and blogs as primary tools for: expressing viewpoints, building consensus, acting to change the status quo, mobilizing huge numbers of people ...”

  • ProgressiveU.org: “engages traditionally under-represented students in open-source policy development and activism”

  • Take Back Red California: aims “to mobilize resources from safe [Democrat] counties to ‘swing’ counties; if successful, [this initiative may be duplicated in] other states.”

  • Twenty-First Century Democrats: “trains and supports progressive state-level candidates in important states”

  • Voter Action: “protects the integrity of the voting process by advocating against touch-screen machines”

  • Wellstone Action!: “trains a large number of progressive leaders, many of whom become elected officials across the United States”

  • Women’s Campaign Forum: encourages women to run for political office

  • Young People For (a program of the People for The American Way Foundation): “building a pipeline of progressive leaders”

(2) Affordable Health Care: Advocating universal, taxpayer-funded health care in the United States, this NPC fund focuses on “bolstering state-based reform, building coalitions among key stakeholders, and developing political will” to overhaul and nationalize the American medical system. In 2008, the Affordable Health Care fund distributed $32,844 to the following grassroots organizations:

  • America’s Agenda Health Care Education Fund: “provides technical assistance to state-based health care reform groups across the country”

  • Campaign for America’s Future (CAF): Co-founded by Robert Borosage and Roger Hickey, CAF has launched a “national forum to discuss and debate progressive solutions for providing health care coverage to all Americans.”

  • Consumers for Affordable Health Care Coalition: aims “to solve the problem of access to affordable, quality health care in Maine”

  • Herndon Alliance: an “umbrella organization distributing effective messaging for state-based groups to successfully mobilize and pass legislation” regarding health care

  • Progressive States Network: a “one-stop-shop for state legislators and aides working to pass health care reform”

  • Small Business Majority: “brings small business to the health care reform debate in New York and California -- two pivotal states in the health care movement”

  • Tennessee Justice Center & Tennessee Health Care Campaign Collaborative: “mobilizes a growing base around passing health care reform in Tennessee”

  • Universal Health Care Action Network: “connects and coordinates health care reform groups at the state level and builds national coalitions”

(3) Energy Independence and Environment: This NPC fund “prioritizes three objectives: electing environmentally-friendly candidates, developing innovative green policies, and engaging the corporate community in climate change solutions.” In 2008, the Energy Independence and Environment fund directed $29,800 to the following organizations:

  • Arizona League of Conservation Voters: “advocates for pro-environment candidates in [America’s] fastest-growing state; focuses on [the] Latino population.”

  • Ella Baker Center for Human Rights: “helps low-income Americans benefit from the green technology boom with its Green Job Corps”

  • Energize America: “creates cutting-edge, open-source environmental policy”

  • Energy Action Coalition: “includes one million student members dedicated to slowing climate change”

  • Green Corps: “trains the next generation of environmental activists across the United States”

  • Institute for America’s Future (IAF): Co-founded by Robert Borosage and Roger Hickey, IAF “organizes labor and environmental communities and promotes clean energy as a creator of jobs and [a] means to energy independence.”

  • League of Conservation Voters: This lobbying organization is devoted to "shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House."

  • Rainforest Action Network: seeks “to protect rainforests and the human rights of those living in and around those forests”

  • Science & Environmental Health Network: “repositions the burden of environmental impact from communities onto corporations”

  • Vote Solar Initiative: “mobilizes legislators, businesses, and activists to support solar power legislation across the United States”

  • Western Organization of Resource Councils: “helps elect environmentally-responsible candidates in the Western States and advocates for environmentally sound policies”

A notable organization that NPC identifies as one of its “partners” is Fenton Communications, the foremost public-relations firm of the political left.

All told, NPC has compiled a “premiere list” of 177 “innovative organizations creating change,” among which it names: AlterNet, America Votes, Amnesty International, the Backbone Campaign, Campaign for America’s Future, the Center for Independent Media, Citizen Action of Washington, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, several state chapters of the League of Conservation Voters, the National Organization for Women’s California chapter, the New Organizing Institute, Progressive Majority, the Progressive States Network, the Rainforest Action Network, the Secretary of State Project (an initiative of the Democracy Alliance), and USAction.

NPC was established by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Andrew Rappaport and his wife, Deborah, a longtime political activist and philanthropist. Both are major donors to Democrat candidates and causes. In the aftermath of John Kerry’s defeat in the 2004 presidential election, the Rappaports decided to focus less on contributing to Democratic Party candidates during subsequent election seasons, and more on financing leftist issue- and grassroots-advocacy groups that would work to shape public opinion on various matters every day of every year, not just during election cycles.

Meanwhile, the billionaire financier George Soros was pursuing a similar strategy. Having recently helped to create and bankroll a vast “Shadow Party” network of pro-Democrat leftist organizations, he was now preparing to launch his Democracy Alliance (DA). But DA -- requiring prospective members to pledge $200,000 per year for five years -- is geared for the super-wealthy. Membership in NPC, by contrast, costs a mere $100.

By recruiting donors of modest means and focusing their philanthropy on grassroots organizations, the Rappaports have eschewed DA’s “top-down” approach. “We are looking at this as something that is compatible” with the [Democracy] Alliance, Deborah Rappaport told Salon.com. “We’re looking to build from the bottom-up model and my hope is that we meet in the middle.”

The former Chief Executive Officer of NPC was Kirstin Falk, a former EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood staffer whose area of expertise was in “building relationships” and, by extension, increasing the membership and revenues of organizations.

NPC has drawn high praise from DailyKos.com founder Markos Moulitsas Zuniga for its ability to attract political investors. In turn, NPC’s Kirstin Falk lauds Zuniga for “finally tell[ing] it like it is.”

 

 

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