Agape Foundation Fund for Nonviolent Social Change

Agape Foundation Fund for Nonviolent Social Change


* Assets: $364,139 (2010)
* Grants Received: $116,055 (2010)
* Grants Awarded: $422,995 (2010)
* In 2010 the Agape Foundation merged with the Peace Development Fund

The now-defunct Agape Foundation Fund for Nonviolent Social Change was a small, non-profit, public foundation established in 1969 to finance the activities of organizations opposed to the U.S. war in Southeast Asia. Its name, “Agape,” was a Greek word meaning “the unselfish love of one person for another.” The Foundation characterized 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.” Toward that end, the Foundation’s mission was “to fund nonviolent social change organizations committed to peace and justice issues.” “Unlike social services that aid and assist individuals,” said 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 were 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 boasted of its commitment to “creating systemic change for social justice,” which journalist 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.”

Once a member organization of the Peace and Security Funders Group, the Agape Foundation targeted its grants specifically to groups that addressed the following issue areas:

  • “Peace—alternatives to militarism, anti-war and anti-nuclear power, weapons, and waste”
  • “Human Rights—defending civil rights, [LGBT] rights, and women’s rights”
  • “Environmental Protection—defense of the environment, ecological restoration, and environmental justice”
  • “Economic Justice”
  • “Racial Justice”
  • “Building Economic Alternatives”
  • “Nonviolent Conflict Resolution”
  • “Progressive Arts & Media”
  • “Grassroots Organizing Support”

Among the recipients of Agape Foundation grants were such organizations as Activist San Diego, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Amnesty International, Environmentalists Against War, Not In Our Name, Pacifica Reporters Against Censorship, the Rainforest Action Network, the Ruckus Society, the Tides Foundation & Tides Center, the War Resisters League, and Witness for Peace. To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Agape Foundation, click here.

The Agape Foundation awarded no grants exceeding $2,000. Some of its disbursements were in the form of seed grants intended to help fledgling, California-based peace and justice organizations launch or expand their operations. These recipient groups generally were under five years old and had annual budgets of less than $100,000. Agape also made emergency grants to help such organizations “respond to unforeseen governmental, corporate, environmental or military events.” Between 1969 and the end of 2009, the Agape Foundation awarded a total of about $13 million to more than 800 grantees.

Apart from its grantmaking activities, Agape administered a “fiscal sponsorship program” that allowed donors to make tax-deductible contributions to small or newly established groups in California that did not yet have their own tax-exempt status.

The Foundation also served as a conduit for “donor-advised” contributions, whereby a benefactor could funnel his donation—earmarked for a specific group—through Agape, which in turn forwarded the money to the intended recipient. This process permitted the giver to claim a tax deduction for his donation and to remain anonymous if he wished; it also allowed the Agape Foundation to earn a handling fee in exchange for its assistance.

Further, the Agape Foundation made available short-term, low-interest loans to peace and justice organizations in the Western United States.

Karen Topakian, who is a board member of Greenpeace, was the Agape Foundation’s executive director from 1993-2009.

In 2010 the Agape Foundation merged with the Peace Development Fund.

Further Reading:History [of the Agape Foundation]” (; “Agape Foundation” (; “Agape Foundation Fund for Nonviolent Social Change Invites Grant Applications” (, 6-26-2006); “Agape Foundation Turns 40” (San Francisco Chronicle, 9-24-2009).

(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center, Undue Influence, and

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