People’s Rights Fund (PRF)

People’s Rights Fund (PRF)


* Assets: $134,468 (2017)
* Grants Received: $206,580 (2017)
* Grants Awarded: $136,568 (2017)

Established in 1986, the People’s Rights Fund (PRF) is a New York-based nonprofit that serves as “an alternative to the mainstream charities” by giving financial support to organizations that may be “too controversial for more traditional funders.” Some of these recipients use PRF grants to finance educational programs and materials—including books, pamphlets, fact sheets, and videos—on “peace, civil rights, civil liberties, economic inequality, anti-repression and social justice issues.”

One of PRF’s top priorities has been to raise public awareness about America’s “racism,” “bigotry,” and innumerable transgressions “against defenseless populations” around the world. The Foundation aggressively sponsored opposition to the first Gulf War in 1991, for instance, and then to the imposition of U.S.-backed United Nations sanctions against Iraq throughout the 1990s.

In 1997, PRF dollars helped IAC launch an anti-nuclear campaign known as the “People’s Rights Fund-DU [Depleted Uranium] Education Project,” which called for an immediate ban on all conventional DU weaponry and an end to nuclear technology of any type, whether for military or energy-related purposes. That project was followed up by a 1999 fundraising campaign to organize a “huge demonstration” against NATO military intervention in the former Yugoslavia. Also in 1999, PRF co-sponsored “Millions for Mumia,” a movement aimed at expressing solidarity with the convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was depicted by PRF and other supporters as a “political prisoner.” And in January 2000, PRF began collecting money for an IAC/PRF campaign against “the U.S. policy of sanctions that are inflicting genocide against an entire people” in Iraq.

In March 2001 a PRF filmmaking project, the People’s Video Network (PVN)—which produces DVDs and videos “documenting the struggle” against “big business media” and capitalism—held a special ceremony in honor of the late socialist documentarian Ellen Andors, who, according to a press release promoting the event, “used multi-media as a way to educate about capitalism’s ills and the need to struggle against them.” Co-sponsoring the ceremony with PRF/PVN were the Workers World Party and IAC.

Also in 2001, PRF sponsored an anti-war conference in New York City; organized protests against the FBI; bankrolled a mock court known as the “Independent Commissions of Inquiry into U.S.-backed Israeli War Crimes”; and sponsored a series of educational events to inform Americans “about the dangers of a new war initiated by the U.S. government,… the racist attacks in this country, and … the threats to civil liberties to the people of this country.”

In 2004 PRF played a role in financing the newly formed Troops Out Now anti-war coalition. In April of that year, the Foundation paid $3,738 to sponsor Rep. Maxine Waters‘ trips to New York and Detroit, where she served as a keynote speaker at two town hall meetings regarding the recent coup d’etat in Haiti.

In 2005 PRF sponsored the production of a propaganda video, titled Poison Dust, reviving the left’s unsubstantiated claim that during the Gulf War, depleted uranium—used by the U.S. military in armor-piercing rounds designed to disable enemy tanks during the Gulf War—had caused widespread harm to American troops. Subsequent research indicated that only five U.S. Gulf War veterans had ever received significant levels of exposure to the substance—in each case, as a result of “friendly fire” mishaps where their vehicles were mistakenly targeted by American tanks. According to the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, those five individuals face a 1.4% lifetime risk of radiation-induced fatal cancer as a result of their exposure to depleted uranium — compared with about a 24% risk of a fatal cancer from all other causes.

Another PRF initiative during the early to mid-2000s was its Colombia Project, intended to “raise public awareness about the dangers of war and conditions of life faced by the Colombian people.” PRF also funded an IAC campaign, likewise known as the Colombia Project, that sought to “support all the progressive forces fighting for social change in Colombia.” Notably, IAC is a longtime supporter of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), both Colombia-based Marxist guerrilla groups designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department.

Yet another significant PRF campaign has been its “National Anti-Death Penalty Education Project,” aimed at increasing “public awareness about the discriminatory and inhuman character of the death penalty.” Specifically, PRF maintains that capital punishment is applied unfairly and disproportionately against defendants who are nonwhite and poor.

Among PRF’s most noteworthy grantees during the early to late 2000s were the International Action Center (IAC) and the ANSWER Coalitionboth of which used PRF as their fiscal sponsor.[1]

For additional information on PRF, click here.

[1] According to the Capital Research Center, PRF gave $62,000 of its $447,045 in revenues to the IAC in 2002 alone.

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

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