- Assets: $890,927,590 (2016)
- Grants Received: $308,831,757 (2016)
- Grants Awarded: $111,103,336 (2016)
The Pew Charitable Trusts (PCT) are comprised of seven individual funds established between 1948 and 1979 by the four children of Joseph N. Pew, founder of the Sun Oil Company, and his wife Mary A. Pew.
Mr. Pew and his immediate heirs were politically conservative, as were most of the causes that PCT supported in its early years. In recent decades, however, leftwing staffers have taken control of the organization, radically transforming its ideology and funding philosophy. Particularly responsible for this change was the late neurosurgeon Thomas W. Langfitt, who served as PCT’s President and Chief Executive Officer from 1987 through 1994.
Rebecca Rimel, who joined the Trusts in 1983 as Health Program Manager, ascended to the positions of President and CEO in 1994 when Langfitt, her mentor, retired. She became the Executive Director in 1998.
In the early 1990s, Sean Treglia, a former program officer with Pew, conceived a strategy whereby a few major leftist foundations would bankroll front groups and so-called “experts” whose aim was to persuade Congress to swallow the fiction that millions of Americans were clamoring for “campaign-finance reform.” Consequently, between 1994 and 2004, some $140 million of foundation cash was used to promote such reform. Nearly 90 percent of this amount derived from just eight foundations: the Pew Charitable Trusts (which contributed $40.1 million to the cause); the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy ($17.6 million); the Carnegie Corporation of New York ($14.1 million); the Joyce Foundation ($13.5 million); the Open Society Institute ($12.6 million); the Jerome Kohlberg Trust ($11.3 million); the Ford Foundation ($8.8 million); and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($5.2 million).
The “research” which these groups produced in order to make a case on behalf of campaign-finance reform was largely bogus and contrived. For instance, Brennan Center political scientist Jonathan Krasno clearly admitted in his February 19, 1999 grant proposal to the Pew Charitable Trusts that the purpose of a proposed study was political, not scholarly, and that the project would be axed if it failed to yield the desired results:
“The purpose of our acquiring the data set is not simply to advance knowledge for its own sake, but to fuel a continuous multi-faceted campaign to propel campaign reform forward. Whether we proceed to phase two will depend on the judgment of whether the data provide a sufficiently powerful boost to the reform movement.”
PCT currently identifies its three major objectives as: (a) “to support the arts, heritage, health and well-being of our diverse citizenry and civic life, with particular emphasis on Philadelphia”; (b) “to inform the public on key issues and trends, as a highly credible source of independent, non-partisan research and polling information”; and (c) “to inform and advance the debate on issues that matter to the long-term health and well-being of the American people, [and] when the case is compelling, we advocate for change.”
In March 2004 the Pew Global Attitudes Project, a series of worldwide public opinion surveys on a broad array of subjects, polled people in the United States and eight foreign nations regarding their views about the Iraq War and concluded: “A year after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq sent anti-Americanism soaring, the United States finds itself still unpopular, feared, and mistrusted around the world. … Resentment of America and its policies — even of Americans themselves — has intensified, not lessened, in the last year.” The researchers added that in Jordan, Morocco, and Pakistan, “the public supports suicide bombings against Americans in Iraq, and Osama bin Laden is still far more popular than President Bush in those three countries.” The Pew Global Attitudes Project is chaired by Madeleine Albright, who served as U.S. Secretary of State in the Clinton administration.
PCT supports a host of organizations that are passionately anti-corporate and anti-capitalist, while it simultaneously holds many millions of dollars worth of investments in major corporations. For instance, while PCT invests in Exxon-Mobil, it grants money to the EarthJustice Legal Defense Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, Greenpeace, the Izaak Walton League of America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, Public Citizen, the Rainforest Action Network, the Rainforest Alliance, the Ruckus Society, the Sierra Club, Trust for Public Land, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the Wilderness Society, the World Resources Institute, the World Wildlife Fund, and a host of other environmentalist groups that view Exxon-Mobil as an ecological menace.
PCT is the largest funding source for the Tides Center, having given the latter nearly $109 million between 1990 and 2002. Other PCT grantees include: the Brennan Center for Justice; the Brookings Institution; the Council on Foundations; Environmental Media Services; the Institute for Policy Studies; National Public Radio; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Planned Parenthood; the Union of Concerned Scientists; the Urban Institute; and Zero Population Growth.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Pew Charitable Trusts, click here.
In addition to earmarking enormous sums of money to fund the projects and activities of the aforementioned organizations, PCT also proposes its own policy solutions in a number of areas:
Global Warming: Reasoning from the premise that pollution from human industrial activity is causing drastic climatological changes, PCT declares: “The United States is the world’s largest emitter of global warming pollution, accounting for roughly 25 percent of global emissions to date. No strategy to address global warming can succeed without substantial and permanent reductions in U.S. emissions.” Working in partnership with the Energy Foundation to promote “the adoption of state and regional policies that curb global warming pollution,” PCT seeks “to advance the climate change debate through analysis, public education and a new cooperative approach with business.”
Wilderness Protection: Since the early 1990s, PCT “has been investing in public education and advocacy efforts to mobilize support for improved management of and strict protection for old-growth forests and wilderness areas on public lands in North America.”
Foster Care Reform: In 2003, the Trusts launched a policy initiative “to help move children in foster care more quickly and appropriately to safe, permanent families and prevent the unnecessary placement of children in foster care.”
Protecting Ocean Life: “Our marine work is aimed at preserving the biological integrity of marine ecosystems and primarily focuses on efforts to curb overfishing, reduce bycatch and prevent the destruction of marine habitat.”
Pre-K Education: Seeking “to fundamentally change the way this country invests in education for its three- and four-year-olds,” PCT directs large sums of money to “policy-focused research” and “public education campaigns” that “demonstrate the value of high-quality preschool for all three- and four-year-olds.” It also targets its funding to “organizations committed to advancing quality pre-Kindergarten for all three- and four-year olds.”
State Sentencing and Corrections: Founded on the axiom that the American criminal-justice system is infested with inequities and racism, PCT’s Public Safety Performance Project, launched in 2006, “supports in-depth research and public and policy-maker education to help states increase public safety, manage corrections spending, and hold offenders accountable.” The project has three main objectives: (a) to help states collect and analyze data about who is admitted to their prisons, the lengths of their sentences, their rates of recidivism, and the implications of this data for public safety and state budgets; (b) to aid states in understanding how their existing sentencing, release and community-supervision policies compare to those of other states; and (c) to “explore policy changes that will increase public safety and deliver a solid return on taxpayers’ investment.”
In a related effort, PCT’s Death Penalty Reform program finances the Justice Project Education Fund, which “works to advance reforms that would ensure fairness and accuracy in the administration of capital punishment.” According to the Justice Project: “Since 1976, more than 100 people have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in the United States.” PCT granted this initiative $1 million in 2003, and another $1 million two years later.
PCT is a member organization of the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG), a network of more than six-dozen grantmakers dedicated to funding leftwing groups and causes.
The Pew Research Center, which conducts a vast amount of polls, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization and a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, which is its primary funder.