The Proteus Fund (PF) was established in 1995 by Meg Gage, who is currently its president and executive director. PF administers several grantmaking programs that are “informed by a framework of social and economic justice.” These include the following:
* The Civil Marriage Collaborative has supported movements promoting “marriage equality” for homosexual couples in 13 states and the District of Columbia. A key grantee of this program is the ACLU Foundation of New Mexico.
* The Media Democracy Fund collaborates with foundations and other donors to award grants to groups that “protect the public’s rights in the digital age.” Foremost among these “rights” is universal access to high-speed broadband technology. The underlying objective is to give nonwhite minorities and low earners—who are somewhat less likely than middle-class or affluent whites to have computers or Internet access in their homes—an equal ability to benefit from such online capacities as “telemedicine” services, help-wanted listings, voter-mobilization initiatives, and research tools.
* The Race & Equity Collaborative “invests in communities to challenge structural racism and racial injustice.” One of its more notable grantees is United We Dream. In a related initiative, PF also runs a Diversity Fellowship program for “people of color,” so as to “advance diversity and inclusion in philanthropy through professional job placements for those new to the field.”
* The Security & Rights Collaborative partners with individual donors and foundations to award more than $2 million in grants each year to groups that “reframe the public discourse and advance progressive national security policy goals.” The Collaborative also works to expand the field of organizations fighting against “profiling and discrimination in Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities.” Among its grantees are the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Arab American Institute Foundation, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Constitution Project, Human Rights First, and the United We Dream network.
In addition to the grantees cited above, the Proteus Fund has also given financial support to such organizations as ACORN, the CarEth Foundation, the Center for Community Change, the Citizen Action Fund, Environmental Media Services, the Lear Family Foundation, MADRE, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the New Progressive Coalition, the Nonviolent Peaceforce, the Peace Development Fund, Public Citizen, the Rock the Vote Education Fund, and the Tides Center and the Tides Foundation.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Proteus Fund, click here.
PF offers a range of philanthropic services tailored for each of its grant-making initiatives. These services include financial management; grants management; strategic guidance; donor education; branding and communications; docket preparation and briefing; cultivation and recruitment of funding partners; rapid response; insulation of funding partners from lobbying exposure; design and management of collaborative grant-making initatives; and family foundation management.
Some of the Proteus Fund’s grant-making takes the form of donor-advised funds, whereby PF accepts money from benefactors who specify precisely the groups and causes for which they want it earmarked, and in turn funnels the cash (minus a handling fee) to those recipients. This arrangement enables donors to avoid (if they wish) being publicly associated with the groups that are being funded, which in some cases are quite radical.
Among PF’s more prominent officials and board members in recent years have been Dini Merz, Cecile Richards, and Margery Tabankin. Other PF officials and board members, meanwhile, have also held leadership positions with left-wing entities like the AFL-CIO, the Arca Foundation, the Barbra Streisand Foundation, the CarEth Foundation, Citizen Action, the Colombe Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, Grassroots International, Human Rights Watch, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, NARAL, National People’s Action, the National Priorities Project, the Peace and Security Funders Group, People for the American Way, the National Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Progressive Majority, Progressive Strategies, Steven Spielberg‘s Righteous Persons Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
For additional information on the Proteus Fund, click here.