The Public Welfare Foundation (PWF) was established in 1947 by newspaper publisher Charles E. Marsh and his wife Claudia. Professing a commitment to “supporting organizations that help people overcome barriers to full participation in society,” this Foundation finances many leftist groups that advocate for radical environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, abortion rights, Third World immigrants’ rights, prisoners’ rights, illegal aliens’ rights, welfare rights, anti-gun policies, and anti-nuclear agendas.
PWF tailors its grant-making decisions with the aim of addressing what it deems the inherent flaws of American society – particularly vis a vis immigrants and minorities in the post-9/11 era. Such people, said an October 2002 article posted on the PWF website, must endure “violence, discrimination, workplace abuse, police brutality, cultural isolation, and economic exploitation”; “a continued increase in hate incidents directed against African-Americans, gay men, lesbians, other people of color, and faith-based centers”; “reduced employment opportunities and access to basic social safety-net programs such as cash assistance, food stamps, housing, etc.”; “racial profiling by public authorities and xenophobic backlash by extremist groups … with youth of color being targeted, criminalized, and jailed”; “hate crimes [in] the form of intimidation, destruction of property, assault, and sometimes death”; “barriers to health care, education, employment, housing, means of production, and basic rights such as voting”; “minimal wages or no pay at all”; “unsanitary and crowded living conditions”; “increasingly intimidating treatment by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and law enforcement agencies”; “barriers to obtaining documents such as a driver license”; and the erosion of civil liberties by “policies such as the USA Patriot Act.”
PWF’s Director and Board Chairman is Thomas J. Scanlon, who is also the President of Benchmarks, Inc., a professional consulting business in Washington, DC specializing in international trade, federal relations, and the development of charitable organizations. A notable member of PWF’s Board of Directors is Peter Edelman, a law professor at Georgetown University, the Board President of the New Israel Fund, a Board member of the Center for Community Change, and the husband of Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman.
PWF’s grant-making is divided into the following areas:
Civic Participation Fund: This program supports the development of new activist leaders in grassroots organizations claiming to work on behalf of “low-income people” and “low-income communities.”
Criminal Justice: This program explores alternatives to incarceration for criminals, such as “victim restitution, community service, and community supervision.” It advocates education, vocational training, and employment and counseling services for prisoners and ex-convicts. It calls for “fair and effective legal representation for low-income defendants.” And it promotes “changes in public policy and practice to foster a more equitable criminal justice system, including programs to ensure that prisons and jails provide humane treatment and policies aimed at returning offenders to the community as productive, law-abiding citizens.”
Environment: This program seeks to provide assistance to “grassroots organizations in a wide range of disciplines including science, public health, environmental law, media and organizational development.”
Health: Calling for taxpayer-funded universal health care, this program supports service and advocacy organizations that “interact with providers and government to improve community- and state-based health care delivery systems”; “ensure that the medically underserved participate in systemic reform”; “seek to ensure the provision of services to underserved people”; and “promote changes in food policy to eradicate hunger, especially among vulnerable populations including children, the elderly and the disabled.”
Human Rights and Global Security: Viewing the United States as the chief threat to international peace, this program seeks to “provide information, public education, and advocacy on reducing weapon systems, eliminating biological and chemical weapons and land mines, and restraining the spread of nuclear arms.” It also promotes “the development of democratic institutions around the world, with a focus on countries that are in political transition, including El Salvador, Haiti, Mexico, Northern Ireland and South Africa”; and it supports groups that provide “services to and advocacy for immigrants [legal and illegal] and refugees to the United States.”
Reproductive and Sexual Health: This program promotes “comprehensive teen sexuality education” and the right of all women to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand.
Welfare Reform Fund: Citing the need for “social policy reform” based on priciples of “economic justice,” this program seeks to address the allegedly harmful effects of welfare reform, which moved millions of Americans off the welfare rolls and into jobs.
Youth: This area supports “programs that provide quality education, employment readiness services with job placement and other assistance for young people who have dropped out of school, experience chronic unemployment, and have minimal or no job skills.” It also finances programs designed to assist “children whose parents are adolescents, affected by HIV/AIDS, involved in substance abuse, or incarcerated.”
The Public Welfare Foundation is a member organization of the Peace and Security Funders Group and the International Human Rights Funders Group.
Among PWF’s recent grantees are Alliance for Global Justice; Alliance for Justice; the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; the American Civil Liberties Union; the American Friends Service Committee; the Arms Control Association; the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN); the Brennan Center for Justice; the Center for Community Change; the Center for Constitutional Rights; the Center for Women’s Policy Studies; the Childrens Defense Fund; Citizen Action; the Constitution Project; the Council on Foundations; the Council for a Livable World Education Fund; Democracy Now Productions; the Environmental Defense Fund; Friends of the Earth; Grassroots International; Greenpeace International; Human Rights Watch; MADRE; the Ms. Foundation for Women; the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy; the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; the National Welfare Rights Organizing Coalition; the National Wildlife Federation; the National Women’s Law Center; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the New Israel Fund; Pacifica Foundation; the People for the American Way Foundation; Physicians for Human Rights; Physicians for a National Health Program; Planned Parenthood; the Prison Moratorium Project; Public Citizen Foundation; the Sentencing Project; the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center; the Union of Concerned Scientists; Universal Health Care Action; the United States Student Association; the USAction Education Fund; the U.S. Public Interest Research Group; and Witness for Peace.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Public Welfare Foundation, click here.