Thousand Currents

Thousand Currents


* Nonprofit organization that served as fiscal sponsor of Black Lives Matter from 2016-2020
* Its board of directors has included Susan Rosenberg, a former Marxist terrorist
* Focuses its funding on “Climate Justice,” “Economic Justice,” and “Food Sovereignty”

Based in San Francisco, California, Thousand Currents is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which was founded in 1985 under the name International Development Exchange (IDEX). According to its webpage, IDEX was established by then-43-year-old Paul Strasburg and other former Peace Corps members who “envisioned a world where leaders among those most affected by the world’s greatest challenges led the efforts to build healthy and sustainable communities.”

IDEX initially emphasized volunteer projects aimed at assisting poor communities in the “Global South.” Beginning in the 1990s, however, the organization began concentrating on long-term partnerships and general support grants designed to “address the root causes of inequity.”

IDEX was renamed Thousand Currents in 2016. On September 6 of that year, the organization announced its newly formed partnership with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Global Network – a network that, according to Thousand Currents, “reflects the global spread of the movement for Black lives” and focuses on “promoting social change within marginalized communities.” Then-Thousand Currents Executive Director Rajasvini Bhansali remarked: “We believe that people’s movements around the world have much to learn from each other and we value our role in connecting them. The struggles of indigenous peoples, women, and young people are shared around the world.”

For the next four years (2016-2020), BLM was a fiscally sponsored project of Thousand Currents. A “fiscal sponsorship” arrangement allows an organization (like BLM) that does not have its own IRS tax-exempt status, to collect tax-deductible donations under the umbrella of the sponsor, which does enjoy such status. In 2018 and 2019, respectively, Thousand Currents funneled $2,622,017 and $3,354,654 in donor-restricted assets to BLM.

One month after Donald Trump had won the U.S. presidency in November 2016, Thousand Currents co-founder Paul Strasburg issued a statement on the organization’s future, and on the importance of resisting the Trump agenda: “Over the last month, calls for courage have been sounded every day: Courage to resist acts of bullying and hatred. Courage to speak up against racism, sexism and xenophobia. Courage to defend humanistic and democratic values that are under assault. Courage to act on many fronts is more important now than ever.”

Indeed, Thousand Currents’ contempt for Trump was profound and enduring. As the organization said in January 2018: “If we stand opposed to this president and administration, it is incumbent upon us to support and be in solidarity with struggles being led by oppressed communities fighting for transformation.”

As of June 2020, the vice chair of Thousand Currents’ board of directors was Susan Rosenberg, a former Marxist terrorist affiliated with the notorious May 19th Communist Organization. National Review columnist and former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy has described the 1980s trial in which Rosenberg was convicted of terrorist crimes, as follows:

“Rosenberg turned her New Jersey terrorism trial into a circus, posturing as a political prisoner. At her sentencing, she urged her supporters to continue their war against the United States. (‘When we were first captured we said, we’re caught, we’re not defeated, long live the armed struggle. We’d like to take this moment to rededicate ourselves to our revolutionary principles, to our commitment to continue to fight for the defeat of U.S. imperialism.’) She expressed remorse about only one thing: she hadn’t had the courage to shoot it out with the police who’d apprehended her.”, in turn, thusly describes Rosenberg herself:

“Rosenberg joined the Weather Underground and other radical left groups which used bombings and other terrorist attacks to protest the Vietnam War and police brutality against minorities. The Underground was founded to overthrow the U.S. government through violent means, though its attacks on police and military resulted in no known deaths…. Rosenberg’s terrorism reached a peak when she and other radicals led the May 19th Communist Organization. The nation’s only female-led Communist terror group, it helped break a convicted cop killer out of prison in 1979 and organized a number of bombings around the country. The group also participated in a Rockland County, New York, armored car robbery which left a guard and two police officers dead.”

On July 6, 2020, Thousand Currents proudly reaffirmed its commitment to the BLM movement. After the infamous death of George Floyd in an altercation with a white police officer that May, Thousand Currents alleged that it was increasingly becoming one of the “targets of hateful disinformation campaigns and threats from far-right extremists, white nationalists and right-wing media.” Such “attacks,” claimed the organization, were ultimately “aimed at discrediting the Black-led, multiracial mass movement of millions of people around the world who are speaking out against state-sanctioned violence, anti-Blackness, racism and white supremacy.” In conclusion, Thousand Currents encouraged “all people who believe that the truth still matters to …  continue to support the courageous Black leaders and movements who are fighting for justice and our collective liberation.”

Later in July 2020, Thousand Currents decided to discontinue its fiscal sponsorships, in order to focus more heavily on its own grantmaking activities. At that point, the Tides Center — another far-left, tax-exempt nonprofit foundation — became BLM’s new fiscal sponsor. And in October 2020, Thousand Currents transferred $66.5 million directly into BLM’s coffers.

According to InfluenceWatch, other leftist organizations from which Thousand Currents has received funding include: the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Andrus Family Fund (a subsidiary of the Surdna Foundation), the Wallace Global Fund, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Foundation for a Just Society, the NoVo Foundation, and the Libra Foundation.

Among the noteworthy recipients of Thousand Currents grants have been: Grassroots International, The Working World, the Global Greengrants Fund, the Tides Foundation, the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, and the New Venture Fund.

Professing to “envisio[n] a world where humanity thrives as a creative force that is reciprocal and interdependent with nature and creates loving, equitable, and just societies,” Thousand Currents articulates its organizational “Theory of Change” as follows: “When grassroots groups and social movements have the relationships and financial and intellectual resources they desire, they are strengthened to transform the world by changing cultures, systems, and institutions towards self-determination, justice and equity around the world.” And on the premise that “systems change work is not linear nor is it usually achieved over a short period of time,” Thousand Currents “commits to funding movements over the longer term.”

Guided by a pro-socialist ideological orientation, Thousand Currents exhorts its partners to “create ecologically sound alternative economies” that “equitably distribute decision-making power among all economic players.”

The three principal areas of work to which Thousand Currents dedicates itself are: “Climate Justice,” “Economic Justice,” and “Food Sovereignty.” Below is a description of each, as articulated by the Thousand Currents website:

(1) Climate Justice:

“Climate change is one of the greatest existential challenges of our time. This is a human crisis that requires us to transform our collective institutions, practices, and behaviors. In order to do so, we must lean into interdependence, well-being, and care for all living species.

“Thousand Currents funds movements working to respect, defend, and protect Mother Earth. We support their initiatives to keep a check on rising global temperatures, and live sustainably within planetary boundaries. We partner with climate justice advocates who are building systems that address and transform historical and contemporary systems that perpetuate oppressive, exploitative, and extractive practices. We recognize their contributions in nourishing what we have and looking at the root of the present climate crisis from a social justice perspective.

“Our movement partners: fight to stop fossil fuel extraction and for community-owned and controlled renewable energy infrastructure de-commodify natural resources and spaces; enact and struggle for the sustainable use, collective management, and equitable access of our natural resources; reduce communities’ vulnerability to natural disasters; [and] combat toxic waste and pollution.”

(2) Economic Justice:

“Our current global economic system is based on exploitation and profit maximization that sacrifice and harm our most vulnerable communities and the planet. To build towards a vision where all communities are thriving and living with dignity, we need a shift to new economic systems based on justice, care, interdependence, abundance, and regeneration.

“Thousand Currents funds community-determined economic systems and practices where the means of production, power and decision-making sits with the workers, where resources are stewarded and distributed equitably so that people can live a dignified life, and where the driving logic of any economic encounter is the wellbeing of the planet and people.”

(3) Food Sovereignty:

“Thousand Currents funds food systems transformation driven by Indigenous stewards of land and territory and the people who are the primary producers of food for most of the world. Our movement partners: fortify local food systems that optimize biodiversity; advance sustainable food production methods, healthy ecosystems, and public health through agroecology; build farmer managed seed systems to protect local resources and knowledge systems; create market linkages that are owned and operated by smallholder farmers; resist land dispossession and are building collective land stewardship practices and models; [and] educate, advocate, and resist governments in order to put smallholder farmers’ interests before those of multinational corporations.”

Thousand Currents’ devotion to the promotion of “Food Sovereignty” is manifested also in the organization’s opposition to the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), even though, as explains: “GMOs were the cause of the ‘green revolution,’ the modern agricultural technology that eliminated hunger for most of the world by allowing farmers to produce dramatically increased crop yields that are both resistant to disease and pests, and less stressful on the environment.” Most notably, Thousand Currents has fought the Mexican government’s efforts to permit GMOs to be used more widely. One particular Thousand Currents program, known as “Collective Action for Maize,” litigated in 19 separate Mexican courts over a five-year period in its quest to block the use of GMOs.

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