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Foundation Watch: Do organizations that get money from the Prince Foundation know that the foundation’s Director, Erik Prince, has made a living off profiting from murder?

May 11, 2020

The Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation is one of the largest foundations in West Michigan. Edgar and Elsa Prince, who are the parents of Erik Prince and Betsy DeVos, have made it a point to use their foundation to provide contributions to primarily faith-based organizations or organizations that advocate for what are often referred to as “American values”……..nationalism, capitalism and xenophobia.

The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation used to have Betsy DeVos as their director, but ever since Betsy was nominated as Secretary of Education, the position of Director has been taken over by her brother Erik.

Erik Prince, the former Navy Seal, was the founder of Blackwater, the private mercenary group that made millions after the the US decided to use private military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq beginning in the early 2000’s. In Jeremy Scahill’s book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, the author argues that Erick Prince embrace a far right religious viewpoint, seeing the US military as contemporary Crusaders, fighting infidels around the world.

After numerous scandals, where Blackwater was being accused of murdering Iraqi civilians, Prince left Blackwater. Prince ended up doing private security for the United Arab Emirates, which also meant that the US could not extradite Prince for war crimes.

More recently, Prince became the chairman of Frontier Services Group Ltd, a Hong Kong-based company that advises Chinese investors on gas and oil in Africa. In addition, Erik Prince has had an inside track in the Trump administration, often acting as an advisor. The latest example of Prince engaging in reprehensible acts, was when numerous media sources reported on Prince’s role in recruiting spies to infiltrate progressive organizations

Now, Erik Prince is the Director of the Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation, which means he is part of the group that makes decisions about where his parent’s foundation will contribute their money. We looked at the most recent 990s (2018) for the Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation and here are some notable contributions that Erik Prince and the other members of the foundation made.

As we noted earlier, there are two main groups that the Edgar & Elsa Prince have made contributions to, Christian organizations and secular groups that promote capitalism, privatized education and nationalistic interests. Some of the Christian organizations they have funded are:

  • Haggai Institute $600,000
  • Potter’s House Christian School $180,000
  • Family Research Council $135,000
  • Prison Fellowship Ministries $105,000
  • Christian Leaders Institute $50,000
  • Acton Institute $30,000
  • Right to Life of Michigan $20,000
  • Pregnancy Resource Center $5,000

Some of the secular groups that have been recipients of funds from the Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation are:

  • American Values $30,000
  • Freedom Alliance $30,000
  • Gateways to Better Education $30,000
  • American Federation for Children’s Education $25,000
  • Council for National Policy $20,000
  • Center for Military Readiness $10,000
  • Mackinac Center for Public Policy $10,000
  • West Michigan Aviation Academy $10,000
  • Hillsdale College $5,000

Certainly one question that would be interesting to ask these organizations is, do they have a moral problem with having Erik Prince, a known war criminal, making decisions that results in their organization receiving funds from the Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation? Based on our investigation of these organization, it would seem that they would not have a problem with Erik Prince’s involvement in the foundation, nor his personal history, since many of these groups embrace a version of Christianity that believes in Christian supremacy, even if that means imposing the faith on other people.

The secular groups also seem to embrace the same kind of pro-capitalist, pro-America, pro-private education values that sit well with both the Prince and DeVos families. Even if the groups that are recipients of Prince Foundation money are facing a moral dilemma, it’s not preventing them from taking the money, nor is it causing them to be critical of the foundation.

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