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It’s not Philanthropy, It’s Ideological and Class Warfare: How the DeVos Family Foundation contributions complement their political donations – Part III – Funding Far Right Think Tanks

August 17, 2020

We were recently able to access the 2018 990 documents from the various DeVos family foundations, through GuideStar.org. These foundations include, the Richard & Helen DeVos Foundation, the Dick & Betsy DeVos Foundation, the Doug & Maria DeVos Foundation, the Dan & Pamela DeVos Foundation and the CDV5 Foundation.

We have been tracking the DeVos family foundations for years, since it provides useful information on how the family strategically uses their money to influence the world around us. It is important to recognize that when people generally think of philanthropy, they think of money going from those with tremendous wealth to non-profits who provide needed services in the community. While there is some truth to this, what we will demonstrate in this series of articles, is that the DeVos family uses their foundation money to primarily wage ideological and class warfare.

In Part I of this series, we looked at how the DeVos family foundation funded and influenced educational institutions in West Michigan and across the US. In Part II, we looked at how the DeVos family foundations funded far right Christian organizations, and in today’s post we want to take a look at how these same foundation have funded Think Tanks and other groups that influence public policy, along with organizations that practice far right and Neoliberal policies.

American Enterprise Institute – $1,500,000 – AEI is one of the most influential Think Tanks in Washington, DC. The American Enterprise Institute has a long history of opposing an increase in the minimum wage, business regulation, being critical of Climate Change, supported the US invasion/occupation of Iraq, with strong ties to the Koch Brothers and Donor’s Trust. 

Mackinac Center for Public Policy – $1,000,000 – The Mackinac Center is the most influential Think Tank in Michigan and has been working with the DeVos family for decades. The Mackinac Center was instrumental in getting Right to Work passed in Michigan, along with pushing privatization policies, anti-union policies and a whole host of prop-business policies. The Mackinac Center has also been aggressively pushing disaster capitalism policies during the COVID 19 pandemic.

George W. Bush Foundation – $2,000,000 – The DeVos family has always had close ties with the Bush family. The George W. Bush Foundation funds pro-capitalist projects across the US and around the world. The foundation’s foreign policy projects compliments US imperialism, particularly the economic aspects of US imperialism, such as supporting CAFTA in Central American and other Neoliberal economic practices in countries that the US has militarily occupied in recent decades.

Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty – $228,500 – The DeVos family has long supporter the Acton Institute, with funding and with family members serving on the Board of Directors. The Acton Institute promotes the idea that Capitalism and Christianity are good bedfellows, but they also take a strong stance against the LGBTQ community, have supported attacks on unions, promotes xenophobia and has been very critical of the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

Alliance for School Choice – $700,000 – The Alliance for School Choice has long received support from the DeVos family, since they advocate for the privatization of education and promote policies that undermine public education. 

Talent 2025 Inc – $716,000 – Talent 2025 is a Grand Rapids-based entity that works with the business class to find inroads within the education system to recruit and promote the idea that education is fundamentally about developing talent for the business world. https://griid.org/tag/talent-2025/

National Review Institute – $150,000 – The NRI was founded by William F. Buckley to promote the benefits of Capitalism, particularly the way that the United States brand of capitalism.

Pregnancy Resource Center – $300,000 – The Pregnancy Resource Center is an anti-Choice organization that is based in Grand Rapids and provides “alternatives” to abortion.

Right to Life Michigan Educational Foundation – $125,000 – The RTL foundation is also an anti-choice organization that attempts to influence public opinion on reproductive rights and they lobby Michigan legislators to take an anti-Choice position.

Collectively, in just 2018, the DeVos family contributed roughly $6.5 million to these think tanks and public policy influencing entities to push and promote their brand of class warfare and ideologically far right policies. In Part IV of this series, we will look at the DeVos family created non-profits  and what role they play in furthering the family’s legacy.

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