Skip to content

West Michigan Foundation Watch: The Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation – financing the far right

November 29, 2021

West Michigan Foundations generally submit their 990 documents two years behind the current year. We just got done posting information on several West Michigan Foundations for their 2019 990 documents. However, one foundation, the Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation, has already submitted their 990 documents for 2020.

The 990 documents are legally required to provide some transparency for foundation contributions, but it also provides us with a window into how the area’s largest foundations are spending their money to support far right causes that serve both an ideological and political function.

For those who don’t already know, Edgar and Elsa Prince are the parents of private mercenary profiteer Erik Prince and former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Edgar Prince made his wealth in manufacturing and he and Elsa had been funding the far right for decades. We follow these families and their foundations because we believe it is important for people in West Michigan to know how much the far right is financially supported in West Michigan. 

The Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation 2019 990 documents can be found at According to Guide Star, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation has a little over $11 million in assets. This Foundation is governed by Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, Erik Prince, Emilie Wierda, Eileen Ellens, Alan Hoekstra and Renselaer Broekhuizen. 

What follows are some of the more prominent organizations that the Edgar & Elsa Prince Foundation contributed to in 2020. Their foundation contributed just under $3 million for 2020, to mostly conservative Christian entities. We include the name of the entity receiving foundation money, the amount and a brief description of each organization.

Haggai Institute – $600,000 – The Haggai Institute is a Christian evangelical entity that provides leadership training for people around the world to convert people. The Haggai Institute believes that only Jesus can bring joy to the world, not governments, education or any other spiritual tradition.

Family Research Council – $50,000 – The Family Research Council is a DC-based entity that was created in 1980 and has played an influential role with numerous administrations, beginning with the Reagan Administration. The Family Research Council advocates a theocracy, which means that religion should be the true ruling power.

Prison Fellowship Ministries – $100,000 – The Prison Fellowship Ministries was founded by former Nixon Administration staff Charles Colson, who was sentenced to jail for his role in the Watergate scandal. The Prison Fellowship Ministries practices far right Christianity and is part of the State Policy Network, which connects far right groups across the country to promote policy changes at the state level, changes which further the far right agenda.

Christian Leadership Institute – $25,000 – The CLI was co-founded by Richard DeVos Sr., to provide training to Christian leaders to spread a message of conservative Christianity in West Michigan, across the US and around the world.

Acton Institute – $30,000 – The Acton Institute is a far right think tank based in Grand Rapids that was founded in 1990 to promote the relationship between Christianity and Capitalism. Elsa Prince and Betsy DeVos have been former Board members with the Acton Institute.

Freedom Alliance – $30,000 – Freedom Alliance is an entity that was founded by convicted Iran Contra scandal participant Col. Oliver North. The Freedom Alliance promotes US militarism and encourages people to join the US military.

Media Research Center – $25,000 – The Media Research Center is a far right media watchdog, which seeks to counter the so-called leftist press in the United States.

Council for National Policy – $15,000 – The Council for National Policy (CNP) was founded in 1981, with board membership and funding from the Coors, Koch and DeVos families. The CNP is the subject of Anne Nelson’s book, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, and has played a critical role in the anti-lockdown protests across the US since the COVID 19 pandemic began.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy – $10,000 – The Mackinac Center is a far right think tank based in Midland, Michigan, which has a long history of promoting far right stat policy. The Mackinac Center was instrumental in getting the Right to Work policy adopted in Michigan during the Synder administration and they have been active in the past year opposing COVID 19 policies in the state.

Alliance Defending Freedom – $100,000 – The Alliance for Defending Freedom is a Conservative Christian group of lawyers that defends religious groups around anti-LGBT policies and other religious right issues.

American Values – $30,000 – American Values is another conservative religious entity, which perpetuates the so-called values of the United States, but are rooted in far right principles. In a recent post they made the following comment:

In the aftermath of the Rittenhouse verdict, Marxists and revolutionaries took to the streets, using his exoneration as a match to try to set America ablaze. Make no mistake about it: They are Marxist and they are revolutionary. These radicals want a race war in America. 

Gateways to Better Education – $100,000 – Gateways to Better Education was created to provide resources and strategies to Christians – teachers and students – who are in the public schools and want to insert their Christian beliefs into public school life. Their partner organizations is a who’s who of far right groups.

Center for Military Readiness – $15,000 – The CMR claims to be a group that supports US troops, but their website is filled with US military and foreign policy analysis and is run by mostly former high ranking US military officials. 

Live Action – $25,000 – Live Action is an anti-abortion organization that claims to have the largest online pro-life presence. They use lots of the same scare tactics and misinformation to counter the pro-Choice movement. 

Protect Life Michigan – $35,000 – PLM is an organization that attempts to develop anti-abortion leaders across the state at the high school and college level. 

Moms for America – $5,000 – Moms for America is a women-centered far right group that mixes nationalism and Christianity. Moms for America has most recently been a central component in the anti-vaccination movement, particularly with K-12 schools.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: