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Center for American Progress

Grantee:        Center for American Progress
Ranking:       14th highest grantee, 2005 – 2009
Received:     $5,509,990
Type:             Progressive Public Policy and Advocacy Organization
Issues:           New Media, Politics, Culture, Activism

About:  John Podesta, chief of staff to Bill Clinton, founded The Center for American Progress (CAP), a leftist, hybrid think tank and political action center, in 2003.  CAP is a 501-(c)(3) nonprofit with an annual budget of approximately $25 million per year from foundations, individuals and corporations, including, reportedly, corporations such as Wal-mart that undoubtedly seek to mitigate potential negative publicity by funding the overtly anti-corporation, anti-capitalist group.

CAP conceals its list of funders on its website and annual reports.  The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF), a 501-(c)(4) located in the same offices as CAP, engages in direct political action.  Soros contributes heavily to both organizations.

Political Influence:  The CAP and CAPAF were highly influential in inspiring younger voters to support Obama.  According to journalist Michael Scherer, after the CAP helped elect Obama, the Center then became the “idea factory” behind the Obama administration:

[L]iberals. . .knew they needed to be more like conservatives. Wealthy Democrats wanted to have ideological rabble rousers like Rush Limbaugh and activist breeding grounds like the College Republicans . . . they wanted to plot an intellectual coup, spearheaded by an aggressive idea factory like the Heritage Foundation.

[T]hey have that, and a lot more, in the Center for American Progress (CAP), the most influential independent organization in Obama’s nascent Washington . . . Podesta . . . dutifully worked wealthy dinner parties with a simple idea: He would create a new organization, a “think tank on steroids,” to help progressive ideas regain power . . . not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan’s transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway. Just as candidate Obama depended on CAP during the campaign for opposition research and talking points, President-elect Obama has effectively contracted out the management of his own government’s formation to Podesta.1

New Media:  The CAP runs a website, a radio show, and daily online newsletters, policy updates, and videos at sites including: The Progress Report, Think Progress, and Campus Progress.

Direct Action:  Campus Progress, run by Clinton and Howard Dean speechwriter David Halperin, has a presence on college and university campuses.  CP directly funds student media and speaker programs; coordinates activist trainings and “student” actions, and hosts an annual conference attended by politicians and activists such as Van Jones.

The CAP Leadership Institute “seeks to identify, equip, and advance a new generation of leaders from diverse backgrounds and communities to assume responsible roles in the development and implementation of progressive public policies.”

CAP’s public policy experts work in five areas: Domestic, Economic, Energy, National Security Policy, and Media and Progressive Values.  CAP supports wealth redistribution, government control of healthcare, expanding welfare programs, open borders policies, affirmative action, anti-death penalty action, “social justice,” race, gender, and sexuality diversity initiatives, green energy and green jobs, disarmament, “economic justice,” drug legalization, emptying prisons, anti-corporatism, and the entire range of progressive causes.

CAP publications run heavily to racial, ethnic, sexuality, and pro-immigration themes; global warming and progressive political reporting; exposés of “police brutality,” Islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, and allegations of violence against minorities and immigrants; accusations of injustice by big businesses and privacy intrusion and censorship by the government.

Mission Statement: The Center for American Progress is dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.  Building on the achievements of progressive pioneers such as Teddy Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, our work addresses 21st-century challenges such as energy, national security, economic growth and opportunity, immigration, education, and health care.

We develop new policy ideas, critique the policy that stems from conservative values, and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter and shape the national debate.

As progressives, we believe America is a land of boundless opportunity, where people can better themselves, their children, their families, and their communities through education, hard work, and the freedom to climb the ladder of economic mobility. We believe an open and effective government can champion the common good over narrow self-interest, harness the strength of our diversity, and secure the rights and safety of its people. And we believe our nation must always be a beacon of hope and strength to the rest of the world.

Progressives are idealistic enough to believe change is possible and practical enough to make it happen.

Soros Funding:  In addition to providing $5.5 million to CAP’s 501-(c)(3) between 2005 and 2009, Soros pledged to give up to $3 million to CAP’s political Action Fund during the 2003 election.

Executive Committee:

  • John Podesta, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress and Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress Action Fund
  • Sarah Rosen Wartell, Executive VP
  • Jennifer Palmieri, Senior Vice President for Communications for the Center for American Progress and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress Action Fund
  • Neera Tanden, Chief Operating Officer
  • Winnie Stachelberg, Senior VP for External Affairs
  • Carol Browner, Distinguished Senior Fellow

Senior Staff:

  • Rudy deLeon, Senior VP for National Security and International Policy
  • Debbie Fine, Senior VP and General Counsel
  • David Halperin, Senior VP and Director, Campus Progress
  • Faiz Shakir, VP and Editor of Think Progress (CAP Action)

Distinguished Senior Fellow:

  • Tom Daschle


  • David Abromowitz
  • Eric Alterman
  • David Balto
  • Michael Barr
  • Peter Basch
  • Joel Berg
  • Ulrich Boser
  • Matt Browne
  • Camille Busette
  • Andrei Cherny
  • Joe Conason
  • Donna Cooper
  • David Cutler
  • Maria Echaveste
  • Zeke Emanuel
  • Matt Entenza
  • Lia Epperson
  • Sam Fulwood III
  • Henry Fernandez
  • Tom Glynn
  • Nina Hachigian
  • John Halpin
  • Bracken Hendricks
  • Tim Hogan
  • Michele Jolin
  • Van Jones
  • Brian Katulis
  • Tom Kenworthy
  • Jitinder Kohli
  • Lawrence J. Korb
  • Andrew Light
  • Scott Lilly
  • Matt Miller
  • Jonathan Moreno
  • Ann O’Leary
  • Jonathan Orszag
  • Janneke Ratcliffe
  • Bishop Gene Robinson
  • Joseph Romm
  • Fred Rotondaro
  • Shirley Sagawa
  • Richard Samans
  • Shira Saperstein
  • Bill Schulz
  • Raj Sharma
  • Will Straw
  • Peter Swire
  • Ruy Teixeira
  • Rev. Susan Thistlethwaite
  • Laura Tyson
  • Richard Verma
  • Caroline Wadhams
  • Daniel J. Weiss
  • Christian E. Weller
  • Michael Werz

Artist in Residence:

  • Anna Deavere Smith


  • Joe Romm, Green Issues
  • Alyssa Rosenberg, Culture Issues
  • Matthew Yglesias, Politics
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