Grantee: The Proteus Fund, Inc.
Ranking: 10th highest grantee, 2005 — 2009
Type: “Donor-Advised” Foundation
Issues: Peace/Disarmament, Civil Marriage, Campaign Finance, Muslim Civil Rights
About: The Proteus Fund bills itself as “a foundation committed to advancing justice through democracy, human rights and peace.” They partner with “individual donors and foundations to achieve their goals through strategy development, research and fund management.” Proteus offers its clients “tailored grant making initiatives that are responsive, have high impact and integrate support for lobbying activity.” Yet many of these clients’ names appear nowhere on their website, nor on the organization’s 990s.
Proteus is structured like a money-laundering firm. It provides cover for people who don’t wish to be identified with the causes they support, either because the causes themselves are controversial, or because the donors wish to “Astroturf” causes by presenting them as arising from broad-based public support, rather than the product of professional, funded activism.
Current causes being managed by Proteus include:
- The Civil Marriage Collaborative — has awarded #13.5 million since 2004 to change state and federal marriage laws
- Media Democracy Fund — the MDF addresses “digital divide,” “net neutrality,” and access issues, but its overarching mission is to assist donors and organizations in maximizing the use of communications media and “internet Astroturfing” to promote causes ranging from ethnically targeted voter registration, to organizing mass protests and targeted actions, to opening prisons through digital access to inmates. MDF subsidizes the production of ‘cause-based-content’ used to organize and reach new audiences. Many of these programs seem aimed at bringing claims of oppression or persecution to middle-class activists, packaged in electronic anecdotes about racial brutality in prisons, “Right-wing” suppression of voting, and “capacity-building” efforts to demand free internet. Others are aimed at youth, encouraging the mobilizing of tweets to spread the word about “brutality,” “oppression,” and “wrongful detention.”1
- Colombe Foundation — “supports organizations working for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, advocating for foreign policy that is balanced with diplomacy and prevention rather than dominated by war and aggression; and supporting a shift from wasteful military spending to investments in programs that create real national security, grounded in environmental protection, alternative energy, education and human services.” Since 2009, they have granted nearly $3 million to organizations including the Peace Education Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, ReThink Media, Georgia WAND and WAND, Institute for Policy Studies, Mother Jones, and the National Security Initiative.
- Piper Fund — the Piper fund is “Astroturf” control central for mobilizing people against the Citizens United ruling. The Fund states that it is ‘mobiliz[ing] a powerful popular movement for reform.” It has dispensed more than $1.1 million in grants in two years, to organizations orchestrating the “popular response” to the legislation, including: Working Families Organization, Alliance for a Just Society, PICO National Network, State Voices, and Common Cause.
- Security and Rights Collaborative — according to their website, the Collaborative awards more than $2 million each years to 120 organizations “to reframe the public discourse and advance progressive national security goals” through “building the capacity of Muslim . . .organizations” and “restor[ing] civil liberties and human rights lost in the name of the ‘war on terror.’” The Collaborative funds (or helps create) several groups dedicated to promoting an image of America as a dangerous, prejudiced, and unjust nation. Grantees include: ReThink Media, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Muslim Advocates, The Arab American Institute Foundation, Rockwood Leadership Program, University of Southern California, and AltMuslim.
Mission Statement: Proteus Fund is a foundation committed to advancing justice through democracy, human rights and peace. We partner with individual donors and foundations to achieve their goals through strategy development, research and fund management. Proteus is known for tailored grant making initiatives that are responsive, have high impact and integrate support for lobbying activity. Our work advances issues at the leading edge of democracy and social change.
Soros Funding:Soros uses Proteus to create a degree of separation between his public image and the allegedly “grassroots” groups he is funding. Between 2005 and 2009, Soros funneled more than $6 million to “grassroots” organizations through Proteus:
- $250,000 for general support.
- $1,245,000 for the Fund’s Civil Marriage Collaborative, to support state-by-state efforts to pass civil marriage for same-gender couples.
- $2,250,000 for the Security and Rights Collaborative
- $1,350,000 for the State Strategies Fund/Blueprint. Inaccessible by website.
- $75,000 for Voter Engagement. Inaccessible by website.
- $900,000 for the Media Democracy Project
- $250,000 for the Piper Fund, which subsidizes opposition to Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that corporations and unions may communicate opinions during elections. The Piper Fund homepage declares that it funds “efforts that reduce special interest influence” in elections and campaigns.2
Is the Proteus Fund itself largely a front for Soros activities? Since 1994, Proteus has awarded a total of $44 million in grants; $6,440,000 of that, or 14%, represents only five years of receipts from the Open Society Institute, 2005 – 2009. When we access earlier 990s for the Open Society Institute, that percentage of the total will surely rise.
- Meg Gage President and Executive Director, founder, Peace Development Fund
- Dimple Abichandani Security & Rights Collaborative Program Officer, “leads the efforts of a funding collaborative whose aim is to shift the terms of debate around national security and human rights, and build capacity of Muslim, Arab and South Asian community organizations that are challenging post 9/11 profiling and discrimination. Dimple manages an innovative comprehensive communications infrastructure, a model for the social justice field, that serves 120 human rights organizations.” Board member, Third Wave Foundation.
- Marc Caplan Piper Fund Program Officer, founding director of Leap
- Paul A. Di Donato, Civil Marriage Collaborative Program Officer, director of Funders Concerned About AIDS, legal director of National Gay Rights Advocates.
- Celeste Fitzgerald, Death Penalty Abolition Program Officer
- Dini Merz, Peace & Security Programs Director
- Dennis Quirin Grassroots Racial Justice Program Officer
- Ludovic Blain Color of Democracy Fund
- C. LaRoy Brantley Cambridge Associates LLC
- Jason Franklin Bolder Giving
- Meg Gage Proteus Fund
- Sara Gould Atlantic Philanthropies
- Erica Hunt Consultant
- Malia Lazu The Gathering
- Matt MacWilliams MacWilliams Kirchner Sanders & Partners
- David Neal Attorney at Law
- Guillermo Quinteros Solidago Foundation
- Byron Rushing Massachusetts House of Representatives
- Tracy Sturdivant State Voices
Proteus Fund grantees include the Tides Center and Tides Foundation, ACORN, Proteus Action Council, Lear Family Foundation, Progressive America Fund, the Center for Community Change, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Media Services, Citizen Action Fund, Rock the Vote Education Fund, Progressive Alliance for Community Empowerment, Center for Peace and Justice, and Progressive Coalition. Soros also contributes directly to many of these organizations.