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The Tides Foundation

Grantee:        The Tides Foundation
Ranking:       3rd highest grantee, 2005 — 2009
Received:     $11,038,490
Type:             “Donor-Advised” Foundation
Issues:           Race Issues, Criminal Justice Reform, Community Organizing, Drug Legalization, Coalition-Building, Civil Rights.

About:  Like the Proteus Fund, The Tides Foundation is structured like a money-laundering operation: funders who wish to remain anonymous or to operate at some remove from the organizations and causes they are funding may make “donor-advised” contributions through Tides, which avoids the tax-based requirement to report its own donors by structuring itself as a “501(c)(3) with broad-based support.”

Tides was founded in 1976 by Drummond Pike, a youth activist turned social philanthropist who experimented early with providing financial and capacity-building assistance to activists and small non-profits, in addition to funds.  In 1980, Tides joined with Norman Lear to create the liberal membership organization, People for the American Way, to “encourage tolerance” in the age of Reagan.  Also in 1980, Pike participated in the founding of the National Network of Grantmakers, a leftist coalition of funders, now totaling 400, that has served to nudge some previously politically centrist family foundations leftwards.

In 1996, Pike opened the Thoreau Center, a “a twelve building complex in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park dedicated to nonprofits concerned about social and environmental sustainability.”  Starting in the mid-1990’s, Tides grew in size and influence: in 2008, the organization received $107 million from grantors and dispersed $108 million to nearly 2,500 organizations globally.

Soros uses Tides to subsidize the establishment of “popular support” for certain causes in which such an appearance of broad-based demand for change would be useful.  Tides uses donations from deep-pocketed grantors like Soros to recruit and train new activists, in addition to paying seasoned organizers to create “Astroturf” organizations claiming popular support.  “Donor-advised” foundations enable philanthropists to manufacture issues, and activism and to put a human face on their causes.

Soros has used the Tides Foundation to funnel money to more than two-dozen organizations.  Some of these are independent groups; some are projects under the supervision of the Tides Center, a sister organization to the Tides Foundation:

  • Break the Chains, $610,000.  Reducing stigma of drug addiction in minority communities, mobilizing minorities to organize for legalization of drugs.
  • Center for Social Inclusion, $300,000.  An “intermediary” organization working “as an information-gatherer, translator and incubator” promoting activism by “low-income non-whites.”
  • Connect U.S., $2,127,000.  Encourages “global engagement” between U.S. activist groups and others working on human rights, environmental protection, security and economic development.
  • Death Penalty Mobilization, $291,000.
  • Disability Rights Fund, $300,000.  International activism on disability rights.
  • Election Administration Fund, $1,000,000* (possibly duplicate entry).
  • Felons Vote, $200,000.
  • Friends of Fokal.  $150,000.
  • Generational Alliance, $50,000.
  • International Treatment Preparedness Center, $49,894.  AIDS advocacy.
  • Justice Strategies, $63,000.  Advocacy on sentencing and corrections.
  • Longview [Institute], $117,000.
  • New American Opportunity Fund and Opportunity Agenda $950,000* (possibly two separate groups).  “[B]uilds the national will to expand opportunity for all.”  Making people aware of childhood hunger, persistence of racism.
  • Right to Vote, $200,000.
  • Rockridge [Institute], $100,000.
  • Traction, $40,000.  Civic engagement for youth.
  • Treatment Monitoring, $90,000.
  • We Are America Alliance, $861,000.
  • WireTap, $100,000. 
  • Youth Engaged, $250,000.

Mission statement: Tides actively promotes change toward a healthy society, one which is founded on principles of social justice, broadly shared economic opportunity, a robust democratic process, and sustainable environmental practices.

Tides believes healthy societies rely fundamentally on respect for human rights, the vitality of communities, and a celebration of diversity.

Soros Funding: The eclectic-seeming range of grantees Soros funds through Tides Foundation primarily create “communication strategies” to deliver messages about America as a racist, oppressive nation, delivered through rhetoric about “celebrating diversity” and “youth empowerment.”  Several of the Tides organizations funded by Soros have subsequently closed, changed names, or merged with other non-profits.


  • Melissa L. Bradley, CEO — founded and served as managing director of New Capitalist; founder and former President of Reentry Strategies Institute; founded The Entrepreneurial Development Institute; served as a Senior Adviser to the Center for American Progress.
  • Chad Bolick, Director of Impact and Innovation — led the development of HERproject, an initiative that trains women factory and farm workers on general and reproductive health issues in 8 developing countries; serves on the advisory board of Spark, an award-winning nonprofit that addresses women’s inequality locally and globally.
  • China Brotsky, Senior Vice President — co-founded The NonprofitCenters Network; founding executive director of, a nonprofit technology service provider.
  • Tod Hill, Senior Strategic Advisor — instrumental in developing the Voter Action Fund; provided strategic consulting to clients such as the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Greenpeace USA, the Human Rights Campaign, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation; serves on the board of directors for the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission and on the steering committee of the Funders Committee for Civic Participation.
  • Jane Levikow, Senior Vice President — Peace and Justice Center of Southern California; Building Bridges/Out and Equal; Interfaith Task Force on Central America and Health Access.
  • Hadar Susskind, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Tides Washington, DC Office — Vice President of Policy and Strategy at J Street; Vice President and Washington Director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and Taskforce on Equal Opportunity and Social Justice; Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL); Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS); White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Initiatives Task Force on the Environment and the Board of Directors of the Coalition on Human Needs.

Board of Directors (Tides Foundation and Tides Center):

  • Noa Emmett Aluli — Native Hawaiian physician on Moloka’i and a long-time activist for the preservation of Hawaiian culture and beliefs.
  • Melissa L. Bradley, CEO
  • Joanie Bronfman — Associate Dean of the Family Office Exchange Learning; helped found Threshold’s Social Justice Committee.
  • Stephanie J. Clohesy, Vice Chair — founder and Principal at Clohesy Consulting.
  • Lisa Hall — President and CEO of Calvert Foundation; serves on the Boards of Mentor’s Inc., The Funders’ Network, and ROC USA; serves on the executive committee of ANDE (Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs) and the Board of Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC.
  • Lawrence Litvak
  • Peter Mellen — chairman of the Washington DC Local Advisory Board for BUILD, a program that provides entrepreneurship education for high school students in under-resourced communities.
  • Anne Mosle — Executive Director of Ascend at The Aspen Institute, former Vice President and Officer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; previously President of Washington Area Women’s Foundation; serves on the boards of the Women’s Funding Network and the National Board of Women and Philanthropy, and is a member of the Children, Youth and Families Steering Committee of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.
  • Iara D. Peng — director of Young People For, a project of People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF); prior Executive Director of the Youth Justice Funding Collaborative.
  • john a. powell — Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at Moritz College of Law, at Ohio State University; Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity in the Americas; served as National Legal Director of the ACLU; serves on the board of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council.
  • Chuck C. Savitt
  • Tuti B. Scott — President and Founder of Imagine Philanthropy; member of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers; Board of Directors of the Women Win Foundation; research associate for the Smith College Project for Social Change.
  • Joel Solomon — founding Board member of Tides Canada, former President of the Threshold Foundation, and a founding member of the Social Venture Network.
  • Veronique Spruill — president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy; founded the nonprofits SeaWeb and FoundationWorks; serves as director or advisor for multiple organizations, including Sky Truth, COMPASS, Pew Fellows, Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, Ocean Hall (Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History), Ad Council and SeaChange Investment Fund.
  • Maya Wiley, Chair — founder and Director of the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI), an applied research and advocacy organization which supports community groups to dismantle structural racism; has worked for the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York; served as an advisor to the Open Society Institute and as a consultant to the Open Society Foundation.
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