The Nancy Susan Reynolds Foundation, now called Arca Foundation, uses funds from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco fortune to finance liberal agendas and organizations. It is one of numerous foundations created in whole or part with Reynolds trust funds, including the Mary Reynolds-Babcock Foundation, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Reynolds American Foundation, the Christopher Reynolds Foundation and the Tides Foundation.
Arca Foundation was formed in 1952 by R.J. Reynolds’ youngest daughter, Nancy Susan Reynolds (1910 -1985). Originally called the Nancy Susan Reynolds Foundation, it was later renamed Arca after the “Latin [word] for treasure chest and [the] Italian [word] for ark, a vessel affording safety and protection.” Reynolds was involved in numerous charitable activities, donating 710 acres of her father’s childhood farm to Virginia Tech in 1969 with another 7 acres in 1980. Reynolds also provided $1.7 million to the surrounding community to run a forestry research center on the site and to fund a scholarship program for the local high school. Reynolds edited Washington Life magazine (which bills itself as “DC’s premier luxury lifestyle publication). Nancy R. Bagley, Arca’s current board president, succeeded Reynolds as editor-in-chief of the magazine.
According to the Arca website, “Throughout its history, the foundation has sustained its commitment to experimentation, always seeking to transform ideas into action and continually looking to activists, academics, policy makers, and intellectuals to inform its grantmaking […] supporting organizations working on Central American human rights, US-Cuba policy, ending the death penalty, campaign finance reform, media policy reform, financial reform, Pentagon budget reform and racial justice” This support facilitates liberal agendas: Arca funds assist organizations fighting to reverse the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, pursuing eased relations with the Castro regime in Cuba, and organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Arca’s website describes three focus areas: Domestic, International and Innovative Ideas. Within these three it consistently supports a variety of left-wing groups that push for liberal and even extreme-left policies, groups such as the Institute for Policy Studies, Color of Change, DEMOS, Campaign for America’s Future, National People’s Action (now People’s Action Institute), National Iranian American Council, Progressive Congress and many others..
Arca’s staff and board of trustees reflect the Foundation’s widespread connections with influential liberal organizations.
Nancy R. Bagley is Arca Foundation’s president of the board of trustees. She is also Editor-in-Chief of Washington Life and Vice President of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Bagley is the granddaughter of Arca founder Nancy Susan Reynolds and daughter of Smith Bagley, for whom Arca’s Smith Bagley Award was named following his death in 2010.
Board Vice President Nicole Bagley is also president of the Brenn Foundation, an organization dedicated specifically to carrying out functions of Robert Borosage’s Institute for America’s Future and the National Security Archive Fund. She also serves on the board of the Sapelo Foundation – another Reynolds creation. Nicole is Nancy Bagley’s sister.
Treasurer Mike Lux is co-founder of Democracy Partners. He frequently blogs at the liberal blogs HuffPost, Daily Kos, and Crooks and Liars. He is the author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be. He serves on several other boards, including Netroots Nation, Americans United for Change, Progressive Congress, and USAction. He helped launch the Center for American Progress, Air America, and MoveOn.org, and formerly served as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton.
Board member Janet Shenk was formerly Special Assistant to the President of the AFL-CIO, and deputy director of Walmart Watch.
Executive Director Anna Lefer Kuhn, is a former program officer of George Soros‘ Open Society Foundations. Under Kuhn’s leadership, Arca has focused activities on addressing “economic inequality and promoting greater financial reform as a means to advance a more equitable economy.”
Program & Grants Manager Stacie Posey formerly worked for the Obama administration’s White House Office of Presidential Correspondence and is an alumni of the 2008 Obama for America campaign.
Arca Grant Recipients
Arca supports many liberal organizations. Notable grant recipients include:
Alliance for Global Justice, 2015, $40,000
Center for American Progress, 2015: $150,000
Center for Popular Democracy, 2015: $175,000
Color of Change, 2015: $25,000
DEMOS, 2015: $50,000
Economic Policy Institute, 2015: $50,000
Friends of the Earth, 2015: $50,000
Institute for America’s Future, 2015: $50,000
Institute for Policy Studies, 2015: $25,000
J Street Education Fund, 2015: $75,000
National People’s Action, 2015: $50,000
Progressive Congress.org, 2015: $50,000