The Common Cause Education Fund is the 501(c)(3) partner organization of Common Cause, an influential and controversial 501(c)(4) advocating for left-of-center causes headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Common Cause Education Fund exists to raise tax-deductible dollars from liberal donors and foundations that can be used to support the progressive policies of Common Cause.
Most of the programming that the Common Cause Education Fund provides are in the form of published policy papers and reports about various liberal causes such as attacking business interests and supporting union-backed measures across the United States.
History and Background
Common Cause was founded in 1970 by former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John Gardner, who had served in the Cabinet of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The group rose to prominence through its opposition of the Vietnam War and Gardner’s presence on President Richard Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.”
Common Cause formed the Common Cause Education Fund as a 501(c)(3) arm to provide educational resources and publications on progressive policies.
The current president of both Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund is Karen Hobert Flynn, who had served as the group’s state-level executive director in Connecticut. She first joined the group in 1985 as a national organizer and program director.
The Common Cause Education Fund has an annual revenue of over $8.6 million. According to the most recent Annual Report available online, the following foundations have made grants to the Common Cause Education Fund:
Brett Family Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Cooke Foundation, Ltd.
Deer Creek Foundation
The Denver Foundation
Educational Foundation of America
Fund For Change
General Service Foundation
A.J. Fletcher Foundation
The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
The Gay & Lesbian Fund of Colorado, a program of the Gill Foundation
Mertz Gilmore Foundation Hagedorn Foundation
Hawaii People’s Fund
The Zanvyl and Isabelle Kreiger Fund
McCune Charitable Foundation
The Laffey McHugh Foundation
Midwest Democracy Network
McKenzie River Gathering
Newman’s Own Foundation
Oiste Civic Education Initiative, Inc.
Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund of the Hawaii Community Foundation
Partridge Foundation Piper Fund, a Proteus Fund initiative
Public Interest Projects
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Murray and Agnes Seasongood
Good Government Foundation
The Sirus Fund
Threshold Foundation Tides Foundation
Yellow House Fund
Western Conservation Foundation
Woods Charitable Fund, Inc.
The Woodtiger Fund
Key Issues and People
Both Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund take special focus on campaign finance reform and specifically opposition to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
The Chairman of the Board of both Common Cause and the Common Cause Education Fund is Robert Reich, who served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton. The past three Presidents of both groups have been former Democratic politicians.