Foundation for Civic Leadership




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2016):

Revenue: $2,519,184
Expenses: $2,266,311
Assets: $2,256,210


Ian Simmons

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The Foundation for Civic Leadership is an incubator for left-leaning voter engagement programs. Its founder and president is Ian Simmons, a longtime Democratic donor and a co-founder of Blue Haven Initiative, an investment firm which uses returns to fund left-leaning social policy. 12


The Foundation for Civic Leadership works to increase voter engagement, especially among young voters. 3

The SoCon Votes initiative was launched in 2016 to create voter excitement and registration through sports competition at Big 10 schools. Mercer University was the test case location for the initiative. 4

The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge was launched in 2016; it challenges colleges to accomplish voter engagement, participation, and education. 5

The Students Learn Students Vote Coalition was launched in 2015 to incorporate the issue of student voting as part of a broader education reform agenda. 6 The official partner is Young Invincibles, a youth-focused advocacy group which supports Obamacare, especially the law’s controversial Medicaid expansion. 7

The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement was launched in 2011 to help colleges know student voter registration and participation rates. Its over 850 members provide data on over 7.4 million students, which has allowed the program to assess data on college students’ political actions and education. Tufts University is the official partner for the program. 8 Tufts also received funding from the Foundation for an interactive map which shows voter rates and voter actions at 1,000 colleges and universities. 9

The Summer Democracy Fellowship was launched in 2014. It funds paid internships at a number of left-leaning political and voter advocacy groups such as Common Cause and Democracy Matters. 10

The Foundation also funds a Harvard-based hub for left-wing political advocacy and activism groups. 11


The Foundation has three leadership members listed on its website. 12

Ian Simmons is president and founder of the Foundation for Civic Leadership. He is an investor and left-wing activist who serves on a variety of mostly political-based boards. 13

Aaron Bartley is treasurer of the Foundation and co-founder of environmental and affordable housing-focused group People United for Sustainable Housing. He was then appointed to lead a $1 billion New York State-funded effort to revitalize the economy in and around Buffalo, New York. 14

Aaron Tanaka is a liberal activist based in Boston, Massachusetts whose background includes financial investing and community organizing. He is director of the Center for Economic Democracy. 15


The Foundation for Civic Leadership raised $1.279 million in 2017, spent over $1.6 million, and had negative value for its assets which totaled $1.7 million. 16

The Foundation’s funding has fluctuated throughout its history. Its revenue in 2016 totaled over $2.5 million, and 2014 revenues were over $2.3 million. However, its revenue totals were lower than $100,000 in most years prior to 2014, and in 2015 it grossed under $1 million.
The Foundation has had negative assets in every year except for 2009. 17

Almost all of its 2017 expenses — $1.548 million – came from its programs and grants related to its five major initiatives. The same was true in 2016, when its programs and grants totaled $2.175 million. 18


  1. Blue Haven Initiative, Ian Simmons, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  2. Foundation for Civic Leadership, Team, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  3. Foundation for Civic Leadership, Welcome, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  4. Foundation for Civic Leadership, SoCon Votes, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  5. Foundation for Civic Leadership, ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  6. Foundation for Civic Leadership, Students Learn Students Vote Coalition, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  7. Young Invincibles, Civic Learning Certification Program, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  8. Foundation for Civic Leadership, National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  9. Tufts University, Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, Interactive Map, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  10. Foundation for Civic Leadership, The Summer Democracy Fellowship, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  11. Natalie Handy, “Cambridge’s Democracy Center transforms into social justice hub,” February 26, 2016. Accessed September 3, 2019.
  12. Foundation for Civic Leadership, Team, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  13. Foundation for Civic Leadership, Team, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  14. Foundation for Civic Leadership, Team, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  15. Foundation for Civic Leadership, Team, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  16. ProPublica, Foundation for Civic Leadership 2017 990, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  17. ProPublica, Foundation for Civic Leadership main page, Accessed September 3, 2019.
  18. ProPublica, Foundation for Civic Leadership 2016 990, Accessed September 3, 2019.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Ian Simmons
    Founder and President
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 2004

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Jun Form 990 $2,519,184 $2,266,311 $2,256,210 $3,584,965 N $2,519,130 $0 $54 $0
    2015 Jun Form 990 $966,813 $860,874 $2,212,364 $3,146,646 N $966,787 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $2,353,378 $624,519 $2,386,592 $3,426,813 N $2,353,355 $0 $23 $0 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $56,646 $507,157 $1,935,842 $4,704,922 N $56,590 $0 $56 $0 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $29,138 $408,761 $2,031,992 $4,350,561 N $29,116 $0 $22 $0 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $46,224 $267,945 $2,003,357 $3,942,303 N $45,793 $225 $206 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Foundation for Civic Leadership

    CAMBRIDGE, MA 02138-0000