The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a left-of-center, anti-business advocacy and organizing organization. ILSR was co-founded in 1974 by David Morris, Neil Seldman, and Gil Friend to research and establish communities that do not participate in the external market economy.  ILSR opposes international trade, instead supporting left-of-center economic development projects within small communities. 
ILSR purports to be nonpartisan and cross-ideological.  Nonetheless, ILSR invests heavily in a variety of left-of-center causes and is closely affiliated with and funded by left-of center organizations.
ILSR has offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Maine; and Washington, D.C.
Opposition to Amazon
In 2016, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance published a report entitled Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip on the Economy Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities. ILSR argued in the report that Amazon, the global retailer created by Jeff Bezos, was monopolizing the economy, undermining wages, and weakening communities. The report also claimed that Amazon’s growth could be attributed to government subsidies and tax advantages. 
ILSR co-director Stacy Mitchell, who co-authored the report, later appeared in an episode of PBS’s “Frontline” titled “Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos.” According to David Streitfeld of the New York Times, Mitchell’s anti-corporate crusade against Amazon resulted in the formation of Athena, a coalition of nearly fifty labor union-aligned, left-wing social policy organizations created to break up Amazon. 
ILSR is a founding member of Athena.  Other members of the Athena coalition include the Center for Popular Democracy, a left-progressive voter mobilization and policy organization, and Public Citizen, the lobbying and advocacy organization created by left-wing activist and former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. 
ILSR opposes other large retailers as well, including Walmart and various dollar stores.  ILSR’s retail work is part of its Independent Business Initiative, which also focuses on opposing “big tech” and other large corporations in favor of small businesses. 
ILSR has substantially invested in its Waste to Wealth program, which aims to end government programs that subsidize turning waste into usable energy through incineration.  ILSR’s Waste to Wealth program also supports so-called “zero waste” living, which advocates for individuals to adopt lifestyles free from all waste that cannot be reused or composted. 
ILSR also supports small-scale community banking, small businesses, the implementation of public broadband networks, small municipal energy projects, and composting initiatives to combat the power of large companies. 
Connections to Left-of-Center Organizations
ILSR is a member of the New Economy Coalition, a network of nonprofit organizations that advocate for a left-wing economic transformation based on the large-scale redistribution of wealth, government-mandated environmentalist projects, and the implementation of a left-wing social policy agenda. 
ILSR is also affiliated with Center for Rural Strategies, an organization that advocates for left-of-center policies for rural America. In 2018, an ILSR employee spoke at the National Rural Assembly, a conference organized by the Center that brings together left-of-center rural activists. 
ILSR is a partner of the Complete Economy Project, an initiative to promote local business and discourage consumers from shopping at large businesses.  The Complete Economy Project is sponsored by the New England Grassroots Environment Fund and run by The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock, a crowdfunding platform that encourages individuals to fund left-of-center environmentalist and small enterprise projects within their communities. 
Institute for Local Self-Reliance was one of the first organizations to receive funding from the Anti-Monopoly Fund, an anti-corporate campaign founded in 2019 by the Economic Security Project and partially funded by George Soros’s Open Society Foundations and Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network. 
While ILSR does not disclose all of its funding, the organization lists the Open Society Foundations as a supporter, as well as the Ford Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the United States that often funds left-of-center initiatives. 
ILSR has also received over $800,000 from the Bush Foundation, a Minnesota-based private foundation endowed by 3M investor and early employee Archibald Bush that frequently contributes to left-of-center organizations. 
ILSR has received millions from left-of-center private foundations, including over $500,000 from the McKnight Foundation, $55,000 from the Carolyn Foundation, $70,000 from the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, and $40,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.    
ISLR has also received donations from other left-of-center environmentalist organizations. Between 2012 and 2016, the Town Creek Foundation gave a total of $475,000 to ILSR.  In 2019, ISLR received $200,000 from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, a leader in left-progressive “shareholder activism,” and $50,000 from the Claneil Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based environmentalist grantmaking organization.