Non-profit

National Consumer Law Center

Website:

www.nclc.org/

Location:

BOSTON, MA

Tax ID:

04-2488502

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $12,170,618
Expenses: $8,365,127
Assets: $28,155,825

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) is a Boston-based advocacy organization based in Boston, Massachusetts that develops and promotes left-of-center solutions to issues related to consumer law and regulation of the financial industry. [1] NCLC was instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under President Barack Obama. [2]

In 2017, the organization fought President Donald Trump’s interim replacement of CFPB director Richard Cordray, who had resigned to run as a Democrat for Governor of Ohio and purported to appoint his own replacement. [3] In 2020, NCLC filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over student debt collections and endorsed Congressional Democrats’ proposed COVID-19 relief package. [4] [5]

History

National Consumer Law Center was founded as a part of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” package of federal welfare programs. The Equal Opportunity Act of 1967 established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to coordinate federal anti-poverty initiatives. [6] In 1969, the OEO invited the Boston College Law School to apply for funding to create a “Center for Consumer Affairs.” [7] The proposal was accepted and the NCLC began operations later that year. In 1972, NCLC left Boston College Law School and became an independent entity. A Washington, D.C. office was opened in 1980. [8]

Mission

National Consumer Law Center advocates for left-of-center consumer and financial regulatory and welfare policies, such as student loan forgiveness. [9] It develops and provides resources to private attorneys and participates in litigation related to consumer law and energy policies. [10] NCLC also engages in policymaking efforts at the state and federal levels. [11]

Programs

In partnership with the National Community Action Foundation and other left-of-center organizations, National Consumer Law Center’s Climate Change Justice project calls for financial support for low-income households and “vulnerable” communities it claims will face economic hardship due to climate change and other environmental changes. [12] NCLC supported the Climate Protection Act of 2013, legislation written by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would have effectively implemented a carbon tax if passed. [13] [14]

NCLC’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project provides repayment strategy resources for student loan borrowers and their representatives. [15] In 2013, NCLC released a report criticizing the student loan debt relief industry and accused companies of violating consumer protection laws. [16]

Advocacy

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

In 2007, NCLC helped organize Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL), an activist organization that was instrumental in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under President Barack Obama. [17] [18] AFFIL disbanded shortly after CFPB’s establishment, but NCLC continued efforts to influence the agency. In 2011, NCLC encouraged CFPB to start exercising its powers and investigate financial services businesses despite not yet having a director in place. [19]

When Obama administration-appointed CFPB Director Richard Cordray announced his resignation in 2017 to run as a Democrat for Governor of Ohio, NCLC fought efforts by President Donald Trump to name an interim replacement. [20] NCLC joined an amicus brief in support of Deputy CFPB Director Leandra English’s injunction to continue serving as acting director, despite President Trump’s appointment of then-U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. [21] The injunction was denied by a federal judge. [22] Deepak Gupta, the attorney who represented English, joined NCLC’s board of directors in 2018. [23] [24]

2020 Department of Education Lawsuit

In May 2020, NCLC sued the US. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos over wage garnishments from student borrowers. [25] The lawsuit accused the Department of continuing to garnish wages in violation of the recently passed CARES Act that provided relief for debtors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [26] However, DeVos had directed the Department to halt all collections and wage garnishments and issue refunds dating back to March 13, 2020, before the CARES Act was implemented. [27]

Democratic COVID Bill

NCLC endorsed the Democratic-backed proposal for COVID-19 relief. [28] The bill proposed $3 trillion in spending included expanded debt relief and supplemental support for utility payments. [29] In a statement, NCLC’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project director Persis Yu praised measures within the proposal that would provide $10,000 in student loan forgiveness. [30]

Funding

NCLC is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the IRS. [31] According to a 2019 financial statement, the organization holds over $50.8 million in total assets and received over $11 million in contributions and other revenues in 2019. [32]

NCLC claims it has been independently fundraising for over 20 years and receives support from individual contributors and private foundations such as the Ford Foundation and the New Venture Fund. [33] In 2017 George Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society contributed $300,000 to NCLC for general support. [34] In 2018, philanthropists Laura and John Arnold contributed over $750,000 directly and through the John and Laura Arnold Foundation. [35] NCLC has also received support from taxpayer-funded entities including the U.S. Administration on Aging. [36]

References

  1. NCLC, Our Story. Accessed July 24, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/about-us/our-story.html ^
  2. Americans for Fairness in Lending, “AFFIL’s Accomplishments, 2007 – 2010,” September 15, 2010. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://americansforfairnessinlending.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/accomplishments/ ^
  3. NCLC, “Consumer Advocates File in Support of Acting CFPB Director Leandra English,” December 8, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/media-center/cons-adv-file-support-cfpb-leandra.html ^
  4. NCLC, “U.S. Dept. of Education and Secretary DeVos Sued for Illegally Seizing Student Borrowers’ Paychecks During Coronavirus Emergency,” May 1, 2020. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/media-center/u-s-dept-of-education-and-secretary-devos-sued-for-illegally-seizing-student-borrowers-paychecks-during-coronavirus-emergency.html ^
  5. NCLC, Legislation. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/legislation-regulation/legislation-a-regulation/legislation.html ^
  6. Bailey, Martha J. and Duquette, Nicolas J., “How Johnson Fought the War on Poverty: The Economics and Politics of Funding at the Office of Economic Opportunity,” The Journal of Economic History. June 2014. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266933/ ^
  7. Budnitz, Mark Elliott, The National Consumer Law Center From Its Birth to 2013. Georgia State University College of Law, November 1, 2020. Available July 26, 2020. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2700720 ^
  8. NCLC, Our Story. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/about-us/our-story.html ^
  9. NCLC, About Us. Accessed July 26, 2019. https://www.nclc.org/about-us/about-us.html ^
  10. NCLC, About Us. Accessed July 26, 2019. https://www.nclc.org/about-us/about-us.html ^
  11. NCLC, NCLC Overview. Accessed July 26, 2019. https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/about_us/nclc-brochure-2019.pdf ^
  12. NCLC, Consumer Advocates’ and Community Action Statement. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/special_projects/climate_change/principles_energy_water.pdf ^
  13. NCLC, “Statement Regarding the Sanders/Boxer Climate Bill,” February 14, 2013. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/special_projects/climate_change/pr-climate-bill-2013.pdf ^
  14. Congress.gov, S.332 Climate Protection Act of 2013. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-bill/332/text#toc-HD3654AD6B8CA4345BD4E586800D43E4C ^
  15. Student Loan Borrower Assistance. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/ ^
  16. Loonin, Deanne, “Searching for Relief,” National Consumer Law Center, June 2013, Accessed July 26, 2013. https://www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/wp-content/uploads/File/searching-for-relief-report.pdf ^
  17. Americans for Fairness in Lending, “AFFIL’s Accomplishments, 2007 – 2010,” September 15, 2010. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://americansforfairnessinlending.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/accomplishments/ ^
  18. Americans for Fairness in Lending, “Press Release: AFFIL to Wind Down,” September 15, 2010, Accessed July 26, 2020. https://americansforfairnessinlending.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/press-release-affil-is-winding-down/ ^
  19. NCLC, “10 Things the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Can Start Now to Protect Consumers,” July 2011. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://nclc.org/images/pdf/regulatory_reform/10_things_CFPB_can_start_now.pdf ^
  20. NCLC, “Consumer Advocates File in Support of Acting CFPB Director Leandra English,” December 8, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/media-center/cons-adv-file-support-cfpb-leandra.html ^
  21. Public Citizen, English v. Trump. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.citizen.org/litigation/english-v-trump/ ^
  22. Rogers, Katie and Bernard, Tara Siegel, “President Wins Round in the Battle for the Consumer Bureau,” New York Times, November 28, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/us/politics/mick-mulvaney-leandra-english-consumer-bureau.html ^
  23. Rogers, Katie and Bernard, Tara Siegel, “President Wins Round in the Battle for the Consumer Bureau,” New York Times, November 28, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/us/politics/mick-mulvaney-leandra-english-consumer-bureau.html ^
  24. NCLC, “Deepak Gupta Joins National Consumer Law Center Board,” July 27, 2018. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/media-center/deepak-gupta-joins-nclc-board.html ^
  25. NCLC, “U.S. Dept. of Education and Secretary DeVos Sued for Illegally Seizing Student Borrowers’ Paychecks During Coronavirus Emergency,” May 1, 2020. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/media-center/u-s-dept-of-education-and-secretary-devos-sued-for-illegally-seizing-student-borrowers-paychecks-during-coronavirus-emergency.html ^
  26. Binkley, Collin, “DeVos not enforcing pause on wage garnishments, lawsuit says,” AP News, May 1, 2020. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://apnews.com/9f778cc6936bb690713ab712644c7574 ^
  27. U.S. Department of Education, “Secretary DeVos Directs FSA to Stop Wage Garnishment, Collections Actions for Student Loan Borrowers, Will Refund More Than $1.8 Billion to Students, Families,” March 25, 2020, Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-directs-fsa-stop-wage-garnishment-collections-actions-student-loan-borrowers-will-refund-more-18-billion-students-families ^
  28. NCLC, Legislation. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/legislation-regulation/legislation-a-regulation/legislation.html ^
  29. NCLC, Urge the Senate to Pass Another Stimulus Package, Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/take-action/urge-the-senate-to-pass-another-stimulus-package.html ^
  30. NCLC, “NCLC Advocates Praise U.S. House HEROES Act for Giving a Lifeline for Student Loan Borrowers Drowning in Debt,” May 14, 2020, Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/media-center/nclc-advocates-praise-u-s-house-heroes-act-for-giving-a-lifeline-for-student-loan-borrowers-drowning-in-debt.html ^
  31. NCLC, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2018. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/about_us/nclc-990-2018.pdf ^
  32. NCLC, Consolidated Financial Statements, December 31, 2019. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/about_us/2019-nclc-financial-statement.pdf ^
  33. NCLC, NCLC Supporters, Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/about-us/nclc-supporters.html ^
  34. Foundation to Promote Open Society, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2017, Part XV. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2017/263/753/2017-263753801-10377dae-F.pdf?_ga=2.175145890.1249942140.1595646676-1825164050.1591552655 ^
  35. NCLC, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2018, Schedule B, Part I, Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/about_us/nclc-990-2018.pdf ^
  36. NCLC, NCLC Supporters, Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.nclc.org/about-us/nclc-supporters.html ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1973

  • 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
    2017 Dec Form 990 $12,170,618 $8,365,127 $28,155,825 $1,590,715 N $3,869,842 $7,035,840 $869,196 $649,757 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $11,958,367 $8,094,364 $23,537,966 $1,543,261 N $3,240,839 $8,170,596 $656,236 $554,437
    2015 Dec Form 990 $11,487,586 $11,715,923 $19,523,262 $1,555,127 N $2,404,461 $6,354,075 $728,177 $461,012 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $10,386,467 $7,650,931 $25,515,594 $680,904 N $3,100,898 $6,169,060 $761,024 $625,228 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $10,181,742 $7,800,293 $22,924,931 $636,726 N $2,831,447 $6,496,310 $671,660 $490,850 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $10,932,914 $7,993,257 $20,926,620 $879,256 N $2,861,367 $6,990,222 $604,365 $474,758 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $6,936,521 $7,658,449 $17,440,205 $706,535 N $1,973,661 $4,156,308 $590,257 $467,425 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    National Consumer Law Center

    7 WINTHROP SQUARE 4TH FLOOR
    BOSTON, MA 02110-1245