Non-profit

North Star Fund

Website:

northstarfund.org/

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

13-2950801

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $5,457,384
Expenses: $5,054,986
Assets: $9,488,243

Type:

Charitable Foundation

Formation:

1978

Executive Director:

Jennifer Ching

Executive Director’s Compensation:

$123,895

Donations and Grants Received (2017):

$7,551,618

Grants Made (2017):

$3,172,624

Assets (2017):

$10,478,193

The North Star Fund is a grantmaking foundation that supports left-leaning organizations in New York City and the Hudson Valley of New York. Since its founding in 1978, it has made more than $60 million in grants to more than 2,000 organizations and claims, “If you see a group of New Yorkers on the steps of the state Capitol or in the streets demanding their rights, we probably fund them now or have funded them in the past.” [1]

The North Star Fund is notable for its model of having grant-making decisions made by “community funding committees” comprised of left-of-center activists, rather than the Fund’s staff or board of directors. It receives funding from a number of institutional left-of-center foundations, including the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, George Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society, the Tides Foundation, the Johnson Family Foundation, and Peter Buffett’s NoVo Foundation. [2]

Funding

North Star Fund receives funding from a number of institutional left-of-center contributors. The Jerome L. Greene Foundation, George Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society, the Tides Foundation, the Johnson Family Foundation, and Peter Buffett’s NoVo Foundation have all provided substantial grants to North Star Fund; other identified foundation contributors include the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation. [3]

Labor unions have also provided funding to North Star Fund, with the New York State Nurses Association, American Federation of Teachers, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) all reporting making payments to the Fund. [4]

History and Leadership

The North Star Fund was founded in 1978 by 26 young people with what the organization describes as “inherited wealth,” such as the late Skadden lawyer Russell D’Oench, the great-grandson of 19th century New York City Mayor William Russell Grace. [5][6][7]  These founders were engaged in left-leaning causes such as civil rights, LGBT interest, and anti-war activism and some of the first causes the group took on were unionization of Chinese restaurant workers and legal status for Haitian illegal immigrants. [8]

North Star Fund’s current executive director is Jennifer Ching, an attorney who had previously worked on behalf of accused terrorists in U.S. government custody at Guantanamo Bay. [9]

Activist-Controlled Grantmaking

The North Star Fund is unusual in that it delegates decisions about where its grants will be made to committees comprised of “grassroots organizers, people who create media and art to support activism, and leaders of New York’s social justice movements.” [10] According to executive director Jennifer Ching, “none of us who are part of the paid staff here make the decisions about where our money is allocated.” [11]

In an additional departure from traditional foundation best practices, the North Star Fund is a participant in the “Trust-Based Philanthropy Movement,” in which grant recipients have lower expectations for reporting and transparency and in which, “the onus of due diligence should be on the grantmaker, not the grantseeker.” [12]

In some cases, organizations associated with the North Star Fund’s committee and board members have received significant grants through this process. In 2017,[13] the New York City Community Funding Committee awarded a $122,000 grant to Make the Road New York, where committee co-chair Kesi Foster is an organizer. [14] The National Day Laborer Organizing Network received a $50,000 grant; North Star Fund board member Gonzalo Mercado is that organization’s regional coordinator. [15]

North Star Fund also hosts 20 “donor-advised funds,” which distribute charitable donations at the direct request of donors. [16] In 2017, its donor-advised funds received $2,017,520 in donations and made $1,667,248 in grants.

Support of Left-Wing Causes

In 2018 and 2019, the North Star Fund made grants to organizations working toward a wide range of left-leaning policies, including:[17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

  • Providing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.
  • Reducing restrictions on immigration and loosening immigration law enforcement.
  • Ending “broken windows” police enforcement of low-level crimes.
  • Promoting school policies that conform to left-leaning concepts of gender and sexuality.
  • Eliminating virtually all forms of academic testing, attendance metrics, or other school admissions requirements in New York’s public schools.
  • Lobbying against funding for the S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Ending the federal ban on military service by transgender persons.
  • Promoting rent control.
  • Stopping “the over-policing and abuse of Black bodies” in New York City public housing.
  • Banning solitary confinement in New York prisons and jails.
  • Union organizing among immigrant communities
  • Opposing “gentrification” in Brooklyn.
  • Restricting the ability of public schools to suspend or expel students for violation of district rules.

References

  1. “North Star Fund.” North Star Fund. Accessed September 30, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/. ^
  2. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted October 1, 2019. ^
  3. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted October 1, 2019. ^
  4. Data retrieved from U.S. Department of Labor Office of Labor Management Standards payer-payee query tool from information filed on Annual Reports of Labor Organizations. Queries conducted October 1, 2019. ^
  5. “Paid Notice: Deaths D’OENCH, TOBY.” The New York Times. The New York Times, January 30, 2012. https://archive.nytimes.com/query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage-9400EEDA133AF933A05752C0A9649D8B63.html. ^
  6. Arnold, Laurence. “Russell D’Oench, Skadden Partner of Mayoral Lineage, Dies at 58.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, January 25, 2012. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-01-26/russell-d-oench-skadden-partner-of-new-york-mayoral-lineage-dies-at-58. ^
  7. “Executive Director (NSF).” EPIP. Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. Accessed September 30, 2019. https://www.epip.org/executive_director_nsf. ^
  8. Teltsch, Kathleen. “ADVISER HELPING THE RICH DISCOVER WORTHY CAUSES.” The New York Times. The New York Times, October 14, 1984. https://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/14/nyregion/adviser-helping-the-rich-discover-worthy-causes.html. ^
  9. “North Star Fund Announces Jennifer Ching as New Executive Director.” Koya Leadership Partners, February 9, 2017. https://koyapartners.com/blog/north-star-fund-announces-jennifer-ching-as-new-executive-director/. ^
  10. “Thank You, North Star Fund CFC Members.” North Star Fund. Accessed September 30, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/40yearsbold/thank-you-cfc-members/. ^
  11. Thornburgh, Nathan. “Jennifer Ching Is Dismantling the System.” Roads & Kingdoms, January 14, 2019. https://roadsandkingdoms.com/2019/jennifer-ching-dismantling-system/. ^
  12. “Do the Homework – Trust-Based Philanthropy.” Trust-Based Philanthropy Project. Accessed September 30, 2019. https://trustbasedphilanthropy.org/do-the-homework. ^
  13. “North Star Fund Inc, Form 990, Schedule L – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/132950801/201843179349304529/IRS990ScheduleL. ^
  14. “Kesi Foster.” North Star Fund. Accessed September 30, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/people/kesi-foster/. ^
  15. “Gonzalo Mercado.” North Star Fund. Accessed September 30, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/people/gonzalo-mercado/. ^
  16. “North Star Fund Inc, Form 990, Schedule D – Nonprofit Explorer.” ProPublica, May 9, 2013. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/132950801/201843179349304529/IRS990ScheduleD. ^
  17. “Let Us Breathe Fund Awards 2019 Grants.” North Star Fund, September 6, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/2019/07/let-us-breathe-fund-awards-2019-grants/. ^
  18. “Answering the Call – Rapid Response Grants So Far in 2019.” North Star Fund, July 12, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/2019/07/rapid-response-grants-early-2019/. ^
  19. “2019 Giving Project Grants.” North Star Fund, May 10, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/2019/03/2019-giving-project-grants/. ^
  20. “Our Spring/Summer 2019 NYC Grassroots Action Grants.” North Star Fund, June 14, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/2019/06/summer-2019-nyc-grassroots-action-grants/. ^
  21. “Our Fall 2018-Winter 2019 New York City Grassroots Action Grants.” North Star Fund, February 12, 2019. https://northstarfund.org/2019/02/fall-2018-winter-2019-new-york-city-grassroots-action-grants/. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1978

  • 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 Jun Form 990 $5,457,384 $5,054,986 $9,488,243 $574,262 N $5,279,624 $113,942 $51,995 $168,997
    2016 Jun Form 990 $6,659,686 $5,820,236 $9,100,528 $738,920 N $6,605,128 $32,325 $46,310 $172,825 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $5,279,464 $4,295,733 $7,949,991 $379,822 N $5,188,389 $65,500 $40,781 $177,713
    2014 Jun Form 990 $3,330,782 $3,851,705 $6,824,584 $226,345 N $3,191,699 $43,027 $39,630 $176,369 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $5,608,152 $6,353,217 $7,798,648 $667,380 N $5,446,582 $153,481 $40,950 $134,448 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $4,838,386 $3,885,433 $9,355,042 $1,518,613 N $4,576,735 $207,418 $40,080 $120,000 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    North Star Fund

    520 8TH AVE RM 1800
    NEW YORK, NY 10018-4170