Public Welfare Foundation



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2015):

Revenue: $33,894,834
Expenses: $25,404,960
Assets: $482,933,144



Issue Areas:

Criminal Justice

Juvenile Penal Changes

Left-Wing Employment Policy


Charles Edward Marsh

President and CEO:

Candice C. Jones

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The Public Welfare Foundation is a left-of-center grantmaking organization founded in 1947 that claims to focuses on issues of criminal justice, juvenile penal changes, and labor union-backed employment policy. Since its founding, the organization has given more than $500 million in grants to left-leaning organizations.


Charles Edward Marsh founded the Public Welfare Foundation in 1947 as his personal fortune swelled from building the Marsh-Fentress newspaper chain alongside brothers Charles and E.S. Fentress.1 Marsh’s newspaper business ultimately turned into an early source of income for the foundation. After Marsh retired from the business in the early 1940s,2 he donated three newspapers he owned to the organization in 1952 to provide it with a stable source of funding.3

The organization’s vague name was deliberately chosen by Marsh to allow the foundation to “evolve with the times.”4 Not wanting to tie down the organization with a fixed, unchanging purpose, Marsh obscurely named the foundation so as to allow it to be involved in any and all activities that would “promote the well-being and happiness of human beings” in the future.5

Marsh aligned and associated with prominent mid-20th-century Democrats including future President Lyndon Johnson, Vice President Henry Wallace, and controversial Senator Claude Pepper (D-Florida); Wallace and Pepper opposed President Harry Truman’s re-election because Truman was insufficiently left-wing. Marsh would oversee the organization until the decline of his health in the late 1950s and eventual death in 1964. His wife at the time, Claudia Haines Marsh, remained actively involved with the Public Welfare Foundation until her death in 2000.6

Activism Funding

Today, the Public Welfare Foundation makes grants to support left-progressive policy in a number of issue areas, focusing on so-called “difficult” and “often overlooked” areas to spur political and policy activism.7 In 2018, the largest projects included left-of-center interests such as liberalized criminal justice, union-aligned employment and labor policy, and youth justice.8 Since its inception, the organization has distributed more than $570 million in grants to thousands of left-leaning organizations.9

The foundation provides grants to organizations and associations that claim to work towards reducing state incarceration levels and racial disparities.10 The organization likewise advances liberal policy in juvenile justice.11 The foundation supports organizations that advance alternatives to incarceration for crimes.12 The organization’s last area of focus is workers’ rights, in which the foundation works to donate grants to those willing to “advance reforms to hold employers accountable for wage theft,” “advance reforms to prevent severe illness, injury, and death on the job,” and develop “private enforcement of fundamental workplace protections,” all major labor union priorities.13


Public Welfare Foundation’s 2016 tax returns report total assets of $488,474,152 and disbursements of $20,715,620 in grants.14 The Public Welfare Foundation allocated grants to hundreds of left-of-center organizations in 2016 including $100,000 to the union-environmentalist coalition group Bluegreen Alliance Foundation, $150,000 to the far-left community organizing group Center for Popular Democracy, $150,000 to the labor union-aligned think tank Economic Policy Institute, and $975,000 to liberal “dark money” group New Venture Fund. Grants totaling $1,175,000 were also allocated to the Tides Center, “a subsidiary entity of the Tides Foundation, a donor-advised fund for left-of-center causes that allows donor organizations which might otherwise have to disclose contributions to liberal organizations to obscure their contributions.”15


The organization is currently run by Candice C. Jones, who has served as the president and chief executive officer of the Foundation since 2017. Prior to her work at the Public Welfare Foundation, Jones served as a senior advisor at Chicago CRED, an organization focusing on gun violence in Chicago, where she secured funding for violence intervention programs. Jones also served as a program officer with the left-of-center MacArthur Foundation.16


  1. “Public Welfare Foundation History.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 07, 2018.
  2. “CHARLES MARSH, PUBLISHER DEAD; An Ex‐Editor of Newspapers Throughout U.S. Was 77.” The New York Times. December 31, 1964. Accessed September 6, 2018.
  3. “Paid Notice: Deaths MARSH, CLAUDIA HAINES.” The New York Times. May 05, 2000. Accessed September 07, 2018.
  4. “Public Welfare Foundation History.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 07, 2018.
  5. “Public Welfare Foundation History.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 07, 2018.
  6. “Public Welfare Foundation History.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 07, 2018.
  7. “Public Welfare Foundation About Us.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 07, 2018.
  8. “Public Welfare Foundation About Us.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 07, 2018.
  9. “Public Welfare Foundation History.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 07, 2018.
  10. “Criminal Justice.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 06, 2018.
  11. “Youth Justice.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 06, 2018.
  12. “Youth Justice.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 06, 2018.
  13. “Workers’ Rights.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 06, 2018.
  14. Public Welfare Foundation, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2016.
  15. “Tides Center.” InfluenceWatch. Accessed September 6, 2018.
  16. “Public Welfare Foundation Staff.” Public Welfare Foundation. Accessed September 07, 2018.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Peter Edelman
    Former Board Chair

Donation Recipients

  1. Advancement Project (Non-profit)
  2. Alliance for Global Justice (AFGJ) (Non-profit)
  3. Alliance for Safety and Justice (Non-profit)
  4. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) (Non-profit)
  5. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (Non-profit)
  6. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation (Non-profit)
  7. American Friends Service Committee (Non-profit)
  8. American Rights at Work (Non-profit)
  9. Anacostia Watershed Society (Non-profit)
  10. Arise Citizens’ Policy Project (Non-profit)
  11. Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families (Non-profit)
  12. Auburn Seminary (Non-profit)
  13. BlueGreen Alliance (Non-profit)
  14. BlueGreen Alliance Foundation (Non-profit)
  15. Bolder Advocacy (Non-profit)
  16. Californians for Safety and Justice (Non-profit)
  17. Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) (Non-profit)
  18. Center for American Progress (CAP) (Non-profit)
  19. Center for Economic and Policy Research (Non-profit)
  20. Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) (Non-profit)
  21. Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) (Non-profit)
  22. Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) (Non-profit)
  23. Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) (Non-profit)
  24. Center for Public Integrity (Non-profit)
  25. Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) (Non-profit)
  26. Centro Sin Fronteras (Non-profit)
  27. Children’s Action Alliance (Non-profit)
  28. City Year (Non-profit)
  29. Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) (Non-profit)
  30. Education Fund (Non-profit)
  31. Common Counsel Foundation (Non-profit)
  32. Community Labor United (Non-profit)
  33. Council on Foundations (Non-profit)
  34. Democracy North Carolina (Non-profit)
  35. East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (Non-profit)
  36. Echoing Green (Non-profit)
  37. Economic Policy Institute (EPI) (Non-profit)
  38. Employee Rights Advocacy Institute (Non-profit)
  39. Every Texan (Non-profit)
  40. FairVote (Non-profit)
  41. Gamaliel Foundation (Non-profit)
  42. Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  43. Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) (Non-profit)
  44. In These Times (Non-profit)
  45. Interfaith Worker Justice (Non-profit)
  46. Justice at Stake (Non-profit)
  47. Justice Policy Institute (Non-profit)
  48. Kentucky Coalition (Non-profit)
  49. Kentucky Youth Advocates (Non-profit)
  50. Keystone Research Center (KRC) (Non-profit)
  51. Leadership Conference Education Fund (Non-profit)
  52. Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) (Non-profit)
  53. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (Non-profit)
  54. National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (Non-profit)
  55. Partners for Dignity & Rights (formerly National Economic and Social Rights Initiative) (Non-profit)
  56. National Employment Law Project (NELP) (Non-profit)
  57. National Public Radio (NPR) (Non-profit)
  58. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Non-profit)
  59. NEO Philanthropy (Non-profit)
  60. New America (New America Foundation) (Non-profit)
  61. New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (Non-profit)
  62. New Venture Fund (NVF) (Non-profit)
  63. New World Foundation (NWF) (Non-profit)
  64. North Carolina Justice Center (Non-profit)
  65. ONE DC (For-profit)
  66. Pacifica Foundation (Non-profit)
  67. Partnership for Working Families (Non-profit)
  68. People for the American Way (PFAW) (Non-profit)
  69. People for the American Way (PFAW) Foundation (Non-profit)
  70. People’s Action Institute (Non-profit)
  71. Policy Matters Ohio (Non-profit)
  72. Public Allies (Non-profit)
  73. Public Assets Institute (Non-profit)
  74. Public Citizen (Non-profit)
  75. Puente Human Rights Movement (Non-profit)
  76. R Street Institute (Non-profit)
  77. Repairers of the Breach (Non-profit)
  78. Robin Hood Foundation (Non-profit)
  79. Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) (Non-profit)
  80. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (Non-profit)
  81. Small Business Majority (Non-profit)
  82. Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (Non-profit)
  83. SourceWatch (Other Group)
  84. Southern Center for Human Rights (Non-profit)
  85. Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) (Non-profit)
  86. Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) (Non-profit)
  87. Southerners on New Ground (Non-profit)
  88. State Innovation Exchange (SIX) (Non-profit)
  89. TYPE Media Center (Non-profit)
  90. The Praxis Project (Non-profit)
  91. Tides Center (Non-profit)
  92. Center for Earth Ethics (Other Group)
  93. United Workers Association (Non-profit)
  94. Urban Institute (Non-profit)
  95. USAction Education Fund (Non-profit)
  96. Vera Institute of Justice (VIJ) (Non-profit)
  97. Violence Policy Center (VPC) (Non-profit)
  98. Voices for Utah Children (Non-profit)
  99. Washington Office on Latin America (Non-profit)
  100. WISDOM (Non-profit)
  101. Workers Defense Project (Non-profit)
  102. Working America Education Fund (Non-profit)
  103. Working Partnerships USA (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: September - August
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 1966

  • 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
    2015 Sep Form PF $33,894,834 $25,404,960 $482,933,144 $14,941,750 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Sep Form PF $99,894,615 $25,842,491 $521,537,931 $15,601,061 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Sep Form PF $42,195,670 $24,205,537 $488,153,146 $16,012,685 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Oct Form PF $7,110,156 $28,046,064 $463,770,746 $16,541,013 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Oct Form PF $32,141,239 $25,604,624 $449,848,072 $13,266,432 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Public Welfare Foundation

    1200 U ST NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20009-4443