Rodney Fund



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $4,153,615
Expenses: $433,777
Assets: $9,971,195



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The Rodney Fund was the philanthropic vehicle of James M. Rodney, founder of Detroit Forming, a company that makes rigid plastic packaging. The fund’s primary beneficiary is the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, but the organization donates to other center-right public policy organizations.

James M. Rodney

The Rodney Fund is the creation of James M. Rodney, who in 1962 founded Detroit Forming, which makes rigid plastic packaging. 1

Rodney expressed free-market and pro-business views. In 1988, he said in the Wall Street Journal that management should have the right to permanently replace workers who were on strike. “Obviously it would be difficult to recruit replacement workers for jobs they would lose whenever the strikers decided to reclaim them,” Rodney wrote.  “Workers must realize that when they voluntarily leave a job they may be doing so permanently.” 2

In 2009, he responded to a Wall Street Journal article supporting the bailout of the auto industry. Rodney stated that “almost every paragraph” in the article, such as “the money government has invested in GM” “demonstrate President Barack Obama’s plan is some form of ‘ism,’ but it’s certainly not capitalism.” 3

Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Rodney was a member of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy board of directors between 1993 and 2011. In 2000, the center gave him their Champions of Freedom Award for “his work to pare back harmful regulations and discriminatory tax policies” in Michigan. 4

Mackinac Center president Joseph G. Lehman said in 2021 after Rodney’s death that Rodney “was stalwart in his dedication to free markets and limited government…His guidance and support helped not just the Mackinac Center but many free-market organizations around the nation.” 5

One Rodney Fund project with the Mackinac Center was sponsoring the Freedom in Fiction prize, which gave a $10,000 award to a novel that had “characters that demonstrate an appreciation for liberty, free markets and/or explicitly or symbolically oppose government oppression or restraints on their freedom.” 6 In 2007 the prize went to All Different Kinds of Free by Jessica McCann, a novel about a Black woman freed from slavery after winning a Supreme Court case in 1842. 7


In 2020 the Rodney Fund’s three largest grants were $55,000 to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, $38,000 to Young Americans for Liberty, and $28,000 to Youth On Their Own and the Liberty Justice Center. 8


  1. “Company History,” Detroit Forming, (accessed October 24 2022)
  2. James M. Rodney, “Workers’ Obligations Toward Management,” Wall Street Journal, August 19, 1988.
  3. James M. Rodney, “Obama’s Auto Plan Is An ‘Ism,” But It’s Not Capitalism,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2009.
  4. [1] “Mackinac Center Mourns The Passing of James M. Rodney,” (accessed October 24, 2022).
  5. “Mackinac Center Mourns The Passing of James M. Rodney,” (accessed October 24, 2022).
  6. Greg Steimel, The Truth About The Mackinac Center, MEA Research, January 2013, 19.
  7. “Freedom In Fiction Winner Published to Positive Reviews,” Mackinac Center, Fall 2011,  (accessed October 24, 2022).
  8. Rodney Fund, Return of a Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2020, Part XV Line 3
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 1992

  • 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
    2020 Dec Form PF $4,153,615 $433,777 $9,971,195 $1 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2019 Dec Form PF $-316,689 $414,765 $6,251,357 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2015 Dec Form PF $-50,558 $479,229 $7,941,997 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $762,500 $845,093 $8,471,784 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $493,758 $846,106 $8,554,373 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form PF $174,098 $979,427 $8,906,721 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form PF $1,297,009 $1,096,293 $9,712,050 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Rodney Fund

    19100 W 8 MILE RD
    SOUTHFIELD, MI 48075-5726