Non-profit

Sanders Institute

Website:

www.sandersinstitute.com

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

81-3250230

DUNS Number:

06-074-1203

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Formation:

2017

Type:

Pro-Bernie Sanders Think Tank

Founders:

Jane O’Meara Sanders

David Driscoll

Executive Director:

David Driscoll

Status:

Defunct (as of May 2019)

The Sanders Institute was a left-wing think tank that formed in the aftermath of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) 2016 presidential campaign. It was founded by Senator Sanders’s wife Jane O’Meara Sanders in 2017. The goal of the think tank was to propose left-wing policy solutions for various issues on everything from the economy to racial issues.

The think tank closed down in May 2019 as Bernie Sanders launched another run for president in 2020. [1] Before the think tank was shuttered, it enjoyed support from the network that Sen. Sanders built in his first presidential campaign. It also had many well-known radical leftists among its ranks of fellows.

Background

The Sanders Institute was founded in June 2017 in Burlington, Vermont. It was founded by a team of Bernie Sanders supporters led by his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders. [2]

The Sanders family contributed $25,000 of their personal funds to help get the think tank off the ground. The rest of the money came from Our Revolution as seed money and to be repaid when the think tank began fundraising. [3]

In November 2018, the Institute sponsored The Gathering, an event headlined by a speech from Senator Sanders himself. Sanders called on progressives to come together, even if they’re fighting for different things. “Some of us are fighting for health care for all and some of us are fighting for affordable housing and some of us are trying to stop the destruction of the planet,” Sanders said in his speech. [4]

At the conference, the Institute teamed up with Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 to form the Progressive International. The organization was intended to be a network of far-left and radical groups and individuals working together around the world. [5]

In 2019, after Bernie Sanders ran for president again in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the decision was made to shut the Institute down and to cease accepting donations. The decision was made to shut it down after critics said that it blurred the line between family, fundraising, and campaigns. [6]

Funding

The Sanders Institute raised more than $361,000 from 13 large contributions, including one that was over $100,000. Some of the contributors to the organization were National Nurses United, Our Revolution, and the Healthy Housing Foundation, a branch of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. [7]

The Gathering conference cost nearly $416,000 to put on and raised the Institute around $145,000. [8]

Leadership

Co-Founders

David Driscoll was the executive director and co-founder of the Institute. He is a son of Jane O’Meara Sanders from a previous marriage. In the 2016 presidential campaign, he directed the arts and culture team for Sanders. Previously, he had private sector experience with Nike and Burton where he worked on marketing campaigns. [9]

Jane O’Meara Sanders was the founder of the Institute, where she also works as a fellow. She works on the board of directors of the Vermont Economic Development Authority. [10]

Sanders also worked as a president of Burlington College, which closed in 2016. A land deal during her tenure came under federal investigation after it was alleged that she overstated fundraising in order to purchase land. The federal investigation ended with no charges filed. [11]

Before that, Sanders worked as her husband’s chief of staff when he was a U.S. Representative. She also worked on political campaigns as a consultant.

Board of Directors

The Institute had a three-person board: Meredith Rose Burak, Sara Burchard, and Danny Glover.

Meredith Rose Burak was secretary of the board. She worked as an adviser to Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign. Before that, she worked as director of communications for the New York City Council and a political consultant in New York City. She also worked for Merrill Lynch, managing hundreds of millions in assets for labor unions and non-profit groups. [12]

Dr. Sara Burchard was treasurer of the board. She is a former professor of psychology at the University of Vermont. [13]

Danny Glover worked on the board and is also a fellow at the Institute. Glover is an actor and a far-left activist. [14]

Fellows and Staffers

The Sanders Institute attracted many well-known left-wing activists in addition to Danny Glover. Most of the fellows were supporters of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential run. According to a news report, the fellows were all volunteers.

University of California at Berkeley professor and Clinton Administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich is a fellow of the Institute. He is also a founding editor of American Prospect and the chairman of Common Cause. [15]

Nina Turner is a fellow of the Institute. She also works as president of Our Revolution, a group that was formed as a result of Bernie Sanders’s run for president in 2016. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Turner worked as a national surrogate for the Sanders campaign. Before the 2016 presidential campaign, Turner was the Democratic nominee for Ohio Secretary of State. Before that, she was a member of the Ohio State Senate and a member of the Cleveland City Council. She also worked as a strategic leader of the Ohio Democratic Party. [16]

Harry Belafonte is also a fellow of the Institute. [17] He is a singer and well-known left-wing activist. Belafonte has in the past expressed support for communist dictators such as the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. [18]

Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs is also an Institute fellow. Sachs has worked as an adviser to the United Nations and the communist Chinese government. [19]

Harvard University professor Cornel West is also a fellow. [20] West is a far-left radical who has expressed support for socialism and Marxism. He has associated with anti-Semitic and racist Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, though he claims to have “been critical” of Farrakhan’s statements about Jewish people. [21]

Environmentalist Bill McKibben is also a fellow. He is the founder of 350.org, an organization that calls for more government control of the economy and opposition to cheap, reliable sources of energy. [22]

Ben Jealous is also a fellow. He is a former CEO of the NAACP. [23] In 2018, he was the Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland; he lost the general election in a year favorable to Democrats.

Stephanie Kelton is also a fellow. She was the economic adviser to the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. [24]

Michael Lighty is also a fellow. He previously worked for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United where he pushed for a tax on financial transactions and opposing free speech on elections. [25]

Shaun King is also a fellow. He is one of the leaders of the anti-law enforcement Black Lives Matter movement. [26]

Left-wing politicians U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HA), Canadian Member of Parliament Niki Ashton, and San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz are also fellows. [27] [28]

James Zogby is also a fellow. He a co-founder of the Arab-American Institute and held a position on the Sanders 2016 campaign. He also worked as a member of the Democratic National Committee. [29]

References

  1. Rodrigo, Chris. 2019. “Sanders Institute Shutting Down Amid Criticism”. The Hill. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/434186-sanders-Institute-shutting-down-amid-criticism. ^
  2. Gaudiano, Nicole. 2017. “‘The Sanders Institute’: Jane Sanders Launches New Progressive Think Tank”. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/06/07/sanders-Institute-jane-sanders-launches-new-progressive-think-tank/102594476/. ^
  3. Gaudiano, Nicole. 2017. “‘The Sanders Institute’: Jane Sanders Launches New Progressive Think Tank”. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/06/07/sanders-Institute-jane-sanders-launches-new-progressive-think-tank/102594476/. ^
  4. Elder-Connors, Liam. 2018. “Sanders Institute Conference Aims To Unify Progressive Movement”. Vermont Public Radio. https://www.vpr.org/post/sanders-Institute-conference-aims-unify-progressive-movement#stream/0. ^
  5. “Diem25 Teams Up With The Sanders Institute To Launch The Progressive International”. 2018. Diem25. https://diem25.org/diem25-teams-up-with-the-sanders-Institute-to-launch-the-progressive-international/. ^
  6. Rodrigo, Chris. 2019. “Sanders Institute Shutting Down Amid Criticism”. The Hill. https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/434186-sanders-Institute-shutting-down-amid-criticism. ^
  7. Cramer, Ruby. 2019. “High-Dollar Donations Funded Bernie Sanders’ Policy Group A Year Before His 2020 Campaign”. Buzzfeed News. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/rubycramer/bernie-sanders-Institute-donations. ^
  8. Cramer, Ruby. 2019. “High-Dollar Donations Funded Bernie Sanders’ Policy Group A Year Before His 2020 Campaign”. Buzzfeed News. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/rubycramer/bernie-sanders-Institute-donations. ^
  9. “David Driscoll”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/staff/driscoll. ^
  10. “Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/directors/omeara-sanders. ^
  11. Evans, Brad. 2018. “Vermont’s US Attorney Files No Charges Against Jane Sanders Over Burlington College Land Deal”. WPTZ. https://www.mynbc5.com/article/vermonts-us-attorney-clears-jane-sanders-of-burlington-college-wrongdoing/25055185 ^
  12. “Meredith Rose Burak”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/board/burak. ^
  13.  “Dr. Sara Burchard”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/board/burchard. ^
  14. “Danny Glover”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/glover. ^
  15. “Prof. Robert Reich”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/reich. ^
  16.  “The Honorable Nina Turner”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/fellow/turner. ^
  17. “Harry Belafonte”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/fellow/belafonte. ^
  18. “Harry Belafonte”. 2019. Discover The Networks. Accessed May 27. https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individuals/harry-belafonte/. ^
  19. “Prof. Jeffrey Sachs”. 2019. Sanders Institute. Accessed May 27. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/fellow/sachs. ^
  20. “Dr. Cornel West”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/fellow/west. ^
  21. West, Cornel, and Deborah Chasman. “Speaking the Truth.” Boston Review. April 27, 2019. Accessed May 29, 2019. http://bostonreview.net/race/cornel-west-deborah-chasman-speaking-truth. ^
  22. “Bill Mckibben”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/mckibben. ^
  23. “Ben Jealous”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/fellow/jealous. ^
  24. “Dr. Stephanie Kelton”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/kelton. ^
  25. “Michael Lighty”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/fellow/lighty. ^
  26. “Shaun King”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/king. ^
  27. “Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/yulin-cruz. ^
  28. “Niki Ashton”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/ashton.[/note] [note]“Rep. Tulsi Gabbard”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/gabbard. ^
  29. “Dr. James Zogby”. 2019. Sanders Institute. https://www.sandersInstitute.com/about/zogby. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. James Zogby
    Former Board Chair
  2. Danny Glover
    Board Member

Supported Movements

  1. Medicare-for-All
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: December 1, 2017

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.

    Sanders Institute

    603 2ND ST NE
    WASHINGTON, DC 20002-4909