Sixteen Thirty Fund is a 501(c)(4) advocacy group that was founded in 2008. The group says it “promotes social welfare by conducting public education, advocacy, and other campaigns to support progressive policies.”
The group operates quietly, using its funds to provide grants to progressive organizations. In 2015, the fund provided millions in grants to 29 different organizations. That year, Sixteen Thirty Fund’s largest grant—exceeding $1.9 million—went to the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the “educational” arm of the League of Conservation Voters, an organization activating and rallying environmentalists to political activism.
Eric Kessler presides over the Sixteen Thirty Fund. He is also a founder and principal of Arabella Advisors, an investment firm which aims to “help families, corporations and foundations improve the world through philanthropy and impact investing.”
Low-Profile Funding Activities
The Sixteen Thirty Fund keeps a low profile compared with comparable nonprofit organizations. The organization boasts a one-page website, no Facebook page and no Twitter account. The fund has received little news coverage in the past few years. What little press coverage to be found centered on the 2013 effort to recall Democratic sate legislators in Colorado over their votes on a controversial gun-control measure.
That year, Sixteen Thirty Fund donated $35,000 to a Colorado group founded to defended Democratic state Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) from a recall effort over her votes for more gun control in the state. Giron lost the effort after only 44 percent voted to retain her. During the same recall effort, Sixteen Thirty Fund donated another $35,000 to a group supporting Colorado state Sen. John Morse (D-Colorado Springs), who also supported stricter gun control. Morse also lost the recall vote when 51 percent voted to oust him.
In 2017, the Washington Free Beacon tied the Sixteen Thirty Fund to progressive efforts to hide big money fueling criticism of President Donald Trump’s nominees to several Cabinet-level posts. Targeted nominees included businessman Andy Puzder (who would later withdraw as nominee for Secretary of Labor) and Steven Mnuchin (later confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury).
Another publication, Tax Analysts, noticed Sixteen Thirty Fund’s financial support for “Tax March” rallies planned to protest President Trump’s unwillingness to release his tax returns. It is unclear how much Sixteen Thirty Fund contributed to the march.
On September 4, 2018, the Missouri-based Kansas City Star reported a $3 million donation from Sixteen Thirty Fund to Raise Up Missouri, a left-wing PAC seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour through a 2018 ballot initiative. Sixteen Thirty Fund also reportedly gave $500,000 to the PAC in 2017, and an additional $500,000 to it in May 2018.
Eric Kessler, a former Clinton Administration environmental policy staffer who also serves as principal of liberal philanthropic and investment strategy firm Arabella Advisors, is president of Sixteen Thirty Fund. He additionally serves as the board chair for the New Venture Fund. More than 100 progressive organizations boast connections to Kessler and the New Venture Fund.
Sixteen Thirty Fund also received over $4.5 million from the Atlantic Philanthropies, a now-defunct Bermuda-based philanthropic enterprise that funded left-of-center organizations. Other known funders of Sixteen Thirty include the Tides Foundation.
- 350.org Action Fund, $75,000
- Americans for Tax Fairness Institute, $100,000
- Bread for the World, $12,500
- Center for Community Change Action, $610,000
- Center for Rights in Action Inc., $50,000
- Church World Service, $12,500
- Citizen Action of Wisconsin Inc., $14,000
- Color of Change, $40,000
- Color of Change Education Fund, $75,000
- Demand Progress Action, $55,000
- Earth Day Network, $50,000
- Environmental Defense Fund, $675,000
- Fairshare, $550,000
- Free Press Action Fund, $125,000
- Freedom for All Americans, $75,000
- League of Conservation Voters, $1,925,000
- Louisiana Federation for Children PAC, $70,000
- New Progressive Network, $13,000
- Northwest Health Foundation, $10,000
- One Nation Forward, $5,000
- Pineros Campesinos Unidos Del, $20,000
- Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, $14,000
- Presente Action, $20,000
- Stand for Children, $80,000
- Sumofus, $25,000
- The Partnership Project Action Fund, $1,450,000
- The Public Investigator, $28,578
- United Working Families, $75,000
- US Global Leadership Campaign, $25,000
In 2016, the Sixteen Thirty Fund paid $400,000 in consulting fees to the left-wing Democracy Alliance. It also hired Arabella Advisors, which was paid $789,891 in consulting fees; SKDKnickerbocker for $268,944; Block By Block, Inc. for $527,950; and Precision Strategies for $435,141.