Non-profit

The Heartland Fund

Website:

www.windwardfund.org/heartland-fund

Location:

Washington, DC

Type:

Charitable Foundation

Formation:

2018

The Heartland Fund is a left-of-center advocacy group promoting left-progressive economic activism and environmentalist causes in rural communities in the Midwest through grantmaking. It is the project of several different left-wing nonprofits and the nonprofit management firm Arabella Advisors, whose director of advocacy, Scott Nielsen, has specifically stated that President Donald Trump’s electoral success in the Midwest served as a wake-up call for the need for more rural left-of-center activism and involvement. [1]

It is housed by the Windward Fund, which is managed by the left-of-center advocacy-philanthropic consultancy Arabella Advisors. [2] The Heartland Fund has an advisory committee made up of left-progressive groups including Midwest Environmental Justice Network and Western Organization of Resource Councils.[3]

­­­­­­­­­­­­­History

The Heartland Fund was formed in 2018 as a donors collaborative consisting of several left-wing organizations. It is currently funded and run by several different groups, including Arabella Advisors, a left-leaning nonprofit management firm; the Windward Fund, a left-leaning foundation managed by Arabella and the Heartland Fund’s parent nonprofit; the Wallace Global Fund, a left-progressive foundation founded by former Vice President Henry Wallace; the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, an order of Catholic nuns concerned with the environment; and the George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations. [4] [5]

Arabella Advisors director of advocacy Scott Nielsen called President Donald Trump’s electoral success in the Midwest in 2016 a “wake-up call” for the need for more rural left-of-center activism and involvement in the region. [6] The Wallace Global Fund commissioned Ben Goldfarb, former executive director of Wellstone Action, to write a report looking at the politics of rural America and how donors to left-of-center advocacy nonprofits can build power and connections in those communities. The report contributed to the launching of the Heartland Fund. [7]

Funding

The Heartland Fund’s parent nonprofits are the Wallace Global Fund, a liberal group founded by former Vice President Henry Wallace; the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, a Catholic religious order focused on the environment; and the Open Society Foundations, an advocacy-philanthropic vehicle founded and principally funded by billionaire George Soros. [8] Soros’s Open Society Foundations later contributed $200,000 to the Heartland Fund under a one-year grant in 2019. [9]

Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, a major left-of-center grantmaking foundation, is a founding grantor to the Heartland Fund. [10]

Activities

The Heartland Fund made nine grants worth $500,000 in 2018 and expected to triple that amount in 2019. [11]  These grants went to left-wing environmental and activist groups that are also involved in rural communities. Some of the grantees included the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy; Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (which is a member of the Green New Deal Coalition); the Missouri Rural Crisis Center; MOVE Coalition; We The People Michigan; Western Native Voice Project; and the Midwest Environmental Justice Network. [12] [13]

Leadership

Scott Nielsen is the managing director of advocacy at Arabella Advisors and is involved with the management of the Heartland Fund. Nielsen described the 2016 election as a “wake-up call” that progressives need to be involved with rural Americans and address their concerns. Nielsen claims that the Heartland Fund will do this by engaging and supporting local leaders on environmental and economic issues. [14]

References

  1. Strode, Ryan, and Scott Nielsen. “Building Communities—and Working for Change—in America’s Heartland.” ArabellaAdvisors.com. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.arabellaadvisors.com/blog/building-communities-working-change-americas-heartland/. ^
  2. Schoffstall, Joe. “Soros, Wallace Help Bankroll Dark Money Fund Aimed at Midwestern Voters.” Washington Free Beacon. May 31, 2019. Accessed April 24, 2020. https://freebeacon.com/politics/soros-wallace-help-bankroll-dark-money-fund-aimed-at-midwestern-voters/ ^
  3. Williams, Tate. “The Progressive Funders Looking to Build Power Across Divides in American Heartland.” Inside Philanthropy. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 24, 2020. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/4/18/the-progressive-funders-looking-to-build-power-across-divides-in-the-american-heartland ^
  4. ““Heartland Fund Launches Wth First Round of Grants.” WindwardFund.org. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.windwardfund.org/heartland-fund/. ^
  5. Williams, Tate. “The Progressive Funders Looking to Build Power Across Divides in the American Heartland.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/4/18/the-progressive-funders-looking-to-build-power-across-divides-in-the-american-heartland. ^
  6. Strode, Ryan, and Scott Nielsen. “Building Communities—and Working for Change—in America’s Heartland.” ArabellaAdvisors.com. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.arabellaadvisors.com/blog/building-communities-working-change-americas-heartland/ ^
  7. Williams, Tate. “The Progressive Funders Looking to Build Power Across Divides in American Heartland.” Inside Philanthropy. April 18, 2019. Accessed April 24, 2020. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/4/18/the-progressive-funders-looking-to-build-power-across-divides-in-the-american-heartland ^
  8. Williams, Tate. “The Progressive Funders Looking to Build Power Across Divides in the American Heartland.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/4/18/the-progressive-funders-looking-to-build-power-across-divides-in-the-american-heartland. ^
  9. Schoffstall, Joe. “Dark Money Network Funneled $600 Million to Liberal Initiative in 2018.” Washington Free Beacon. November 26, 2019. Accessed April 24, 2020. https://freebeacon.com/politics/dark-money-network-funneled-600-million-to-liberal-initiatives-in-2018/ ^
  10. “The Heartland Fund Launches Its First Round of Grants.” Franciscan Sisters of Mary. September 27, 2018. Accessed August 27, 2019. https://www.fsmonline.org/news/the-heartland-fund-launches-its-first-round-of-grants/. ^
  11. Williams, Tate. “The Progressive Funders Looking to Build Power Across Divides in the American Heartland.” Inside Philanthropy. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2019/4/18/the-progressive-funders-looking-to-build-power-across-divides-in-the-american-heartland. ^
  12. “Heartland Fund Launches with First Round of Grants.” WindwardFund.org. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.windwardfund.org/heartland-fund/. ^
  13. “Supporting Groups.” GreenNewDealForAll.org. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.greennewdealforall.org/supporting-groups. ^
  14. Strode, Ryan, and Scott Nielsen. “Building Communities—and Working for Change—in America’s Heartland.” ArabellaAdvisors.com. Accessed July 8, 2019. https://www.arabellaadvisors.com/blog/building-communities-working-change-americas-heartland/. ^
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The Heartland Fund

1201 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC