USAction Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt sister organization to USAction, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy umbrella for 22 state community organizing affiliates. USAction has national-level partnerships with numerous labor unions, including the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Communication Workers of America (CWA), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The group merged into the People’s Action Institute in 2016 alongside Alliance for a Just Society, National People’s Action, and Institute for America’s Future.
USAction Education Fund works to increase local and state-level political engagement through issues-based education campaigns, and by maximizing voter participation mostly among Democratic-leaning demographic groups. Its Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt charitable designation prohibits the endorsement of specific legislation or candidates for public office, however its closely connected advocacy arm, USAction, organizes support for decidedly left-leaning candidates and causes.
USAEF lists jobs, health care, and elections as some of its major agenda items. In 2009, it led a public education campaign called “Rebuild and Renew America Now,” that was funded by the Open Society Foundations, founded and funded by liberal billionaire George Soros. The project was designed to help President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress raise awareness about the need for tax increases, and greater federal spending on housing, healthcare, education, the environment, “and virtually every other major forthcoming domestic reform effort requiring appropriations.”
In April 2017, People’s Action, the 501(c)(4) arm of the People’s Action Institute into which USAEF merged, led a coalition of groups to protest President Donald Trump’s first proposed budget in front of the White House. About 200 demonstrators later rallied at the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Capitol Hill headquarters in an attempt to temporarily shut down the think tank for its role in shaping aspects of the proposed Trump administration budget.
The USAction Education Fund partners with 20 state tax-exempt education, research, and public interest organizations that serve as 501(c)(3) affiliates to USAction’s network of state community advocacy groups. In 2004, USAEF partners registered over half a million new voters in more than 20 states, and recruited organizers across the country to help increase voter-turnout. The group has conducted public awareness campaigns for progressive policies, and advanced voter mobilization efforts in partnership with its national and state-level affiliates ever since.
Fred Azcarate is USAEF’s executive director, and the executive director of the USAction advocacy network. Azcarate was a career labor activist with the AFL-CIO before leading both community organizing federations. Azcarate asserts that the merger of large labor unions and social justice groups is critical to achieving shared political goals in light of the collapse of private sector union membership.
William McNary is USAEF’s co-director. McNary also serves as the co-director of the Chicago-based Citizen Action/Illinois, and is the former president of USAction. In 2008, he served as a surrogate speaker for President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, and acted as Illinois’s state delegate whip during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
The USAction Education Fund reported $9 million in revenue in 2004, $5.7 million in 2008, and $2.2 million in 2012.
The Open Society Foundations, founded and chaired by billionaire progressive George Soros, consistently funds the USAEF. In 2009, it gave a $500,000 grant to the nonprofit group to promote a range of tax increases and liberal budgetary items. In 2010, OSF gave $300,000 to USAEF to continue its issue awareness campaigns and voter turnout efforts. In 2012, it gave another $300,000.
Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation
Florida Consumer Action Network Foundation
Georgia Rural Urban Summit
United Vision for Idaho
Public Action Foundation
Michigan Citizen Education Fund
New Hampshire Citizens Alliance
New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund
Public Policy and Education Fund of New York
Progress Ohio Education
Fair Share Research and Education Fund
Keystone Progress Education Fund
Tennessee Citizen Action Alliance
Washington Community Action Network Education and Research Fund
WV Citizen Action Education Fund