Non-profit

Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

47-4464400

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $5,400,333
Expenses: $4,593,035
Assets: $3,718,687

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth (Equitable Growth) is a research and grantmaking organization that advances left-of-center economic policies, particularly policies that claim to reduce economic disparities. The Center funds research that supports its agenda and works to make its findings accessible to lawmakers. [1] Unlike many think tanks, which rely entirely on in-house experts, the Center also issues grants to outside scholars and universities in pursuit of its research aims. [2]

Equitable Growth was founded in 2013 by long-time Democratic Party operative, Clinton administration White House Chief of Staff, and Center for American Progress (CAP) chair John Podesta. Podesta said he wanted the new organization and its research to be independent from CAP’s national Democratic establishment-aligned agenda. [3]

The Biden administration has named Heather Boushey, the former president and chief executive officer of Equitable Growth who now sits on the Center’s steering committee, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. [4]

Background

In November 2013, the Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-of-center think with close ties to the Democratic Party, announced the launch of Equitable Growth. Founded in 2003, CAP had grown into a powerful counterpart to leading conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation. At the time, Podesta said he wanted to “rethink the very idea of liberalism” and compete with conservative think tanks, which he claimed “dominated the country’s political dialogue.” [5] The Nation, a left-wing ideological publication, has described CAP as functioning somewhat like a “shadow government” of Democrats connected to the Clinton administration and preparing for an eventual Hillary Clinton presidency. [6]

CAP’s announcement indicated that it would house Equitable Growth, and that Podesta, the chair of CAP, would sit as the new Center’s chair as well. Neera Tanden, the president of CAP and another career Democratic operative, promoted the new Center at its launch, as did prominent left-of-center economist and Harvard University professor Raj Chetty. [7]

Equitable Growth became independent from CAP in October 2015. [8]

Issue Areas

The Center focuses on five main economic and social issues: competition, families, inequality and mobility, labor, and taxes and macroeconomics. Equitable Growth indicates that it supports competition in the private sector and opposes monopoly power, which it blames for inequality. According to the Center, monopolistic concentration is increasing in many American industries. [9] Equitable Growth charges that excess market power hurts consumers, workers, and businesses and pushes regulations on large corporations. The Center also claims “the harms of structural racism” continue to affect society, and that market power exacerbates them. [10]

Equitable Growth research on family issues generally supports increasing government programs. Equitable Growth policy papers support using taxpayer funds to eliminate student loan debt, as well as expanding wealth transfer programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). [11] Equitable Growth supports policies that increase the power of organized labor. [12] The Center also claims that extending unemployment benefits will help the United States economy in the long term. [13]

The Center generally supports increasing tax rates and imposing economic regulations. [14]

Impact

Since its founding, Equitable Growth has funded the work of more than 150 left-of-center economics scholars. [15] In 2018, the Center issued grants ranging in value from $15,000 to $70,000 to more than a dozen universities across the country. [16] In 2020, Equitable Growth announced that it would issue just over $1 million in research grants to promote research on left-of-center economic policies focused on economic stability and disparities. [17] Equitable Growth also said that it would be increasing its emphasis on race-based issues and giving greater priority to ethnic minority scholars following the Black Lives Matter-associated protests and riots in the summer of 2020. [18]

Leadership

The steering committee of Equitable Growth advises the center’s grantmaking program and builds connections with left-of-center economists and academics. [19] John Podesta founded both Center for American Progress (CAP) and Washington Center for Equitable Growth and initially ran the center when it was part of CAP. Before CAP, Podesta served as Chief of Staff to former President Bill Clinton. He later served as counsel to former President Barack Obama and worked as chair of the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign. [20]

Heather Boushey co-founded Equitable Growth with Podesta. She worked as chief economist for the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign and has studied economic policy at liberal and labor-union-aligned think tanks including CAP, the Center for Economic Policy Research, and the Economic Policy Institute. Boushey worked as the Center’s president and CEO from 2013 until late 2020, when the incoming Biden administration selected her to sit on the Council of Economic Advisers. [21][22] Equitable Growth is searching for a new CEO as of January 2021. In the interim, the Center’s vice president and senior leadership are in charge. [23]

Casey Schoeneberger is the vice president of Equitable Growth. Her previous work experience includes roles at left-of-center Christian organizations and the AmeriCorps public service program. [24] Raj Chetty is a prominent economics professor at Harvard University and a former steering committee member. He previously taught at the University of California Berkeley and Stanford University. [25]

The Center’s research advisory board helps set Equitable Growth’s research priorities. The board includes left-of-center academics, current and former government officials, and think tank scholars. [26]

Harvard University economics professor Lawrence Katz is a member of the board. Katz previously served as Chief Economist for the Department of Labor during President Clinton’s first term. He has also been a fellow at the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Katz received a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985. [27]

University of California, Berkeley public policy professor and left-of-center public figure Robert Reich is a member of the board. Reich previously served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. He also founded the left-of-center American Prospect magazine and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Reich received his master’s degree as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and his J.D. from Yale Law School. [28]

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, a member of that country’s left-of-center Liberal Party, is a member of the board. She previously served as Minister of International Trade and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Freeland has also held editorial positions with the Financial Times, The Globe and Mail, and Thomson Reuters. [29]

Controversies

In November 2013, the left-of-center economics blog New Economic Perspectives published an article critical of Washington Center for Equitable Growth, calling it “just a spinoff and re-branding” of CAP. The article attacked the “Clinton and Obama administration veterans” working for the Center, who, according to the author, “helped lay the foundations for the repulsive and dehumanizing economic order under which we currently live.” The article called John Podesta “the ultimate beltway insider.” [30]

In December 2020, several former CAP and Equitable Growth employees accused former president Heather Boushey of being a toxic leader. Claudia Sahm said that Boushey forced her out of the Center after Sahm wrote a blog post attacking “elite men” in the Democratic Party who “propagated sexism, racism, elitism, politics (sic).” Sahm also mentioned a 2015 memorandum from CAP, which said that five employees allegedly quit because of Boushey. Equitable Growth denied Sahm’s claims and said that she was fired due to performance issues. Other former employees called Boushey “erratic” and prone to “frequent episodes of yelling and swearing.” [31]

Financials

Before 2016, Equitable Growth had an annual revenue of less than $2 million. In 2016 and 2017, the Center generated more than $5 million in contributions each year. 2018 contributions jumped to just over $9.4 million. [32]

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation issued two, $2 million grants to Equitable Growth in 2018 and 2020 for “general operating support.” [33]

References

  1.        “About Us,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    About Us

    ^

  2.              Washington Center for Equitable Growth Inc, Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/474464400/01_2020_prefixes_47-51%2F474464400_201812_990_2020012917081473 ^
  3.        Dan Kervick, “The Washington Center for Equitable Growth – Neoliberalism Reloaded?,” New Economic Perspectives, November 6, 2013. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    The Washington Center for Equitable Growth – Neoliberalism Reloaded?

    ^

  4.    “Heather Boushey,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/people/heather-boushey/ ^
  5.            Matt Bai, “Notion Building,” New York Times, October 12, 2003. Accessed January 13, 2021. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/12/magazine/notion-building.html?sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1 ^
  6.     Bob Dreyfuss, “An Idea Factory for the Democrats,” The Nation, February 12, 2004. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/idea-factory-democrats/ ^
  7.             “Launch of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth,” Center for American Progress, November 15, 2013. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://www.americanprogress.org/events/2013/11/04/78714/launch-of-the-washington-center-for-equitable-growth/ ^
  8.              Washington Center for Equitable Growth Inc, Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/474464400/01_2020_prefixes_47-51%2F474464400_201812_990_2020012917081473 ^
  9.       “Competition,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/issue/competition/ ^
  10.        “Restoring competition in the United States,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth, November 19, 2020. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    Restoring competition in the United States

    ^

  11.          “Families,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/issue/families/[/note

    Equitable Growth alleges increasing wealth disparities, especially between different demographic groups, to push for more research and data analysis focused on race. The Center also supports laws to increase the minimum wage as a tool for advancing left-of-center societal objectives related to race. [note]           “Inequality & Mobility,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/issue/inequality-mobility/ ^

  12.        “Labor,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/issue/labor/ ^
  13.        Alix Gould-Werth, “The long-run implications of extending unemployment benefits in the United States for workers, firms, and the economy,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth, December 3, 2020. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/the-long-run-implications-of-extending-unemployment-benefits-in-the-united-states-for-workers-firms-and-the-economy/ ^
  14.            “Tax & Microeconomics,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.https://equitablegrowth.org/issue/tax-macroeconomics/ ^
  15.          “About Us,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    About Us

    ^

  16.        Washington Center for Equitable Growth Inc, Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/474464400/01_2020_prefixes_47-51%2F474464400_201812_990_2020012917081473 ^
  17.      Korin Davis, “Equitable Growth announces record $1.07 million in research grants on inequality and broadly shared growth,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth, August 31, 2020. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    Equitable Growth announces record $1.07 million in research grants on inequality and broadly shared growth

    ^

  18.        Erica Handloff, “Washington Center for Equitable Growth awards $1.1 million to scholars exploring how economic inequality impacts economic growth and stability,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth, August 31, 2020.

    Washington Center for Equitable Growth awards $1.1 million to scholars exploring how economic inequality impacts economic growth and stability

    ^

  19.      “Steering Committee,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/who-we-are/steering-committee/ ^
  20.            “John Podesta,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    John Podesta

    ^

  21.         “Heather Boushey,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    Heather Boushey

    ^

  22.       Brakkton Booker, “President-Elect Biden Names Core Members Of His Economic Team,” National Public Radio, November 30, 2020. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://www.npr.org/sections/biden-transition-updates/2020/11/30/940103628/president-elect-biden-names-more-members-of-his-economic-team ^
  23.            Elena Waskey, “Washington Center for Equitable Growth CEO Joins Biden-Harris Transition Team, Search for New CEO Underway,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth, December 11, 2020. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/press/washington-center-for-equitable-growth-ceo-joins-biden-harris-transition-team-search-for-new-ceo-underway/ ^
  24.        “Casey Schoeneberger,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://equitablegrowth.org/people/casey-schoeneberger/ ^
  25.      “Raj Chetty,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    Raj Chetty

    ^

  26.          “Research Advisory Board,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021. ^
  27.            “Larry Katz,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    Larry Katz

    ^

  28.         “Robert Reich,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    Robert Reich

    ^

  29.       “Chrystia Freeland,” Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Accessed January 13, 2021.

    Chrystia Freeland

    ^

  30.              Dan Kervick, “The Washington Center for Equitable Growth – Neoliberalism Reloaded?,” New Economic Perspectives, November 6, 2013. Accessed January 13, 2021. http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/11/washington-center-equitable-growth-neoliberalism-reloaded.html ^
  31.        Anders Hagstrom, “Biden Appointee Heather Boushey Criticized By Former Employees For Leading ‘Toxic’ Workplace,” Daily Caller, December 2, 2020. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://dailycaller.com/2020/12/02/biden-boushey-sahm-economic-appointment-equitable-growth/ ^
  32.        “Washington Center for Equitable Growth Inc,” ProPublica. Accessed January 13, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/474464400/01_2020_prefixes_47-51%2F474464400_201812_990_2020012917081473 ^
  33.        “Washington Center for Equitable Growth – For General Operating Support,” William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Accessed 13 January 2021. https://hewlett.org/grants/washington-center-for-equitable-growth-for-general-operating-support-2/ ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 2015

  • 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
    2016 Dec Form 990 $5,400,333 $4,593,035 $3,718,687 $612,173 N $5,395,000 $0 $1,492 $386,298
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,885,434 $467,857 $3,213,500 $914,284 N $1,788,449 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Washington Center for Equitable Growth

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    WASHINGTON, DC 20005-1267