Other Group

The Safeguarding Democracy Project

Parent Organization:

Marin Community Foundation

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Not to be confused with the University of California, Los Angeles Law School project of the same name.

The Safeguarding Democracy Project is a left-of-center voter outreach project founded in 2023 by the Marin Community Foundation, a left-of-center community foundation in the San Francisco Bay area. The project promotes voter outreach and provides some of the large family foundations affiliated with the Marin Community Foundation opportunities to provide grants to left-of-center organizations working on voter registration, turnout, education, and election security.

The project is supported by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and the Peter E. Haas, Jr. Family Fund, family foundations operated by the Marin Community Foundation and affiliated with members of the Haas family, which controls the Levi Strauss and Co. clothing company. Focuses of the project include the census and left-of-center redistricting. The project has also received support from other left-of-center grant makers, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. 1

Background

The Safeguarding Democracy Project is a project of the Marin Community Foundation, a left-of-center community foundation located in Marin County, California in the San Francisco area. The group was founded with the support of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and the Peter E. Haas, Jr. Family Fund, family foundations operated by the Marin Community Foundation and affiliated with the Haas family, which controls the Levi Strauss clothing company. The two family foundations and the Marin Community Foundation also often work in partnership with the Levi Strauss Foundation. The Levi Strauss Company was founded in the 1850s in San Francisco and the company and affiliated foundations have concentrated significant charitable funding in the greater San Francisco Bay area for several decades. 2 3 4 5

A joint op-ed appeared in Inside Philanthropy in 2024 by Cathy Cha, president and CEO of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, and Ralph Lewin, the executive director of the Peter E. Haas, Jr. Family Fund, stated a commitment from their organizations and others to fund left-of-center “democracy” related organizations and projects. The piece claimed “Latino, Black, Native American or Asian voters are being denied fair representation because of voter suppression, racial and political gerrymandering, and other problems,” and “the nation’s core democratic systems and principles are under threat from creeping authoritarianism, voter suppression, disinformation and other forces.” 6

Cha and Lewin reported that the Marin Community Foundation founded the Safeguarding Democracy Project to “provide donors with ways to invest in voter education, voter turnout and protecting elections.” Noting that organizations such as the Marin Community Foundation and the funds it operates are not “traditional democracy funders per se” but plan to focus efforts on voter education, turnout, and election security with specific emphasis on “protecting the census and supporting a fairer redistricting process.” 7

Related Organizations

Other supporters of Safeguarding Democracy Project include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. 8

The project is also connected to the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund’s focused Democracy program, which launched in 2020 to promote left-of-center election related projects in California. 9

References

  1. Cha, Cathy and Lewin, Ralph. “Why All Funders Should be Democracy Funders.” Inside Philanthropy. June 11, 2024. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2024/6/11/why-all-funders-should-be-democracy-funders
  2. Cha, Cathy and Lewin, Ralph. “Why All Funders Should be Democracy Funders.” Inside Philanthropy. June 11, 2024. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2024/6/11/why-all-funders-should-be-democracy-funders
  3. “Levi Strauss sees $6.66 million in stock sold by Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund.” Investing.com. May 17, 2024. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.investing.com/news/company-news/levi-strauss-sees-666-million-in-stock-sold-by-peter-e-haas-jr-family-fund-93CH-3447002
  4. “Haas Family.” Forbes. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.forbes.com/profile/haas/
  5. “About.” Marin Community Foundation. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.marincf.org/about
  6. Cha, Cathy and Lewin, Ralph. “Why All Funders Should be Democracy Funders.” Inside Philanthropy. June 11, 2024. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2024/6/11/why-all-funders-should-be-democracy-funders
  7. Cha, Cathy and Lewin, Ralph. “Why All Funders Should be Democracy Funders.” Inside Philanthropy. June 11, 2024. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2024/6/11/why-all-funders-should-be-democracy-funders
  8. Cha, Cathy and Lewin, Ralph. “Why All Funders Should be Democracy Funders.” Inside Philanthropy. June 11, 2024. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2024/6/11/why-all-funders-should-be-democracy-funders
  9. Cha, Cathy and Lewin, Ralph. “Why All Funders Should be Democracy Funders.” Inside Philanthropy. June 11, 2024. Accessed June 24, 2024. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2024/6/11/why-all-funders-should-be-democracy-funders
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