- Assets: $48,011,069 (2009)
- Grants Awarded: $1,872,793 (2009)
The Arca Foundation was established in 1952 as the Nancy Reynolds Bagley Foundation by Nancy Susan Reynolds, whose father founded the R. J. Reynolds tobacco company. In 1968, the Foundation changed its name to Arca (Italian for "ark" - to evoke an image of "something that affords protection and safety"). It was around this time that Arca, like many other U.S. foundations, took a decidedly left turn, beginning to earmark grants for radical environmentalism. In the 1980s, funding for pro-Cuba, pro-Sandinista, and anti-corporate groups emerged as additional priorities.
In recent times, the Arca Foundation website has featured high praise for such leftist icons as Michael Moore and Howard Dean, and the TomPaine.com website. A staunch opponent of capital punishment, the Foundation lauds the success of one of its grantees, the Illinois Death Penalty Education Project, in persuading Illinois Governor George Ryan in 2000 to declare a moratorium on executions in his state, thereby sparing the lives of some 167 death-row inmates. Today the Arca Foundation identifies its main fields of interest as "international affairs, foreign policy, international human rights, public policy (particularly campaign-finance reform), and research." The Foundation also advocates increased funding for public schools, tax hikes for higher income earners, the implementation of a government-run health care system, and the redistribution of wealth.
Members of the Bagley family remain prominent in the Foundation's leadership to this day. Smith Bagley (the son of Nancy Reynolds Bagley) is the current President. Nancy Bagley, his daughter and Foundation Vice President, was also on the advance staff for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign of 1992, and thereafter worked on the health-care initiative in the early Clinton White House.
With her inherited wealth, Nancy Bagley (along with her husband Henry) purchased a 600-acre estate on St. Simons Island, Georgia and dubbed it Musgrove. Today this property is used as a retreat for what the Arca Foundation calls "policy-makers, influential thinkers and progressive activists from around the world." President Jimmy Carter held his first pre-inaugural Cabinet meeting in the seclusion of Musgrove.
A notable Arca Foundation board member is Margery Tabankin of Tabankin Associates, who also sits on the board of the (Barbra) Streisand Foundation and heads Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation. Ms. Tabankin is the former director of the Hollywood Women's Political Committee and was director of VISTA under the Carter Administration. Executive director Donna Edwards is the only paid member of the Arca Foundation board; she earned $112,542 in 2002.
The Arca Foundation is a member organization of both the Peace and Security Funders Group and the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG); the latter is a network of more than six-dozen grantmakers dedicated to funding leftist groups and causes. (For a complete list of IHRFG grantmakers, click here.)
Among the many leftist organizations funded by the Arca Foundation are:
the Alliance for Global Justice; Alliance for Justice; the American Civil Liberties Union; the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN); the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; the Center for Community Change; the Center for Economic and Policy Research; Citizen Action; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Inc.; Common Cause; the Council on Foundations; Democracy Now Productions; Earth Day Network; the Earth Island Institute; the Economic Policy Institute; Environmental Media Services; the Funders Committee for Civic Participation; the Gamaliel Foundation; Global Exchange; Human Rights First; Immigrant Workers Citizenship Project; Independent Media Institute; the Institute for Policy Studies; the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund; Media Matters for America; the Mexico Solidarity Network; The Nation Institute; the NAACP; the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP); the National Network of Grantmakers (NNG); the National Security Archive Fund; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Neighborhood Funders Group; the New America Foundation; Partners for Peace; Pax Christi USA; People for the American Way; Planned Parenthood; the Proteus Fund; Public Citizen; the Public Justice Foundation; the Ruckus Society; Tides Foundation and the Tides Center; USAction Education Fund; U.S. Public Interest Reseach Group (PIRG); Veterans for Peace; the William J. Brennan Center for Justice; and Women’s Action for New Directions.
To view a list of additional noteworthy grantees of the Arca Foundation, click here.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)