- Assets: $874,965,243 (2013)
- Grants Received: $27,146,994 (2013)
- Grants Awarded: $53,643,462 (2013)
In 1991, the husband-and-wife team of World Savings Bank CEOs Herb and Marion Sandler launched the Sandler Foundation (SF) – a.k.a. the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation – as a philanthropic enterprise to memorialize the legacy of Herb’s late brother, New York appellate court judge Leonard Sandler. During its first 14 years of operation, SF was a relatively low-profile enterprise. As of January 2005, it possessed assets totaling a modest $103,590,933. The following year, however, the Sandlers sold World Savings Bank to Wachovia for $24 billion. Of this sum, the Sandlers pocketed $2.4 billion from their stake in the company and put $1.4 billion into SF, thereby making it one of the largest foundations in the United States. By the end of 2006, SF's net assets totaled $1,494,799,075.
SF's mission is to serve as “a catalyst to strengthen the progressive infrastructure, expose corruption and abuse, advocate for vulnerable and exploited people and environments, and advance scientific research in neglected areas.” Toward these ends, the Foundation “invest[s] in strategic organizations and exceptional leaders that seek to improve the rights, opportunities and well-being of others, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.” The ultimate objective is to help nonprofit leaders and organizations maximize their effectiveness as “agents” of “transformative change.”
Over the years, SF has used some of its money to help launch a number of highly influential leftist organizations. In 2003, for instance, the Foundation played a major role – along with along with George Soros's Open Society Institute – in the founding of the Center for American Progress. That same year, SF collaborated with Soros and Peter Lewis to establish and bankroll America Votes. And in 2006, SF co-founded and funded ProPublica, an organization whose mission was to provide the American public with independent “investigative journalism” with a focus “on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.”
To view a list of additional organizations that SF has helped to establish, click here.
In addition to the groups in whose creation SF has played a role, the Foundation has also supported the operations and agendas of many already-existing leftist/progressive organizations. Indeed, between 1991 and December 2016, SF awarded more than $750 million in total grants to such entities, and a majority of those funds were distributed after 2005. Among the noteworthy entities to which SF has given money are: the American Civil Liberties Union; the American Constitution Society (SF gave ACS some $3,350,000 from 2003-15); the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation; the Center for American Progress ($37,224,000 from 2004-15); the Center for Biological Diversity ($5,576,000 from 2003-15); the Center for Climate Strategies ($375,000 from 2010-15); the Center for Community Change; the Center for Responsible Lending ($39,550,000 from 2005-15); the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ($8,096,000 from 2004-15); the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy; Earthjustice ($3,000,000 from 2009-15); Environmental Defense; Free Press ($1,650,000 from 2008-15); Human Rights Watch ($30 million from 1988-2008); the J Street Education Fund; the Joint Victory Campaign; Media Matters for America ($400,000 from 2005-15); the MoveOn.org Voter Fund; the National Partnership for Women and Families; the Natural Resources Defense Council ($3,450,000 from 2004-15); Oceana ($15,525,000 from 2003-15); George Soros's Open Society Institute ($333,000 in 2008); the Pew Charitable Trusts ($9,064,000 from 2005-15); the PICO National Network ($4.5 million from 2008-15); ProPublica ($27,000,000 from 2009-15); the Rainforest Action Network ($500,000 from 2008-15); the Resources Legacy Fund ($15,600,000 from 2008-15); the Sierra Club Foundation ($2,500,000 from 2008-15); and the Tides Foundation & Tides Center ($730,000 from 2004-15).
SF also gave close to $11 million to affiliates of the notoriously corrupt, pro-socialist community organization ACORN between 1999 and 2008. Among those affiliates were Project Vote and the American Institute for Social Justice.
To view a list of additional SF grantees, click here.
In 2016, SF paid $7,000 per month to John Podesta, then-campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, for services that included the rendering of advice on grant-making and other foundation-related functions.
(Information on grantees and monetary amounts courtesy of The Foundation Center, GuideStar, ActivistCash, the Capital Research Center and Undue Influence)