Young America's Foundation

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Learn more about how the State Policy Network aids ALEC and spins disinformation in the states.

Young America's Foundation (YAF) describes itself as "the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement". YAF is an "associate" member of the State Policy Network.[1] According to its website, "Young America’s Foundation is committed to ensuring that increasing numbers of young Americans understand and are inspired by the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values. As the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement, the Foundation introduces thousands of American youth to these principles. We accomplish our mission by providing essential conferences, seminars, educational materials, internships, and speakers to young people across the country."[2]

State Policy Network

SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of July 2017, SPN's membership totals 153. It is an $83 million right-wing empire as of the 2011 funding documents from SPN itself and each of its state "think tank" members. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.[3]

In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"[4]

A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.[5]

Bankrolling Controversial Lectures on Campus

In May 2017, the New York Times noted an uptick in the provocative nature of campus speakers sponsored by YAF, following a massive contribution from Robert Ruhe. "The speakers have gotten edgier, more-in-your face and sometime even meanspirited... The resulting clashes on university campuses, including protests and efforts to block speeches, have raised free speech questions." In 2016, YAF funded 111 speakers on 77 campuses, and according to its website, in April 2017 alone, it funded 31 campus lectures.[6]

YAF Sponsors Anti-Muslim Extremists

In May 2017 YAF sponsored a lecture at University of Buffalo by Robert Spencer. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) described Spencer as "one of America’s most prolific and vociferous anti-Muslim propagandists." Spencer is director of the "muslim-bashing" Jihad Watch blog.[7]

YAF sponsored lectures by David Horowitz, founder of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. SPLC describes Horowitz as "a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black movements."[8] In 2016, at the University of Michigan, Horowitz called Black Lives Matter the "most vicious racist movement this country has seen since the Klu Klux Klan at its heyday."[6]

See the full list here.

National Journalism Center

The National Journalism Center (NJC) is a project of Young America's Foundation. Read more about NJC here.

Reagan Ranch

YAF bought Ronald Reagan's "Rancho del Cielo" in 1998 and preserves it as "a living monument to Reagan's ideas, values, and lasting accomplishments." YAF offers opportunities to visit the ranch to its members and supporters.[9]

Alumni

See the full list on YAF's website here.

Funding

Robert Ruhe is YAF's largest donor with his estate gift of $16 million. According to the New York Times, "armed with a $16 million infusion... the organization has doubled its programming, including campus speeches."[6]

Dick and Betsy DeVos gave $10 million to endow the Reagan Ranch.[6]

Between 2002 and 2015, YAF received $561,500 from the right-wing Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. YAF has received $20,000 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation and $12,500 from the Claude R. Lambe Foundation.

Between 2010 and 2015 YAF received $913,986 from DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, two funds with ties to the Koch brothers that shield the identity of their donors. See a full list of DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund grant recipients here.

Core Financials

2015[10]

  • Total Revenue: $36,193,437
  • Total Expenses: $21,482,145
  • Net Assets: $65,466,174

2014[11]

  • Total Revenue: $23,148,860
  • Total Expenses: $19,434,635
  • Net Assets: $53,308,275

2013[12]

  • Total Revenue: $20,252,842
  • Total Expenses: $16,380,309
  • Net Assets: $50,340,142

2012[12]

  • Total Revenue: $22,155,329
  • Total Expenses: $16,580,857
  • Net Assets: $47,127,448

Personnel

Board of Directors

As of May 23, 2017:[13]

  • Ron Robinson, President
  • Ronald Pearson, Vice President
  • Frank Donatelli, Secretary and Treasurer
  • T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr.
  • Wynton C. Hall
  • Peter Schweizer
  • James B. Taylor
  • Thomas L. Phillips, Director Emeritus

Staff

See YAF's listed staff here.

Related SourceWatch articles

Contact

Employer Identification Number (EIN): 23-7042029

YAF National Headquarters
11480 Commerce Park Dr, Suite 600
Reston, Virginia 20191-1556
Phone: (703).318.9608
Phone: (800).USA.1776
Website: http://www.yaf.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/youngamericasfoundation/
Twitter: @yaf

Reagan Ranch Center
217 State Street
Santa Barbara, California 93101
Phone: (805).957.1980
Website: http://www.reaganranch.yaf.org/

References

  1. State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, 2016.
  2. Young America's Foundation, About, organizational website, accessed June 2017.
  3. Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
  4. Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
  5. Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Stephanie Saul, The Conservative Force Behind Speeches Roiling College Campuses, New York Times, May 20, 2017.
  7. Southern Poverty Law Center, Robert Spencer, organizational website, accessed June 8, 2017.
  8. Southern Poverty Law Center, David Horowitz, organizational website, accessed June 8, 2017.
  9. Young America's Foundation, Rancho del Cielo, organizational website, accessed June 2017.
  10. Young America's Foundation, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, September 21, 2016.
  11. Young America's Foundation, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 10, 2015.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Young America's Foundation, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 14, 2014.
  13. Young America's Foundation, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed May 23, 2017.