Next Generation Freedom Fund
The Next Generation Freedom Fund (NGFF) is a conservative "think tank" based out of Sandy, Utah and affiliate member of the State Policy Network (SPN). NGFF pushes free-market policies as a solution to poverty.
According to its website, "NGFF is a 501 c3 nonprofit, educational and public policy group. We know that true freedom and opportunity – the American idea and spirit – has lifted more people out of poverty and despair and given more people genuine hope, as individuals and families, than any other social blueprint."
State Policy Network
SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of January 2021, SPN's membership totals 163. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million. 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.
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.'"
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.
There are no reported financials on the organization's 2015 tax filing.
Board of Directors
As of July 2017:
- Aaron Bludworth, President and CEO, FERN
- William C. Duncan, Director, Marriage Law Foundation
- Terry Grant, President, Utah Market KeyBank N.A.
- Ally Isom, Director of Institutional Messaging for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Paul T. Mero
- Derek Miller, President and CEO, World Trade Center Utah
- Jon S. Pierpont, Executive Director of Utah’s Department of Workforce Services
- Stuart C. Reid, honorary board member
As of July 2017:
- Paul T. Mero, President and CEO
- Steve Reiher, Director of Communications
- Wendy P. Warcholik, Director of Research
Employer Identification Number (EIN): 47-2341631
Next Generation Freedom Fund
1737 Wood Glen Road
Sandy, Utah 84092
- State Policy Network, Directory, organizational website, accessed July 24, 2017.
- Next Generation Freedom Fund, Our Blueprint for Success, organizational website, accessed July 24, 2017.
- David Armiak, Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million, ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
- 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.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- Next Generation Freedom Fund, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed July 24, 2017.
- Next Generation Freedom Fund, Staff, organizational website, accessed July 24, 2017.
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