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The Searle Freedom Trust is a conservative charitable foundation located in the United States. Its stated mission is "to support work that will lead to a more just, free, and prosperous society."[2]

Searle Freedom Trust
Founder(s)Daniel C. Searle
Mission"To support work that will lead to a more just, free, and prosperous society."
PresidentKimberly O. Dennis
Endowment$150 million (2014)[1]


Early yearsEdit

It was established by business executive Daniel C. Searle in 1998.[3][4] As of 2014, the trust had an endowment of $150 million.[1] The trust will be depleted and closed by 2025 "to ensure that the Foundation will always remain in the hands of people who understand my [Searle's] intentions and are committed to carrying out the Foundation’s mission".[4][5]

Searle hired Kimberly O. Dennis to write the mission statement of the Trust.[4][6] The Trust was originally called the D & D Foundation.[6] Dennis is the president and chief executive officer of the Trust. Searle's son Gideon succeeded his father as chairman of the Trust.[4] The Trust donates over $14 million each year.[7]


Searle Freedom Trust engages and supports a variety of topics including welfare policy, cost-benefit analysis of regulatory practices, K-12 reform, tax and budget issues, environmental policy, and legal reform.[8]


Grantees of the Trust have included conservative and libertarian public policy organizations. Searle was one of the largest donors to the American Enterprise Institute and the largest in his last two decades.[4] The trust has also donated to the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, the Pacific Research Institute, the Reason Foundation, the State Policy Network, the Federalist Society, , Philanthropy Roundtable, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Collegiate Network, and the Political Theory Project at Brown University and Donors Trust (Searle Freedom Trust funds the Dean Searle Fellowship in Economics at Donors Trust[9]).[4][6][10]

The Trust has donated to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),[11][12] giving $735,000 to the organization between 2000 and 2013.[13]

According to a 2013 analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, the Trust was among the most frequent sponsors of the attendance of federal judges to judicial educational seminars.[14]

In 2013, the member organizations in the State Policy Network sought funding from the Trust. In December 2013, The Guardian, in collaboration with The Texas Observer and the Portland Press Herald, obtained, published and analyzed 40 of the grant proposals.[11][15][16] According to The Guardian, the proposals documented a coordinated strategy across 34 states, "a blueprint for the conservative agenda in 2014."[11] The reports described the grant proposals in six states as proposing campaigns to cut pay to state government employees; oppose public sector collective bargaining; reduce public sector services in education and healthcare; promote school vouchers; oppose efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions; reduce or eliminate income and sales taxes; and study a proposed block grant reform to Medicare.[11][15][16][17][18]

The Trust granted, via Donors Trust, $597,500 between 2005 and 2010, $650,000 in 2013, and $500,000 in 2015, to fund the Project on Fair Representation, a Washington, D.C.-based legal defense fund that recruited plaintiffs in lawsuits to challenge affirmative action in college admissions policies, including the United States Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas and at Harvard University.[19][20]

A 2013 Smithsonian Magazine article listed the Foundation as among the largest contributors to the climate change counter-movement from 2003 to 2010.[21]


Searle Freedom Trust has some advisers: James Piereson (DonorsTrust Vice Chairman), Stephen Moor (founder of Club For Growth and Christopher DeMuth (former AEI president).[9]


  1. ^ a b "IRS Form 990 2014" (PDF). GuideStar. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  2. ^ "About Us". Searle Freedom Trust. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  3. ^ Jensen, Trevor (November 6, 2007). "Daniel C. Searle: 1926 - 2007]". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Miller, John J. (November 8, 2007). "Daniel C. Searle, R.I.P. A great conservative philanthropist dies". National Review. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  5. ^ Florino, Joanne (Fall 2015). "Going for Broke". Philanthropy Magazine. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Kim Dennis, Daniel C. Searle: 1926-2007, Philanthropy, Winter 2008
  7. ^ Rojc, Philip (July 27, 2016). "Rightward, Ho! Ten Top Funders Behind the Surging Libertarian Movement". Inside Philanthropy. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Searle Freedom Trust | Find Grantmakers & Nonprofit Funders | Foundation Directory Online". Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  9. ^ a b "Searle freedom trust".
  10. ^ David Scharfenberg, [1], The Phoenix, October 12, 2011
  11. ^ a b c d Pilkington, Ed; Goldenberg, Suzanne (December 5, 2013). "State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax". The Guardian. London. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  12. ^ Berman, Ari (February 6, 2013). "Why Are Conservatives Trying to Destroy the Voting Rights Act?". The Nation. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  13. ^ "Attacking ALEC: Left-wing politicians and activists pursue the American Legislative Exchange Council". Capital Research Center. December 5, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  14. ^ Young, Chris; O'Brien, Reity; Fuller, Andrea (March 28, 2013). "Corporations, pro-business nonprofits foot bill for judicial seminars". Center for Public Integrity. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  15. ^ a b Wilder, Forrest (December 5, 2013). "The Money Behind the Fight to Undermine Medicaid". Texas Observer. Austin, Texas. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  16. ^ a b Woodard, Colin (December 5, 2013). "Washington County residents have mixed reactions to plan to eliminate taxes". Portland Press Herald. Portland, Maine. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  17. ^ "State conservative groups plan public sector assault". United Press International. December 6, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2015.
  18. ^ Kroll, Andy (December 5, 2013). "Conservative Think Tank Network Plotting "Coordinated Assault" on Medicaid, Education, Workers' Rights". Mother Jones. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  19. ^ Biskupic, Joan (December 4, 2012). "Behind U.S. race cases, a little-known recruiter". Reuters. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  20. ^ Biskupic, Joan (June 8, 2015). "A litigious activist's latest cause: ending affirmative action at Harvard". Reuters. Retrieved October 26, 2015.
  21. ^ Schultz, Colin (December 23, 2013). "Meet the Money Behind the Climate Denial Movement". Smithsonian. Retrieved June 10, 2019.

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