Open main menu

The Pew Charitable Trusts is an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), founded in 1948.

Pew Charitable Trusts
Established1948; 71 years ago (1948)
ChairmanRobert H. Campbell
PresidentRebecca W. Rimel
Faculty12 (board)
Budget$250 million
Endowment$5 billion
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Address2005 Market Street, Suite 1700
Philadelphia, PA 19103-7077

With over US $6 billion in assets, its stated mission is to serve the public interest by "improving public policy, informing the public, and stimulating civic life".[1]


The Trusts, a single entity, is the successor to, and sole beneficiary of, seven charitable funds established between 1948 and 1979 by J. Howard Pew, Mary Ethel Pew, Joseph N. Pew, Jr., and Mabel Pew Myrin — the adult sons and daughters of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew. Honoring their parents' religious conviction that good works should be done quietly, the original Pew Memorial Foundation[2] was a grantmaking organization that made donations anonymously. The foundation became the Pew Memorial Trust in 1956, based in Philadelphia, the donors' hometown. Between 1957 and 1979, six other trusts were created, representing the personal and complementary philanthropic interests of the four siblings.[3][4] The Trusts continues to be based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with offices in Washington, D.C., London, and Brussels.

Although today The Pew Charitable Trusts is non-partisan and non-ideological, Joseph Pew and his heirs were politically conservative. The modern day organization works to encourage responsive government and support scientific research on a wide range of issues, including global ocean governance, correction reform, and antibiotic resistance.

Early priorities of the Pew Memorial Trust included cancer research, the American Red Cross, and a pioneering project to assist historically black colleges. Later beneficiaries included conservative organizations such as the John Birch Society, the American Liberty League, and the American Enterprise Institute, as well as environmental organizations such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Oceana, and mainstream think tanks like the center-left Brookings Institution.[5][6] The Trusts continues to fund charities in Philadelphia.

In 2004, the Pew Trusts applied to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to change its status from private foundation to nonprofit organization. Since the Pew's change to a charitable foundation, it can now raise funds freely and devote up to 5% of its budget to lobbying the public sector.

According to the Pew Trusts's 2009 Annual Report, five of the twelve Directors serving on the Board are named Pew. Two of the five are physicians.[7]

Current concernsEdit

The Trusts' public policy areas include the environment, state policy, economic policy and health and human services.

The Trusts, with other groups, backed an effort to create marine protected areas in the Pacific Ocean, near the Mariana Islands.[8] The protected area was officially designated in January 2009, and includes the Mariana Trench, the deepest ocean canyon in the world. Another marine protected area that the Trusts and other groups sought to protect is Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument which was protected by President Bush in 2006[9] and expanded by President Obama in 2016.[10]

Pew's environmental portfolio is designed to help meet what they view as one of the seminal challenges of our time: saving the natural environment and protecting the rich array of life it supports.[11]

The aim is to strengthen environmental policies and practices in ways that produce significant and measurable protection for terrestrial and marine systems worldwide. In doing so, Pew works to advance scientific understanding of the causes and consequences of environmental problems, design innovative policy solutions to these problems and mobilize public support for their implementation.

Efforts are focused on reducing the scope and severity of three major global environmental problems:

  1. Destruction of the world's oceans, with a particular emphasis on marine fisheries.
  2. The loss of large wilderness ecosystems that contain a great part of the world's remaining biodiversity.
  3. Changes to the Earth's physical and biological systems linked to the buildup of greenhouse gases that are altering the world's climate.

The Trusts also funds the Pew Research Center, the third-largest think tank in Washington, D.C., after the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress.

The Trusts have worked closely with the Vera Institute of Justice on issues related to state correction policies in the Public Safety Performance Project.[12] In 2008, the Pew reported that more than one in 100 adults in the United States is in jail or prison, an all-time high. The cost to state governments is nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government $5 billion more. The report compiled and analyzed data from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics and Federal Bureau of Prisons and each state's department of corrections.[13][14]

Pew reported in 2009 that "explosive growth in the number of people on probation or parole has propelled the population of the American corrections system to more than 7.3 million, or 1 in every 31 U.S. adults." "One in 31: The Long Reach of American Corrections"[15] examined the scale and cost of prison, jail, probation and parole in each of the 50 states, and provides a blueprint for states to cut both crime and spending by reallocating prison expenses to fund stronger supervision of the large number of offenders in the community.

"Based on data, science, and non-partisan research, the Pew works to reduce hidden risks to the health, safety, and well-being of American consumers."[16] One program, the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences, is intended to support promising early and mid-career scientists investigating human health, both basic and clinical.[17] The awards provide flexible support ($240,000 over a four-year period). Grantees are encouraged to be entrepreneurial and innovative in their research.[18]

The trust also helped fund the Gospel and Our Culture Network, which published books such as Missional Church: A vision for the sending of the Church in North America.[19]

Financial factsEdit

According to the 2018 Consolidated Financial Statements, as of 30 June 2017, the Trusts owned over US$6.6 billion in assets. For the 12 months ending on that date, total revenues were about US$384 million and total expenses were about $317 million, of which about $7 million were for fund raising expenses.[20]


Barnes Art CollectionEdit

The Trusts have supported the relocation of the famed Barnes Art Collection from its longtime home in Lower Merion, PA, to Center City. This has been controversial in the art world. "The Barnes Foundation was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to 'promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts. ... the Foundation is home to one of the world's largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, with extensive holdings by Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Renoir and Modigliani, as well as important examples of African sculpture." [21]

Opponents of relocating the collection to a new museum along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway said that move violates Barnes' will that the collection stay intact at its original location and not be loaned, transferred or sold. Columnist Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote in 2010, "It is perfectly clear exactly what Barnes specified in his will. It was drawn up by the best legal minds. It is clear that what happened to his collection was against his wishes."[22] Yet the Barnes Foundation prevailed in a series of legal actions and the new museum opened on May 16, 2012. At the opening Barnes trustee and treasurer Stephen Harmelin noted, "There were financial challenges to be faced...questions about how the foundation as it existed could go on with its mission, worries about the safety and integrity of the collection in the long run," he said. "We were convinced that the only change that could save the Barnes was to redouble our commitment to its mission, to reach out more widely than ever before, to build, to expand and to move the collection to a more accessible location."[23]

The Trusts became involved with the Barnes Collection when the foundation overseeing the art collection had serious financial trouble, ultimately contributing more than $20 million for a new museum. The New York Times' Roberta Smith said of the new building, "Against all odds, the museum that opens to the public on Saturday is still very much the old Barnes, only better."[24]

The controversy involving Pew, other donors, the Barnes trustees and the collection was the subject of a documentary film The Art of the Steal. The Trusts did not participate in the film. Rebecca Rimel, head of The Pew Charitable Trusts, said they believed the film would not be fair.[25]

Texas Public Policy FoundationEdit

Between 2011 and 2015, financial returns show the Pew Charitable Trusts gave $4.7 million to the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF).[26][27] The TPPF has a program called Fueling Freedom,[28] which seeks to "explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels"[29] and is generally hostile to renewable energy, climate change action and environmental regulations.[30][31] Kathleen Hartnett White, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is from the TPPF.[32]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Pew Charitable Trusts - Non Profit Organization Serving the Public". 2014-04-16. Archived from the original on February 9, 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  2. ^ "History of The Pew Charitable Trusts". Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  3. ^ Bushouse, Brenda K. (March 5, 2009). "Universal Preschool: Policy Change, Stability, and The Pew Charitable Trusts".
  4. ^ "J. Howard Pew (1882-1971)". 2004-01-22. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
  5. ^ Diamond, Sara (1995). Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States. New York: Guilford Press.
  6. ^ Colby, Gerald; Charlotte Dennett (1995). Thy Will be Done, The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil. New York: Harper Collins.
  7. ^ "2009 Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-08-27.
  8. ^ Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff Writer (2009-01-06). "Bush to Protect Three Areas in Pacific". Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  9. ^ "Global Ocean Legacy". Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  10. ^ Obama creates largest ocean reserve, takes heat for new federal decrees (August 27, 2016). Fox News. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  11. ^ "The Pew Charitable Trusts". 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
  12. ^ Public Safety Performance. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  13. ^ New High In U.S. Prison Numbers by N.C. Aizenman. February 29, 2008. Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  14. ^ One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008. Released February 28, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  15. ^ Corrections and Public Safety. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  16. ^ "The Pew Charitable Trusts". Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  17. ^ "Pew Scholars Directory - Home". Retrieved 2013-08-27.
  18. ^ "Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences". Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  19. ^ Guder, Darrell L; Barrett, Lois (1998-03-15). "Missional church: A vision for the sending of the church in North America". ISBN 978-0-8028-4350-0. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ "2018 Consolidated Financial Statements" (PDF). Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "FAQ on The Pew Charitable Trusts' Role in the Barnes Foundation Move - The Pew Charitable Trusts". 2011-01-14. Retrieved 2013-08-27.
  23. ^ "Contested Barnes Foundation artworks open in new Philly location". CBC News. 2012-05-17.
  24. ^ Smith, Roberta (2012-05-17). "'A Museum, Reborn, Remains True to Its Old Self, Only Better'". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Kennicott, Philip (2010-03-07). "'The Art of the Steal' highlights one-sided nature of some documentaries". The Washington Post.
  26. ^ "Why Has One of the World's Biggest Funders of Environmental Conservation Also Given $4 Million to a Climate Denial Group?". DeSmogBlog. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  27. ^ "Revealed: The Corporations and Billionaires that Fund the Texas Public Policy Foundation - The Texas Observer". The Texas Observer. 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  28. ^ "What’s Next for Energy and Climate Policy? | RealClearEnergy". Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  29. ^ Profeta, Tim (2017-10-19). "The Climate Post: Trump Nominates CEQ Lead". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  30. ^ "Texas-Bred Anti-Environmentalists Find New Power in Trump Administration". The Texas Observer. 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  31. ^ "TX - TPPF + ALEC FULL REPORT | Private School | School Voucher". Scribd. Retrieved 2017-12-15.
  32. ^ Ochagavia, Ekaterina; Guardian, Source: The (2017-11-10). "Trump environment nominee struggles to answer basic climate questions – video". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-12-15.

External linksEdit