2018 Annual Report


A Note from our Director and Board Chair

Dear IPS Community,

For more than half a century, the Institute for Policy Studies has served as an anchor for progressive ideas and a home-base for dynamic social movements. Today, the powers of unchecked corporations and racist nationalism are striving to reverse centuries of progress toward fair labor practices, equitable economies, and a just society. We are proud to fight back, and to have you alongside us as we write, research, speak, network, and provide on-the-ground support for movements working to build a just social order. With your support, 2018 was a banner year when we made progressive change possible.


Our Mission: IPS is a progressive think tank dedicated to building a more equitable, ecologically sustainable and peaceful society. In partnership with dynamic social movements, we turn transformative policy ideas into action.

Our Vision: We believe everyone has a right to thrive on a planet where all communities are equitable, democratic, peaceful, and sustainable.

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IPS aims to create just, meaningful social change through three key tools

  • Shaping and shifting the narratives through which people understand key issues like race, class, environmentalism, and justice across gender diversity.
  • Coordinating with social movements to build power and fight back against corporate and military opposition to change.
  • Cultivating transformative, proactive visions for a more peaceful, just future.

The world as it stands is dangerously mired in the systemic realities of racism, poverty, militarism, ecological devastation, and misogyny. IPS is building a better world. We are working toward:

  • Equity for people of all genders, races, income backgrounds, and abilities.
  • A world where the US and other powers pursue just peace for all.
  • A just transition away from exploitative systems, including but not limited to fossil fuels, which create ecological devastation and systematically disadvantage the poor and people of color.
  • Narrowing the divide of staggering economic inequality that so afflicts us in almost every aspect of our lives.
  • A future where the leaders and solutions of tomorrow are mentored and supported from impacted communities today.
  • Shifting social narratives to expose that poverty is a result of systemic oppressions, not personal failings.


In 2018, IPS’s projects collaborated on a wide range of work. We’ve selected one achievement from each core project at IPS to demonstrate what we accomplished in 2018.

Climate Justice

In February 2018, IPS’s Climate Justice Program joined several allies to hold the first ever Transit Equity Day. Taking place on Rosa Parks’ birth anniversary, it was a beautiful day of collaboration. Organizers uplifted affordable, accessible public transit as a powerful force to advance racial equity, address climate concerns, and create good union jobs. There were actions in 15 cities nationwide in 2018, growing to 21 in February 2019. Climate Justice Director Basav Sen wrote major sections of the organizing toolkit, and spoke at the 2019 Transit Equity Day rally in Montgomery County, MD. Since then, the coalition has decided to work on an ongoing basis throughout the year. IPS is at the forefront of the coalition’s activities: taking the lead on research and writing, challenging the cannibalization of transit by exploitative and ecologically devastating services like Uber and Lyft.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Center

IPS helped in a major revitalization of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center in 2018.  IPS co-chairs a Policy and Research Council for the Center. This research council has brought together hundreds of experts from IPS, EPI, Public Citizen, the National Women’s Law Center, Demos, the Roosevelt Institute, CEPR, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.  These researchers are producing key materials on a full range of bold proposals launched over the past year.   

Criminalization of Race and Poverty

IPS’s Criminalization of Poverty and Race project worked with students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 2017 and 2018 to develop an innovative form of Restorative Justice in which students work with those involved in committing or experiencing harm in the school environment. This student-led process involves families, community members, fellow students, and school officials in a collaborative process of redress without resorting to punitive measures like suspension and expulsion. The DC Public School System adopted a form of our model at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Drug Policy

IPS’s Sanho Tree published a popular op-ed in the New York Times highlighting that restrictive drug policies actually incentivize brutality and innovation from drug traffickers. The article was well-regarded in many political, academic, and activist circles.  


Global Economy - CEO Pay Gap

In past years, IPS’s Global Economy program successfully advocated for a federal regulation requiring publicly held corporations to report the gaps between their CEO and median worker pay. In 2018, we built on this success by providing research and communications support for campaigns at the city, state, and federal levels to penalize companies with extreme pay gaps. Portland, OR began collecting revenue from such a tax last year. Lawmakers have introduced similar proposals in San Francisco, seven states, and the U.S. Congress.


Global Economy - Mining in El Salvador

IPS led a broad coalition of international allies that helped El Salvador become the first nation on earth to ban mining for environmental reasons.  IPS’s work also helped El Salvador defeat an unjust mining company lawsuit. We are now spreading the lessons of these wins to other nations. In 2018, we released a major report on the biased lawsuits by mining companies. We also published a study on the falsehoods of mining companies in the Philippines, building on our success in El Salvador.


Inequality and the Common Good

Throughout 2018, IPS’s Inequality Program partnered with grassroots groups across the country to regulate luxury housing. Collaborating with voices on the ground in Boston, Seattle, and Los Angeles, we exposed the disruptive impact of luxury housing on local communities. Our report, Towering Excess: The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom examines how Boston could protect the public interest and support affordable housing by taxing real estate. We are now working with state and city policymakers to design taxes on luxury housing transfers.


The IPS website Inequality.org is the premier portal covering the global economic divide. In 2018, we expanded Inequality.org’s capacity to support activism reversing inequality. Every week, we produce a “Faces on the Frontlines” feature highlighting inspiring champions. Our “facts” section is the top link on any search for “income inequality”. In 2018, we expanded this section: adding interactive graphics on racial, gender, and health inequality. The website saw a 15 percent increase in new users and views. Our rate of newsletter subscribers hit record highs in the fall of 2018, culminating in an annual rate of more than 20,000 new readers. Our strongest demographic remains the 18-24 year-old age group, followed by 25-34 year-olds.

National Priorities Project

In response to the impending December 2018 government shutdown over the President’s demand for funds for a border wall, NPP quickly put together a list of “9 Things To Buy With $5 Billion Instead of a Border Wall.” The piece went viral and was tweeted by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. It was further adapted into a fact sheet that our partner MomsRising used in their congressional lobby visits against the wall, served as a jumping off point for a video by Representative Pramila Jayapal, and got the attention of New York Times editors who contacted us to provide facts for a piece opposing the wall by Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The government shutdown ended in January after 35 days with no additional funding for a border wall.

New Internationalism

After the “blue wave” election of November 2018, IPS’s Phyllis Bennis drafted “A Bold Foreign Policy Platform for the New Wave of Left Lawmakers”. The platform establishes principles and policy goals for ending wars and dealing with a host of global relationships. The platform matched the big domestic policy ideas of many freshman Representatives with a bold, overarching plan for progressive foreign policy. It now forms the basis for discussions with several of the most progressive members of Congress who won seats in the 2018 election.


IPS’s OtherWords op-ed service places progressive opinion pieces in heartland newspapers: placing a special emphasis on targeting “red” and “purple” regions. In 2018, OtherWords reached at least 226 newspapers in 41 states. These papers had a combined print circulation of over 4.4 million — more than the prior two years combined. In 2019, we’ve supplemented this effort with parallel pitches to major national syndicates, adding 7.5 million new print readers in 40 states in the first half of the year alone. Heading into campaign season, these efforts ensure that progressive ideas get a hearing in regions other groups fail to target.

Poor People’s Campaign

In 2018, IPS worked with the Poor People’s Campaign to produce an audit of the past fifty years of interconnected injustices. This report shows the overlapping, systemic evils of racism, poverty, militarism, and environmental destruction.  IPS also produced detailed fact sheets on these issues in each state (link) for the organizing committees in those states. This work carried through to 2019’s “Moral Budget” which demonstrates how the US can and should tackle these injustices.


Our 2018 awards ceremony brought together members of the progressive community to show that we will not be paralyzed, that we will not be silent, and that we will celebrate our hard-won victories and stand in solidarity with those that need us. We celebrated two outstanding human rights organizations: The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (Domestic Awardee) and Peru’s Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente (International Awardee). The event was emceed by IPS Board Chair and novelist Tope Folarin alongside IPS Trustee, human rights attorney, and writer Noura Erakat. They led the audience through a dynamic program accompanied by inspiring remarks by Greisa Martinez, Deputy Executive Director of United We Dream.

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Native DC Band with Afro Go-Go roots, Crank Lukongo, shared their music and led the closing of the inspiring ceremony.

In September, we stopped to remember our fallen colleagues, Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt who were murdered in 1976 by agents of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship at Sheridan Circle in Washington D.C. We held a memorial on a rainy Sunday at the IPS offices to celebrate their lives. IPS’s Sarah Anderson emceed the service, and the program featured words from Cristian Letelier, son of Orlando Letelier, and Violeta Curiel, IPS Development Associate. Ali Beydoun, former director of the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic at the Washington College of Law spoke about continuing efforts to hold one of the assassins in the Letelier-Moffit case, Michael Townley, accountable for his crimes. Patricio Zamorano performed a tribute to Victor Jara, poet, singer-songwriter and communist political activist killed under the Pinochet dictatorship. In attendance was His Excellency Alfonso Silva Navarro and several of Orlando and Ronni’s friends and family.


Our Next Leaders Program is a 10-week paid internship program that exposes young activists to the practice of public scholarship and positions them for long-lasting careers in and with social justice movements. This year’s group of eight fellows pumped out content, producing 18 articles and op-eds and contributing to three core IPS reports, including Students Under Siege, Energy Efficiency with Justice, and the 2018 Executive Excess Report. They also bolstered the effectiveness of the Poor People’s campaign with fact-sheets and timely research, and led IPS staff through workshops on prison abolition and rethinking democracy. Already many of them have found homes at progressive organizations, including Casa de Salud, a clinic that serves mostly undocumented folks and transgender patients, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and the LEAP Program that supports Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

In its fourth session, we are seeing that our Next Leaders past and present have already brought about powerful change and are moving their peers and communities to act. We are excited to not only have served as many of their job references, but to be supporting them regularly through our alumni network. At least a third still write or research for our projects and two, Janae Bonsu and Ebony Slaughter Johnson have now joined our ranks as honored Associate Fellows.



Our Financials

To ensure our ability to provide independent research and analysis, we do not accept any donations from governments. Our work is sustained by foundations and individuals. We also accept employee-directed contributions and donor-matching funds.

We are committed to holding ourselves to the highest standards of transparency and accountability. To that end, we publish our financials every year. You can find our audited financial statements as well as our latest available 990 forms on our financials page.

*These numbers represent our un-audited financial records. When we undergo our audit for our 2018 finances, we may re-publish these numbers.


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Past, Present, and Future Support


For over half a century, the Institute for Policy Studies has relied on individual donors and private foundations to support our work. It is exactly this independence from corporate and government funding which allows us to speak truths to these powers: enabling us to provide key scholarly support to educate, connect, and empower critical social movements.

Make IPS a priority by giving today, as generously as you can. We cannot do this work without your support. The best way you can support our work in the long term is to become an IPS sustainer. Even a small monthly contribution of $20 or $30 gives us the dependable, grassroots support we need to turn ideas into action for peace, justice, and the environment.

The Institute for Policy Studies is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is fully tax-deductible.

To donate online, please visit the Institute’s donation page.

To donate by mail, please make checks payable to the Institute for Policy Studies. If you wish, you may designate a specific project on the check memo line. Please send your contribution to:

Institute for Policy Studies
ATTN: Development Department
1301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036

To donate by phone, please call our Development Assistant at 202-787-5272.


Since our founding in 1963, the Institute for Policy Studies has played a key role in providing public scholarship to cutting-edge social movements in the U.S. and the world.

We don’t know what issues will emerge in the next decades and beyond, but we do know that tomorrow’s progressive movement-building groups will need the honest intellectual groundwork that IPS provides. IPS will always speak with an unwavering, independent voice: unburdened by party affiliations and steadfast in promoting equity, sustainability, peace, and democratic participation.

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IPS is mentoring the next generation of public scholars, and we focus on selecting and mentoring individuals from low-income backgrounds and communities of color. Working closely with public scholars who helped build and inform the movements for social and economic equity, demilitarization and diplomacy, and environmental justice, they will become the next generation to build on the Institute’s legacy of inspiring progressive ideas into action.

By including IPS in their estate plans through a bequest or other planned gift, members of the Next Generation Legacy Society demonstrate a commitment to ensuring that IPS is able to build a future that is more inclusive, equitable, sustainable, and democratic.

IPS would like to express our deepest gratitude toward the extraordinary commitment, generosity, and thoughtfulness of the following Next Generation Legacy Society members:
Anonymous (two individuals)
Ann Barnet
Julie Buckles
John Cavanagh
Jodie Evans
David Hart
Andrew Levine
Nancy Lewis
Kathleen A. Maloy, JD PhD
Caroline Ramsay-Merriam
Herbert and Evelyn Robb

If you would like to become a member of the IPS Next Generation Legacy Society but would like to speak to someone for more information, please call (202) 787-5235 or email legacy@ips-dc.org.


IPS would like to extend special thanks to the following major institutional supporters.

American Postal Workers Union
Colombe Foundation
Common Counsel Foundation
Emerson Collective
Ford Foundation
International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
Janelia Foundation
JPB Foundation
Lannan Foundation
Lucy and Isadore B Adelman Foundation
The Moriah Fund Inc.

NoVo Foundation
Open Society Foundations
Park Foundation, Inc.
Ploughshares Fund
Puffin Foundation
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Sally and Dick Roberts Coyote Foundation
Samuel Rubin Foundation
Schumann Media Center
Sigrid Rausing Trust
Stewart R. Mott Foundation
The Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Atlantic Philanthropies
The Bauman Foundation
The James Irvine Foundation
The Nathan Cummings Foundation
The Progress Fund
The WhyNot Initiative
Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Wallace Global Fund
Warner Fund Inc., The
William H. Donner Foundation

Individual Donors

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