The Pew Charitable Trusts

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

Pew Charitable Trusts
Established1948; 72 years ago (1948)
ChairmanRobert H. Campbell
PresidentSusan K. Urahn
Faculty10 (board)
Budget$374 million
Endowment$6.7 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 invigorating 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 sons 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 and the arts 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 that change 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 website, five of the ten Directors serving on the Board are named Pew.[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]

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.[11] In 2008, 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.[12][13]

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"[14] 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, Pew works to reduce hidden risks to the health, safety, and well-being of American consumers."[15] 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.[16] The awards provide flexible support ($240,000 over a four-year period). Grantees are encouraged to be entrepreneurial and innovative in their research.[17]

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.[18]

Financial factsEdit

According to the 2019 Consolidated Financial Statements, as of 30 June 2019, the Trusts owned over US$6.7 billion in assets. For the 12 months ending on that date, total revenues were about US$374 million and total expenses were about $341 million, of which about $6.6 million were for fundraising expenses.[19]


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 and horticulture."[20] "The Barnes is home to one of the world's largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, with especially deep holdings by Renoir, Matisse, and Picasso", as well as important examples of African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork."[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, then 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) earmarked specifically for the organization’s criminal justice reform project.[26][27][clarification needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "How We Work". The Pew Charitable Trusts. 2019-11-22. Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  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. ISBN 9780791493878.
  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. ^ "Leadership". The Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  8. ^ Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post Staff Writer (2009-01-06). "Bush to Protect Three Areas in Pacific". Washington Post. 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. ^ Public Safety Performance. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  12. ^ New High In U.S. Prison Numbers by N.C. Aizenman. February 29, 2008. Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  13. ^ One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008. Released February 28, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  14. ^ Corrections and Public Safety. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  15. ^ "Approach - The Pew Charitable Trusts". Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  16. ^ "Pew Scholars Directory - Home". Retrieved 2013-08-27.
  17. ^ "Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences". Retrieved 2014-04-24.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Consolidated Financial Statements and Report of Independent Certified Public Accountants" (PDF). The Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  20. ^ "About". Barnes Foundation. 15 August 2017 [5 July 2017]. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  21. ^ "About the Collection". Barnes Foundation. 14 January 2020 [31 July 2017]. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  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. 2012-08-24. Retrieved 2017-12-15.

External linksEdit