- Assets: $54,499,650 (2017)
- Grants Received: $0 (2017)
- Grants Awarded: $5,887,375 (2017)
The Bauman Family Foundation (BFF) was established in 1982 by Lionel R. Bauman, a New York City lawyer and businessman who was a partner in the real-estate development firm Eugene M. Grant & Company. Upon Bauman’s death in 1987, the Foundation was the beneficiary of his estate.
BFF is dedicated to “achieving the values of a true democratic society—the common good and general welfare, as articulated in the Constitution.” The way to best realize this objective, says the Foundation, is to promote “progressive political and social change”—not in the form of minor alterations that “merely ameliorate symptoms,” but rather, in the form of far-reaching, “systematic changes.” At present, BFF focuses its philanthropy on advocacy in the following three areas:
1. “Protect[ing] the environment and public health,” whereby the Foundation supports organizations committed to the anti-capitalist agendas of radical environmentalism, whose ultimate goal, as writer Michael Berliner has explained, is “not clean air and clean water, [but] rather … the demolition of technological/industrial civilization.”
2. “Non-partisan civic engagement in the political process,” an ideal that, by BFF’s reckoning, can best be achieved by such measures as: (a) eliminating voter ID requirements; (b) restoring the voting rights of convicted felons; (c) allowing people to become registered voters via the Internet; (d) ensuring that every eligible voter is permanently registered; and (e) mandating a minimum early-voting period. Notably, each of these measures increases the possibility of voter fraud by making it more difficult to verify the identity and eligibility of voters.
3. Assuring “the right-to-know and open, responsive government.”
BFF does not accept unsolicited grant proposals, but carefully selects its grantees based on their values and agendas. Among the organizations the Foundation has supported over the years are: the Advancement Project, the Alliance for Justice, Alternet, America Coming Together, the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, the Blue Green Alliance Foundation, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Brookings Institution, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, the Center for Community Change, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the Center for Independent Media, the Center for Media and Democracy, the Center for Popular Democracy, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Citizen Action, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Constitution Project, Demos, the Earth Day Network, the Economic Policy Institute, Ecotrust, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Media Services, the Environmental Working Group, the Defenders of Wildlife, the Earth Day Network, Faith in Public Life, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Institute for America’s Future, the Institute for Policy Studies, Justice at Stake, the League of Conservation Voters, Media Matters for America, the Ms. Foundation for Education and Communication, the NAACP, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the National Council of La Raza, the National Priorities Project, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, National People’s Action, the National Women’s Law Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the New Organizing Institute Education Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, People for the American Way, the PICO National Network, Project Vote, the Proteus Fund, the Public Citizen Foundation, Rock the Vote, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Sierra Club, State Voices, The Nation Institute, the Tides Foundation and Tides Center, the Union of Concerned Scientists, United for a Fair Economy, the Urban Institute, the USAction Education Fund, the U.S. Public Interest Research Council Education Fund, the Voter Participation Center (formerly known as Women’s Voices/Women’s Vote), the Waterkeeper Alliance, the We Are America Alliance, the Working America Education Fund, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund.
To view a list of additional noteworthy BFF grantees, click here.
BFF’s board president is Patricia Bauman, who also has had close ties to such organizations as the Beldon Fund, the Brennan Center for Justice, Catalist, the Democracy Alliance, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Other key board members include Center for Community Change executive director Deepak Bhargava, and Media Matters For America founder David Brock. Additional BFF board members have had past and present affiliations with the Advancement Project, America Coming Together, America Votes, MADRE, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Threshold Foundation, among others. For a comprehensive list of BFF’s board members, click here.
Georgetown University‘s Public Policy Institute professor Gary Bass, who in 1983 founded OMB Watch—a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that “promotes greater government accountability and transparency and increased citizen participation in public policy decisions”—has been BFF’s executive director since July 2011. In the 1990s, Bass led OMB Watch in challenging a number of provisions in the Republican Party’s famous “Contract with America.” For instance, says BFF, Bass helped stop a proposal “that would have undermined our society’s safety net,” and he helped prevent “a constitutional amendment to balance the U.S. budget that would have seriously harmed human service delivery.”