The Century Foundation
The Century Foundation is a think tank headquartered in New York City with offices in Washington, D.C. It was founded as a nonprofit public policy research institution on the belief that the prosperity and security of the United States depends on a mix of effective government, open democracy, and free markets. Its staff, fellows, and authors produce books, reports, papers, pamphlets, and online publications. The Foundation also hosts policy related events and workshops for various audiences, including policy experts, journalists, college students and other academics, and the general public. It also manages several ongoing policy projects and operates a number of Web sites on various policy-related topics.
The Century Foundation was founded in 1919 by Edward A. Filene, an American businessman, social entrepreneur, and philanthropist, under the name of The Cooperative League. The organization’s mission was to act as an advisory committee for Filene in disbursing his funds in a way that could best benefit the world. Renamed the Twentieth Century Fund in 1922, and then The Century Foundation in 1999, the Foundation has sought liberal, progressive solutions to the nation’s problems.
During the twentieth century, the Foundation published many reports that informed public policy, including Stock Market Control, a 1934 report that provided ideas for legislation enacted after the 1929 crash of the stock market; America’s Needs and Resources, a 1947 report that set forth a forecast of the nation’s needs, industrial production, and income over the following two decades; Jean Gottmann’s Megalopolis: The Urbanized Northeastern Seaboard of the United States; the New Federalist Papers by Nelson W. Polsby, Alan Brinkley, and Kathleen Sullivan; and Gunnar Myrdal’s Asian Drama: An Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations.
The Foundation has provided information and analysis concerning Social Security since its earliest days. At the time of the inception of the Social Security program in the mid-1930s, the organization set up a “Committee on Old-Age Security” to look at the provisions of the Townsend Plan, a movement in this country to provide some pension protection for the elderly in the aftermath of the Great Depression. The Committee determined that the Townsend plan was unworkable, but its members continued to examine the issue of the elderly poor, and in 1937, More Security for Old Age, a report and program for action was published, providing an analysis of the newly created Social Security program. Through the ensuing years, the organization has returned to the issue frequently. More recently, beginning in the 1990s, the organization has supported numerous studies and reports, including Ensuring the Essentials by former Social Security Administrator Robert Ball (2000); Social Security Reform: Beyond the Basics, edited by Richard C. Leone and Greg Anrig, Jr. (1999); and Countdown to Reform: The Great Social Security Debate by Henry J. Aaron, and Robert D. Reischauer (2001).
In the wake of the 2000 election, The Century Foundation and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs organized The National Commission on Federal Election Reform, which was co-chaired by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, and was composed of distinguished public leaders from across the political spectrum. The commission’s charge was to quickly evaluate an enormous body of research on election reform, review policy proposals, and offer a bipartisan analysis to the Congress, the administration, and the American people. It released its final report, To Assure Pride and Confidence in the Electoral Process, to Congress and the White House on July 31, 2001. In 2002, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed by the Congress and signed into law by President Bush.
The Century Foundation also has supported two task forces that examined homeland security issues after the events of September 11, 2001. The first, chaired by Richard A. Clarke, produced a report, Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action, in 2005. The report assessed the nation’s successes and failures on homeland security and, building on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, offered a detailed action plan for neutralizing the international movement at the core of worldwide terrorism. The second task force, co-chaired by Richard Clarke and Randy Beers, produced the report The Forgotten Homeland in 2006, in which leading homeland security experts analyze the nation’s most significant vulnerabilities and propose strategies to reduce them. In 2003, The Century Foundation published The War on Our Freedoms: Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism, which included essays by scholars and journalists that pointed out what is wrong with the current rush to limit civil liberties in the name of national security.
The Century Foundation describes its mission as explaining and analyzing public issues in plain language, providing facts and opinions about the strengths and weaknesses of different policy strategies, and developing and calling attention to distinctive ideas that have been demonstrated to work as policy solutions to the nation’s problems.
The Foundation covers many areas of public policy, but recently it has focused particularly on four basic challenges:
- persistent economic inequality combined with the shift to American households of financial risks previously borne by employers and government
- the aging of the population
- preventing and responding to terrorism while preserving civil liberties
- restoring America’s international credibility as an effective and cooperative leader in responding to global security and economic dangers
The Century Foundation produces work on issues such as Social Security and pensions, health care, education, tax and budget policy, homeland security, immigration, election reform, international terrorism, the U.S. relationship with the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, and policies toward regions such as the Middle East and East Asia.
The Trustees of The Century Foundation include historian Alan Brinkley; constitutional law scholar Kathleen Sullivan; Alicia Munnell, Peter F. Drucker Professor of Management Sciences at Boston College's Carroll School of Management and Director of the Center for Retirement Research, who was a member of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers; Melissa Harris-Perry, political scientist and Associate Professor of Politics and African American studies at Princeton University; Lewis B. Kaden, Vice Chairman of Citigroup, Inc.; globally recognized health policy and medical ethics expert Alexander Morgan Capron, Matina S. Horner, former vp of human resources, TIAA-CREF, and former president of Radcliffe College, Bradley Abelow, chief operating officer of MF Global, Inc., John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, public health physician Harvey I. Sloane, M.D., William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University; and current president of The Century Foundation Richard C. Leone.
Emeritus Trustees include H. Brandt Ayers, publisher of the Anniston Star; Hodding Carter III, former president of the Knight Foundation who was an official in the Jimmy Carter administration; Joseph A. Califano, Jr., founder and chairman of the board of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University; Edward E. David, Jr., science adviser to president Richard M. Nixon; Brewster C. Denny, founder of the Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Washington; former Lieutenant Governor of New York, Richard Ravitch, Charles V. Hamilton; and Shirley Williams, co-founder of the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom and member of House of Lords.
The Foundation includes among its list of former Trustees such notable figures as Theodore Sorensen, lawyer and speech writer for President Kennedy; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., John Kenneth Galbraith, Madeleine May Kunin, Newton D. Baker, Adolf A. Berle, Jr., Patricia Roberts Harris, Benjamin V. Cohen, David E. Lilienthal, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Luis Muñoz Marín, Albert Shanker, Morris Berthold Abram, James Tobin, Peter A. A. Berle, Jessica Mathews, James A. Leach, and Christopher Edley.
The Century Foundation currently operates these Internet sites:
- TCF's primary website
- TCF's blog, Blog of the Century
- Homeland Security Network
- Social Security Network
- Immigration Reform
- Federal Election Reform Network
- Health Policy Watch
- Equal Education
- Health Beat by Maggie Mahar
- Prospects for Peace blog
- Christy Marks Richard C. Leone Announces That He Will Step Down as President of The Century Foundation AScribe Newswire November 10, 2010[dead link]
- The Century Foundation Web Site
- Ford, Carter to Lead Panel to Study Election Reform http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2001-01-30-electionreform.htm
- Congressional Record of Action http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:HR03295:@@@R
- Disconnected by Matthew Yglesias http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?articleId=9214
- Domestic Security is Forgotten, Bipartisan Task Force Reports http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/terror/20060702-9999-1n2security.html
- The Century Foundation Web Site http://www.tcf.org/
- Century Foundation records, 1906-2010. Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library.