Center for American Progress

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Center for American Progress
Center for American Progress logo.svg
FoundedOctober 24, 2003; 15 years ago (2003-10-24)
FounderJohn Podesta
TypePublic policy think tank
Coordinates38°54′01″N 77°01′52″W / 38.900373°N 77.031047°W / 38.900373; -77.031047Coordinates: 38°54′01″N 77°01′52″W / 38.900373°N 77.031047°W / 38.900373; -77.031047
Neera Tanden
Tom Daschle
$45,156,090 (2014)[1]
Expenses$42,425,026 (2014)

The Center for American Progress (CAP) is a public policy research and advocacy organization which presents a liberal[2] and centrist[3][4] viewpoint on economic and social issues. It has its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The president and chief executive officer of CAP is Neera Tanden, who worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton's campaigns.[5] The first president and CEO was John Podesta, who has served as White House Chief of Staff to U.S. President Bill Clinton and as the chairman of the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.[6] Podesta remained with the organization as chairman of the board until he joined the Obama White House staff in December 2013. Tom Daschle is the current chairman.[7]

The Center for American Progress has a youth-engagement organization, Generation Progress, and a sister advocacy organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF). Citing Podesta's influence in the formation of the Obama Administration, a November 2008 article in Time stated that "not since the Heritage Foundation helped guide Ronald Reagan's transition in 1981 has a single outside group held so much sway".[8]

History and mission[edit]

The Center for American Progress was created in 2003 as a left-leaning alternative to think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.[9]

Since its inception, the center has assembled a group of high-profile senior fellows, including Lawrence Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan; Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; Ruy Teixeira, political scientist and author of The Emerging Democratic Majority; and, most recently, former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Elizabeth Edwards, late wife of former presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator from North Carolina John Edwards. Sarah Rosen Wartell, a co-founder and executive vice-president of the center, has been named President of the Urban Institute[10]

The center helped Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) develop "strategic redeployment",[11] a comprehensive plan for the Iraq War that included a timetable and troop withdrawals.


Governor Martin O'Malley speaking at the Center for American Progress


ThinkProgress, active during the years 2005-2019, was a blog edited by Judd Legum that "provide[s] a forum that advances progressive ideas and policies."[12] It is an outlet of the Center for American Progress. In September 2019, a year after Legum's departure, ThinkProgress was shut down for want of funds, with many staffers absorbed into the Center's operations.[13]

Generation Progress[edit]

Generation Progress was launched in February 2005 and is CAP's youth outreach arm.[14] According to the organization, Generation Progress partners with over a million millennials.[15]

Center for American Progress Action Fund[edit]

Formerly known simply as the American Progress Action Fund, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action) is a "sister advocacy organization"[16] and is organizationally and financially separate from CAP, although they share many staff and a physical address. Politico wrote in April 2011 that it "openly runs political advocacy campaigns, and plays a central role in the Democratic Party’s infrastructure, and the new reporting staff down the hall isn’t exactly walled off from that message machine, nor does it necessarily keep its distance from liberal groups organizing advocacy campaigns targeting conservatives".[17] Whereas CAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, CAP Action is a 501(c)(4),[18] allowing it to devote more funds to lobbying.[19] In 2003, George Soros promised to financially support the organization by donating up to $3 million.[20] CAP Action is headed by Neera Tanden.[21]

Thomas Perez and Neera Tanden, December 2014

"The Moscow Project" is one of its initiatives.[22]

Washington Center for Equitable Growth[edit]

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth, also known simply as Equitable Growth, is a research and grantmaking organization founded in 2013 and "housed at the Center for American Progress".[23] Equitable Growth funds academic research in economics and other social sciences, with a particular interest in government's role in the distribution of economic growth and the role of public perceptions of fairness in shaping government policy.[24]

Science Progress[edit]

Science Progress was an internet publication about progressive science and technology policy. Science Progress was a project of the Center for American Progress. Its mission was "to improve the understanding of science among policymakers and other thought leaders and to develop exciting, progressive ideas about innovation in science and technology for the United States in the 21st Century."[25] It began publication on 4 October 2007,[26] the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 1. Content on the web site included news, in-depth essays, and text- and audio-based interviews. The Science Progress staff included Editor-In-Chief Jonathan D. Moreno.[27]


Health care[edit]

In 2017, the Center opposed Bernie Sanders' single-payer health plan.[28] Critics said that this was because of funding from the health care industry, such as The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, the Health Care Service Corporation and America's Health Insurance Plans, who would be eliminated under Sanders' plan.[29] In 2018, the Center proposed an alternative to single payer that would offer patients and employers a choice between government coverage and private insurance.[30]


Pro-UAE, pro-Saudi policy[edit]

In October 2016, the Intercept reported that United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba praised "a CAP report released [in October 2016] that advocates for continued cooperation with Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab Emirates]."[31]

In January 2019, two CAP staffers were fired for leaking an email exchange that suggested improper influence by the UAE over the CAP.[32]

Lack of transparency for funding sources[edit]

Some open government groups, such as the Sunlight Foundation and the Campaign Legal Center, criticized the Center's failure to disclose its contributors, particularly since it was so influential in appointments to the Obama administration.[33][34]

Israel controversy[edit]

CAP was criticized by several Jewish organizations after some employees "publicly used language that could be construed as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic".[35] Bloggers associated with CAP published several posts using phrases such as "apartheid" and "Israel-firsters", causing NGO Monitor, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League to label them anti-Israel and call on CAP to disassociate themselves from these statements.[36] Officials at CAP said the “inappropriate” language came only in personal tweets—not on CAP's website or its ThinkProgress blog. The Tweets were deleted, and the authors apologized.[35]

Other writers, however, criticized CAP for what they saw as censorship of reasonable comments critical of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and other policies. Based on leaked emails, columnist Glenn Greenwald, for example, wrote that CAP had deleted references to Israeli settlement policies in reports by their staffers.[37][38][39][40]

Greenwald and others also criticized CAP for hosting a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while Netanyahu was hostile to the Obama Administration.[41] Greenwald described CAP's positions as "servitude to AIPAC and pandering to Netanyahu."[37] Eighteen organizations and over one hundred academics signed an open letter, circulated by Jewish Voice for Peace and the Arab American Institute, against the meeting. 26,300 people signed a petition opposing the meeting.[42]

WikiLeaks 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign controversy[edit]

After the release by WikiLeaks of stolen Podesta emails, the Center for American Progress was attacked based on emails sent between John Halpin, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and Jennifer Palmieri, a Hillary Clinton campaign team member.[43] The Washington Post characterized the comments as "joking"; Kellyanne Conway and others called them anti-Catholic attacks.[43][44]

Mishandling of sexual harassment accusations[edit]

In April 2018, BuzzFeed News reported that female employees of CAP had complained of sexual harassment by CAP employee Benton Strong to human resources and management without meaningful action being taken.[45] In an exit memo, one anonymous employee described retaliation for reporting Strong's behavior.[45] After the publication of the BuzzFeed story, CAP president Neera Tanden unintentionally used the anonymous woman's name during an all-staff meeting to address their handling of sexual harassment allegations.[46]


The Center for American Progress is a 501(c)(3) organization under U.S. Internal Revenue Code.[18] In 2014, CAP received $45 million from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, labor unions, and corporations.[47] From 2003 to 2007, CAP received about $15 million in grants from 58 foundations.[48] Major individual donors include George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herb and Marion Sandler. The Center receives undisclosed sums from corporate donors.[49] In December 2013, the organization released a list of its corporate donors, which include Walmart, CitiGroup, Wells Fargo, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, America's Health Insurance Plans, and Eli Lilly and Company.[50]

In 2015, CAP released a partial list of its donors, which included 28 anonymous donors accounting for at least $5 million in contributions. Named donors included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, which each gave between $500,000 and $999,999. CAP's top donors include Walmart and Citigroup, each of which have given between $100,000 and $499,000.[51][52] Other large CAP donors include Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Google, Time Warner, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.[37][53]

*2015 Donors (excluding anonymous)[54] Level
Ford Foundation $1,000,000+
The Hutchins Family Foundation $1,000,000+
Sandler Foundation $1,000,000+
TomKat Charitable Trust $1,000,000+
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
Joyce Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
Not On Our Watch $500,000 to $999,999
Open Square Charitable Gift Fund $500,000 to $999,999
Embassy of United Arab Emirates $500,000 to $999,999
Walton Family Foundation $500,000 to $999,999
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation $500,000 to $999,999

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Center for American Progress". Charity Navigator. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Why is The Center for American Progress Betraying The Left?". Current Affairs. December 13, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  4. ^ "How Neera Tanden Works". The New Republic. October 26, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  5. ^ Horowitz, Jason (November 3, 2011). "Think-tank post puts spotlight on veteran Democratic operative Neera Tanden". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  6. ^ "Meet the Man Behind Hillary Clinton's Campaign". Time. April 28, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  7. ^ "CAP Board of Directors". Center for American Progress. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  8. ^ Scherer, Michael (November 21, 2008). "Inside Obama's Idea Factory in Washington", Time. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  9. ^ Robert Dreyfuss, "An Idea Factory for the Democrats", The Nation March 1, 2004
  10. ^ Institute, Urban (December 20, 2011). "Sarah Rosen Wartell, Think Tank Executive and Housing Finance Expert, to be the Urban Institute's Third President".
  11. ^ CAP article, strategic redeployment. Retrieved November 15, 2006. Archived November 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Somanader, Tanya. "ThinkProgress blog". Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  13. ^ Statement by Center for American Progress
  14. ^ "About Us". Generation Progress. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  15. ^ "CAP to unveil 'Generation Progress'". Politico. July 15, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  16. ^ "About the Center for American Progress Action Fund". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  17. ^ "Center for American Progress news team takes aim at GOP". Politico. April 13, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  18. ^ a b "State Notices". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  19. ^ "Add to the Collective Genius Archived December 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine." Retrieved December 27, 2006.
  20. ^ "Soros' Deep Pockets vs. Bush". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
  21. ^ "American Progress Staff". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  22. ^ "The Moscow Project". The Moscow Project.
  23. ^ Leonhardt, David. "Podesta Starting a Think Tank on Inequality". Economix Blog. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  24. ^ "Center for Equitable Growth". Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  25. ^ "About Science Progress".
  26. ^ "A Year of Science Progress". Science Progress. October 7, 2008. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  27. ^ "Jonathan D Moreno, Ph.D." Perelman School of Medicine. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  28. ^ Democrats Against Single Payer Single-payer health care has always been a goal of the Left. But Democrats have turned it into a punching bag. Branko Marcetic. Jacobin. 03.29.2017
  29. ^ Disappointed By the Democratic Party Platform? Follow the Money Several delegates to the platform drafting committee have deep financial ties to conservative industries. By Branko Marcetic. Moyers & Company. July 21, 2016
  30. ^ Kliff, Sarah (February 23, 2018). "Democrats are shifting toward single-payer. Here's proof". Vox.
  31. ^ Jilani, Zaid (October 26, 2016). "At Hillary Clinton's Favorite Think Tank, a Doubling Down on Anti-Iran, Pro-Saudi Policy". The Intercept.
  32. ^ "Amid Internal Investigation Over Leaks to Media, the Center for American Progress Fires Two Staffers". The Intercept. January 16, 2019.
  33. ^ Ben Smith and Chris Frates (December 9, 2008). "Where's transparency of Podesta group?". Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  34. ^ Krugman, Paul (January 28, 2010). "March of the Peacocks". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
  35. ^ a b Wallsten, Peter (January 20, 2012). "Center for American Progress, group tied to Obama, under fire from Israel advocates". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  36. ^ Weinthal, Benjamin. "NGOs slam 'anti-Semitic' US think tank comments". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  37. ^ a b c Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism, Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Nov. 5, 2015
  38. ^ Gharib, Ali (October 28, 2015). "Why Is the Center for American Progress Hosting Benjamin Netanyahu?". The Nation. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  39. ^ Center for American Progress Hosts Netanyahu as Leaked Emails Show Group Censored Staff on Israel, By Nermeen Shaikh, Democracy Now, November 12, 2015
  40. ^ Has the Israel Lobby Gone Too Far? Will a recent attack on progressive journalists help spark a sea-change in the debate over Middle East policy? By Joshua Holland, AlterNet, December 16, 2011.
  41. ^ "Center for American Progress under fire for hosting speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu". The Washington Post. November 9, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  42. ^ "Center for American Progress under fire for hosting speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu". Washington Post. November 9, 2015.
  43. ^ a b Pulliam Bailey, Sarah. "WikiLeaks emails appear to show Clinton spokeswoman joking about Catholics and evangelicals". Washington Post. Retrieved April 25, 2018. The latest batch of documents published by WikiLeaks appears to show Hillary Clinton's campaign communications director joking with a confidant about Catholics and evangelicals in emails sent to John Podesta, chairman of Clinton’s campaign.
  44. ^ Bash, Dana; Diaz, Daniella. "First on CNN: Religious leaders slam Clinton campaign over emails". CNN. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  45. ^ a b Mimms, Sarah (April 23, 2018). "Inside The Divisive Fight Over How A Top Progressive Think Tank Handled Sexual Harassment". BuzzFeed. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  46. ^ Mimms, Sarah (April 25, 2018). "The Center For American Progress Staff Was Shocked After Neera Tanden Named The Anonymous Harassment Victim In An All-Staff Meeting". BuzzFeed. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  47. ^ "Center for American Progress 990 Form". Propublica Nonprofit Explorer. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  48. ^ "John Podesta, Shepherd of a Government in Exile". The New York Times. November 6, 2008. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  49. ^ Savage, Charlie (November 7, 2008). "John Podesta, Shepherd of a Government in Exile". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  50. ^ "Our Supporters". Center for American Progress. Archived from the original on November 12, 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  51. ^ Berman, Dan (January 21, 2015). "Liberal Group Claims Transparency but Keeps Some Donors' Names Secret". National Journal. Archived from the original on February 4, 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  52. ^ Sargent, Greg (January 21, 2015). "Center for American Progress, poised to wield influence over 2016, reveals its top donors". Washington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  53. ^ "Corporate Influence at the Center for American Progress?". The Nation. May 30, 2013.
  54. ^ "Our Supporters" (PDF). Center for American Progress. Retrieved April 14, 2015.

External links[edit]

Non-profit filings[edit]