The Gravel Institute

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The Gravel Institute
Gravel Institute Logo.svg
Type501(c)4 Nonprofit[‡ 1]
Key people
  • Henry Williams (Chair)
[‡ 1]
The Gravel Institute
YouTube information
Years active2020–present
  • Politics
  • current affairs
Total views8.300 million[1]
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers 2020

Updated: October 6, 2021

The Gravel Institute is a progressive think tank that aims to counteract American conservative think tanks in general and PragerU in particular.[2] The Gravel Institute is named for its founder Mike Gravel, a former United States senator from Alaska and two-time U.S. presidential candidate.

The Gravel Institute aims to promote left-wing views, including wealth redistribution, critique of United States foreign policy, and supporting direct democracy.[3]


After Mike Gravel's 2020 presidential campaign ended in 2019, leadership from the campaign launched The Gravel Institute in 2019 using a $25,000 donation by Tumblr founder David Karp.[4][5]

The Gravel Institute is mainly run by Henry Williams, David Oks, and Henry Magowan, who ran Gravel's 2020 presidential campaign when they were teenagers.[4] Video production and direction is headed by New York filmmaker Tymon Brown. Gravel himself, who was 90 years old when the institute launched, was not involved in day-to-day operations but served as a consultant and provided advice.[6]

The Gravel Institute was created with the explicit goal of countering PragerU, with Williams stating "the issues that we've so far focused on were, on the one hand, drawn from looking at PragerU topics and countering them" in an interview with Salon.[3] According to the official website, the Institute's mission is to "build the institutions the left needs to win".[‡ 2] According to Oks, the Institute's "main target audience is people who are in the center, but don't have particularly well-thought-out political beliefs", adding: "I don't really think we're going to be converting people who consume PragerU."[7]

In August 2020, The Gravel Institute was critical when Kamala Harris, a former District Attorney of San Francisco and California Attorney General, was selected as the Democratic vice presidential nominee, stating that "Joe Biden picked the cop."[8]

On September 28, 2020, The Gravel Institute uploaded their first video, formally introducing the project, narrated by H. Jon Benjamin.[‡ 3] Also on September 28, The Gravel Institute uploaded their first video focused on a specific subject titled "Is "Big Government" Really the Problem?".[2][‡ 4]

In September 2020, The Gravel Institute responded to a tweet from a user regarding Blue Lives Matter by tweeting "Say it with me: they don't", notes the Washington Examiner.[9] According to Townhall, the tweet was later deleted, and the Institute later responded to a screenshot of the deleted tweet, saying "Sorry, it was late, so just to be clear: "blue lives" are not a thing. Thus, "blue lives" don't matter."[10]

In December 2020, The Gravel Institute criticized the appointment of Pete Buttigieg to the role of Secretary of Transportation, writing that "[b]riefly being mayor of a town smaller than Fargo, North Dakota does not qualify you to be Secretary of Transportation."[11]

According to PolitiFact, The Gravel Institute claimed in a tweet posted on May 24, 2021 that the Biden Administration had decided to cancel $0 in student debt. PolitiFact has rated this statement as "Mostly false." Biden did not include student debt forgiveness in his federal budget, but is considering other options, such as an executive order.[12]

In late May 2021, The Gravel Institute uploaded a video titled "How Uber Is Scamming You" which examines and criticizes Uber's business model.[13]

The namesake of the Institute, Senator Mike Gravel, died on June 26, 2021, aged 91.[14]

By November 30, 2020, The Gravel Institute had some 289,200 followers on Twitter and around 126,000 subscribers on YouTube.[6] By May 2021, the Institute had nearly 330,000 Twitter followers and around 240,000 YouTube subscribers.[15]


The Gravel Institute is financially supported entirely through direct donations, including crowdfunding on Patreon.[‡ 5]

Notable presenters and contributors[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About The Gravel Institute". YouTube.
  2. ^ a b Jackson, Gita (October 1, 2020). "The Gravel Institute Is Trying to Make PragerU, But Good". Vice (Motherboard).
  3. ^ a b c d e f Rozsa, Matthew (November 30, 2020). "The internet has become captured by the right. The Gravel Institute is trying to take it back". Salon. Archived from the original on December 18, 2020. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Pollard, Amelia (May 20, 2021). "The Gravel Institute Punches Up". The American Prospect. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  5. ^ Bonn, Tess (August 2, 2019). "Gravel to form liberal think tank after suspending campaign". The Hill.
  6. ^ a b McMenamin, Lexi (December 5, 2020). "Can the Gravel Institute compete with the right-wing YouTube machine?". Mic. Archived from the original on December 5, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  7. ^ "The Gravel Institute Wants to Radicalize Centrists Everywhere". MEL Magazine. 2020-11-11. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  8. ^ Reimann, Nicholas (August 11, 2020). "Biden Picked A 'Cop': Some On Left Slam Choice Of Kamala Harris For VP". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-06-16.
  9. ^ Lee, Michael (2020-09-13). "New liberal organization says 'blue lives' don't matter in deleted post". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  10. ^ Vespa, Matt (2020-09-14). "Yes, A Liberal Think Tank Actually Tweeted This After Two LA Sheriff Deputies Were Ambushed Over the Weekend". Townhall. Retrieved 2021-06-05.
  11. ^ Mashayekhi, Rey (December 16, 2020). "Biden picks Buttigieg to lead transportation—drawing the ire of the progressive left". Fortune. Retrieved 2021-06-27.
  12. ^ Kertscher, Tom (May 28, 2021). "PolitiFact - Student debt forgiveness is not in Biden's 2022 budget, but it's still in play". Politifact. Retrieved 2021-06-16.
  13. ^ Branwyn, Gareth (2021-05-31). "Gravel Institute on how Uber is a scam". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2021-08-21.
  14. ^ Clymer, Adam (June 27, 2021). "Mike Gravel, Unconventional Two-Term Alaska Senator, Dies at 91". The New York Times.
  15. ^ a b Pollard, Amelia (2021-05-11). "The Gravel Institute Punches Up". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2021-05-11.
  16. ^ "Great new video from the Gravel Institute featuring David Cross". Daily Kos.
  17. ^ "How Socialists Can Win Elections". YouTube.
  18. ^ "How Socialists Solved the Housing Crisis". YouTube.
  19. ^ "Does Capitalism Mean Freedom? (with Zephyr Teachout)". YouTube.
  20. ^ "Is "Big Government" Really the Problem?". YouTube.
  21. ^ Baldwin, Keith (2021-06-27). "The Gravel Institute Is the Left's (Perfect) Response to PragerU". Popdust. Retrieved 2021-08-21.

Primary sources[edit]

In the text these references are preceded by a double dagger (‡):

  1. ^ a b Williams, Henry. "Henry Williams". Henry Williams. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  2. ^ "The Gravel Institute about page". The Gravel Institute. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  3. ^ "How to Defeat PragerU: The Gravel Institute". YouTube. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  4. ^ "Is "Big Government" Really the Problem?". YouTube. Retrieved 2021-04-21.
  5. ^ "The Gravel Institute donate page". The Gravel Institute. Retrieved 9 February 2021.