Oakland Institute

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Oakland Institute
MottoThe Oakland Institute is bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.
Executive DirectorAnuradha Mittal
BudgetRevenue: $521,395
Expenses: $384,075
(FYE December 2015)[1]
AddressP.O. Box 18978
Oakland, CA 94619

The Oakland Institute is a progressive think tank founded in 2004 by Anuradha Mittal, the former co-director of Food First. Mittal is a considered an "expert on trade, development, human rights, democracy, and agriculture issues".[2] It is headquartered in Oakland, California.


Since 2011, the Institute has unveiled land investment deals[3] in developing countries that reveal a disturbing pattern of a lack of transparency, fairness, and accountability. The dynamic relationship between research, advocacy, and international media coverage has resulted in an amazing string of successes and organizing in the U.S. and abroad.

In 2011, the institute exposed the US$26 million investment made by Vanderbilt University, a private university in Nashville, Tennessee, in Emergent Asset Management, later known as EMVest Asset Management, a hedge fund "accused of "land grabbing," or taking over agricultural land used by local communities through exploitative practices and using it for large-scale commercial export farming" [...] "in five sub-Saharan African countries, including Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe."[4] The revelation made international headlines, with coverage in The Guardian, and led to student protests on campus in 2012.[4][5] By 2013, Vanderbilt administrators had caved in to the public outcry and divested from EMInvest.[4]

Mission and areas of focus[edit]

The Oakland Institute's mission is to "increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic, and environmental issues in both national and international forums".[6] The institute’s trademark is to work in coalitions and networks to strengthen social movements, especially in partnership with grassroots constituencies such as faith-based organizations, farm workers, immigrant rights groups, black farmers, and international proponents of food sovereignty and trade justice.[7][8][9]

The Oakland Institute categorizes its work into the following program areas:

Awards and recognition[edit]

The Nation magazine recognized the institute's work, and the efforts of Anuradha Mittal in particular, in their list of Most Valuable Progressives of 2008.[10] The Oakland Institute received the United Nations Association East Bay's Global Citizen Award in 2007 and the KPFA Peace Award in 2006.[11][12] in 2012, the Oakland Institute was honored by the Responsible Endowments Coalition for its leadership in drawing attention to college and university investments in land grabs in Africa.[13] Articles and opinion pieces by The Oakland Institute's staff and fellows and/or perspectives on its work are regularly published in U.S. media outlets including Alternet, Slate, The Huffington Post, Inter Press Service, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.[14]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "World Policy Institute" (PDF). Foundation Center. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  2. ^ www.speakoutnow.org Anuradha Mittal's profile on the Speak Out Now website.
  3. ^ [1] The Oakland Institute's reports and documentation on land investment deals in Africa.
  4. ^ a b c Vanderbilt University Divests from "Land Grab" in Africa, Oakland Institute, February 13, 2013
  5. ^ John Vidal, Claire Provost, US universities in Africa 'land grab', The Guardian, June 8, 2011
  6. ^ http://lii.org/pub/subtopic/5679 Librarians' Internet Index: Public Policy.
  7. ^ www.oaklandinstitute.org/?q=node/view/188 The Oakland Institute "Letter from the Director, 2004-2005". Accessed 06/02/09.
  8. ^ www.pcusa.org/oghs/08images/php07-grants.pdf Presbyterian Hunger Program, "2007 Grants and Programs". Accessed 06/02/09.
  9. ^ www.nytimes.com/2004/06/12/opinion/l-saving-the-farm-939080.html "Saving the Farm", NY Times, June 12, 2004.
  10. ^ www.thenation.com/blogs/thebeat/392577/most_valuable_progressives_of_2008 John Nichols, "Most Valuable Progressives of 2008," The Nation-Beat Blog, posted December 31, 2008.
  11. ^ www.unausaeastbay.org/newsletters/REVISED_UNA_nwsltr_Oct-Nov_2007.pdf UNA-USA East Bay Newsletter, October–November, 2007.
  12. ^ www.insouth.org Organizational profile on InSouth, the Intellectual Network for the South.
  13. ^ [2] Responsible Endowments Coalition website
  14. ^ www.oaklandinstitute.org/?q=node/view/101 Listing of published articles about the Oakland Institute.