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Public Welfare Foundation, Inc.


Last Updated: 2016-05-29

At A Glance

Public Welfare Foundation, Inc.

1200 U St. N.W.

Washington, DC United States 20009-4443

Telephone: (202) 965-1800


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-09-30)

Assets: $521,537,931

Total giving: $20,281,700






Incorporated in 1947 in TX; reincorporated in 1951 in DE - Mr. Marsh was an Ohio native who owned a newspaper group, General Newspapers, Inc., and was active in other fields such as banking, oil, gas, and real estate. He donated three newspapers to the foundation, from which it received income for its charitable purposes. The papers, The Spartanburg (SC) Herald & Journal, The Tuscaloosa (AL) News, and the Gadsden (AL) Times, were sold in 1985. The concept of the foundation developed by Mr. Marsh, who died in 1964, and perpetuated by its board of trustees, is broad and remains committed to supporting organizations that help people overcome barriers to full participation in society. The grantmaker is a signatory to Philanthropy’s Promise, an initiative of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). By signing on, the grantmaker has committed to allocating the majority of its grantmaking dollars to marginalized communities and at least 25 percent to social justice strategies, such as advocacy, community organizing, and civic engagement

Purpose and Activities

The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to ensure fundamental rights and opportunities for people in need. It looks for carefully defined points where our funds can make a difference in bringing about systemic changes that can improve lives. The Public Welfare Foundation focuses on three program areas: 1) Criminal Justice, 2) Juvenile Justice and 3) Workers' Rights. A small number of grants will also be made under the Special Opportunities and President's Discretionary categories.

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Criminal Justice

The U.S. criminal justice system is failing. More than two million people are held in American prisons-the largest inmate population in the world. The number is growing daily, largely because of federal and state laws prescribing mandatory minimum sentences, even for non-violent offenders. Most significantly, more than 60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. Locking up increasing numbers of people-disproportionately people of color-at great expense to taxpayers, and later releasing them with little access to rehabilitation and drug treatment services, has not made our streets safe. The foundation's Criminal Justice Program supports groups working to end over-incarceration of adult offenders in America. In particular, the program makes grants to groups that are working to: 1)Reduce incarceration rates through the reform of sentencing laws and parole and probation systems, including the use of diversion and alternatives to incarceration; 2)Reduce jail populations through the reform of pretrial detention policies and practices; 3)Develop and promote innovative strategies to reduce the overrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in the criminal justice process.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile justice systems nationwide are failing youth, families and communities. Each year, an estimated 400,000 youth-the overwhelming majority of whom are accused of minor and non-violent offenses-are locked up in detention or correctional facilities. Despite research showing that incarceration leads to high juvenile recidivism rates, as well as poor education, employment, and health outcomes for youth, systems often fail to use alternatives to incarceration that have been shown to be more effective at rehabilitating young people. Moreover, an estimated 250,000 youth are tried in the adult criminal justice system annually, and nearly 10,000 youth are housed in adult jails or prisons on any given night. These policies ignore the well-established differences between youth and adults, increase recidivism rates, and expose youth in adult jails and prisons to high rates of sexual abuse and suicide. Youth of color are disproportionately likely to suffer the harms of these failed policies and practices. The foundation's Juvenile Justice Program supports groups working to end the criminalization and over-incarceration of youth in the United States. In particular, the program makes grants to groups that are working to advance systems reforms that will: 1)Reduce youth incarceration rates in the juvenile justice system (through policies that, for example, limit the use of incarceration, expand the use of community-based alternatives to incarceration, reduce lengths of stay, and/or decriminalize minor misbehaviors or otherwise divert youth from the juvenile court system); 2)End the practice of trying, sentencing, and incarcerating youth as adults; and 3)Promote more fair and equitable treatment of youth of color by the juvenile justice system. .

President's Discretionary Fund

The fund offers very small grants to advance the foundation's mission. Relatively few of these grants are given. The foundation is unable to support unsolicited applications in this program area.

Special Opportunities

A small number of grants are made under the Special Opportunities category reflecting the foundation's mission and underlying values, including its longstanding commitment to racial equity and justice. These are one-time only grants that are especially timely and compelling. At times this kind of grant serves as a laboratory for new ideas. Relatively few of these grants are given. The foundation is unable to support unsolicited applications in this program area.

Workers' Rights

Work just isn't working for too many in America today. The government agencies charged with protecting workers' health and safety have abandoned scores of regulatory priorities and scaled back enforcement efforts, leaving millions of workers under-protected. Millions of people work without such basic rights as paid sick days. Too many who try to organize in order to negotiate improved working conditions in their workplaces end up fired or find their efforts undermined by anti-organizing campaigns. Those whose rights are violated sometimes discover they lack meaningful remedies, as they either must depend on government agencies that may not respond to their problems or face obstacles to exercising their right to take their cases to court. The foundation's Workers' Rights Program supports groups seeking policy and system reforms to improve the lives of low-wage working people, with a focus on securing their basic legal rights to safe, healthy, and fair conditions at work. Specifically, the program makes grants to groups seeking reforms that will do the following: 1)Make Work Safe and Healthy-by preventing illness, injury, and death on the job, and improving workers' compensation; 2)Make Work Pay-by empowering workers to hold low-road employers accountable for wage theft, misclassification, and contingent work abuse, particularly through policies that create or improve private rights of action and fee-shifting; and 3)Build Workers' Advocacy Power-by improving the ability of low-wage workers to act collectively for policy and system reform. Additionally, the program supports investigative journalism, national broadcast news coverage, and other high-profile media and public education about workers' rights issues.

Fields of Interest

  • Antidiscrimination
  • Corrections and penology
  • Courts
  • Human rights
  • Human services
  • Organized labor
  • Prison alternatives
  • Public safety
Population Groups
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Ethnic and racial groups
  • Incarcerated people
  • Low-income and poor people

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-09-30

Assets: $521,537,931 (market value)

Expenditures: $25,842,491

Total giving: $20,281,700

Qualifying distributions: $23,966,049