Center for American Progress
FoundedOctober 24, 2003; 20 years ago (2003-10-24)
FounderJohn Podesta
TypePublic policy think tank
Legal status501(c)(3) organization
Headquarters1333 H Street, Washington, D.C., US
Patrick Gaspard
Tom Daschle
Revenue (2022)
$40.38 million[1]
Expenses (2022)$48.21 million Edit this at Wikidata

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

The president and chief executive officer of CAP is Patrick Gaspard, a former diplomat, organizer, and labor leader, who served most recently as the president of the Open Society Foundations.[3] Gaspard succeeded Neera Tanden, who was appointed special advisor to President Joe Biden in May 2021. Tanden previously worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations and for Hillary Clinton's campaigns running for President.[4] The first president and CEO was John Podesta, who has served as White House Chief of Staff to US President Bill Clinton and as the chairman of the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.[5] Podesta remained with the organization as chairman of the board until he joined the Obama White House staff in December 2013.

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).

History and mission

The Center for American Progress was created in 2003 as a Democratic alternative to conservative think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).[6]

Citing Podesta's influence in the Obama administration, Michael Scherer in 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".[7][undue weight?discuss] In 2011, the Washington Post's Jason Horowitz described the Center for American Progress as "Washington's leading liberal think tank", and "an incessant advocate for a broad progressive agenda and as such, a sharp thorn in President Obama's left side."[8] Sarah Rosen Wartell, a co-founder and former executive vice-president of the CAP, was later named president of the Urban Institute[9]

In 2021, Politico described CAP as "the most influential think tank of the Biden era."[3]


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


Main article: ThinkProgress

ThinkProgress, active during the years 2005–2019, was an American progressive news website affiliated with the Center for American Progress but with editorial independence. In September 2019, ThinkProgress was shut down when CAP was unable to find a publisher willing to take it over. The news site was then "folded into CAP's online presence" to "focus on analysis from CAP scholars and CAP Action staff."[10][11]

Generation Progress

Generation Progress was launched in February 2005 as "the youth arm of the Center for American Progress". According to the organization, Generation Progress partners with over a million millennials.[12][13]

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Formerly known simply as the American Progress Action Fund, the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP Action) is a "sister advocacy organization"[14] 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".[15] Whereas CAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, CAP Action is a 501(c)(4),[16] allowing it to devote more funds to lobbying.[17] In 2003, George Soros promised to financially support the organization by donating up to $3 million.[18] CAP Action is headed by Neera Tanden.[19]

Tom Perez and Neera Tanden, December 2014

Launched in 2017, "The Moscow Project" is one of its initiatives.[20]

Washington Center for Equitable Growth

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth, also known simply as "Equitable Growth", is a grantmaking and research organization founded in 2013 and "housed at the Center for American Progress".[21] 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.[22]

Science Progress

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."[23] It began publication on 4 October 2007,[24] 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.[25]

Disability Justice Initiative

In July 2018, the Center for American Progress recruited former Obama staffer and National Council on Disability executive director Rebecca Cokley to lead its new project focused on disability rights advocacy.[26] Senator Tammy Duckworth spoke at the first event announcing creation of the new project, which is housed within CAP's Poverty to Prosperity Program.[26] The Disability Justice Initiative became the first such project at a mainstream public policy advocacy organization not already focused on disability.[27]


Health care

In 2017, the center opposed Bernie Sanders' single-payer health plan. 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.[citation needed]In 2018, the center proposed an alternative to single payer that would offer patients and employers a choice between government coverage and private insurance.[28]


Pro-UAE, pro-Saudi policy

In October 2016, the Intercept reported that United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the US 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."[29]

In January 2019, two CAP staffers were fired after an investigation concerning the leaking of an internal email exchange involving discussions over the phrasing of CAP's response to the murder of The Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. CAP released a statement noting that while they conducted an investigation into the leaks, this was not the cause for the firings.[30]

Lack of transparency for funding sources

Some open government groups, such as the Sunlight Foundation and the Campaign Legal Center, criticized the center's failure to disclose its contributors, particularly because it was so influential to the Obama administration.[31][32] CAP's website states that corporate donors are not allowed to remain anonymous.[33] Nathan Robinson, writing in 2018 for Current Affairs wrote that CAP "continues to conceal the identities of many of its largest donors." He also criticized CAP for receiving "shady donations" and for a grant of $200,000 to the American Enterprise Institute in 2018.[34]

Israel controversies

Allegations of antisemitic language

CAP was criticized in 2012 by several Jewish organizations after its employees, Zaid Jilani and Ali Gharib, "publicly used language that could be construed as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic".[35][36] Bloggers associated with CAP published several posts using phrases such as "apartheid" and "Israel-firsters", which the American Jewish Committee described as "hateful" and called on CAP to disassociate themselves from these statements.[37] The latter phrase, "Israel-firsters", which was used in reference to US supporters of Israel, was also criticized by the Anti-Defamation League and described as antisemitic, including by Faiz Shakir, then the vice president of CAP.[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]

Allegations of suppression of criticism of Israel

In 2015, however, other writers 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.[38][39][40][41]

Greenwald and others also criticized CAP for hosting a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while Netanyahu was hostile to the Obama Administration.[42] Greenwald described CAP's positions as "servitude to AIPAC and pandering to Netanyahu."[38] 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

After the release of the Podesta emails, the Center for American Progress was criticized for 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]

Handling of sexual harassment accusations

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.[45] Two anonymous employees alleged retaliation for reporting Strong's behavior,[45][46] one of them including her allegations in an exit memo when leaving CAP. However, CAP maintains that no retaliation took place, and an internal investigation concluded the same.[45] In response to the first complaint, Strong received a warning from CAP management. After the second complaint, he was suspended for three days without pay.[47][45] He was already resigning to take up a position elsewhere, and these three days coincided with the final three days of his employment with CAP.

After the publication of the BuzzFeed story, CAP president Neera Tanden unintentionally used the first name of one of the anonymous women during an all-staff meeting to address their handling of the sexual harassment allegations.[48]

Michael Bloomberg

In February 2020, The New York Times reported that the center had removed reporting of New York City police surveillance of Muslim communities from a 2015 report, allegedly out of deference to Michael Bloomberg, who had given the center grants worth $1.5 million. Yasmine Taeb, an author of the report, said that they were instructed to remove the chapter or make dramatic revisions, alleging this was "because of how it was going to be perceived by Mayor Bloomberg." CAP officials disputed her account, characterizing the changes as editorial decisions: detailed discussion of NYC policing was off topic because the report had been "commissioned to examine right-wing groups targeting Muslims with explicit bigotry and conspiracy theories." Bloomberg told The New York Times reporters he was unaware of any such dispute at CAP; in 2017, he contributed an additional $400,000.[49]


The Center for American Progress is a 501(c)(3) organization under the US Internal Revenue Code.[16] In 2014, CAP received $45 million from a variety of sources, including individuals, foundations, labor unions, and corporations.[50] From 2003 to 2007, CAP received about $15 million in grants from 58 foundations.[51] Major individual donors include George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herb and Marion Sandler. The center receives undisclosed sums from corporate donors.[51] 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.[52]

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.[53][54] Other large CAP donors include Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Google, Time Warner, and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.[38][55]

*2015 Donors (excluding anonymous)[56] 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

Non-profit filings

See also


  1. ^ "Center for American Progress". Charity Navigator. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Korecki, Natasha (June 30, 2021). "The most influential think tank of the Biden era has a new leader". Politico. Retrieved July 1, 2021. Patrick Gaspard, a longtime Democratic operative who served most recently as president of the George Soros-run Open Society Foundations, will take over as president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.
  4. ^ Horowitz, Jason (November 3, 2011). "Think-tank post puts spotlight on veteran Democratic operative Neera Tanden". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  5. ^ "Meet the Man Behind Hillary Clinton's Campaign". Time. April 28, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  6. ^ Robert Dreyfuss, "An Idea Factory for the Democrats", The Nation March 1, 2004
  7. ^ Scherer, Michael (November 21, 2008). "Inside Obama's Idea Factory in Washington", Time. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  8. ^ Horowitz, Jason (November 3, 2011). "Think-tank post puts spotlight on veteran Democratic operative Neera Tanden". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  9. ^ Institute, Urban (December 20, 2011). "Sarah Rosen Wartell, Think Tank Executive and Housing Finance Expert, to be the Urban Institute's Third President".
  10. ^ "ThinkProgress, a Top Progressive News Site, Has Shut Down". Daily Beast. September 6, 2019. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  11. ^ Frazin, Rachel (September 6, 2019). "Liberal news site ThinkProgress shutting down". The Hill. Retrieved March 31, 2020. Liberal news website ThinkProgress is shutting down after its parent organization said it was unable to find a new publisher for the site.
  12. ^ "About Us". Generation Progress. Archived from the original on July 9, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  13. ^ "CAP to unveil 'Generation Progress'". Politico. July 15, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  14. ^ "About the Center for American Progress Action Fund". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  15. ^ "Center for American Progress news team takes aim at GOP". Politico. April 13, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  16. ^ a b "State Notices". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  17. ^ "Add to the Collective Genius Archived December 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine." Retrieved December 27, 2006.
  18. ^ "Soros' Deep Pockets vs. Bush". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 12, 2004. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
  19. ^ "American Progress Staff". Center for American Progress Action Fund. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  20. ^ Debenedetti, Gabriel (February 22, 2017). "Liberal group launches 'Moscow Project' to pressure Trump". POLITICO. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  21. ^ Leonhardt, David (November 6, 2013). "Podesta Starting a Think Tank on Inequality". Economix Blog. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  22. ^ "Center for Equitable Growth". Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  23. ^ "About Science Progress". Archived from the original on June 12, 2019. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  24. ^ "A Year of Science Progress". Science Progress. October 7, 2008. Archived from the original on August 8, 2016. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  25. ^ "Jonathan D Moreno, Ph.D." Perelman School of Medicine. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  26. ^ a b Perry, David M. (August 14, 2018). "'Disability Rights Are Civil Rights': Inside the CAP's New Disability Justice Initiative". Pacific Standard. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  27. ^ "Why It's Time the Launch the Disability Justice Initiative". Talk Poverty. July 25, 2018. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  28. ^ Kliff, Sarah (February 23, 2018). "Democrats are shifting toward single-payer. Here's proof". Vox.
  29. ^ Jilani, Zaid (October 26, 2016). "At Hillary Clinton's Favorite Think Tank, a Doubling Down on Anti-Iran, Pro-Saudi Policy". The Intercept.
  30. ^ Grim, Ryan; Chang, Clio (January 16, 2019). "Amid Internal Investigation Over Leaks to Media, the Center for American Progress Fires Two Staffers". The Intercept.
  31. ^ Smith, Ben; Frates, Chris (December 9, 2008). "Where's transparency of Podesta group?". Politico. Retrieved July 7, 2011.
  32. ^ Krugman, Paul (January 28, 2010). "March of the Peacocks". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
  33. ^ "Our Supporters". Center for American Progress. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  34. ^ Robinson, Nathan J. (December 13, 2018). "Why Is The Center For American Progress Betraying The Left? | Current Affairs". Current Affairs. Retrieved December 21, 2019.
  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. ^ a b "E-mail reveals anti-Semitism at US think tank". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  37. ^ Weinthal, Benjamin. "NGOs slam 'anti-Semitic' US think tank comments". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  38. ^ a b c Greenwald, Glenn (November 5, 2015). "Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism". The Intercept.
  39. ^ Gharib, Ali (October 28, 2015). "Why Is the Center for American Progress Hosting Benjamin Netanyahu?". The Nation. Archived from the original on April 9, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  40. ^ Shaikh, Nermeen (November 12, 2015). "Center for American Progress Hosts Netanyahu as Leaked Emails Show Group Censored Staff on Israel". Democracy Now!.
  41. ^ Holland, Joshua (December 16, 2011). "Has the Israel Lobby Gone Too Far?". AlterNet.
  42. ^ a b Mufson, Steven (November 9, 2015). "Center for American Progress under fire for hosting speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
  43. ^ a b Pulliam Bailey, Sarah. "WikiLeaks emails appear to show Clinton spokeswoman joking about Catholics and evangelicals". The 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 (October 13, 2016). "First on CNN: Religious leaders slam Clinton campaign over emails". CNN. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
  45. ^ a b c d 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 24, 2018). "Neera Tanden Says She Is "Deeply Sorry" Following A BuzzFeed News Report About Sexual Harassment At The Center For American Progress". BuzzFeed. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  47. ^ Raftery, Isolde (April 24, 2018). "Mayor Murray spokesman has abuse, sexual harassment allegations in his past, too". KUOW. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ Burns, Alexander; Russell, Kari (February 15, 2020). "Bloomberg's Billions: How the Candidate Built an Empire of Influence". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  50. ^ "Center for American Progress 990 Form". Propublica Nonprofit Explorer. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  51. ^ a b Savage, Charlie (November 6, 2008). "John Podesta, Shepherd of a Government in Exile". The New York Times. Retrieved July 25, 2016.
  52. ^ "Our Supporters". Center for American Progress. Archived from the original on November 12, 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  53. ^ 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.
  54. ^ Sargent, Greg (January 21, 2015). "Center for American Progress, poised to wield influence over 2016, reveals its top donors". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  55. ^ "Corporate Influence at the Center for American Progress?". The Nation. May 30, 2013. Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  56. ^ "Our Supporters" (PDF). Center for American Progress. Retrieved April 14, 2015.

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