RALEIGH — A report issued in February by a dark money grant-making group shows heavy funds distribution in North Carolina.
Arabella Advisors describes itself as a “philanthropic advising firm” that is a “Certified B Corporation that provides guidance and support to the world’s leading philanthropists and impact investors.” The organization houses several “grantmaking” organizations that include the Sixteen Thirty Fund, The Hopewell Fund, and the New Venture Fund. These grantmaking subgroups redistribute funds from dark money sources to other groups and non-profits.
On Feb. 7, Arabella Advisors released its latest impact report that spans work done by the group between 2001 to 2022. The report details four primary ways Arabella helped “changemakers achieve greater impact” that include “moving more resources, using the right vehicles, operating efficiently and effectively, and elevating equity.”
“Like our previous impact report, this report shows the remarkable diversity and scale of the work Arabella does for our various clients,” Arabella CEO Rick Cruz said in a press release. “The Arabella team works with foundations and philanthropists, helping them find better ways to achieve the changes they envision. We work with nonprofit organizations and leaders, taking on complex challenges and arduous tasks to enable them to focus more squarely on their missions.”
According to the press release, Arabella helped its nonprofit clients make more than 10,000 grants to more than 4,000 grantees located in more than 100 countries and in all 50 US states, plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. The organization’s grant distribution breakdown confirmed that the number of grants for North Carolina were in the 201-800 range for the period of 2017 to 2021.
Examples of projects in the Impact Report include “Rewiring America: Paving the way for a historic federal deal to support electrification;” “Fund for a Safer Future: Joining forces to advocate for common-sense gun reform,” “Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund: Leveraging fiscal sponsorship to jumpstart massive investments to fight climate change,” and “Google.org Environmental Justice Data Fund: Designing an inclusive grantmaking process to support data-driven environmental justice work.”
Other projects target child mental health and one includes collaboration with the Pfizer Foundation for efforts focusing on “equitable black health,” as well as working with the Irving Harris Foundation Tenets Initiative on “Refreshing internal structures to provide more equitable mental health services for children.”
In 2022, Arabella opened its fifth national office in Durham. Funds managed by Arabella spent $896 million on progressive campaigns and activities during the 2020 election cycle.
One recipient of Arabella-tied funding is States Newsroom, located in Chapel Hill.
States Newsroom operates a network of left-wing and hyper-partisan news websites and is led by Chris Fitzsimon, formerly of NC Policy Watch, a blog run by the left-leaning NC Justice Center.
In late February of this year, States Newsroom made the acquisition of NC Policy Watch official.
“On March 1, ownership of the project will be transferred from the Raleigh-based North Carolina Justice Center, the state’s leading anti-poverty advocacy organization from which it has operated as an editorially independent project since 2007, to Chapel Hill-based States Newsroom,” a press release issued by States Newsroom said.
“Fifteen years ago, when NC Policy Watch joined the NC Justice Center, it was a small initiative devoted to providing progressive commentary and analysis about state policy and politics,” States Newsroom Director and Publisher Chris Fitzsimon said. “Today, it’s a valued partner in our growing national network. It only makes sense for it to be formally affiliated with the larger organization,” he continued.
NC Policy Watch will be renamed “NC Newsline,” per a recent post on its website.
North State Journal reached out to States Newsroom about why the organization chose NC Policy Watch and if other blogs were considered.
“States Newsroom has supported NC Policy Watch’s dedicated reporting for years, so it only made sense to formally bring the newsroom into our organization to sustain its growth,” a States Newsroom spokesperson wrote in an email response. “As the newsroom’s new permanent home, we look forward to supporting their journalism on the issues affecting the people of North Carolina.”
States Newsroom got its start as a project of the Arabella-run 501(c)(3) Hopewell Fund under the name “Newsroom Network.” In 2019, Hopewell Fund issued a grant totaling $250,000 to States Newsroom for the purpose of “Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy.”
Available tax records show Sixteen Thirty Fund distributed $3,365,700 in grants to 13 North Carolina progressive groups between 2016 and 2019. Between 2014 and 2019, available records show The New Venture Fund distributed $2,548,732 to over 25 North Carolina entities.
In 2019 alone, available filings show The Hopewell Fund dropped $1,282,303 across six groups, including States Newsroom and including $395,000 to NC Policy Watch’s parent group, The NC Justice Center.
States Newsroom has reportedly also received funding from The Wyss Foundation, originally founded by Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss with a focus on land conservation in the Americas.
As of 2020, Wyss’ foundation reported revenue of well over $34 million and assets of over $2 billion.
In 2016 the Wyss Action Fund was renamed The Berger Action Fund and began pouring millions into Arabella’s Sixteen Thirty Fund and New Venture Fund.
That same year the foundation changed names, and more possible improper partisan political activity was revealed when Wikileaks published leaked emails showing its “Democracy Strategy” with longtime Clinton ally and strategist, John Podesta.
The strategy detailed that Wyss would spend $100 million between 2016 and 2020 advocating for automatic voter registration, voter engagement, and “anti-voter ID” lawsuits. Half of the money was earmarked to restore “progressive” voter demographics.
An earlier version of this story referred to the Wyss Foundation changing its name to the Berger Action Fund. The Wyss Action Fund, a separate organization with a different stated mission, changed its name to Berger Action Fund.