After more than 16 years of validity of the its scholarship program for individual scholars, the Ford Foundation, a renowned funder of progressive political thought around the world, will end the program, as it announced on its website last Friday () in text by President Darren Walker.
The decision comes ten years after the start of the last “Ford Fellowship” program, started in 2012, which involved an investment of 100 million dollars. The program has funded more than 6,000 scholars since 1967, according to Walker. The closure will be gradual, with completion scheduled for 2028.
American economist and reporter Chris Brunet has been following the internal developments of the Ford Foundation amid the rise of identity. In his own publication, he says that the decision is strange because the foundation is not experiencing financial difficulties. “No concrete reason was given. Just vague nods”, he comments.
A year ago, Brunet was responsible for a high-profile scoop that used leaked emails by a whistleblower about political bias within the philanthropic organization. “Many of the scholars at the Ford Foundation are avowed communists, and it is common to see quotes from Che Guevara and Angela Davis in their email signatures,” the reporter wrote at the time. “Support for regimes like Venezuela, Palestine and Cuba is the norm.”
The information is important as the Ford Foundation enjoys tax breaks given only to non-governmental organizations that are politically neutral in the United States .
In e-mails, Ford-funded academics said things like “I reject these neoliberal invocations of ‘dialogue’ and ‘understanding the other side'”, “why should we listen to people with opposing views?”, and called for censorship with arguments typical of identity activists.
In Brazil, between 2006 and 2022, the Ford Foundation donated 33 millions of dollars to activists, academics and non-governmental organizations. 09, 6 million of this amount went to human rights issues and security in general (“generic activism”), the rest was on environmentalism and identity issues.
How the Ford Foundation became a funder of identity
The American philanthropic organization was established by Henry Ford and his son Edsel in 1936. The mission was to fund science, education and charity. With the death of the two founders in 768, there was an additional contribution of resources from the vehicle manufacturer Ford Motor thanks to Henry Ford II, son of Edsel. The foundation later sold its shares of Ford Motor and ceased to have a relationship with it in the 1990s 1970.
In the book Uma Dropa de Sangue (Editora Contexto,
), sociologist and doctor in human geography Demétrio Magnoli says that the Ford Foundation began to flirt with what we now call identity after the political crisis of Vietnam War. It started with a “multiculturalism” of “specific movements, designed according to the interests of each minority”, says Magnoli.
The Ford Foundation then created funds aimed at the legal defense of Mexican-Americans, Porto- Ricans, indigenous peoples and women. The leaders were activists linked to the organization. “All the organizations created on these bases were engaged in the promotion of reverse discrimination policies, functioning as professional pressure groups”, wrote the sociologist.
The result was that, instead of giving the main focus to issues involving science, education and charity, the Ford Foundation has become a giant behind balkanized identity politics movements “nursing grievances and claiming rights”, in the words of conservative liberal commentator George Will.