The board of directors of the Public Welfare Foundation approved $7.9 million worth of donations to a wide variety of community improvement projects earlier this month, focusing primarily on prison reform, juvenile justice, safe workplaces and "rational reform" of the health care system.
Over a million dollars went to a coalition of non-profits in the American South, including the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Tennessee Health Care Campaign, North Carolina Justice Center, Center for Public Policy Priorities, and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. Those funds will be used to support efforts for state-level reforms of the health care system, as well as implementation of any federal plan that may emerge in the near future.
The Public Welfare Foundation will also donate half a million dollars over two years to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a group that works to counteract ecological damage caused by industry and government. The group will use the grant to build a web database that workers can use to learn the consequences of exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace. Other disbursements in this area included $250,000 for the Center for Progressive Reform to research public policy and the reform of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In all, the foundation announced 45 individual grants in amounts ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. Over half of the grants – $4.5 million – went towards the foundation’s workers’ rights program. Analysts say that the country’s labor force has gained needed ground, on issues from labor organization to health care in recent months, although the high unemployment rates still hamper efforts to consolidate political gains.