Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Earhart Foundation

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Print Friendly

The Ann Arbor-based Earhart Foundation, perhaps best known for its support of several Nobel-winning economists, appears to shun publicity as it does not have a public web site and has received very little scholarly attention.

Much of the information and commentary that is available on Earhart comes from sympathetic sources. In a 2004 article for Philanthropy, a journal published by the conservative Philanthropy Roundtable, Martin Davis highlighted the foundation's support for economists: "For economists, one pinnacle stands above all others—the Nobel Prize. And no philanthropic group has done more to assist top thinkers in their climb toward this prize than the Earhart Foundation of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Though relatively small, the foundation has enjoyed incredible success identifying and supporting those who will go on to Stockholm. The prize in economics was established in 1969 and has been awarded 35 times as of 2004]. Nine of those winners had received Earhart support."[1]

In a 1985 statement, Earhart discussed the origins of the foundation and the aims of its founder, the Michigan-based oil tycoon Harry Boyd Earhart: “Harry Boyd Earhart believed profoundly that the free, competitive American enterprise system, based upon the Christian ethic, was the highest form of social organization in history.” First Principles Journal reported that Harry Earhart founded the foundation in 1929 “to preserve and foster such beliefs.”[2]

Among the more notable Earhart-supported economists was the pioneering conservative theorist Friedrich von Hayek, author of The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty. Other Earhart-supported economists who have won the Nobel Prize include Gary Becker, James M. Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman, Robert Lucas, Daniel McFadden, Vernon L. Smith, and George Stigler.[3]

Earhart has also been a key backer of neoconservativism. Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it became a key supporter of the American Enterprise Institute, which served as a prominent source of ideas and staff people for the Reagan administration. According to a 1981 New York Times article, "About 60 percent of [AEI's] money comes from foundations, such as the Lilly Endowment, the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Trust, and the Earhart Foundation."[4] AEI went on to become one of the major recruitment spots of the George W. Bush administration, providing scholarship and legal opinion in support of the "war on terror" and the war in Iraq."[5]

Earhart has also given to conservative groups like the Federalist Society and the American Islamic Congress, as well as to more avowedly militarist organizations like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Project for the New American Century, and the Foreign Policy Research Institute.[6]    

Although it supported a number of think tanks that played key roles in bolstering the militarist policies of the Bush administration—like AEI, the Heritage Foundation, and the Hudson Institute—much of Earhart's funding goes to supporting rightist social and economic policies.

In the early 1990s, Earhart sponsored research into the application of a so-called "economic model" to HIV/AIDS. In their 1993 University of Chicago-published paper "Will the AIDS Epidemic be Self-Limiting?" Earhart-sponsored researchers Avner Ahituv, V. Joseph Hotz, and Tomas Philipson argue that AIDS infection rates tend to decline as young people substitute away from risky activities, such as unprotected sex and intravenous drug use. Thus, they argue, government intervention and medical research is often overstated, especially as the epidemic is largely limited to "homosexual men" and intravenous drug abusers.[7]

In the early 2000s, Earhart funded anti-affirmative action campaigns at major universities, and helped publish articles supporting these campaigns in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research and Irving Kristol's The Public Interest.[8]

Earhart has also been a key funder—along with the Olin, Scaife and Bradley Foundations—of the George C. Marshall Institute (GMI), a think tank that endeavors to debunk global warming theories.[9] According to a Greenpeace-sponsored report, the institute, which has also received money from Exxon-Mobil, "primarily focused on defense issues, advocating funding for Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative and Star Wars," when it was founded in the early 1990s.[10] However, more recently, it has "branched out and is one of the leading think tanks trying to debunk climate change. GMI works on a range of issues, including civic environmentalism, climate change, national defense, bioterrorism, and missile defense."[11]

The single largest recipient of Earhart funding in recent years has been the ATLAS Economic Research Foundation, a sort of "meta think tank" that focuses on setting up more think tanks, especially those that espouse free market economics and limited government.[12][13]

Earhart's assets at the end of 2013 were $16 million according to its IRS form 990.[14] The foundation is no longer officially "family-run" though family members continue to serve on the board and trustees are elected by a family board. Earhart's grandson, David Kennedy, served as president of the foundation until 2004. Ingrid Gregg has led the foundation since then.

Share RightWeb

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.


[1] Martin Davis, "Adventures in Philanthropy," Philanthropy Magazine, May/June 2004,http://web.archive.org/web/20041013073829/http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/magazines/2004/mayjune/earhart.htm.

[2] Lee Edwards, “Earhart Foundation,” First Principles, December 22, 2011, http://www.firstprinciplesjournal.com/articles.aspx?article=561&theme=home&page=1&loc=b&type=ctbf.

[3] Martin Davis, "Adventures in Philanthropy," Philanthropy Magazine, May/June 2004,http://web.archive.org/web/20041013073829/http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/magazines/2004/mayjune/earhart.htm.

[4] Bernard Weinraub, "Institute Plays Key Role In Shaping Reagan Programs," The New York Times, January 15, 1981,http://www.nytimes.com/1981/01/15/us/institute-plays-key-role-in-shaping-reagan-programs.html.

[5] RightWeb, "American Enterprise Institute," http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/1431.html.

[6] Conservative Transparency, “Earhart Foundation,” http://conservativetransparency.org/basic-search/?q=Earhart+Foundation&sf%5B%5D=candidate&sf%5B%5D=donor&sf%5B%5D=recipient&sf%5B%5D=transaction&sf%5B%5D=finances.

[7] Avner Ahituv, V. Joseph Hotz, Tomas Philipson. "Will the AIDS Epidemic be Self-Limiting? Evidence on the Responsiveness of the Demand for Condoms to the Prevalence of AIDS," https://ideas.repec.org/p/har/wpaper/9401.html.

[8] Greg Winter, "Study Challenges Case for Diversity at Colleges," The New York Times, March 20, 2003,http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/20/education/20AFFI.html.

[9] Mediatransparency, "George C. Marshall Institute,https://web.archive.org/web/20071012012854/http://www.mediatransparency.org/recipientprofile.php?recipientID=137.

[10] Exxonsecrets.org/Greenpeace, "Factsheet: George C. Marshall Institute," http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=36.

[11] Exxonsecrets.org/Greenpeace, "Factsheet: George C. Marshall Institute," http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=36.

[12] Mediatransparency, "George C. Marshall Institute,https://web.archive.org/web/20071012012854/http://www.mediatransparency.org/recipientprofile.php?recipientID=137.

Media Transparency, 'ATLAS Economic Research Foundation,'https://web.archive.org/web/20070806211732/http://mediatransparency.org/recipientprofile.php?recipientID=591.

ATLAS Economic Research Foundation website, http://atlasnetwork.org/.

[13] Conservative Transparency, “Earhart Foundation,” http://conservativetransparency.org/basic-search/?q=Earhart+Foundation&sf%5B%5D=candidate&sf%5B%5D=donor&sf%5B%5D=recipient&sf%5B%5D=transaction&sf%5B%5D=finances.

[14] Guidestar, Earhart Foundation 2013 Form 990, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2013/386/008/2013-386008273-0ad25ed2-F.pdf.

Share RightWeb

Earhart Foundation Résumé

Contact Information

Earhart Foundation

2200 Green Rd., Ste. H

Ann Arbor, MI United States 48105-1569

Telephone: (734) 761-8592

Contact: Ingrid A. Gregg, Pres.

Fax: (734) 761-2722

Mission Statement

Earhart has no known official mission statement, but according to its president, the "basic role [of the foundation] is to influence ideas." It accomplishes this mission "by providing fellowships to young scholars, usually graduate students or junior faculty, who are committed to the principles of a free society and who show the potential for high-quality work in political philosophy, economics, and other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences."



Key Personnel (as of 2015)

  • Ingrid A. Gregg: President

  • Montgomery B. Brown: Secretary/Director of Program

  • Kathleen B. Richeson: Treasurer

  • Cheryl D. Gorski: Assistant Treasurer

  • Elayne J. Ellis: Assistant Secretary

  • Dennis L. Bark: Chairman

  • John H. Moore: Vice-Chairman

Total Value of Contributions (as of 2015)



For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly

Hardliners at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies are working overtime to convince the Trump administration to “fix” the nuclear agreement with Iran on the pretext that it will give the US leverage in negotiations with North Korea.

Print Friendly

North Korea and Iran both understand the lesson of Libya: Muammar Qaddafi, a horrifyingly brutal dictator, gave up his nuclear weapons, was eventually ousted from power with large-scale US assistance, and was killed. However, while Iran has a long and bitter history with the United States, North Korea’s outlook is shaped by its near-total destruction by forces led by the United States in the Korean War.

Print Friendly

Europe loathes having to choose between Tehran and Washington, and thus it will spare no efforts to avoid the choice. It might therefore opt for a middle road, trying to please both parties by persuading Trump to retain the accord and Iran to limit missile ballistic programs and regional activities.

Print Friendly

Key members of Trump’s cabinet should recognize the realism behind encouraging a Saudi- and Iranian-backed regional security agreement because the success of such an agreement would not only serve long-term U.S. interests, it could also have a positive impact on numerous conflicts in the Middle East.

Print Friendly

Given that Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah in its war in Lebanon in 2006, it’s difficult to imagine Israel succeeding in a war against both Hezbollah and its newfound regional network of Shiite allies. And at the same time not only is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal a lot larger and more dangerous than it was in 2006, but it has also gained vast experience alongside its allies in offensive operations against IS and similar groups.

Print Friendly

Donald Trump should never be excused of responsibility for tearing down the respect for truth, but a foundation for his flagrant falsifying is the fact that many people would rather be entertained, no matter how false is the source of their entertainment, than to confront truth that is boring or unsatisfying or that requires effort to understand.

Print Friendly

It would be a welcome change in twenty-first-century America if the reckless decision to throw yet more unbelievable sums of money at a Pentagon already vastly overfunded sparked a serious discussion about America’s hyper-militarized foreign policy.