The Joyce Foundation: Betraying donor intent in the Windy City

The Joyce Foundation:  Betraying donor intent in the Windy City

by Jonathan Hanen, Foundation Watch, February 2014 (PDF here)

Summary:  The Joyce Foundation’s endowment came from David Joyce, a lumber magnate who believed in the American system of free enterprise.  Today the foundation that lives off his wealth is a hotbed of trendy, left-wing thinking and grant-making. It funds efforts to hurt the lumber industry, turn schools into union-controlled sources of Democratic Party patronage, block Americans’ gun rights, and constrict  economic freedoms.  Barack Obama sat on its board from 1994 to 2002, and directed the foundation’s money to causes Joyce almost certainly would not have favored.

The Joyce Foundation, based in Chicago, Illinois, was founded in 1948 by Beatrice Joyce Kean, the sole heir to the Joyce family fortune. The Joyces of Clinton, Iowa, originally made their money in the lumber industry. The patriarch who created the Joyce fortune was the great nineteenth-century entrepreneur David Joyce (died 1904). Of “old New England Puritan stock,” he was “strong, bold and resourceful.” “He was one of the captains of industry, able to command men, things and events to the accomplishment of his purpose,” according to a contemporary trade publication (“The Personal History and Public and Business Achievements of One Hundred Eminent Lumbermen of the United States,” Third Series, American Lumberman, Chicago, 1906).

Joyce trained as a civil engineer. At age 12, he began working for his father, who ran a blast furnace and foundry and machine shop. At 15 he took over bookkeeping there. Years later he took over a lumber mill, and by the end of his life he was “a stockholder in twelve different sawmill plants located in all sections of the country, one within eighteen miles of Lake Superior at the North and another within eighty miles of the Gulf of Mexico in the South, while still another was on Puget Sound.”

Joyce also had significant investments in pinelands in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Texas, and his “careful personal supervision of [his investments] was well known to all acquainted with him.” He helped to create the First National Bank of Lyons (Iowa) and was its president when he died. He also held an interest in a street railway running through Lyons and Clinton, Iowa. He was a top-notch businessman and a visionary. “Few men showed more shrewdness than he or a clearer comprehension of the possibilities of the industry. Reinvestment of profits gave him the ownership of several plants.” Joyce was “prominent in public enterprises and contributed large amounts to various religious institutions and was a subscriber to society and educational work.”

“Mr. Joyce was a staunch Republican, though not a politician in the ordinary acceptance of that term. He sought no public office, but when the mayoralty of Lyons [Iowa] was pressed upon him, in 1872, he filled that position with marked ability and success. The confidence of the people in his integrity and in his ability to manage the municipal affairs was well shown in that election. The city finances were in a low condition, city bonds selling for forty-five cents on the dollar. He was the nominee of the business men of Lyons for the office and was elected by a very substantial majority; a second time was he nominated and was elected by the entire vote of the city, the only vote not cast for him being his own. The confidence which the people placed in him was well justified, for when, after four years, he retired at the end of his second term, the city’s credit was reestablished and there was sufficient money in the treasury to pay all its obligations in full.”

His last heir, Beatrice Joyce Kean, generally went about her philanthropic activities on a small scale, spending under $100,000 per year. Most of her grants went to apolitical beneficiaries, such as hospitals and health organizations. It is unclear if she had political opinions or was partisan during her life. When she passed away in 1972, Kean bequeathed more than $100 million, or about 90 percent of her estate, to the foundation, according to

Over time the Joyce Foundation moved away from the philanthropic inclinations of Kean and her wealthy ancestor and turned hard left. Professional staffers took over the foundation and began putting the wealth generated by a great capitalist trailblazer at the service of social engineering schemes and so-called social justice activist organizations.

“At first,” notes DiscoverTheNetworks, “universities and cultural institutions were added to its roster of grant recipients. A few years later, radical environmentalist and conservation groups entered the picture, as, eventually, did organizations dedicated to social justice, prison reform, and increased funding for government-provided social services—particularly those targeting nonwhite minorities. The Foundation’s annual giving skyrocketed from less than $100,000 at the time of Mrs. Kean’s death, to $10 million in 1976.”

The Joyce Foundation sees itself as being in the business of supporting initiatives to improve the quality of life for people in the Great Lakes region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin), with a focus on improving workforce development and education systems in the region.

“The region faces the challenges that are epitomized in the ‘Rust Belt’ label,” according to the foundation. “But it is also home to America’s largest freshwater resource, its most fertile farmland, an energetic and diverse population, dozens of Fortune 500 companies along with thousands of smaller enterprises, and a cultural heritage ranging from Motown and the Cleveland Symphony to Frank Lloyd Wright and Oprah Winfrey. The Joyce Foundation seeks to ensure the continuing vitality of the Great Lakes region and to make sure that benefits are widely shared among its people.”

The foundation supports “democracy,” which to leftists means big government solutions to every problem. To the end of aggrandizing the administrative state, the foundation supports campaign finance reform, redistricting reform, and opposes commonsense policies such as voter ID.

A closer look at the so-called “democracy” proposals of the Joyce Foundation reveals its partisan and statist agenda.

On the subject of campaign finance reform, the foundation takes a negative view of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case that allows corporations and labor unions alike to donate unlimited amounts to 527 committees and super PACs that advocate on behalf of causes or candidates so long as the groups do not coordinate with campaigns.

Specifically, the foundation decries the increased spending from outside groups, left and right, in local and statewide judicial elections. Joyce does not propose to eliminate the free speech of super PACs in exchange for eliminating the much greater campaign spending by unions. The suppressed premise of the foundation is that only unions should be allowed to spend unlimited amounts, while conservative donors should be restricted to individual contribution limits. The only free speech the foundation wants to regulate is conservative free speech.

On the subject of redistricting, the Joyce Foundation’s website states “Gerrymandering – the drawing of districts to promote particular interests rather than the fair representation of citizens – is as old as the Republic. But new technologies have made it a fine art, reducing choice and competition in elections and undermining the public’s sense of the importance of voting. The Joyce Foundation has supported thoughtful efforts to address this problem through open and nonpartisan redistricting procedures.” This could sound like a public-spirited, good faith gesture. But the remedy suggested by Joyce is anything but democratic. The foundation funded a study by the Midwest Democracy Network (MDN) that advocates “Take the process away from partisan control: Redistricting should be carried out by carefully crafted independent commissions.”

The remedy suggested here by the foundation is to turn proportional redistricting over to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. The Joyce Foundation’s remedy for the ills of gerrymandering is simply inconsistent with the intention of the framers of the Republic who intended redistricting to be a political process because it is an integral part of the citizens’ political liberty; it is part and parcel of democratic self-governance to have one’s elected representatives determine the outcome of redistricting.

Beyond this general statist ploy, a specific hidden agenda is implicit in Joyce’s demand for a so-called “independent commission” to control redistricting. Having seen the reversal of the Democratic Party gains in the 2006 and 2008 congressional elections, and facing the circumstance that the GOP has control of both houses and the governorship in 25 state legislatures while the Democrats have undisputed control of only 13, the far left now wants unelected bureaucrats to intervene to prevent the GOP from holding control of the U.S. House of Representatives until 2020. There was no groundswell on the Left to try to institute a non-partisan commission in 2006 or 2008, when the Democrats assumed they would hold onto the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. The so-called new technology of redistricting, which the foundation invokes rhetorically to instill fear, was powerless to stop the tea party wave election that brought about the greatest turnover in Congress for 70 years. The new technology of redistricting is akin to the emperor’s new clothes.

Likewise, on the subject of election law and voter ID, the Joyce Foundation runs the gamut of the far left agenda while pretending to non-partisanship. The foundation’s website states, “According to a Brennan Center for Justice study, 11 percent of voters do not have a government issued photo ID. This percent increases for senior citizens, low-income Americans, people of color, and the disabled. Close to a dozen states across the country enacted voter ID laws in 2011 that have to potential to disenfranchise a large group of voters.” The above cited study is suspect, not merely because Joyce has donated $1 million to the Brennan Center since 1998.

The Joyce Foundation’s statement on election law continues: “Voter ID laws have long been seen as efforts to suppress participating in elections. Their supporters claim the laws are necessary and prevent voter fraud. But, studies have shown that instances of voter fraud – that is, a voter voting twice or an ineligible person voting – are miniscule. What voter ID laws accomplish, however, is discouraging certain groups from exercising their right to vote.” From a conservative standpoint, voter ID laws exist primarily to deal with the problem of fraudulent voter registration by outside groups like ACORN, the contingencies of deadlines for absentee balloting, non-citizen voting, election irregularities, and recounts.

Journalist John Fund observes that the larger problem with lax or non-existent voter ID laws is best stated by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: “confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy. Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised.” When it comes to undermining the legitimacy of a political order, the threat of voter fraud is strongest in a republic because, unlike a monarchy or a moderate aristocracy, the popular will is the fountain of power upon which everything depends. The very legitimacy of government depends on the security of elections in a republic, which is not the case where divine right or inherited privilege holds sway.

Moreover, the issue of voter fraud points to the necessity of civic virtue in a representative democracy. Fund quotes former Democratic Congressman Artur Davis on this head. “This is not a billy club, this is not a fire hose,” Davis told his audience while holding up his driver’s license. “Where is this notion that if I have a right [to vote], that I don’t have to be bothered with responsibility?” Davis makes the point that with increasing rights should come increasing responsibilities, i.e., the right to vote, being the quintessential right in a representative democracy, comes with the responsibility to secure the legitimacy of elections. It would be difficult to come up with a more concise formula for civic virtue, without which a republic cannot long endure. Representative democracy requires the maximum of political responsibility from their citizens — as compared to monarchies and moderate aristocracies where a love of honor, tradition, and a sense of proportion within the political class is enough to sustain the regime.

Since 1993 the foundation has funded “gun violence prevention,” which in practice means gun control and nothing else. Joyce openly mocks the Second Amendment on its website, bemoaning what it calls “the ‘gun rights’ drumbeat [which] has drowned out” potential solutions. It brags that it is “embarking on efforts to educate the public, policy makers and the media about the toll of gun violence in American communities and potential solutions that honor American traditions while protecting the public safety.” In light of the Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, a case in which the court recognized an individual—as opposed to a collective—right to bear arms, the foundation developed new approaches to assaulting Second Amendment rights.

Like other statist organizations, Joyce now uses public health as a justification for undermining gun rights. “Starting with a prototype at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the 1990s, the Foundation helped establish the National Violent Death Reporting System, a central database that is now maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the Joyce Foundation notes on its website. “Joyce has also funded research exploring the relationship between guns and such problems as suicide, domestic violence, and risks to children.”

Joyce was an early adopter of the idea that public health could be used to justify curtailment of gun rights. “So long as one looks at this as solely a criminal problem, one comes up with solely criminal solutions,” said Deborah Leff, who was the foundation’s president two decades ago. (Leff was previously a trial lawyer working in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice.) “But when you have a major cause of death like this, you have to look for prevention solutions. We tried to identify people who were capable of doing that,” the Chicago Tribune reported March 31, 1993.

As DiscoverTheNetworks notes, Joyce now aspires “to drive small gun dealerships out of business by placing the firearms industry completely under consumer-product health-and-safety oversight.” The foundation also “misrepresents the findings of research on gun-related deaths by failing to distinguish between the astronomically high gun-death rates of inner-city gang members, and the very low rates among the rest of the American population. By conflating the two sets of statistics, Joyce depicts gun violence as a national epidemic—‘each year nearly 100,000 people are shot in the U.S., and nearly 30,000 of them die’—thereby suggesting a justification for ‘effective public policies’ that will erode Second Amendment rights.”

The foundation’s interest in education policy has a politically correct, multiculturalist, pro-labor union bent. It aspires to improve education in Midwest cities, “especially by eliminating the barriers that prevent low-income students and children of color from reaching their full educational potential.”

But the way to do this is by rigorously testing students and holding them all to one high standard, instead of kowtowing to the teacher unions and the multiculturalist standards of so-called relevance.

“Because research shows that having a first-rate teacher has an enormous impact on student achievement, the Foundation concentrates the bulk of its grant making on improving teacher quality,” the foundation’s website states. “It also supports other strategies for addressing the achievement gap, including making sure children learn to read by third grade and supporting high quality charter schools and other educational innovations.”

Joyce seeks greater government funding for public education; in particular, for universal, federally funded pre-school and “early learning opportunities, especially for low-income and minority children,” observes DiscoverTheNetworks. It supports “the establishment of charter public schools for youngsters in those same demographic groups; and endorses teacher-preparation programs that permit ‘alternative certification’ for aspiring instructors who are unable to become certified via traditional avenues.”

In the 1990s Joyce gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the pro-socialist “Small Schools Movement”—school reform initiatives that were spearheaded by terrorist-cum-education-theorist Bill Ayers. The foundation has given to Chicago’s Erikson Institute, a graduate school in child development whose namesake is psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. “Indicative of the Erikson Institute’s radical political orientation is the fact that its board of trustees has included such figures as Tom Ayers (father of Bill Ayers) and Bernardine Dohrn (longtime wife of Bill Ayers),” notes DiscoverTheNetworks.

Another area of interest for the Joyce Foundation is employment and worker welfare. It boasts that its “five-year Shifting Gears initiative has dramatically increased access to credentials for low-income adults by streamlining postsecondary, adult basic education, and skills-development systems in five Midwest states.” Joyce funds research on welfare-to-work and transitional jobs. “Amid current economic and fiscal challenges, the Foundation continues to seek innovative strategies that expand access to successful training models and control costs.”

Funding environmental activists
Like so many left-of-center philanthropies today, the Joyce Foundation worships at the altar of environmentalism. It boasts of its commitment “to protecting and restoring the Great Lakes and developing cleaner energy for the Midwest region, especially through investments in energy efficiency.” A particularly far-fetched study Joyce underwrote examined “the feasibility of breaking the connection between the Lakes and the Mississippi River system, through which many [invasive species] come.”

The foundation also seeks “improvements in broader national policies that affect the [Great] Lakes, including transportation, agriculture, industrial pollution, and climate change.” According to, Joyce funds groups

that oppose the use of land for such endeavors as logging, mining, construction, and oil exploration; many of these groups are hostile to a capitalist economic model as well. Warning that the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with human industrial activity and automobile transportation contribute heavily to potentially disastrous ‘climate change,’ this program advocates the increased use of bicycles, mass transit, and high-speed rail as alternatives to motor vehicles. It also supports organizations that seek to publicly expose ‘the human health effects of coal’ while promoting alternative energy technologies such as solar and wind.

It is difficult to imagine Joyce Foundation benefactor David Joyce, a visionary of the lumber industry, supporting groups that want to harm today’s lumber and pulp-and-paper sector. Mr. Joyce believed that trees were put on this earth to be used by human beings, not to be worshipped by them.

The Joyce Foundation also supports such dubious groups as the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) which describes itself as “North America’s only cap-and-trade system for all six greenhouse gases.” The Exchange, which is closely tied to Al Gore’s enviro-investing company, Generation Investment Management, took in start-up grants worth $1.1 million from the Joyce Foundation around 2002, when Barack Obama was a member of the Joyce board.

When it began in 2003, the CCX billed itself as the world’s first carbon-emissions trading company, able to oversee and regulate all transactions made under cap-and-trade energy plans designed to restrict and tax greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by U.S. companies, according to DiscoverTheNetworks. (For more information on CCX, see “Al Gore’s Carbon Empire,” Foundation Watch, Aug. 2008.)

Finances, Grantmaking
In Joyce’s fiscal year ended Dec. 30, 2012, the foundation declared assets of $832,164,870 and income of $58,587,855 on its public tax filing. FoundationSearch ranks the Joyce Foundation 136th in the top 10,000 U.S. foundations by assets. The philanthropy ranks sixth in the top foundations by assets for the state of Illinois.

Joyce underwrites the activities of left-of-center think tanks and educational organizations. It funds the Brookings Institution ($3,481,080 since 1998); Aspen Institute ($1,989,650 since 2005); Campaign Finance Institute ($2,037,500 since 2000); Center for Law and Social Policy ($6,777,250 since 1998); Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ($3,563,235 since 1998); and the John Podesta-founded, George Soros-funded Center for American Progress ($863,329 since 2005). It also funds the vote-fraud enablers at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice ($1,015,000 since 1998), the Alliance for Justice ($825,000 since 1998), the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation ($225,000 since 2002), Democracy 21 Education Fund ($965,000 since 1998), and the Common Cause Education Fund ($1,480,000 since 2003).

In the world of Saul Alinsky-inspired community organizing, the Joyce Foundation funds the Tides Center ($625,000 since 1998), which is an incubator for new leftist groups, and the Center for Community Change ($100,000 in 2001), an ACORN-like group headed by ACORN alumnus Deepak Bhargava. After helping to create Advance Illinois in 2008, Joyce has given the pressure group $2,795,285 since that year.

Joyce also gives heavily to green groups. Among its grant recipients are Clean Air Task Force ($2,916,500 since 2006); Sierra Club Foundation ($1,590,145 since 1998); Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) ($4,067,500 since 1998); National Wildlife Federation ($3,173,323 since 1998); Nature Conservancy ($2,247,055 since 2003); Apollo Alliance ($175,000 in 2009); and Center for a Sustainable Economy ($600,000 since 1999).

Education group funding is important to the Joyce Foundation. It has funded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge ($370,000 since 1998) and Action for Children ($1,318,250 since 2004).

Joyce devotes significant resources to undermining Second Amendment rights. Joyce gave $75,000 in 2006 for a symposium on gun rights at Stanford Law School and $75,000 in 2008 for research on gun regulation. In 2002 it spent $20,000 to study U.S. v. Emerson, a Fifth Circuit holding in 2001 that upheld the individual right to bear arms and helped to set the stage for District of Columbia v. Heller. It funds the Violence Policy Center ($6,593,470 since 1998), the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence ($3,006,961 since 2004), and the United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund ($1,675,000 since 2008).

The Joyce Foundation supplied the Ohio State University Foundation with a series of grants to study gun control and to create the Second Amendment Research Center (SARC): $175,042 in 2003 and $224,925 in 2004 to found the organization, which has since shut down. The Center was run by anti-Second Amendment zealot Saul Cornell, a former Ohio State University professor who has written that gun rights are “libertarian fantasies.” Reporting on the Center’s demise at the end of 2009, the eminent libertarian law professor Randy Barnett wrote:

“This ‘scholarly’ center was one of the initiatives funded by the Joyce Foundation to support writings that opposed the academic consensus that had previously arisen that the original meaning of the Second Amendment protected an individual right. Readers of this blog will remember the infamous Joyce Foundation funded symposium at Chicago Kent from which any dissenting scholars were excluded in the interest of ‘balancing’ all the rest of Second Amendment scholarship. Apparently, its scholarly purpose having been exhausted by the decision in Heller, it has ceased its scholarly mission. It is no more.” (See

One of the scholars the Joyce Foundation conference prevented from speaking was legendary blogger Glenn Reynolds, now known in the blogosphere as Instapundit. Pajamas Media, where Reynolds blogs, backs up Randy Barnett’s account of the squelching of dissent at the symposium: “Joyce Foundation apparently believed it held this power over the entire university. Glenn Reynolds later recalled that when he and two other professors were scheduled to discuss the Second Amendment on campus, Joyce’s staffers ‘objected strenuously’ to their being allowed to speak, protesting that Joyce Foundation was being cheated by an ‘agenda of balance’ that was inconsistent with the Symposium’s purpose.”

As Ken Hanson, the Buckeye Firearms Association legislative chairman, observed at the time of the Heller ruling in 2008, “Saul Cornell and other scholars who have concluded for years that the Second Amendment is merely a collective right are 100% dead wrong on the body of their life’s work … The collectivist fraud has been as soundly rebuffed as it can be rebuffed.”

Barack Obama was involved in Joyce Foundation activities and was a member of its board of directors from 1994 through 2002. In that time span, Joyce handed out $525,000 to the Second Amendment Research Center.

“All told, Obama and the board signed off on more than $20 million dollars in grants to anti-gun groups like SARC, the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, the Violence Policy Center, etc.,” according to the Buckeye Firearms Association. (See, Dec. 2, 2009.)

The Joyce Foundation’s president since 2002 has been Ellen Alberding, a longtime veteran of left-wing politics and philanthropy. The Ivy Leaguer earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Brown University and a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University.

Alberding began with the foundation in 1989, managing its investments and directing its grantmaking as its culture program officer, the online resource Conservapedia notes. She helped to corrupt the Joyce Foundation by turning it away from the nonpartisan, non-ideological giving apparently favored by its creator, Beatrice Joyce Kean.

Alberding gave a talk at the City Club of Chicago on May 21, 2013 to explain the outcome of a NORC public opinion poll commissioned by the Joyce Foundation and its implications for education reform, job training for low-wage workers, and gun violence. In her opening remarks, she stated the truism that it is possible to distinguish “politics” from “public policy goals,” and that the Joyce Foundation is “non-partisan” and exists “outside of those pressures that exist in the political and business cycles.” As we shall see, in the case of Joyce’s policy recommendations, Alberding’s distinction between politics and public policy is a distinction without a difference—to say nothing of the foundation’s funding of the panoply of far-left activist groups described above.

On the topic of education, Alberding rightly decries Chicago’s previous teacher evaluation system, claiming that something is clearly wrong when test scores are weak to the point that schools are failing and being closed, and nine out of ten teachers receive an “excellent” rating.

The NORC poll she commissioned showed that Chicago’s parents, when choosing, evaluating, or keeping a hypothetical teacher, overwhelmingly prefer “student outcomes” to both “teacher experience” and “principal observation.” Alberding took the almost unheard of step of arguing that the seniority system for rewarding teachers needs to be reformed to include performance-based standards. Alberding is no Michelle Rhee. But it is rare for a person of the Left to concede even this much to the importance of student testing, due to the political influence of the teachers unions that usually succeeds in blocking anything that looks like a merit-based evaluation system. The problem comes in the Joyce Foundation’s advocacy of universal pre-K because there is little evidence that it improves educational outcomes, and the hidden agenda of the left is to swell the ranks of the teachers unions in order to turn their dues over to Democratic political candidates.

On the topic of gun violence, Alberding remarked that the Newtown massacre was an opportunity to enact “commonsense regulations.” But, as the saying goes, there is nothing so uncommon as common sense. Alberding argues for “expanded background checks,” “a ban on high-capacity magazines,” and “a national database of gun sales.” Since background checks are already in place at gun stores across the nation, “expanded background checks” is sub rosa language for eliminating the gun show industry altogether. Likewise, since many semi-automatics use magazines and clips with 10 or more bullets, “a ban on high-capacity magazines” would either render semi-automatics un-usable within the law or would entail costly retro-fitting. The argument for a national database of gun sales or a national gun registry is tantamount to arguing for an administrative repeal of the Second Amendment. Such a database is but the first step on the road to a national gun database and finally an Australian-style gun confiscation.

The basis for any of the rights listed in the Bill of Rights is that they are materially necessary to secure each of the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. More broadly, if a self-governing citizen has the natural rights of property, understood as life, liberty, and estate, then the citizen has the right to the means to secure said property, i.e., the right of self-defense. Natural rights, as such, do not derive from government, and it is the function of government to secure both the basic natural rights and the political rights necessary to them. It is, therefore, absurd to call something a political right and demand that a citizen register with the government in order to use it. It would be just as immoral and unjust to require a citizen to register a gun with the government as it would be to require that a citizen register to use the freedom of the press or the right to assemble for peaceful purposes.

Later in the speech, Alberding calls for a ban on “military-style assault weapons.” The Left never defines this term because it seeks to do away with any kind of semi-automatic weapon. Suppressed in Alberding’s speech and her Chronicle of Philanthropy and Huffington Post op-eds of December 27, 2012 and July 13, 2010, is any discussion of the commonsense view that the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms should extend to guns sufficiently strong to serve as a check against tyranny, and not merely to revolvers and such that would only suffice for defending against a home invasion.

The right to keep and bear arms that are in the aggregate sufficient to deter tyranny is so commonsensical that the popular mind of the Internet has mistakenly attributed the following quotes to Thomas Jefferson: “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government” and “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” These popular maxims, although not of Jeffersonian provenance, are nevertheless true.

The Joyce Foundation has grievously violated the donor intent of its founder David Joyce and his heir Beatrice Joyce Kean, who sought to provide direct charity to apolitical entities, like hospitals and health organizations. The foundation now bankrolls every left-wing group pursuing an extreme social justice agenda, from giants of the Left like the Tides Center and the George Soros-funded, John Podesta-founded Center for American Progress, to smaller players like the Center for Community Change and the Campaign Finance Institute. The Joyce Foundation nominally stands for the lofty goals of improving the quality of public education, enhancing the job prospects of low-wage earners, fostering the arts, protecting the environment, getting money out of politics, and improving public safety.

The practical reality of the foundation’s funding decisions has been to support groups, studies, and programs that advance the agenda of the far-left. The foundation advocates for improved teaching evaluation schemes that do take student performance into some account for pay increases and tenure, but fall short of a system of teacher testing and merit-based pay.

The Joyce Foundation deserves some credit for reading the riot act on failing test scores to the Chicago Public School System and the Chicago Teacher’s Union, but, in view of the dearth of evidence to support the success of pre-K programs, its advocacy of this cause looks to be an attempt to expand the Democratic Party donor machine of the teachers unions. The Joyce Foundation aims to partner with the private sector and federal, state, and local governments to increase the size and scope of taxpayer-funded job training programs. The results of this sort of endeavor have mixed limited employment success with extreme waste, fraud, and abuse, as well as the expansion of government bureaucracy.

Joyce’s culture program likely has expanded minority participation in the arts. But it is explicitly dedicated to advancing the multicultural diversity agenda on the boards and staff of arts organizations, as opposed to hiring the best person for the job. The demand for diversity on boards, and in hiring decisions generally, is leftist code for ensuring uniformity of opinion by weeding out conservative voices. The environmentalist groups funded by Joyce aim to use administrative regulation to severely contract the lumber industry and institute a fiat system of cap-and-trade that would destroy the coal industry. The foundation’s agenda with election law is to use the rhetoric of voter suppression to do away with the free speech rights granted in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision to individuals who wish to donate to super PACs and to enable voter fraud by preventing voter ID laws. The Joyce Foundation’s intention with the Second Amendment is to bring about its incremental administrative repeal through expanded background checks and a national gun sales database. Such policies can hardly be called Joycean.

Jonathan Hanen is a freelance writer and political consultant based in Washington, D.C. A native of Connecticut, he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University.


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