Foundation Watch

Foundation Adrift: The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Future

Foundation Adrift (full series)

The Aimlessness of the Annie E. Casey Foundation | The History of Casey’s Philanthropy | The Casey Foundation Today | The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Future

Summary: The Annie E. Casey Foundation influences much about how American policymakers think about child welfare. However, the policies promoted by the foundation leave many friends and colleagues of founder James E. Casey scratching their heads, wondering if the humble businessman would approve of the work his legacy now supports. Despite entrusting his foundation to employees of his company, which would theoretically establish a consistent culture for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, some feel it was not enough to protect Mr. Casey’s legacy from the philanthropic sector’s strong leftward drift.

The Casey Foundation launched a second urban project in March 2018 when they announced construction of Pittsburgh Yards in Atlanta. In August 2018, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration gave the Casey Foundation a $1.5 million grant, under a program designed to help communities recover from disasters.

Casey has learned one lesson from East Baltimore Development: They are making no projections about the number of jobs Pittsburgh Yards will create. “We’re nervous about predicting the number of jobs, for obvious reasons,” Casey’s Natallie Keiser told the website Curbed.

The Casey Foundation also knows where the first jobs at Pittsburgh Yards will come from, as they will move their Atlanta offices there once building is complete.

In January 2019, Lisa Hamilton, former president of the UPS Foundation, became the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s third president.


James E. Casey was one of the 20th century’s greatest entrepreneurs. But his philanthropic vision was severely flawed. He failed to make clear what he wanted the Annie E. Casey Foundation to do, other than to help children in foster care. By establishing a foundation in perpetuity and then giving his successors complete authority to change or ignore his vision, Casey ensured that the foundation would drift away from what he wanted his legacy to be.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, to its credit, still primarily helps children and families. But it’s hard to see James E. Casey approving the Casey Foundation bailing out liberal political magazines, or George Soros, or engaging in massive urban renewal projects.

As the appendix shows, Casey continues to tilt heavily towards the Left in its grantmaking. Robert Clanin, a Casey trustee for nearly two decades, is disturbed by Casey’s relentless liberal tilt. “Casey will never be a right-wing foundation,” he says. “But can’t it at least be a middle-of-the-road one?”


Appendix: Annie E. Casey Foundation grantees from 2000-2016 receiving $10 million or more. (Excluded are grantees associated with the Casey fortune: Casey Family Programs, Casey Family Services, Casey Family Services—The Philadelphia Building, and Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.)

GranteeTotal Grants
Center for the Study of Drug Policy$60.5 million
Urban Institute$50 million
Foundation Administered Project Direct Charitable Activity (1 grant only in 2001)$39.9 million
East Baltimore Development Corporation$38.8 million
Case Commons$32.2 million
National Opinion Research Center$25.1 million
Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta$21.9 million
Living Cities/National Community Development Initiative$21.1 million
Youth Law Center$19.7 million
Baltimore Community Foundation$18.2 million
Brookings Institution$15.3 million
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities$14.5 million
The Aspen Institute$13.7 million
Jobs for the Future$13.1 million
Center for Working Families$12.2 million
Safe and Sound Baltimore$11.9 million
Tides Foundation$11.6 million
Trustees of Columbia University$10.4 million
Central Indiana Community Foundation$10.1 million
The Piton Foundation$10.1 million
Population Reference Bureau$10 million

Data compiled by subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted September 5, 2019.


Martin Morse Wooster†

Wooster was a senior fellow at the Capital Research Center. He is the author of three books: Angry Classrooms, Vacant Minds (Pacific Research Institute, 1994), The Great Philanthropists and the Problem of ‘Donor…
+ More by Martin Morse Wooster†