Watchdog Lab •

Under a newly-focused spotlight shined by conservatives on the massive funding and organizational resources Progressive Democrats have laid in place to influence particularly young and infrequent voters through daisy chains of “non-profit” outreach organizations, the extent of the reach of those groups and their ties to left-leaning funding sources becomes more and more clear.

Last week the Rural Democracy Initiative announced on X they were “celebrating a year of success and growth” as documented in their 2023 Impact Report. The RDI places a focus on non-urban areas by making grants to voter engagement groups outside major cities. RDI messaging is clear in a pulled media link from on the organization’s website entitled “Bidenomics is a Godsend for rural America.”

“Dark money” is often about obfuscation and indirection: The Arabella Advisors started the “Rural Democracy Initiative,” which is their name for two of their “fiscally sponsored” projects, Heartland Fund and Rural Victory Fund. Legally, the Heartland Fund is part of the Arabella Windward Fund, and the Rural Democracy Fund is part of the Arabella Sixteen Thirty Fund.

The RDI report itself barely mentions Kansas, but did tout their “Rural Youth Voter Fund,” which funds Loud Light and Loud Light Action in Kansas.

In the impact report section about “rural groups build power by solving problems,” RDI gives an example from Wichita:

Neighboring Movement in Kansas starts by leveraging community participation in projects like child care center or Latino cultural festival, then transitions to relational voter outreach.

Progressive nonprofit organizations, like the Neighboring Movement, serve almost like a “secular church” and then pivot to voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts using funding from “dark money” sources.

“Relational voter outreach” is the same “peer pressure with a purpose” promoted by The Voter Network’s Voter-to-Voter project.

2023 spending in Kansas

The Rural Democracy Initiative 2023 Impact Report lists the grants sent to a number of states, including Kansas.

Kansas organizations receiving grants in the 2023 Impact Report by the Rural Democracy Initiative

The 2023 Impact Report shows combined funding from the Heartland Fund for three organizations, including Kansas Interfaith Action, Loud Light, and the Neighboring Movement.

The exact individual amounts for each organization will not be revealed until Nov. 2024 when the Arabella Windward Fund files its IRS 990, since the Heartland Fund is a project of the Windward Fund. There’s confusion and little transparency with “dark money.”

A future article will show the “Integrated Voter Engagement” project, sponsored by the Kansas Health Foundation and the REACH Healthcare Foundation, also contributed in past years to Loud Light ($350K), Kansas Interfaith Action ($50), and the Neighboring Movement ($125K).

Goal of Rural Democracy Initiative

Arabella Advisors Impact Report 2020, “Doing Good Better,” introduced their “incubated” projects, Heartland Fund and Rural Victory Fund for “promoting permanent infrastructure, important rural issues and rural civic leadership.”

The 2023 Impact Report shows Kansas was a targeted for “important opportunities or threats,” but with no explanation of what that means.

The 2022 Impact Report admits their goal is for “small shifts in rural margins” in elections to “change statewide outcomes.”

George Soros connection

Like other nonprofits, the Winward Fund and the Sixteen Thirty Fund do not disclose donations from individuals in their IRS 990 filings. However, contributions from other nonprofits are disclosed in the “upstream” IRS 990 of the donor.

George Soros’ Open Society Policy Center gave $2 million to the Sixteen Thirty Fund in 2020 with the purpose “to support the Rural Victory Fund, a project of the Grantee, in its nonpartisan rural advocacy and voter engagement.”

The Open Society Foundations grants site shows the $2 million contribution to the Sixteen Thirty Fund for the Rural Victory Fund in 2020.

The year before in the 2019 Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society gave $200,000 to the Winward Fund “to support the Grantee’s Heartland Fund in building the power of marginalized communities to advocate for a just, sustainable, and equitable future for the Midwest.”

IRS 990s from 2022 show few contributors to the Rural Victory Fund, but several large donors to the Heartland Fund from other nonprofits.

IRS 990s from 2022 show a number of large contributions to the Winward Fund earmarked for the Heartland Fund.

[The IRS 990 filings from 2022 are likely not yet complete.]

Cumulative impact on Kansas

From 2020 through 2023 the Rural Democracy Initiative through the Heartland Fund and the Rural Victory Fund granted $715K to Kansas nonprofits.

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