Beleaguered ACORN Losing Support Among Foundations

Reeling from a scandal that has threatened its funding from foundations and the government, anti-poverty group ACORN is struggling to survive, National Public Radio reports.

After undercover videos taken by a conservative critic of the organization showed ACORN workers allegedly advising individuals how to evade the law, lawmakers asked the Government Accountability Office, the Justice Department, the IRS, and other agencies to investigate. Although ACORN officials say the workers involved have been fired and the organization is working to clean up its act, financial support for the group has eroded. Funders that have discontinued their support for the organization and its affiliates include the Ford Foundation, which has given roughly $2 million to the group in recent years; the Marguerite Casey Foundation, which awarded more than $4 million to ACORN between 2003 and 2007; Bank of America; JPMorgan Chase; and the Annie E. Casey and Charles Stewart Mott foundations.

Congress also is trying to stop millions of dollars in federal grants from going to ACORN and its affiliates, though that effort has run into complications. The Senate has approved a measure that specifically targets ACORN, causing many to question its constitutionality, while the House has approved a broader ban that could affect funding for many groups other than ACORN, including defense contractors.

ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said she believes the forty-year-old organization will survive, although she is worried that fighting the allegations of corruption will deplete resources needed for programs. "[We] need different funding," said Lewis, "some extra funding, in order to fight back."

Pam Fessler. "ACORN Donations Dwindle in Wake of Videos." National Public Radio Press Release 10/01/2009.