History

Public Interest Projects brings together the work of philanthropic institutions, nonprofit groups and other public interest organizations who share a vision and commitment to creating a just society. Public Interest Projects was conceived and grew in response to the same needs it meets today.

Donald K. Ross established Public Interest Projects in 1983. Ross, who founded the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) in 1973, was often approached by foundations interested in making grants to new social justice projects he and others were developing. Public Interest Projects served as the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity that would hold and manage these funds for a broad range of innovative public interest work on a project basis. Once established, these projects – such as Taxpayers for Common Sense, Trust for America’s Health and the Environmental Support Center – often went on to become standalone entities.

By the 1990s, Public Interest Projects was overseeing a fast-growing number of grants and incubating a score of nonprofits. Moreover, these initiatives were being introduced by Public Interest Projects to an increasing number of national, regional and local donors.

Public Interest Projects has since grown from a small, project-based fiscal sponsor working for other organizations to a formidable entity in its own right. Public Interest Projects’ staff now manages six collaborative and partner funds, providing them with strategic direction, day-to-day management, administrative support and financial oversight. Combined, these collaboratives made more than $28 million in grants in 2012 to organizations around the country. Public Interest Projects also manages 15 special projects and serves as the fiscal sponsor to affinity groups and organizations that are closely aligned with its overall mission.