History of Philanthropy Case Study: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and State EITC Programs

In this post, “we” refers to Good Ventures and the Open Philanthropy Project, who work as partners.

Suzanne Kahn, a consultant who has been working with us as part of our History of Philanthropy project, recently finished a case study on the role of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) programs. This report is a follow-up to her earlier report on CBPP's founding and early growth, and investigates CBPP's claim that CBPP "created the concept of state EITCs and… developed state issue campaigns to secure their adoption. Before we started this work, no state had its own EITC; today, 26 do."

The report finds that:

The report is also an interesting case study with respect to the question of "active" vs. "passive" funding. For the most part, funders of CBPP's work on state EITC programs followed CBPP's lead with respect to strategy in the space. However, the Rockefeller Foundation played a somewhat more active role at one point by commissioning a 1990 evaluation of CBPP's work, which concluded that CBPP's state-level work was not comparable to its federal work, and recommended abandoning the state work or hiring someone to rethink the approach. In response, CBPP hired Iris Lav, who radically rethought CBPP's strategy for state policy work — including EITC programs — and secured funding for the new strategy from the Ford Foundation and others.

Read the full case study here (.pdf)