$8 Million Gift Will Boost ACLU Campaign to Fight
Bush Administration's Assault on Civil Liberties
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK--The American Civil Liberties Union
announced today that Peter B. Lewis,
chairman of The Progressive Corporation and a
long-time ACLU member and donor, has made an
unprecedented gift of $8 million. A significant
portion of the gift will be used to fight Bush
Administration policies that trample on civil
"This enormously generous gift will help the ACLU to
meet the challenge of defending essential freedoms
in the post-Sept. 11 world, while continuing to
protect individual rights and fight discrimination,"
said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the
The gift, which includes $2 million in general
funding and $6 million to the ACLU endowment, the
Trust for the Bill of Rights, is the largest-ever
named gift from an individual in the organization's
history, the group said.
The gift also brings the ACLU within sight of its
endowment fund goal of $50 million. The group said
$2 million in general funding will be used to
underwrite advertising and grassroots activities
associated with "Keep America Safe and Free," the
ACLU campaign to protect civil liberties in a time
"Even when our country is in the midst of an
economic downturn, Peter recognizes that civil
liberties are not a luxury item to be supported only
in times of plenty," Romero added. "We hope that
this significant gift will encourage other ACLU
supporters to make an investment in civil liberties
at this crucial time in our nation's history. While
many remain silent at this critical juncture in U.S.
history, Peter Lewis has demonstrated his courage as
well as his patriotism in supporting this important
Romero noted that close to 90,000 individuals joined
the ACLU in 2002. The membership rolls, which had
remained at approximately 300,000 for the past three
years, has increased substantially since the attacks
of September 11-a sign, Romero said, that Americans
are concerned that their civil liberties are being
traded off the name of security.
Today's gift is not the first time Lewis has
invested significantly in the ACLU. In July 2001, he
set another ACLU record with a gift of $7 million to
the endowment fund-the largest the organization had
ever received. Lewis' gift helped match a $14
million challenge from the Ford Foundation, which
had contributed $7 million to the endowment campaign
in June 1999.
The ACLU created the Trust for the Bill of Rights
endowment fund to help meet unanticipated
emergencies, sustain ACLU program quality and ensure
a strong presence in all areas of the country.
Lewis, an ACLU member since 1972, said that the
ACLU's critically important work to protect
individual freedoms in this country took on a new
urgency after the terrorist attacks of September
2001 and the legislative and policy changes that
"Now more than ever, the ACLU is an essential
institution whose work protects the rights of
everyone in this country," Lewis said. "I can think
of no more patriotic action I can take right now
than supporting the ACLU."
Headquartered in New York City, the ACLU has
53-staffed affiliates in major cities, more than 300
chapters nationwide, and a legislative office in
Washington, D.C. The ACLU Foundation (ACLUF) is the
national tax-deductible, 501(c)(3) arm of the ACLU.
Its combined annual budget is approximately $50
The bulk of the annual budget is raised by
contributions from individual members plus grants
from foundations. Eighty percent of the budget
directly supports litigation, legislation and public
education programs. Fund raising costs average
twelve percent of total expenses, and management and
administration account for an additional 8 percent.
This level of efficiency consistently ranks the ACLU
and ACLUF among the nation's best-run charitable
organizations, with high approval ratings from
industry watchdog groups.
Anthony D. Romero has been Executive Director of the
national ACLU since 2001; Nadine Strossen was
elected president of the National Board in 1991.
Founded in 1920 by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman,
Albert DeSilver, Jane Addams, Felix Frankfurter,
Helen Keller and Arthur Garfield Hayes, the ACLU
celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2000.
(Back to Stop the