By John Tierney
I write to you today with considerable urgency to talk about the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s recent operational decision to stop funding nuclear arms control issues. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation has had a strong relationship with MacArthur for more than two decades. We have been honored to work well with their team.
This decision is detailed in a recent POLITICO story, ‘A big blow: Washington’s arms controllers brace for loss of their biggest backer‘ by Bryan Bender, but I want to make sure that I tell you, our supporters, about the impact the MacArthur Foundation’s abandonment of the field will have on the Center. Although not singled out in the article, the Center has been one of the larger beneficiaries. I encourage you to read the article as it discusses the great impact on many of our colleague/partner organizations in the field, and by extension, on us.
Our contacts at MacArthur notified me and other grantees of their decision to end their involvement in nuclear arms control issues in late Spring. The direct impact to the Center is the discontinuation of a $335,000 per year grant. While MacArthur will continue to support to a lesser degree several projects for the next three years, we are as yet uncertain of the Center’s place in those plans and are in discussions with the grantor as it continues to formulate that plan. Together with our Board and many strong supporters of the Center, I continue to hold discussions about the impact and next steps.
The first major step the Center is taking is to reach out to our strongest supporters and build new relationships to cover the gap in funding long term. While MacArthur is currently the largest grant the Center receives, we continue to rely on other generous grantors and on individual donations to support the operating budget of around $1.2 million yearly. Now, we must respectfully ask for even more help from those who understand the threat that nuclear weapons pose to society.
We are closer to a new nuclear arms race than ever before. It is unfortunate that MacArthur is ceasing its support, and I and others in the non-profit community have made our voices loud and clear in labeling such a decision misguided and short-sighted. We thank them for their past support but need to focus on the future and how we are going to continue our efforts to stop another nuclear arms race.
The Center has long been effectively engaged in researching, analyzing policy, and informing and educating the public, media and Congress on our vital issues. We continue to lead the community in such efforts, and also serve as critical resource for our sister organization, Council for a Livable World (CLW).
As you undoubtedly know, CLW is the oldest and most formidable organization that politically supports like-minded elected officials — helping them as they seek election and keeping them informed during their campaigns — and then lobbies Members of Congress to fight for policies and budgets that support arms control and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as reduce unnecessary national security spending and encourage reasonable cuts to defense spending. CLW relies heavily on the Center’s foundational work.
The Center, now more than ever, needs your help. We call upon you to dig deeper if you can and increase your donations.
Further, we ask that you spread the word and tell others about the Center and our issues. I remind people all the time: there are three existential threats — pandemic, climate change, and nuclear weapons — but only one of them can severely interrupt or destroy mankind in 30 minutes: a nuclear catastrophe caused by mistake, miscalculation or intentional action. All three existential threats are interconnected, and all need our attention, and we cannot allow the public sector’s voice for sane nuclear policy to lose its support.
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