Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Institute for Policy Studies

  • Washington, DC

Mission Statement

The Institute's public scholars support social justice campaigns worldwide with research, talking points, convenings, and strategic counsel. Other think tanks serve elites; IPS works to connect progressive decision-makers and opinion leaders with grassroots campaigners working on issues from climate justice to extreme inequality to human rights.

Main Programs

  1. IPS Programs
Service Areas



While IPS has offices in Washington, D.C. and in Jamaica Plain, just outside Boston, Massachusetts, our work extends to pioneering social movements in the United States and throughout the world.

ruling year


Director since 1998


John Cavanagh

Associate Director since 2015


Tiffany Williams



justice, economic justice, environmental justice, climate justice, peace, multipolar, IFIs, International institutions, Letelier-Moffett, Human Rights, Racial Wealth Divide, Inequality

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Also Known As







Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (A05)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (B05)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (C01)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

To address the challenges of today, IPS uses the following strategies across all our work: 1) Providing a safe and strategic “space" for a diverse set of progressive allies to discuss and develop collaborative campaigns; 2) Focusing on transformative social change using both long-term strategic campaigns (researching path-breaking reports, building coalitions and infrastructure, convening allies) and short-term tactical communication tools (providing timely analysis, framing current events, delivering hot facts).


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

IPS Programs

Democracy and Fairness: IPS engages in vigorous public education?through research, writing, speaking, media appearances, and organized public forums-- among labor, religious, small business, other grassroots audiences, opinion leaders, and public officials to expose and address the causes and consequences of income inequality. Peace and Security: IPS develops and promotes alternative approaches to setting national security and foreign policy priorities. We promote these approaches with vigorous, multi-platform, public education campaigns. Our recommendations emphasize non-military solutions to the core security challenges of climate change, global poverty, terrorism and regional wars. We also educate locally elected officials about this approach and helpthem to start dialogues in their communities about these issues. Global Justice: IPS exposes injustice in many trouble spots around the globe including: child labor in Liberia, environmental harm and public health risks caused by ill-conceived energy development schemes in Asia and Africa, and elsewhere. Through our research and networking, we develop and helped to promote alternative development strategies that protect health and promote equity, among a variety of grassroots partners around the world. Special Projects: Through fiscal sponsorship and other forms of support, IPS nurtures the development of projects working to build a more just, peaceful and sustainable world in the US and around the globe.


International, Foreign Affairs & National Security

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    1. We're fighting extreme inequality
    2. We're promoting diplomacy over war
    3. We're fighting corporate control in trade and energy
    4. We're mentoring young public scholars
    5. We're fighting for worker and racial justice
    6. We're turning weapons into windmills
    7. We're taking on Wall Street
    8. We're creating a new economy
    9. We're ending the drug war
    10. We're spreading progressive ideas to millions
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    There have always been many “schools of thought" at IPS, and there is no existing party, ideology, or “ism" that explicitly encompasses all these strands. Part of what makes IPS as exciting place to work is that no assumptions, arguments, or proposals go unquestioned. As public scholars we seek not only to study political change but also to promote it. We do this by employing five strategies to add value to the progressive movement:

    We persuade opinion leaders by publishing their work in widely read books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and websites by working with the media, and by appearing on popular radio television shows, and webcasts.

    We provide visionary policy ideas to leading figures in the executive and legislative branches of government (mindful of the limits imposed on lobbying activities by our tax-exempt status).

    We work with progressive movements, helping their participants sharpen their policy demands and map out coherent strategies.

    We help community leaders – elected officials and activists – develop improve, and spread successful local policies.

    We link up progressive thinkers and activists internationally, which increases the global resonance and power of our ideas while opening the Institute to new ideas and practices.

    We encourage all employees to express their views and contribute to the work of IPS.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    IPS is the nation's oldest progressive multi-issue think tank. We have incubated dozens of movements and spin-off organizations, many of which have become our allies in the pursuit of social change. Today, we play a unique bridging role in the vibrant and broad progressive infrastructure working with local, national, and global movements to continue the fight for civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights. We engage in what we call “public scholarship," which is a blend of policy research and activism, to create, promote, and reinforce transformative ideas for the public and policy makers.

    IPS is working to inform and promote a long-term agenda for systemic change that prioritizes an equity framework across the policy spectrum. We seek to support social movements on the front line, especially as women, people of color, LGBTQIA people, and immigrants are disproportionately impacted by our broken political system, increasing disenfranchisement, growing inequality and poverty, the climate crisis, a militarized police and cruel, ineffective criminal justice system, ongoing war and displacement.

    Institutional funders have referred to IPS as the research arm of social movements today. We continue to provide independent policy research support and communications capacity to support movement-building organizations. This year, we've launched an IPS-Peoples Action task force on structural reforms to change the rules and reverse runaway inequality. And our individual experts are engaged in other ways with organizations such as Greenpeace,, Jobs with Justice, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Caring Across Generations, New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice, and ROC-United.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    IPS tracks progress each year by convening all program, communications, development and operations staff to evaluate our achievements against our objectives and to review our budgets. We also solicit feedback from stakeholders in all our work, including external partners and funders.

    We currently have 11 projects that help us fulfill our larger organizational goals. We measure each project in terms of fulfillment of major activities, impact on movements and policy change, as well as how well we expanded media attention to our issues. We also use the opportunity to decide what aspects of each project plan should be changed to ensure we stay on track to reach our larger goals.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Our original goals were mostly met and we have taken on significant new goals to build on our original plan. The deepening partnership with movement building allies, such as People's Action, Caring Across Generations, and National Domestic Workers Alliance, has been a particularly exciting development, since they help us firmly root our long-term transformative policy work to grassroots action at the local and state levels. And the new inequality newsletter that we launched in April has also brought us closer to grassroots partners by serving as a tool for amplifying their voices and spreading their innovative strategies to broader audiences. In the area of building stronger bridges between climate justice and economic inequality forces, we achieved some goals but have not yet carried out a plan to convene experts from these areas because of staff turnover, but this remains on our agenda.

    The great disappointment over the past year has been how the 2016 presidential election exposed just how far we have to go in this country to address the root causes of racism, sexism, militarism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. While some of our core issues have received significant attention and traction, including the racial wealth gap work and issues related to Wall Street reform and CEO pay, the nasty political scene has reinforced the need to redouble our efforts to address the ugly divisions that will continue to be obstacles to progressive change.
Service Areas



While IPS has offices in Washington, D.C. and in Jamaica Plain, just outside Boston, Massachusetts, our work extends to pioneering social movements in the United States and throughout the world.

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Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.


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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Institute for Policy Studies



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.


John Cavanagh

Associate Director

Tiffany Williams


John Cavanagh has been Director of IPS since 1998. In this capacity, he oversees programs, outreach, and organizational development. John has a BA from Dartmouth College and a MA from Princeton University. He worked as an international economist for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (1978-1981) and the World Health Organization (1981-1982). He directed IPS's Global Economy Project from 1983-1997. He is the co-author of 10 books and numerous articles on the global economy.



E. Ethelbert Miller

African American Resource Center, Howard University


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?