Institute for Family Studies
The Institute for Family Studies (IFS) is a conservative "think tank" which, according to its website, has the expressed mission "to strengthen marriage and natural family and advancing the well-being of children through research and public education." Research from IFS and its employees are frequently cited and published in both conservative outlets such as National Review  and more mainstream ones, like the Washington Post.. "IFS is a successor to the Ridge Foundation, through which Bradley and others used to support Wilcox's National Marriage Project." The Institute for Family Studies says that its "commitment is rooted in the social-science fact that children are most likely to thrive when they are raised by their own married biological parents. The underlying premise of its work is that families and communities, freedom and prosperity, and the political order itself -- both at home and abroad -- are all critically dependent upon the existence of a strong healthy, pervasive marriage culture among the citizenry."
IFS is also an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a web of state pressure groups that denote themselves as "think tanks" and drive a right-wing agenda in statehouses nationwide.
- 1 News and Controversies
- 2 Ties to State Policy Network
- 3 Ties to the Koch Brothers
- 4 Ties to the Bradley Foundation
- 5 Funding
- 6 Core Financials
- 7 Personnel
- 8 Contact Information
- 9 Related SourceWatch Articles
- 10 External Resources
- 11 References
News and Controversies
Association with an "infamously flawed study of same-sex parenting"
Brad Wilcox, a senior fellow at the Insitute for Family Studies, was a researcher for a study which, according to People for the American Way, was "infamously flawed." The study was regarded in 2014 as an "attack on same-sex parenting" by People for the American Way. 
Ties to State Policy Network
IFS is listed as an associate member on the State Policy Network (SPN) directory.
SPN is a web of right-wing “think tanks” and tax-exempt organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. As of August 2020, SPN's membership totals 162. Today's SPN is the tip of the spear of far-right, nationally funded policy agenda in the states that undergirds extremists in the Republican Party. SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told the Wall Street Journal in 2017 that the revenue of the combined groups was some $80 million, but a 2019 analysis of SPN's main members IRS filings by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that the combined revenue is over $120 million. Although SPN's member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, the Center for Media and Democracy's in-depth investigation, "EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government," reveals that SPN and its member think tanks are major drivers of the right-wing, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders.
In response to CMD's report, SPN Executive Director Tracie Sharp told national and statehouse reporters that SPN affiliates are "fiercely independent." Later the same week, however, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer caught Sharp in a contradiction. In her article, "Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?," the Pulitzer-nominated reporter revealed that, in a recent meeting behind closed doors with the heads of SPN affiliates around the country, Sharp "compared the organization’s model to that of the giant global chain IKEA." She reportedly said that SPN "would provide 'the raw materials,' along with the 'services' needed to assemble the products. Rather than acting like passive customers who buy finished products, she wanted each state group to show the enterprise and creativity needed to assemble the parts in their home states. 'Pick what you need,' she said, 'and customize it for what works best for you.'" Not only that, but Sharp "also acknowledged privately to the members that the organization's often anonymous donors frequently shape the agenda. 'The grants are driven by donor intent,' she told the gathered think-tank heads. She added that, often, 'the donors have a very specific idea of what they want to happen.'"
A set of coordinated fundraising proposals obtained and released by The Guardian in early December 2013 confirm many of these SPN members' intent to change state laws and policies, referring to "advancing model legislation" and "candidate briefings." These activities "arguably cross the line into lobbying," The Guardian notes.
Ties to the Koch Brothers
In 2013, Ashley Mcguire, a contributing editor at IFS, wrote an article for IFS praising David Koch for his reaction to the Massachuttes Institute of Technology to build a daycare center. "This most recent investment is pro-family and pro-child and worthy of praise."  McGuire has done fellowships with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.
Charles Koch is the right-wing billionaire owner of Koch Industries. As one of the richest people in the world, he is a key funder of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on Charles Koch and his late brother David include: Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, Stand Together Chamber of Commerce, Stand Together, Koch Family Foundations, Koch Universities, and I360.
Ties to the Bradley Foundation
IFS founder W. Bradford Wilcox "is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and a Member of the James Madison Society of the Bradley-supported James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University." In addition, he is "a visiting scholar at the Bradley-supported "American Enterprise Institute," and he "is very helpfully advising those creating the new Barder-supported Family Prosperity Index of the American Conservative Union's Center for Human Dignity."
IFS hired Richard A. Brake as its president. "Brake came to IFS from the Bradley-supported Intercollegiate Studies Institute where he was vice president for undergraduate education and directed its civic literacy and free enterprise initiatives."
In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.
The "philanthropic sources of support" for IFS "include several strong Bradley Allies, among them: the Achelis & Bodman, Chiaroscuro, Earhart, GFC, Hertog, Arthur Rupe, and Vine and Branches Foundations.
Partial funding for the IFS comes from the following donor:
- The Bradley Foundation gave $200,000 between 2014-2016 for "General Operating Support."
- Conservative Transparency reports that the Bradley Foundation gave $50,000 in 2013 to the IFS 
- In addition, Bradley gave the following amounts to the Ridge Foundation, an organization of which IFS is "a successor": $30,000 in 2012 "to support writing, administration, and dissemination of research related to marriage in the United States" and $20,000 in 2011 "to support the National Marriage Project." 
- Total Revenue: $455,258
- Total Expenses: $527,079
- Net Assets: $149,505
- Total Revenue: $510,855
- Total Expenses: $444,124
- Net Assets: $221,326
- Total Revenue: $460,791
- Total Expenses: $473,853
- Net Assets: $145,595
- Total Revenue: $316,288
- Total Expenses: $304,297
- Net Assets: $167,657
As of June 2018:
- Richard Brake, President
- Wendy Wang, Director of Research
- Alysse El Hage, Editor, 'Family Studies' Blog
- Bill Coffin, Senior Fellow
- Laurie DeRose, Senior Fellow
- Robert I. Lerman, Senior Fellow
- Charles E. Stokes, Senior Fellow
- Scott Stanley, Senior Fellow
- W. Bradford Wilcox, Senior Fellow
- Nicholas Zill, Senior Fellow
- Lyman Stone, Research Fellow
- Amber Lapp, Research Fellow
- David Lapp, Research Fellow
- Kay Hymowitz, Contributing Editor
- Ashley E. McGuire, Contributing Editor
Board of Directors
As of March 2017:
- Jeffrey R. Adams, Director
- Jeremy Beer, Director
- Fred Clark, Director
- Greg Ridenour, Director
- John Stanley, Director
- Rebecca Horner, Director
- Richard Hough, Director and President
Institute for Family Studies
P.O. Box 1502
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Related SourceWatch Articles
- State Policy Network:
- American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
- Donors Capital Fund
- Koch Family Foundations
- Koch Industries
- Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity
- Heritage Foundation
- Think tanks
- Whitney Ball
- Adam Meyerson
- Bridgett Wagner
- Wall Street Journal, The Spoils of the Republican State Conquest, December 9, 2016, archived by CMD here.
- DeSmog Blog, Stink Tanks: Historical Records Reveal State Policy Network Was Created by ALEC, December 9, 2013.
- The Guardian, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, December 5, 2013.
- Portland Press Herald, "Washington County residents have mixed reactions to plan to eliminate taxes," December 5, 2013.
- The Texas Observer, "The Money Behind the Fight to Undermine Medicaid," December 5, 2013.
- Media Matters, North Carolina Newspapers Largely Ignore Conservative Funding Of Sham Think Tanks, December 3, 2013.
- Shepherd Express, Masters of Manipulation: Right-wing Billionaires, Corporations and the Bradley Foundation Pay for Junk Studies that Prop up Their Agenda, November 27, 2013.
- "Moyers & Company," How a Shadowy Network of Corporate Front Groups Distorts the Marketplace of Ideas, November 19, 2013.
- MSNBC "Rachel Maddow Show," November 18, 2013.
- Free Speech TV "Ring of Fire," Facebook, Microsoft, AT&T and Others Supporting Right Wing Propaganda Machine, November 18, 2013.
- Topeka Capital-Journal, Trabert dismisses report tying KPI to Koch agenda, November 16, 2013.
- The New Yorker (Jane Mayer), Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, November 15, 2013.
- Salon, Ted Cruz and Koch brothers embroiled in shadowy Tea Party scheme, November 15, 2013.
- St. Louis Business Journal, Beyond Sinquefield: Who else is funding the Show-Me Institute?, November 15, 2013.
- The Guardian, Facebook and Microsoft help fund rightwing lobby network, report finds, November 14, 2013.
- Huffington Post, Meet The Little-Known Network Pushing Ideas For Kochs, ALEC, November 14, 2013.
- CBS St. Louis, Show-Me Institute’s Ties Questioned in New Report, November 14, 2013.
- Talking Points Memo, Florida Conservative Group Helping Muck Up Obamacare In Alaska, November 14, 2013.
- Mint Press News, Reports Reveal SPN’s Secret Corporate Agenda Through Use ‘Expert’ Testimony, November 14, 2013.
- Media Matters, Shadowy Right-Wing Group Generates Media Coverage For Conservative Policy From Coast To Coast, November 14, 2013.
- The Institute for Southern Studies, Are conservative think tanks breaking lobbying laws?, November 14, 2013.
- Nonprofit Quarterly, Corporate Money in Network of Right-Wing State Policy Think Tanks, November 14, 2013.
- The Progressive, Right-Wing Think Tanks Push Privatization in the States, November 13, 2013.
- Politico, Report: Think tanks tied to Kochs, November 13, 2013.
- Lawrence Journal-World, Reports released by progressive groups are critical of Kansas Policy Institute, November 13, 2013.
- Maine Insights, Report: Maine Heritage Policy Center’s funding connection to Koch Brothers, November 13, 2013.
- The Florida Current, Liberal groups bemoan lobbying by conservative think tanks, November 13, 2013.
- The Oregonian, Cascade Policy Institute benefits from secretive donor group but says it operates independently, November 13, 2013.
- Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network, The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Arizona Working Families and CMD, A Reporter’s Guide to the Goldwater Institute: What Citizens, Policymakers, and Reporters Should Know, organizational report, updated November 13, 2013.
- Progress Florida and CMD, Lawmaking Under the Influence of Very Special Interests: Understand the role of Florida ‘think tanks’ in driving a Koch-fueled, ALEC-allied corporate agenda, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Maine's Majority Education Fund, Fooling Maine: How national conservative groups infiltrated Maine politics by founding and funding the Maine Heritage Policy Center, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Progress Michigan, Who's Running Michigan? The Far-Right Influence of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Alliance for a Better Minnesota, Who's in Charge: How Nationalized Corporate-Run Think Tanks Influence Minnesota Politics, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Progress Missouri, What Missourians Need to Know About the Show-Me Institute, organizational report, updated November 13, 2013.
- Granite State Progress, Bad Bartlett: The Josiah Bartlett Center and NH Watchdog Answer the Call of the Koch Brothers, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- ProgressOhio, Smoke Screen: The Buckeye Institute, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Keystone Progress, Think tanks or corporate lobbyist propaganda mills?, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Progress Texas, TPPF + ALEC, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- One Wisconsin Now, S is for Shill: Inside the Bradley Foundation's Attack on Public Education, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Muncie Voice, Pence and Right-Wing Are Taking Over Public Education, November 13, 2013.
- The Spokesman-Review, Shawn Vestal: Idaho Freedom Foundation pushes limits of word ‘charity’, November 2, 2013.
- AZ Central, When this ‘watchdog’ pitches, taxpayers strike out, October 12, 2013.
- IndyStar, Daniels says speech to partisan group was a mistake, October 10, 2013.
- Muncie Voice, Indiana Policy Review: Not an Independent News Source, October 2, 2013.
- The Spokesman-Review, Idaho Freedom Foundation's charitable status scrutinized, September 15, 2013.
- CounterSpin, Lee Fang on 'The Right Leans In', April 5, 2013.
- FireDogLake, State Policy Network, an umbrella coordinating ALEC, Heritage, Heartland and others, April 4, 2013.
- Thom Hartmann with Lee Fang on MSNBC, The conservative State Policy Network is sneaking into your state & will change America, March 29, 2013.
- Current TV "War Room", Lee Fang discussing the State Policy Network, March 28, 2013.
- The Nation, The Right Leans In, March 26, 2013.
- Democracy Now, Donors Trust: Little-Known Group Helps Wealthy Backers Fund Right-Wing Agenda in Secret, February 19, 2013.
- Paul Abowd, Center for Public Integrity, Donors use charity to push free-market policies in states, Consider the Source, February 14, 2013.
- John R. Mashey, Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax 2, DeSmog Blog report, updated October 23, 2012, p. 74.
- Urban Milwaukee, Stealth Conservatives, October 11, 2012.
- Rome News-Tribune, ANALYSIS: Georgia leaders depend on the same well for ideas, October 2012.
- Andy Kroll, The Right-Wing Network Behind the War on Unions, Mother Jones, April 25, 2011.
- Guidestar, State Policy Network, IRS filings and other organizational information about SPN.
- Center for Policy Alternatives, ALEC and the Extreme Right-Wing Agenda, organizational brochure about ALEC and SPN.
- John J. Miller, Fifty Flowers Bloom: Conservative think tanks — mini–Heritage Foundations — at the state level, National Review, November 19, 2007.
- Bridge Project, State Policy Network, online resource listing grants to SPN and SPN's connections to other groups.
- People for the American Way, State Policy Network, RightWingWatch.org, organizational resource.
- Greenpeace, Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group: State Policy Network (SPN), organizational resource.
- Bradley Files, [on file with CMD], Bradley Files, 2014
- National Review search for IFS on NR National review, accessed June 2018
- Washington Post search Washington Post, accessed June 2018
- Bradley Files, [on file with CMD], Bradley Files, 2015
- Miranda Blue Regnerus Study Backer Acknowledges That Marriage Equality Creates Family Stability Right Wing Watch, June 13, 2014
- State Policy Network Institute for Family Studies State Policy Network, accessed June 2018
- David Armiak, https://www.exposedbycmd.org/2019/11/13/revenue-state-policy-network-state-affiliates-tops-120-million/ Revenue for State Policy Network and State Affiliates Tops $120 Million], ExposedbyCMD, November 13, 2019.
- Rebekah Wilce, Center for Media and Democracy, EXPOSED: The State Policy Network -- The Powerful Right-Wing Network Helping to Hijack State Politics and Government, organizational report, November 13, 2013.
- Jane Mayer, Is IKEA the New Model for the Conservative Movement?, The New Yorker, November 15, 2013.
- Ed Pilkington and Suzanne Goldenberg, State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax, The Guardian, December 5, 2013.
- Ashley McGuire David Koch Does Daycare Institute for Family Studies, Oct. 23, 2013
- Becket Ashley McGuire organizational website, accessed June 2018
- Conservative Transparency Institute for Family Studies American Bridge 21st Century, accessed June 2018
- Institute for Family Studies, 2016 IRS Form 990, ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer, March 22 2017.
- Institute for Family Studies 2015 IRS Form 990, ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer, November 11, 2016
- Institute for Family Studies 2014 IRS Form 990, ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer, Nov 2014.
- Institute for Family Studies 2013 IRS Form 990, ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer, November 17 2014.
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