Public Interest Projects

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Public Interest Projects brings together the work of philanthropic institutions, nonprofit groups and other public interest organizations who share a vision and commitment to creating a just society. PIP was conceived and grew in response to the same needs it meets today.

Donald K. Ross established PIP in 1983. Ross, who founded the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) in 1973, was often approached by foundations interested in making grants to new social justice projects he and others were developing. PIP served as the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity that would hold and manage these funds for a broad range of innovative public interest work on a project basis. Once established, these projects – such as Taxpayers for Common Sense, Trust for America’s Health and the Environmental Support Center – often went on to become standalone entities.

By the 1990s, PIP was overseeing a fast-growing number of grants and incubating a score of nonprofits. Moreover, these initiatives were being introduced by PIP to an increasing number of national, regional and local donors.

PIP has since grown from a small, project-based fiscal sponsor working for other organizations to a formidable entity in its own right. PIP’s staff now manages six collaborative and partner funds, providing them with strategic direction, day-to-day management, administrative support and financial oversight. Combined, these collaboratives made more than $15.8 million in grants in 2009 to organizations around the country. PIP also manages 15 special projects and serves as the fiscal sponsor to affinity groups and organizations that are closely aligned with its overall mission.[1]

About PIP

Public Interest Projects, Inc. (PIP) brings together and strengthens the work of philanthropic institutions, nonprofit groups and other public interest organizations sharing a vision of a society that ensures justice, dignity and opportunity for all people.

PIP is a section 501(c)(3) public charity that operates grantmaking, technical assistance and strategic-planning programs for institutional donors interested in social justice and human rights issues. By developing sustainable partnerships among donors, grantees and allied groups, PIP seeks to foster a movement for positive social change resulting in equality, fairness and a stronger participatory democracy.

PIP achieves this by:

  • Managing strategic and culturally sensitive collaborative funds and initiatives;
  • Linking and convening partners with similar goals on local, regional and national levels to collaborate and share knowledge;
  • Providing expertise and resources—including highly experienced staff—to help build capacity in the field; and
  • Nurturing organizations, projects and affinity groups through fiscal sponsorship and other services.[2]

Board of Directors

As of 2011;[3]

John is Associate Director of the Campaign for America’s Wilderness and has consulted with national foundations and organizations to develop and promote campaigns to protect old-growth forests, critical habitat and road-free areas in National Forests. He spent a year at the Rockefeller Family Fund as Program Associate and, from 1988-1992, served as Executive Director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. He has previously worked with The Center for Study of Responsive Law, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), and currently serves on the board of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. John holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

  • Mark Colon (Vice President), Attorney, New York, NY

Mark is the Deputy Counsel of New York State’s Division of Housing & Community Renewal (“DHCR”), where he provides legal advice to the State’s housing commissioner and assists DHCR’s executive staff in the formulation and enforcement of agency policy. Previously, Mark spent several years as an associate in the Real Estate & Finance practices of two major international law firms.

Mark is an active member of the Puerto Rican and New York City Bar Associations. He graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College (CUNY) and received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was the Managing Editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review. Upon graduating from law school, he clerked for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to attending law school, he worked for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), focusing on issues of environmental justice and public health.

Gina Kim is a television producer who’s worked for NBC, CBS, MTV, Bravo and PBS. She was most recently the supervising producer of a daily, political news show, GRITtv with Laura Flanders.

Gina has produced for NOW with Bill Moyers and David Brancaccio, a political news magazine show on PBS, Phil Donahue on MSNBC, comedian, Lewis Black, and filmmaker Michael Moore on “The Awful Truth” and “Bowling for Columbine”. She worked with NBC’s Tom Brokaw in the run up to the 2003 Iraq War and produced videos for the rock band, Rage Against the Machine.

Prior to her career in television, Gina directed campaigns on climate change and tort reform for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and worked for the White House Office of Advance for Bill Clinton.

Eli Il Yong Lee is an independent consultant with more than 25 years of executive leadership, issue advocacy and political campaigns, both nationally and in New Mexico. From city council and school board races to statewide initiatives, he has served as campaign manager or general consultant for more than 80 progressive electoral and issue campaigns, with wins in 75 percent of these contests. Eli was the founding CEO of the Center for Civic Policy, which advanced innovations in nonpartisan civic engagement in the fields of communications, modeling and external metrics. He’s a board member of State Voices; the former Board President of the Asian American Association of New Mexico; a former board member of the State of New Mexico’s Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. Commission; and a longtime board member of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, founded by his mentor, Dr. Carolyn Goodman, the mother of murdered Civil Rights worker Andrew Goodman. He is a 1990 graduate of Columbia University, and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Management Team

As of 2011;