A team of Berniecrats, including Jane O’Meara Sanders, launched a nonprofit, educational organization today that aims to “revitalize democracy” with progressive policies to address economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues.
“The Sanders Institute” is one of the organizations that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said last year would be created to help raise awareness of “enormous crises” facing Americans after he ended his bid for the Democratic nomination. His wife Jane is one of the 11 founding fellows who will direct the organization. Bernie Sanders will have no role in leading the institute.
The Sanders Institute has an office in Burlington and three staff members, but the fellows are participating as volunteers. Jane Sanders said she and the senator have contributed $25,000 of their personal funds to help cover startup costs of about $125,000, and they intend to be ongoing contributors. "Our Revolution" the political spinoff organization from the Sanders campaign, has provided the rest in seed money, which will be repaid as the nonprofit begins raising money for its work, she said.
Other founding fellows include high-profile advisers and supporters from the Sanders campaign. They are Robert Reich, who served as President Bill Clinton’s labor secretary; Vermont author and environmentalist Bill McKibben; actor Danny Glover; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii; economist Stephanie Kelton; Ben Jealous, former NAACP president and chief executive officer and now a gubernatorial candidate in Maryland; author and civil rights activist Cornel West; Former Ohio state senator Nina Turner; economist Jeffrey Sachs; and entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte.
The new Sanders Institute website can be found here. Salon says that the Institute will function as a hybrid between a think tank and an educational center.
The Sanders Institute is not the only think tank connected to a sitting US senator. Another example is the McCain Institute for International Leadership, connected to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).