The Sanders Institute (SI) is a progressive, nonprofit educational organization that was launched on June 7, 2017, by Jane O’Meara Sanders, the wife of longtime U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. At that time, Mrs. Sanders was the subject of an active FBI investigation that centered around a corrupt, multimillion-dollar land-purchase deal which she had orchestrated in 2010 on behalf of Burlington College, where she was serving as president. For details about that deal, click here.
To help cover SI's $125,000 startup costs, Jane and Bernie Sanders personally contributed $25,000 and vowed to make additional donations in the future. The other $100,000 was supplied by Our Revolution, a recently formed organization committed to promoting Senator Sanders's socialist agendas.
SI's mission is to “revitalize democracy by actively engaging individuals, organizations, and the media in the pursuit of progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial, and social justice issues.” Toward that end, the Institute seeks to advance a wide array of leftist political agendas and worldviews.
SI claims that “institutionalized racism has existed throughout the course of American history” and continues largely unabated – as evidenced by the fact that “there are vast differences in the lives and experiences of individuals from different races in the U.S.” Racism, says SI, thoroughly infests the criminal-justice system, where “racial disparities” abound – e.g., the fact that blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately affected by “mass incarceration,” capital punishment, “felony disenfranchisement,” and “legal restrictions that lock [convicted felons] out of many government jobs and licensed professions.” Further, SI describes “strict photo identification laws [at polling places], reductions to early voting and same-day registration, and limits on third-party registration” as “concerted voter-suppression efforts” that amount to a racist backlash against “the country’s changing demographics.” Indeed, says the Institute, such measures are “similar to the racially discriminatory Jim Crow laws of the early 20th century.”
SI also views America as a sexist country where women are routinely exploited and abused. The Institute laments the “wealth and income gap,” where “women earn 79 cents to the dollar that men earn.” (To learn how this statistic has been thoroughly debunked by a large body of research, click here.) Yet another expression of American sexism, says SI, is the fact that “women are underrepresented [in political offices] at the national, state, and local level,” a situation that will continue “without structural changes in recruitment, electoral, and legislative rules.”
SI seeks to reduce income inequality by supporting higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and advocating a national minimum wage of $15 per hour. The Institute's Stephanie Kelton, who served as an economic adviser to Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign, traces the roots of America's current wealth inequality back to the Reagan administration, when “cuts to programs aimed at helping the poor and an obsession with deregulation and 'free markets' shifted the balance of power toward owners of capital and ushered in an era of increasing insecurity and growing inequality for the working class.”
Regarding education policy, SI opposes the use of public funds for school vouchers and charter schools. Moreover – citing Bernie Sanders's assertion that “higher education should be a right for people who have the ability and the desire” – the Institute believes that taxpayers should shoulder the entire financial burden of tuition for anyone wishing to attend a public college.
Embracing the notion that the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with all manner of industry and economic activity are the major drivers of potentially catastrophic “climate-change,” SI contends that “97 percent” of all scientists “believe that human activity is the main cause of current global warming”; that “concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased to unprecedented levels, mostly from fossil fuel emissions since the beginning of the industrial age”; and that because “global temperatures are rising,” “ice sheets are melting and losing mass worldwide.” As temperatures “continue to rise,” the Institute warns, “extreme weather patterns” and “dangerous natural events” will become “more intense and frequent.”
SI calls for comprehensive immigration reform that would loosen border controls, increase the flow of foreigners into the United States, protect illegal aliens from deportation, encourage chain migration to “kee[p] families safe and together,” and pave the way toward amnesty for the millions of illegals currently residing in the U.S. Moreover, the Institute supports the “sanctuary” policies that hundreds of cities and towns have adopted to protect illegal aliens from law-enforcement authorities.
Favoring the establishment of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system, SI claims that the U.S. “spends much more of its GDP on healthcare,” with poorer health outcomes, than “other developed counties around the world [that] have a single-payer system.”
In addition to the aforementioned Jane Sanders and Stephanie Kelton, SI's founding fellows also include Robert Reich, Harry Belafonte, Cornel West, Bill McKibben, Danny Glover, Ben Jealous, Nina Turner (a Democratic political analyst), and Jeffrey Sachs (an economist who once had close ties to the billionaire philanthropist George Soros).
Bernie Sanders plays no active role in leading SI's day-to-day activities.
For additional information on SI, click here.
 SI argues that sanctuary policies serve to increase the likelihood that “unauthorized immigrants,” if they do not have to worry about being penalized for having violated immigration laws, will be more inclined to tell the police “if they are a victim of crime or a witness to it.”