'The Sanders Institute': Jane Sanders launches new progressive think tank

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. "Our Revolution," the political spinoff organization from the Sanders campaign, contributed seed money to launch the Institute that will be repaid once the nonprofit begins raising money for its work, Jane Sanders said. Bernie and Jane Sanders also contributed seed money from their personal funds.

"We'll be producing original content and telling the stories of the people we have met along the way and the issues that are of concern to them," Jane Sanders said in an interview. "We saw wonderful initiatives throughout this country in terms of dealing with the issues that are most important to various populations. And what we want to do is shine a light on them and think about how we can best replicate them."

Sanders said one area of focus for her will be Native American issues, and specifically the concerns she heard on reservations about inadequately funded and mismanaged Indian health services. She plans to go to Alaska to highlight the Southcentral Foundation's work to improve the health conditions of Alaska Natives as "a beacon for what can be done" in a cost-effective way in Indian health care and rural areas across the country.

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 institute will host a website with reports, op-eds, and original content from the fellows and from other individuals and organizations. This weekend, the institute and National Nurses United will offer four nonpartisan, political education seminars at the annual People’s Summit in Chicago, a major gathering for progressives. Bernie Sanders will be a keynote speaker at the summit.

Following his campaign last year, Sen. Sanders launched a spinoff political organization called Our Revolution, to help elect progressive candidates, support progressive causes and ballot issues, and carry out his vision for a “political revolution.”

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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