Milestones (from Pew Prospectus 2011)

Mar 31, 2011

The Pew Charitable Trusts, in concert with its partners, works to harness the power of knowledge in pursuit of the public interest. Driven by research and guided by an entrepreneurial spirit, our goal is to improve policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. These milestones highlight Pew’s key accomplishments during the last year.


The Trillion Dollar Gap revealed that there was a $1 trillion shortfall between the $2.3 trillion states had set aside to pay for employees’ retirement benefits and the $3.3 trillion price tag of those promises as of the end of fiscal year 2008. In the wake of the findings, more than a dozen states made substantial changes to rein in retirement plan costs.

The Public Safety Performance Project and its partners helped several states advance research-driven policies designed to produce a greater public safety return on corrections spending. They included South Carolina, where reforms were projected to save the state $241 million over the next five years while attempting to reduce repeat offending, and New Hampshire, which expects to save up to $161 million over the same period.

The Pre-K Now Campaign helped states grow their investments in prekindergarten to $5.4 billion for fiscal year 2011, an increase of just over 1 percent compared to FY 2010 levels.  Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia increased or kept constant their pre-k budgets, 15 doing so with control of government split between the parties, underscoring the policy’s bipartisan appeal. 

The Financial Reform Project played a critical advocacy role in the passage of sweeping financial reform legislation, which President Obama signed in July.  With research, convenings, radio and print advertising, Pew encouraged bipartisan congressional efforts to adopt reform.

Pew’s Election Initiatives advanced legislation in nine states to improve the voting process for military personnel and civilians overseas. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia implemented the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act and extended its provisions to state and local elections.  These new laws provide citizens abroad with ample time and multiple avenues for ballots to be sent, returned and counted.

The Election Initiatives team also worked with 19 states and the District of Columbia to give voters easier access to official election information, such as polling-place locations and directions, through innovative online tools. The information was viewed more than 10 million times in the months before the November elections.

Six states adopted the key recommendations of the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign report, The Cost of Delay, a 50-state analysis of dental policies that garnered wide attention from lawmakers, advocates and the media. The six states revised their Medicaid rules to reimburse physicians for preventive dental treatments for their youngest patients. 


The Pew Environment Group helped the Maldives create a shark sanctuary. Concurrent with a meeting of the general assembly of the United Nations, Pew brought together the presidents of Palau, which has also established a shark sanctuary, and Honduras to call on other nations to develop similar preservation areas

In Canada, Pew brokered an agreement between leading conservation groups and logging companies to protect 170 million acres of the boreal forest. In addition, the province of Ontario passed legislation protecting 110 million acres of the boreal and wetlands in the northern half of the province, a goal that was actively encouraged by the Pew Environment Group.

Pew’s Wild Australia program helped to enable the establishment of four new conservation areas in the Great Western Woodlands, totaling over 1.3 million acres.

Pew successfully encouraged the United Kingdom to establish the Chagos Archipelago Marine Park, prohibiting fishing in an area of the Indian Ocean that is twice the size of Britain and home to imperiled sea life.

After 20 months of Pew-led campaigning, the premier of Western Australia announced the establishment of the Great Kimberley Marine Park, which will be the second largest inshore marine park in Australia after the Great Barrier Reef, stretching over a coastline equaling that of Washington and Oregon.

Pew’s program to protect fragile Arctic ecosystems achieved considerable success, as the Obama administration withdrew Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the national offshore energy plan.  The move protects the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon run and more than 52,000 square miles of ocean from proposed offshore oil drilling until 2017.

Congress approved and President Obama signed into law the Shark Conservation Act, a longtime priority of Pew. It is the world’s most comprehensive shark finning policy for a major fishing nation and gives the United States credibility to persuade other countries and international fishery managers to follow suit.

In Canada, Pew successfully influenced a decision by the government to designate a new national marine park in Lancaster Sound. The region, one of three areas of focus for Pew’s Oceans North Canada team since 2009, contains what Canada’s environment minister, John Baird, has called an “amazing and inspiring” ecology.

In the southeastern United States, Pew won a major victory as U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke gave final approval to a recovery plan to rebuild the severely depleted population of red snapper. The plan includes a moratorium on red-snapper fishing in federal waters from North Carolina to Florida and closes 4,800 square miles of ocean where red snapper are most often caught accidentally when fishermen target other species.


The Food Safety Project led a coalition of consumer, public health and victims’ groups, as well as industry partners, that successfully urged Congress to pass historic legislation designed to protect Americans from food-borne illnesses.  The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was the first major update to federal oversight of the food supply since the Great Depression.

The Pew Prescription Project built support for the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, whose conflict-of-interest provisions were included in major health-reform legislation. By requiring pharmaceutical or medical device companies to publicly report gifts and payments they make to physicians, the Sunshine requirements create unprecedented levels of transparency about financial relationships between the industry and doctors.

ThePew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences marked its 25th anniversary and topped the 500 mark in the total number of early career scholars it has supported. In the past eight years, Pew Scholars have garnered three Nobel Prizes and many other prestigious awards.  Through the generosity of Kathryn W. Davis, Pew is expanding the program to include an additional 20 assistant-professor-level researchers over the next four years. 

Citing research and commentary from the Pew Safe Credit Cards Project, the Federal Reserve Board established guidelines to protect credit-card holders from excessive penalty charges and to ensure that fees set by issuers are reasonable. After reaching out to project staff to discuss its research, America’s second largest credit-card issuer discontinued all forms of penalty rate increases.

Thanks to work by Pew’s Human Health and Industrial Farming campaign, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration released the first government estimate of antibiotics sold for use in food animal production. The report showed that approximately 28.7 million pounds of these drugs are given annually to food animals, highlighting their extensive use in producing meat.

Pew and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation raised the national profile of health impact assessments as decision-making tools that identify the health consequences of new federal, state and local policies. The Health Impact Project funded 13 demonstration efforts across the country, including initiatives to determine the potential health effects of a subway planned in Los Angeles and to evaluate proposed state budget cuts in New Hampshire for their effect on public health.


The Pew Research Center’s Social and Demographic Trends Project released a report chronicling the changing shape of the American family over the past 50 years, finding that people in the United States today are less likely to be married than at any time in the nation’s history. Despite this decline, the survey found, Americans continue to place an exceedingly high value on marriage and their families. 

The Pew Research Center released an in-depth report on the political, cultural and religious views of the millennial generation and, in conjunction, hosted a national conference in Washington, DC. The media covered the study heavily, and a clever online quiz titled “How Millennial Are You?” was taken more than 324,000 times in 2010.

Polling in 22 nations by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project found that President Obama remains popular in most parts of the world, particularly for his handling of the world economic crisis.  International opinion about the United States has become markedly more positive in the past two years, with strong majorities in Western Europe, Russia, China, India and Japan expressing a favorable view of America.  The Muslim world, however, continues to harbor negative opinions about the United States, with only 17 percent each of Turks, Pakistanis and Egyptians saying they view America positively. 

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism issued its annual “State of the News Media” report, which continues to chronicle the economic turmoil in journalism. The report notes a 26 percent drop in newspaper advertising in the past year—losses so severe that they overwhelmed the efforts by traditional media to innovate and nonprofit alternatives to help fill the void. 

In its annual survey of the state of high-speed (broadband) Internet adoption in the United States, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project discovered that, after years of double-digit growth, broadband adoption slowed dramatically in 2010. The project also found that a majority of Americans say they do not believe that the spread of affordable broadband should be a major government priority. 

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life released a first-ever report on Americans’ religious literacy, which found that atheists and agnostics significantly outperform Christians on questions about the core teaching, history and leading figures of major faith traditions.  In the first 48 hours following the release of the report and a companion online quiz, received more than 1.2 million visits—the number the site usually sees over the course of a full year.

Africa appears to be the most religious continent in the world, according to a 19-country survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life that was co-funded by the John Templeton Foundation.  The vast majority of people in most sub-Saharan African nations are deeply committed to Christianity or Islam, yet many hold onto traditional African religious practices.  

A Philadelphia Research Initiative report on the city’s “crowded, costly jails” found that Philadelphia has one of the largest jail populations in the country on a per capita basis and that its spending on jails has doubled in the past 10 years. The study looked at steps taken in Philadelphia and elsewhere to control the size of the jail population without jeopardizing public safety.


The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage supported a total of 97 exhibitions, performances and events in the Philadelphia area this year. Many traveled to prestigious venues across the world.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, moved to the Tate Modern, London and to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Michelangelo Pistoletto: From One to Many, 1956–1974, is on its way to the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, Rome. 

The Cultural Data Project continued to grow and strengthen the cultural sector throughout the country.  Michigan became the eighth state to adopt the program, which brought the total number of project partners and funders to 145, with close to 10,000 cultural organizations participating.  Arizona, Rhode Island and Vermont have committed to launching the program in 2011.


The Pew Fund provided service-delivery funding to 120 nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area, allowing them to assist more than 75,000 individuals and families throughout the region.  In addition, the program helped 26 agencies strengthen their core capabilities in a number of areas.  These include having the right data to show how programs are performing, reliable financial reporting systems, and training to ensure that services align with best practices.

Under the leadership of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project, the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Consumer Alliance concluded its campaign to ensure that the commonwealth’s new licensure standards for assisted-living residences incorporate consumer-health and safety protections. The rules delineate a clear set of resident rights and define the core services that facilities must offer, enabling consumers to understand what they are purchasing and to compare among facilities.


Pew received support from 220 organizations and individuals to achieve common goals, ranging from strengthening the arts and cultural sector to international conservation. They include:

  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which joined with Pew to protect Canada’s boreal forest;
  • The John Templeton Foundation, which launched the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project to increase understanding of religions around the world;
  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which collaborated with Pew to combat childhood obesity and evaluate how policies governing the way Americans live and work can also affect public health;
  • The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and League of American Orchestras, which supported the Cultural Data Project operated by Pew.


The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Pew Research Center were referenced on the floors of the U.S. House and Senate more than 50 times in the second session of the 111th Congress and Government Relations staff disseminated our programmatic work to lawmakers and government officials in more than 400 personal meetings,

Pew joined the Joyce Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in providing financial support to the Library of Congress to conduct a three-day orientation seminar for 62 newly elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The incoming class was provided an overview of domestic and foreign policy issues likely to face the 112th Congress and a detailed seminar on legislative procedure.

In the U.S. Senate, Pew funded and managed an initiative for the chiefs of staff that provided programs on effective management and leadership. These key staffers met monthly to discuss their interest in reaching across the aisle while sharing and talking about best practices in their offices.


Planning and Evaluation participated in more than 70 planning engagements, that included supporting development of program strategies in U.S. wilderness protection and clean energy, overseeing an analysis of key trends in cultural organizations, working with the Children’s Dental Campaign team to articulate the direction for the next phase of its initiative and leading Pew’s annual planning process for 2010–2011.

The department completed an evaluation of the Philadelphia Research Initiative, which confirmed the initiative’s progress in producing timely and authoritative reports on important issues facing Philadelphia that benefit decision makers, the news media, and the public. 

Read more about Pew's work in Pew Prospectus 2011 (PDF).

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