Funding Policy

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Schalkenbach Funding Policy

I. Purpose.

Our funding seeks to support projects that advocate ideas and programs compatible with Henry George’s philosophy of economic justice. George’s central thesis was that policies should avoid the perpetuation of unearned privilege, particularly those forms that allow economic rent, or socially-produced surplus, to be privatized. Henry George believed economic rent should be used for public purposes. (Economic rent is a technical concept, distinct from contract rent, such as what tenants pay to landlords for housing.)

Georgist thought does not conform to the political philosophies of either the Left or the Right. We favor free markets, but we criticize the concept of absolute ownership of land (real property other than improvements) that so often characterizes conservative and libertarian thought. We favor policies that would create equality of opportunity, but not through education, union organizing, economic planning, welfare programs, land reform, or other regulations or subsidies that have been favored by progressives.

We propose to reformulate property rights to ensure that market-generated income is earned. That is quite different than allowing some income to be earned unjustly and then redistributing all sources of income without a clear moral principle for doing so, which is what current broad-based taxes do.

In our funding we are looking for applicants who have an understanding of these issues and who recognize that Georgist philosophy represents a “third way” that is distinct from capitalism and socialism or from progressive and libertarian ideals.

Because Georgist philosophy is not widely recognized as a comprehensive social theory on a par with public choice theory, socialism, or progressive thought, our major aim is to enhance the visibility and credibility of Georgism as a theoretically viable approach to analyzing and resolving social problems.

Generally, we make funds available in the $2,000 to $6,000 range for projects to be completed within a year.

II. Specific projects.

We are looking for two types of projects 1) research and 2) policy applications:

TYPE 1: Research Projects:
Deepening the Georgist Perspective

The Foundation funds research projects that deepen understanding of how Georgist principles are connected with issues and debates in the social science or humanities disciplines. Applications which seek to expand theoretical and emprical knowledge about issues listed below and other relevant topics will be considered. This may be done either by expanding upon the implications of Georgist thought on these issues or by showing how Georgist thought relates to another intellectual tradition (pragmatism, republicanism, socialism, romanticism, conflict theories of society, postmodernism, or any of dozens of other traditions). We have only a weak interest in research that pertains to Henry George as a writer, speaker, mayoral candidate, etc. Our aim is to build upon his ideas, not to celebrate his life. The following are a sampling of the topics on which we would like to fund research:

Sociology and urban planning
Development studies
Critical theory
Philosophy and jurisprudence
Political theory

TYPE 2. Policy-oriented projects.
Promoting Georgism as a Practical Philosophy

The Foundation funds policy-oriented projects that demonstrate how Georgist philosophy yields practical results in a variety of policy settings. Traditionally, the Foundation has primarily supported projects which advocate a gradual tax shift from buildings to land within the context of local property tax reform. At present, the foundation wishes to expand the areas in which it will consider policy-oriented applications. Proposals of this type should demonstrate the capacity not only to evaluate the likely consequences of a policy but also to identify the businesses, advocacy groups, and other organizations that might be mobilized on its behalf, and the arguments that might be used to persuade them to join a coalition.
We would like to support projects that:

Property tax issues
Natural resources and the environment
Fiscal policy
Intellectual property and the commons
International Development

III. Application procedures; letter of inquiry.

Applicants who are are not prior recipients of a Schalkenbach funding should first submit a one-page letter of inquiry by email. The letter of inquiry should indicate the general nature of the proposed project and the amount of funding that will be requested. Above all, it should indicate specifically how the project will advance the aim of the foundation in promoting the ideas of Henry George either in policy-oriented activities or intellectual research.

To reiterate, we are not primarily interested in projects that deal specifically with Henry George as a person. It is his ideas that matter, and we believe that many of them are still relevant today. We are looking for proposals that can offer an original way of presenting George’s ideas as solutions to current problems of a practical or intellectual nature.

We also encourage applicants to pursue a variety of topics and issues rather than focusing on the two-rate property tax as the sole practical consequence of Georgist philosophy. Proposals that promote that idea will continue to be considered, but they will be given lower priority than other policy-oriented proposals.

Finally, we are not generally receptive to applications for projects that are primarily libertarian in orientation. There are other foundations, with more resources than ours, that support libertarian projects and/or research on public choice theory.

After we receive your letter of inquiry, we will respond within about three weeks either with a recommendation to proceed with a formal proposal or a preliminary rejection.

How To Apply for Funding

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