Past Activities

Democratic Socialists of America Fund (DSA Fund) endeavors to demonstrate how an awareness of social democratic and democratic socialist values and policies would strengthen the quality of policy debates in the U.S. The Fund also works to introduce young activists to the history and traditions of democratic socialism. Some of the major projects we have undertaken in the past include:

  • In December 1980, IDS organized a three-day conference, “Eurosocialism and America” that brought over 2000 U.S.-based activists to D.C. to meet with the leaders of social democratic and democratic socialist political movements from Europe and the developing world to explore how democratic socialist policy alternatives could benefit the U.S. Speakers included Willy Brandt, Francois Mitterrand, Olaf Palme, and Michael Manley. Temple University Press published a volume of conference papers. The German Marshall Fund supported the organizing of the conference with a grant of $95,000.

  • In 1987, IDS organized “Justice for All,” a coalition of more than 90 organizations that used the 25th anniversary of the publication of The Other America to refocus attention on poverty. The coalition organized over 100 educational events and anti-poverty actions in 30 states on April 25, 1987.The activity contributed to the successful resistance to the Reagan administration’s proposals for “welfare reform.” The Public Affairs Foundation supported this project with a grant of $50,000. 

  • In 1993, the IDS brought trade unionists, doctors and parliamentarians from Canada to speak at public forums and press conferences across the U.S. on the applicability of the Canadian single-payer health care system to the U.S. The tour played a significant role in the creation of the single-payer movement. These events were supported by financial and in-kind help from several unions, including the United Automobile Workers (UAW).

  • From 1997-2001, YDS was the prime mover behind “The Prison Moratorium Project.” This project helped build a multi-racial student movement that demanded the end of prison construction and the transfer of these funds to public education. The project also pressured Sodexho, a major college caterer, to abandon its private prison business.

  • In spring 2003, in response to the widespread growth in poverty due the policies of George W. Bush’s administration, DSA Fund organized a public policy conference on “Mainstreaming Poverty” in Washington, D.C. The conference marked one of the earliest gatherings of progressives critical of Clinton’s “welfare reform” and of the Bush administration’s additional work requirement for TANF recipients. The opening forum featured Frances Fox Piven, Peter Edelman and other anti-poverty activists. The conference was co-sponsored by World Hunger Year.

  • IDS and DSA Fund have organized winter educational conferences and summer activist conferences for high school and college age activists since 1975. Over 10,000 young people have attended at least one of these events, supported by individual donor contributions. Our February 2012 conference, addressed by Cornel West, Frances Fox Piven, Steve Max, Michael Walzer and others, linked up over 200 activists from 40 universities and high schools with the Occupy Wall Street movement.