Informing the Public

  • March 05, 2018

The Pew Charitable Trusts applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life, as these recent accomplishments illustrate.

The Pew Research Center

Pew began its support of the Center for the People and the Press in 1996. That center and other research groups Pew supported were brought under one umbrella in 2004 and became the Pew Research Center. A nonpartisan and nonadvocacy fact tank, it conducts surveys and analyzes data on the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the United States and the world. 

Since the center’s inception, it has become the go-to source for data on a wide array of topics, including trends in internet use, the role of Hispanics in U.S. life, and religious practices and attitudes around the world. The center’s reports are cited frequently by the news media, and staff members often brief policymakers and other public officials who rely on the data. 

The documentaries of Ken Burns

Helping the public understand events that have shaped American culture has long been part of Pew’s mission. After the success of filmmaker Ken Burns’ acclaimed 1990 documentary “The Civil War,” Pew awarded grants to Virginia-based PBS affiliate WETA to support his work. His five-part series “Baseball” explored how the game evolved and mirrored American society. The “American Lives” series chronicled Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, and other notable figures. “Jazz” offered a look at the significance of a uniquely American art form. “The War” probed the impact of World War II on the nation. And “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” told of the evolution and enduring importance of these iconic places. Most recently, Pew supported Burns’ 18-hour series “The Vietnam War,” released in September of 2017.

Leading institutions of research

Pew’s dedication to high-quality academic research began with the founding of the Hoover Center (later the Hoover Institution) at Stanford University in 1971—the first time Pew publicly attached its name to an investment. This early support for the think tank had a significant impact on its growth and success. Pew subsequently funded other major institutions that advance democracy, free markets, and international security—including the American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, and Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, all of which continue to inform public policy debates.