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"PIRG" redirects here. For the Albanian municipality, see Pirg.
Logo of U.S. PIRG
Motto Standing up to powerful interests
Formation 1971
Founder Ralph Nader[1]
Type Advocacy organization
Website uspirg.org

Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) refers to a federation of U.S. and Canadian[2] non-profit organizations that employ grassroots organizing and direct advocacy with the goal of effecting liberal political change.[3]


The PIRGs emerged in the early 1970s on U.S. college campuses. The PIRG model was proposed in the book Action for a Change by Ralph Nader and Donald Ross. Ross helped students across the country set up the first PIRG chapters, then became the director of the New York Public Interest Research Group in 1973.[4][5]

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, founded in 1971, was the first state PIRG to incorporate.[6] It was followed by Oregon (OSPIRG) and Massachusetts (MASSPIRG). The PIRGs were supportive of container deposit legislation in the United States, popularly called "bottle bills".[7]

In 1982, the PIRGs established the Fund for the Public Interest as its fundraising and canvassing arm.[5]

Funding model[edit]

PIRGs on college campuses have historically been funded with a portion of student activity fees in the form of a labor checkoff. Students may elect to have the fees refunded to them, although many students are unaware that this is the case. This system of PIRG funding has been met with controversy and with a number of legal challenges.[5] In 2014, students at Macalester College in Minnesota voted to end their relationship with MPIRG due to the group's revenue structure, which relied on MPIRG automatically receiving a cut of student activity fees.[6]

Policy positions[edit]

U.S. PIRG lobbied for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an independent U.S. government agency which was founded as a result of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the wake of the late-2000s recession and the financial crisis.[8]

The PIRGs have worked to make same-sex marriage legal, to increase the minimum wage, to enact increased environmental regulations, and to oppose Voter ID laws in the United States.[6]

Transparency rating[edit]

Charity Navigator rated the U.S. PIRG one out of four stars for accountability and transparency, and two out of four stars for financials.[9]

Affiliated nonprofits[edit]

Some PIRGs are members of a larger network of non-profit organizations called the Public Interest Network.[10] In the past, they have also helped to launch a number of other independent public interest non-profits, including Green Corps, the Toxics Action Center, Environment America, Environmental Action, and the National Environmental Law Center. In 1992, the U.S. PIRG launched Green Corps, an environmental organization that trains recent college graduates in a one-year post-graduate program.[11] On November 5, 2007, Environment America separated from the state PIRGs and announced its intention to take control of the organization's national environmental advocacy program.

State affiliates[edit]

State PIRGs include:


  1. ^ Rosiak, Luke (July 15, 2009). "The Liberal Sweatshop". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "OPIRG: Welcome to the Provincial Network". 
  3. ^ Ali, Ambreen (September 15, 2011). "Liberal, Conservative Groups Join to Find Spending Cuts". Roll Call. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Nader, Ralph; Donald Ross (1972). Action for a Change: A Student's Manual for Public Interest Organizing. New York: Grossman Publishers. ISBN 0-670-10319-5. 
  5. ^ a b c Mayer, Robert N. (2015). Watchdogs and Whistleblowers: A Reference Guide to Consumer Activism. ABC-CLIO. p. 389. ISBN 9781440830006. 
  6. ^ a b c Verges, Josh (November 19, 2014). "Macalester College students reject MPIRG on campus". Pioneer Press. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Lanier Hickman, H. (2003). American Alchemy: The History of Solid Waste Management in the United States. ForesterPress. p. 386. ISBN 9780970768728. 
  8. ^ "The Hill: Top 10 Lobbying Victories of 2010". Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Charity Navigator Rating - U.S. PIRG Education Fund". Charity Navigator. 
  10. ^ "Public Interest Network". 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  11. ^ "About Green Corps". Green Corps. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Interest_Research_Group — Please support Wikipedia.
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RU Daily Targum

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Sun, 01 May 2016 21:30:00 -0700

Courtesy of Eirene Oji | February 2016 | The New Jersey Public Interest Research Group kicked off their campaign to have KFC not use antibiotics preventatively last January. Rutgers students have maintained its history of activism with the local ...

New York Daily News

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Sun, 01 May 2016 18:30:00 -0700

It's like what Willie Sutton said when asked why he robs banks — that's where the money is,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. Five of the seven firms were subpoenaed last year by state Board of Elections Chief ...

Wall Street Journal

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Sun, 01 May 2016 18:07:17 -0700

Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said Mr. Percoco's apparent involvement in budget talks creates cause for concern. “He's still red hot from having just left the governor's office, and the governor should ...

Niagara Gazette

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Sun, 01 May 2016 13:20:12 -0700

"It's an election year," said Blair Horner, of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "Lawmakers are going to have to go back to their constituents and say 'Yes, I voted for those legislative leaders that are now in the slammer.' And they're ...
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Thu, 21 Apr 2016 09:57:05 -0700

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. “Seven months after news of Volkswagen's emission scandal broke, we're glad to hear that there is a 'framework' for a settlement in the ...

Gotham Gazette

Sat, 30 Apr 2016 09:18:45 -0700

"Everybody knows how it's played so you really don't have to be explicit," Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group said about earmarking contributions. Susan Lerner, of Common Cause, said it's a "systemic problem" and "should be ...
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Fri, 29 Apr 2016 15:41:15 -0700

“Girls shouldn't have to pay more because they like pink, but we know it's often true,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of the California Public Interest Research Group. “Products can cost more or less from many reasons, but it should not be based ...

Reason (blog)

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Sat, 30 Apr 2016 16:06:24 -0700

More than a quarter of U.S. government spending on surface transportation goes to mass transit, and yet mass transit accounts for less than 2 percent of total trips taken nationwide. The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Marc Scribner attributes this ...

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