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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
Type Advocacy organization
Website uspirg.org

In the United States, Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) are non-profit organizations that employ grassroots organizing, direct advocacy, investigative journalism, and litigation to affect public policy.[1]


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 (NYPIRG) in 1973.[2][3]

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG) was the first state PIRG to incorporate, on February 17, 1971.[4] It was followed by Oregon (OSPIRG) and Massachusetts (MASSPIRG). Among other early accomplishments, the PIRGs were responsible for much of the container deposit legislation in the United States, also known as "bottle bills".

There are now state PIRGs in nearly 30 states. Most states are affiliated with USPIRG, but MPIRG and NYPIRG are not, in order to remain grassroots organizations. In addition, the state organizations sponsor a national lobbying office in Washington, D.C. U.S. PIRG, the Federation of State Public Interest Research Groups, is the network of independent, state-based, citizen-funded organizations that advocate for the public interest.

The PIRGs employ nearly 400 full-time staff, including organizers, attorneys, and policy analysts.[5]


At the national level, the PIRGs campaign around the following issues:[6]

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau[edit]

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent U.S. government agency, 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 economic meltdown. Its goal is to protect consumers and reform the financial sector. U.S. PIRG's role in passing the bill was applauded as one of 2010's top ten lobbying victories.[7]

Promoting civic engagement[edit]

The New Voters Project is the PIRGs' project to help register young voters and turn them out to the polls. Since 1984 the project has helped to register more than 1.7 million young people to vote.[8]

State affiliates[edit]

The following is a list of the state PIRGs:[9]

Other public interest groups[edit]

The PIRGs are members of a larger network of non-profit organizations called the Public Interest Network, a coalition of independent groups that fosters new and existing organizations that work to make corporations and government more responsive to the public interest.[10] The PIRGs have also helped to launch a number of other independent public interest non-profits, including Green Corps,[11] the Toxics Action Center, Environment America, and the National Environmental Law Center.

PIRGs in Canada[edit]

Canadian PIRGs are unaffiliated with U.S.-based PIRGs and are, for the most part, based around college campuses.[12] They also operate on a different model; for example, Canadian PIRGs have a very different political agenda and employ a consensus decision making model.[13] Canadian PIRG chapters are independent of each other, despite efforts toward collaboration.[14]


  1. ^ "U.S. PIRG: About Us". Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "Public Interest Projects: History". Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "About MPIRG". Minnesota Public Interest Research Group. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  5. ^ "U.S. PIRG: About Us". Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  6. ^ "U.S. PIRG: Issues". Retrieved October 10, 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Hill: Top 10 Lobbying Victories of 2010". Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ "New Voters Project: History". Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ "U.S. PIRG: Find Your State". Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Public Interest Network". 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Green Corps: History and Mission". 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Canadian PIRGs". Retrieved October 8, 2012. 
  13. ^ "About OPIRG York". 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Canadian PIRGs". 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 

External links[edit]

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