Joe Ricketts founded Opportunity Education Foundation in 2005 and has funded its operations ever since. Opportunity Education's mission is straightforward: to make quality education accessible to children in developing nations so they can improve their standard of living and work towards a brighter future.
In a world where too many children lack educational opportunities and resources, Opportunity Education provides everything from learning materials and curricula to televisions and teachers' guides – in short, the essential support that is critical to effective schooling. The foundation is also committed to helping teachers in the developing world by introducing effective teaching methods and providing tools for quality instruction and assessment. Through its Sister School Program, Opportunity Education connects teachers and students around the world, encouraging cultural awareness throughout the global community.
The largest non-government, secular organization providing elementary-school education in developing countries, Opportunity Education has to date touched the lives of some 500,000 students attending nearly 1,000 schools in 11 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Joe Ricketts founded The Ricketts Conservation Foundation to support the conservation of wildlife and wilderness areas, and to promote the importance of environmental stewardship as an enduring value. Underlying the Foundation's mission is the belief that conservation is everyone's responsibility.
As we move toward the future, government resources may not be sufficient to deal completely with environmental challenges, requiring private sector commitment to conserve our of wildlife and wilderness areas. By answering this need, and encouraging others to do the same, the Ricketts Conservation Foundation aims to make a difference in the quality of life enjoyed by future generations.
The Foundation's first project is a five-year, $6.5 million study aimed at restoring the Common Loon to its former habitats in the Western, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States.
Ricketts founded a non-partisan advocacy organization in 2010 called Taxpayers Against Earmarks that is widely credited with bringing about the current ban on Congressional earmarking. With this battle under its belt, the group expanded its focus to the broader fiscal challenges facing the country, changing its name to Ending Spending to reflect a more expansive mandate. With the nation facing a debt of more than $15 trillion, Ending Spending advocates for a balanced federal budget. Ending Spending's award-winning website connects engaged citizens with their elected officials to bring about its goals of smarter spending decisions and a smaller federal government.
Ricketts also founded the Ending Spending Action Fund, a political action committee registered with the Federal Election Commission. The Ending Spending Action Fund independently advocates for the election or defeat of candidates on the basis of a particular candidate's position on fiscal issues, regardless of party affiliation.