The Thirteen Foundation

The Thirteen Foundation


The Thirteen Foundation is run by Farris Wilks and his wife JoAnn Wilks, and has acted as a major funder of the religious right as well as organizations affiliated with the Koch brothers. Farris and his brother Dan Wilks made their fortune selling their hydraulic fracking business, Frac Tech, in 2011 for $3.5 billion to the Singapore government. According to Forbes, Farris Wilks and Dan Wilks were each worth $1.4 billion as of December 2017.1Farris Wilks,“ Forbes, December 30, 2017. Archived December 30, 2017. URL 2Dan Wilks,” Forbes, December 30, 2017. Archived December 30, 2017. URL

In 2011, Farris and JoAnn each contributed $50 million to The Thirteen Foundation. According toThe American Prospect, the foundation then gave gifts that “amount to a massive infusion of funds into some of the most aggressive right-wing organizations that are fighting legal equality for LGBT people, access to contraception and abortion services for women, and promoting the Tea Party’s vision of a federal government that is constitutionally forbidden from protecting American workers, consumers, and communities by regulating corporate behavior.”3 Peter Montgomery. “Meet the Billionaire Brothers You Never Heard of Who Fund the Religious Right,” The American Prospect, June 13, 2014. Archived December 30, 2017. URL:

CNN reported that John Francis, a family son-in-law, now heads the foundation, however “their philanthropy is very much a family affair. It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to face questions from a half-dozen Wilks family members when asking for money.”4 Theodore Schleifer. “First on CNN: Billionaire brothers give Cruz super PAC  million,” July 27, 2015. Archived December 31, 2017. URL

As noted at Inside Philanthropy, The Thirteen Foundation does not have a website and is low-profile, although tax filings are publicly available.5 Joan Shipps. “Farris Wilks: The Pro-Life Fracking Billionaire Bankrolling ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’,” Inside Philanthropy, December 22, 2014. Archived December 31, 2017. URL

Funding Climate Change Denial

Dan and Farris Wilks are two of the largest funders of PragerU (AKA “Prager University”). The Thirteen Foundation gave $1 million to the foundation in 2015, while Wilks has given at least $120,000 through the Heavenly Fathers Foundation, according to publicly available 990 forms reviewed by DeSmog.6 Bria Shea. “Fracking Titans Spend Millions Proselytizing School Children,” Rewire, April 30, 2015. Archived August 29, 2017. URL

PragerU, which by its own admission is not an accredited academic institution, was created by conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager who has “historically fought against what he describes as ‘liberal’ evils—marriage equality, feminism, and multiculturalism.” According to its 2014 annual report, PragerU was advancing with the specific goal of targeting middle school and high school children with its views.7 Bria Shea. “Fracking Titans Spend Millions Proselytizing School Children,” Rewire, April 30, 2015. Archived August 29, 2017. URL 8Frequently Asked Questions,” PragerU. Archived January 3, 2018. URL

The group’s “Environmental Science” course is dominated by climate change deniers such as Alex Epstein, Bjorn Lomborg, Patrick Moore, and Richard Lindzen.9What they Haven’t Told You About Climate Change,” PragerU, July 26, 2015.

Dennis Prager has called campus rape a  “gargantuan lie to get votes” and “nonsense” promoted by the “feminist left.”10NRO‘s Dennis Prager: Campus Rape Culture Is A ‘Gargantuan Lie to Get Votes,’” Media Matters, October 30, 2014. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Koch Network

The Thirteen Foundation has funded American Majority, the Franklin Center, the Heritage Foundation, and the State Policy Network, all which are also part of the Koch brothers’ political network.11Meet The Other Billionaire Brothers Funding Right-Wing Causes,” Crooks and Liars, February 11, 2014. Archived December 30, 2017. URL:


The Thirteen Foundation has been described as “one of the biggest and quietest anti-abortion donors in the United States.”12FYI: Major Anti-Abortion Groups Funded by Crusty Male Billionaire,” Jezebel, December 23, 2014. Archived December 31, 2017. URL:

The Thirteen Foundation has given more than $2 million to anti-abortion activist organisation Life Dynamics Inc. (LDI) since 2011. In 2013, Mother Jones documented the group’s tactic of sending thousands of DVDs to lawyers, enticing them to sue abortion doctors. The group was also known for its “intelligence” efforts.13 Kate Sheppard. “This Latest Effort to Close Abortion Clinics Is the Strangest One Yet,” Mother Jones, August 19, 2013. Archived December 31, 2017. URL:

Founder Mark Crutcher explained in a 2005 interview:14Q & A with: Mark Crutcher,” The Interim, April 2005. Archived May 25, 2005. URL:

“When I started Life Dynamics, one of the things I looked around for was what I perceived as holes in the (pro-life) effort. I had no interest in creating another pro-life organization to duplicate the efforts of the existing organizations. One of the things I noticed was that the pro-life movement had never developed a really sophisticated or professional counter-intelligence or intelligence-gathering mechanism. Everything we did on that front was somewhat haphazard and amateurish. That was something I knew something about …

I developed some of my own strategies for getting information … The revelations about the abortion industry being involved in the marketing of baby parts … We were the organization that brought that information out. We were undercover in an abortion clinic in Oberland, Ks. for 31 months and were able to come out with information and documentation to prove that there was this grisly trade in aborted parts of babies. Our child predator campaign was another investigation with aspects that were undercover.”15Q & A with: Mark Crutcher,” The Interim, April 2005. Archived May 25, 2005. URL:

LDI was also behind “The 800 Club,” a program that gave members the toll-free numbers of more than two hundred abortion providers. “Obviously, some pro-life activists may choose to repeatedly call these numbers for the purpose of harassing these abortionists or creating what might be called an ‘electronic rescue’ of the abortion mill,” a brochure describing the program suggested. In order to avoid identification, the brochure also hinted that such calls could be made from public pay phones.16 Eleanor J. Bader and Patricia Baird-Windle. Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism, St. Martin’s Press, February 10, 2015.

The Thirteen Foundation also gave over $2.2 million to Media Revolution Ministries, allowing the group to grow substantially. One of their efforts was to misdirect Google searches for abortion to pro-life centers through their initiative, OnlineforLife, which appears to have morphed into the Human Coalition. In 2011, Media Revolution Ministries’ budget was $80,000. It’s budget jumped by $2.4 million in 2012 after donations from the Thirteen Foundation.17Meet The Other Billionaire Brothers Funding Right-Wing Causes,” Crooks and Liars, February 11, 2014. Archived December 30, 2017. URL: 18 Sofia Resnick. “Navigating anti-abortion online strategy,” The Washington Independent, February 7, 2012. Archived July 21, 2014. URL:


The Thirteen Foundation gave $1.4 million to Focus on the Family. The group’s vice president has called the gay rights movement “one of the great threats to our religious liberty.” The Foundation also gave $859,000 to The Family Research Council, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-gay hate group.19 Miranda Blue. “Focus On The Family Spokesman: ‘Organized Homosexuals’ Ushering In ‘New Era Of Intolerance’,” Right Wing Watch, March 18, 2014. Archived December 31, 2017. URL: 20FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL,” Southern Poverty Law Center.

Stance on Climate Change

The Thirteen Foundation does not appear to have a stated stance on climate change, however, a number of groups that they fund have spent money denying the existence of man-made climate change. The State Policy Network supports the work of many of the most vocal think tanks that are promoting climate change skepticism including the Heartland InstituteCato Institute, and Heritage Foundation

PragerU (Prager “University”) has a wide range of videos promoting the views of climate change deniers including Alex Epstein, Patrick Moore, Richard Lindzen, Bjorn Lomborg, and others. PragerU is also anti-abortion.


The following is based on data collected from publicly available 990 forms, and from the Conservative Transparency project. Note that not all individual funding values have been verified by DeSmog.

See the attached spreadsheet for additional information on The Thirteen Foundation’s funding by year (.xlsx).21The Thirteen Foundation,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed December 30, 2017.

990 Forms

Key People

According to publicly available 990 forms:

Farris WilksYYYYYYTrustee
JoAnn WilksYYYYYYTrustee
Jonathan Francis  YYYYExecutive Director
  • The Heavenly Father’s Foundation, run by Farris’s brother Dan Wilks, funds many of the same Far-Right organizations.

Contact & Address

According to the Thirteen Foundation’s 2015 990 tax forms:

The Thirteen Foundation
17010 Interstate 20
Cisco, TX 76437
Ph: (254) 850-3600

Social Media

The Thirteen Foundation is not active on social media, and does not maintain an online presence.

Other Resources



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