Looks Like Ford Is Getting Back Into Peace and Security Funding

The Middle East is in chaos, Russia and Ukraine stand on the edge of war, tensions are rising in East Asia, and any number of wars grind on in Africa. No wonder the Ford Foundation wants to get back into funding peace and security work after a five-year absence from this field. 

Ford's new president, Darren Walker, has said that he plans to move the foundation back into a grantmaking area where it once had a major footprint. That's according to a recent story on Walker in the Chronicle of Philanthropy: 

Mr. Walker also cites Ford’s history as an underlying factor in his plans to resuscitate grant making to peace and global security groups.

"It is an essential part of our history and legacy," he says. "We can’t simply decide we don’t want to do that anymore."

The foundation awarded 80 grants worth $8.9-million in 2009 to groups working to prevent conflict and the spread of nuclear arms—a small part of Ford’s overall grant making yet still enough to make it the fourth-largest donor to the cause, according to the Peace and Security Funders Group, a consortium of foundations that tracks such spending.

Ford’s contributions were important because program officers at the foundation had expertise in both scholarly research and the "beating the pavement" work of advocates spread across the globe, says Alexandra Toma, executive director of the group. She says Ford’s expertise and influence went beyond the dollars it spent.

Since 2009, the foundation has stopped giving to peace and security nonprofits.

"It was a big loss in capacity not only in terms of grant making but also in terms of the gravitas Ford brought and their ability to open doors," she says.

This is good news to a field that has too few friends among major foundations.

Ford is still working out the details of its reorganization, so stayed tuned on how any new peace and security portfolio might be structured.