OVERVIEW: The Open Society Foundations' journalism-related priorities include protecting professional journalists, supporting citizen journalism, and exposing physical and/or legal harassment.
IP TAKE: Open Society announces periodic grant opportunities throughout the year and posts those opportunities on its website. As with all other grant programs from this foundation, grantseekers need to read through changing grant requirements to ensure their projects are a strong fit.
PROFILE: A network of democracy-promoting foundations established by George Soros from 1979 through the 1980s, the Open Society Foundations now boast a worldwide reach. The foundations’ grantmaking programs for journalism supports “promising initiatives led by individuals or collectives that strive to improve they journalism under difficult circumstances,” or “moments of great opportunity.” Open Society seeks to “build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.” For Open Society, 'difficult circumstances' refer to autocracy, violence, repression, and poverty. Similarly, ‘moments of great opportunity' refer to peace agreements, first democratic elections, and substantial social mobilizations. Its grantmaking related to journalism prioritizes activities that protect professional journalists, support citizen journalism, and expose physical and/or legal harassment.
Open Society's grants to support independent journalism and innovation fund individual-led or collective initiatives that strive to "improve their journalism under difficult circumstances, such as autocracy, violence, repression, or poverty—or in moments of great opportunity, such as first democratic elections, peace agreements, or massive social mobilizations." Moreover, the program funds groups that seek to engage "audiences, experiment with storytelling, develop new sources of revenue, or network with peers across borders or invisible frontiers set up by extremist groups or organized crime." It prioritizes initiatives that offer "transferable and replicable models in the field."
International organizations, startups, and information groups are eligible for Open Society journalism grants. Grants range widely from $150 to over $500,000. However, most grants typically fall between $5,000 and $50,000.
Open Society accepts unsolicited grant applications and letters of inquiry. The deadline for submissions is subject to change and tends to fall earlier in the calendar year. Interested parties should check the website often to remain abreast of changes.
- Christopher Stone, President
- Maria Teresa Ronderos, Director, Program on Independent Journalism
- Susan Valentine, Program Manager, Program on Independent Journalism