OVERVIEW: The Open Society Foundations is a human rights and development funder that focuses on wide range of human rights and social justice issues, including LGBTI rights, with a focus on developing countries.
IP TAKE: Open Society's LGBTI grantmaking largely focuses on developing countries, particularly former Eastern Europe and Africa. However, it occasionally funds domestic LGBTI grantmaking. Grantseekers may simultaneously apply to multiple programs.
PROFILE: The Open Society Foundations is an expansive, wide-ranging human rights and development foundation headquartered in New York City and founded by well-known investor and philanthropist George Soros, . The foundation's original mission sought to aid formerly communist countries build their civil societies and transition to democratic rule. Today, Open Society works in over 100 countries, including the U.S.. As a result, the scope of its mission has expanded as it "work[s] to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people."
The foundation conducts the majority of its LGBTQI grantmaking through its LGBTI program, a subprogram of a broader Human Rights Initiative. The program seeks to "combat discrimination by empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities to promote and defend their human rights." It does so by supporting efforts in Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia and Georgia, though it recently offered support for organizations working on the area of gender diversity and transgender rights in Western Europe as well. Open Society also invests in African societies due to the particularly harsh repression that the LGBTQI community encounters in several parts of the continent. The foundation also facilitates LGBTQI grantmaking through its Public Health Program and Human Rights Initiative, albeit to a lesser extent.
Grants range up to about $50,000 and largely support international organizations; however, it occasionally supports domestic programs as well. Past grantees include the Astraea Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. Additionally, the Open Society Human Rights Initiative's Advisory Board includes among its members Astraea Executive Director Emeritus Katherine Acey.
It is unclear whether the foundation accepts unsolicited applications.
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