For decades now, the Mott Foundation has stuck with the hard work of strengthening civil society in post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Ukraine is among those places where it's focused funding and despite the ongoing conflict there, Mott hasn't pulled the plug. Recently, Mott continued its support for the country's educational system with a recent $90,000 grant to the Ukrainian Step by Step Foundation (USSF).
USSF is an outgrowth of the Step by Step Foundation, which was established in 1994 with the help of the Open Society Foundations—another funder that has stuck with the marathon project of unwinding powerful statist legacies in the former communist world.
The underlying democratic principles of USSF and the organization’s promotion of civil society closely parallel the giving priorities of Mott's civil society grantmaking program. An additional major focus of USSFs work is to ensure that all children have equal access to high quality education—something that has become increasingly difficult as conflict rages on in Ukraine.
At the end of last year, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine left nearly 150 schools closed in parts of Donetsk Oblast alone. A current situation report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs puts the number of damaged schools in the region at just around 475, with at least 10 fully destroyed. Making matters worse, reports on the number of internally displaced children dropping out of school are unclear. In other words, the future of Ukraine’s education systems is riddled with unknowns and conflict-dependent variables.
The Mott Foundation awards around 150 civil society grants each year totaling a little under $20 million on average. Recent examples include a $450,000 gift to the Community Foundation Development Program to support its capacity building efforts in Romania and a $200,000 grant to Sarajevo-based Mozaik Foundation in support of expanding its YouthBank model.
There aren’t a whole lot of funders that are supporting the growth of global philanthropy, so Mott’s work is pretty significant here.