OVERVIEW: The Ford Foundation is among one of the largest grantmakers in the world. It makes tens of millions of dollars in grants annually to organizations that promote economic, political, and social development in vulnerable regions around the world.
IP TAKE: Since its restructuring, funding is more competitive than ever. Ford also offers general support and prioritizes a handful of grantees.
PROFILE: Established in 1936, the Ford Foundation was established in order to advance human welfare by addressing inequality across its various forms. According to Ford president Darren Walker, this refocus occurred because “[i]nequality, in all its forms, represents the greatest impediment to just, fair, and peaceful societies that offer opportunity for all.” Ford's giving is derived from the idea that "[s]ocial movements are built upon individual leadership, strong institutions, and innovative, often high-risk ideas." Identifying five major drivers of inequality, Ford seeks to ameliorate the human condition.
Grantseekers interested in global development should consider Ford’s programs in Civic Engagement and Government, Equitable Development, Gender, Race, and Ethnic Justice, Inclusive Economies, and Youth Opportunities and Learning, among other programs. While the foundation has offices around the world, grant seekers should familiarize themselves with Ford's geographic restrictions, particularly as they relate to specific programs.
As the foundation remains far-reaching and complex, grantseekers are advised to read Ford’s excellent website. Ford updates its major grantmaking priorities relatively often, and its site provides much information regarding its subprograms. In addition, the foundation has a grants database that grantseekers can search to get a sense of the kinds of groups it funds, where, and at what level.
Beyond its transparency, a key strength of the Ford Foundation is its accessibility. Any NGO can submit an online letter of inquiry to Ford, but grantmaking is very competitive. The foundation turns away about 99 percent of unsolicited grant proposals.
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