OVERVIEW: George Soros’s Open Society Foundations maintain the broad aim of supporting democracy around the world. Its specific initiatives change frequently. Recent education funding has been directed at public schools and youth development in Baltimore, Maryland.
IP TAKE: Operating in over 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations support democracy around the world. K-12 education funding has focused on public education and youth development in Baltimore, Maryland. The foundations maintain an open, ongoing application process, but do not fund individual afterschool programs.
PROFILE: The Open Society Foundations represent the collective philanthropic enterprises of George Soros. The former hedge fund manager began working to “establish open societies in place of authoritarian forms of government” in 1979. Since then the Open Society Foundations have become the second largest private philanthropy in the U.S., with an endowment of $18 billion. Headquartered in New York City, the foundations maintain offices in 26 locations around the world and operate in over 100 countries. In addition to the broad goal of open societies, the foundations support respect for rule of law and the protection of the rights and civil liberties of all citizens, emphasizing the social and political enfranchisement of minority groups. The funding initiatives of the Open Society Foundations change frequently; recent programs have addressed criminal and juvenile justice, drug addiction and education and youth development in Baltimore, Maryland; crime reduction, security and human rights in Latin America; support for democracy in Eastern Africa and structural change and crisis response for the Roma peoples of Europe.
The Open Society Foundations fund K-12 education through the Education and Youth Development in Baltimore funding line. The programs initiatives are to maintain children’s connection to school from kindergarten through high school, to support school reform efforts and the creation of new schools, and to expand opportunities for learning when school is not session. One past grantee is Wide Angle Youth Media, an organization that promotes media arts education and through which students create films and other media that promote pathways to success. Another recipient is Strong City Baltimore, an advocacy group that aims to secure appropriate funding for Baltimore’s public schools.
Open Society’s education grants for the Baltimore initiative range from $20,000 to $250,000, supporting a variety of advocacy, research and outreach programs. The foundations do not support individual afterschool programs, focusing instead on city-wide efforts to improve student outcomes. A searchable database of grants is available on the foundations’ website.
The Open Society Foundations accept letters of inquiry on an ongoing basis via mail or email. Applicants generally receive responses within four weeks. Application guidelines are available at the Open Society website.
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