Mott Backs Efforts to Bolster South Africa’s Beleaguered Human Rights Movement

You can't help but admire the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for its staying power. For decades now, its Civil Society grantmaking program has taken on the singular mission of strengthening civic life in key parts of the world. Its goal—make NGOs more effective vehicles for civic engagement and local community development. The main global regions of focus for the program are Central/Eastern Europe, Russia, South Africa, and the United States.

While Mott has bugged out of Russia, largely due to its inclusion on a Russian short list of undesirable organizations, the foundation remains active with its civil society grantmaking in its other stated regions of focus. One of the more recent grants through Mott’s Civil Society program is a $150,000 gift to the Foundation for Human Rights to secure the group’s long-term sustainability.

With a little help from the E.U., the Foundation for Human Rights was established in 1994. Initially operating as a pure grantmaking civil society organization, it has since grown into “one of the primary indigenous grant makers to the human rights sector in South Africa,” which falls neatly into Mott’s Civil Society funding wheelhouse.

According to the senior vice president of programs at Mott, encouraging and increasing civic participation at the local level continues to be a major through-line in the foundation’s work as it helps “people to have a voice in decision making and to more constructively and effectively shape their societies.” And programs to develop philanthropy in local communities “are unlocking and increasing local resources for charitable activities and exploring new forms of charitable giving.”

Related: Sticking with It: A Closer Look at Mott’s Long Push to Strengthen Civil Society

Mott's latest grant to the Foundation for Human Rights marks the third time in as many years that the foundation has thrown its support behind the organization. In addition to fostering its long-term sustainability, the grant will also support the group’s ongoing work to “improve awareness of constitutional rights with an emphasis on socioeconomic rights and on vulnerable groups,” and promote democratic participation in the region.

There aren’t a whole lot of funders out there promoting philanthropy globally. Mott’s ongoing dedication to this space is noteworthy, but it makes sense, given Mott’s strong belief that all people work in partnership with their local communities.