Open Society To Grant $220 Million To Black-Led Nonprofits

The George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations will distribute $220 million to organizations and leaders in Black communities, including $150 million through a set of five-year grants to Black-led justice organizations that “helped to create and now sustain the momentum” toward racial equity.

“It is inspiring and powerful to experience this transformational moment in the racial justice movement,” Open Society Foundations’ President Patrick Gaspard said via a statement. “We are honored to be able to carry on the vital work of fighting for rights, dignity, and equity for oppressed people the world over started by our founder and chair, George Soros,” he said.

“The success of this movement, the largest in U.S. history, will be measured over years, not weeks, and we cannot say that Black lives matter and not make a multi-year commitment to a strategy set by and centering Black leaders and organizations who changed America’s sense of what is possible,” said Tom Perriello, executive director of Open Society-U.S.

Among the recipients of this set of investments are emergent groups such as Black Voters Matter and Circle for Justice Innovations; others are more established forces for civil rights such as Repairers of the Breach and the Equal Justice Initiative.

Open Society will also make a series of substantial investments, totaling $70 million, in more immediate efforts to advance racial justice, including:

  • Investments in a set of cities as they reimagine public safety, moving beyond the culture of criminalization and incarceration, and aiming to create safe, healthy, and racially just communities. Through financial support, advocacy, and technical assistance, Open Society will partner with local governments and local organizations, seeking, among other things, to strengthen local expertise in understanding and navigating municipal budgets.
  • A further set of investments will go toward nurturing the civic engagement of young people, many of whom have engaged in activism for the first time. With summer internships cancelled in a job market ravaged by COVID-19, and high schools and colleges uncertain whether they’ll be able to welcome students back to campus in the fall, Open Society’s funding aims to create opportunities for students to enroll in internships and fellowships that focus on racial justice, democracy, organizing, and mentorship.
  • Support for ongoing efforts to fight voter suppression and disinformation and ensure safe and secure elections in the midst of the pandemic.

In the coming weeks, Open Society will provide further information about these and other areas of investment, including support to emergent efforts to establish truth commissions and other tools to promote racial healing, as well as funding to improve conditions particularly for Black workers and other workers of color, as labor, racial, and social justice organizations prepare for a national “Strike for Black Lives” later this month.

Open Society launched its Racial Justice Initiative in 2003, and has steadily grown support for those addressing systemic inequality experienced by historically marginalized communities of color. In subsequent years, the foundations helped launch the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, investing nearly $20 million over several years, and gave $50 million to help the ACLU’s campaign to reduce mass incarceration.

Open Society-U.S. invested $25 million last year in multi-year grants to state organizations led by and accountable to people of color, and $15 million to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.