The Roma Initiatives Office works with Roma communities, organizations, and advocates to achieve Roma rights at European, national, and local levels. It works to achieve equal opportunities, combat segregation, and challenge all forms of discrimination faced by Roma. In addition, it facilitates dialogue, exchange, and collaboration across the Open Society Foundations to coordinate efforts, increase knowledge, and enhance the impact of Roma-related grant making and advocacy.
The program builds on the Foundations’ many years of support for Roma and pro-Roma civil society organizations to promote active citizenship and grassroots community participation. Substantive Roma participation is essential for meaningful progress on Roma rights, and Roma communities need to participate in the design, implementation, and monitoring of public policies that affect them. Effective and democratic Roma leadership is vital to this process.
The Roma Initiatives Office invests in building the capacity of an emerging generation of young men and women to take a leadership role by involving them in voter education and community mobilization campaigns, and providing training that gives Roma activists the skills and confidence to be a force for social change. It funds internships for Roma graduates in the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe. In partnership with the Roma Education Fund, it also provides opportunities for postgraduate study in the Roma Access Program run by Central European University in Budapest.
The Roma Initiatives Office works with a broad range of civil society partners to promote alternative images of Roma communities and culture, to repudiate racism, and to foster intercultural dialogue.