Every year, the Open Society Foundations give thousands of grants to groups and individuals that work on the issues we focus on—promoting justice, transparency, and open debate. We also engage in strategic human rights litigation and impact investing, while incubating new ideas and engaging directly with governments and policymakers through advocacy to advance positive change.
We take strong stands on controversial and at times unpopular causes, and we are willing to work in hostile and difficult environments. We shape our strategic priorities by listening to both local and global experts, drawing on the extensive network of advisory boards that support our foundations and programs. This decentralized structure allows us to pursue long-term strategies, and to respond nimbly and effectively to sudden crises that require emergency funding—such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversation between these global and local voices is an essential part of who we are.
A Global Network
Our president, Mark Malloch-Brown, and a eight-member Management Committee oversee the day-to-day work of our thematic and geographic programs. They also provide support and guidance to our global network of autonomous national and regional foundations.
The Global Board, chaired by our founder, George Soros, works with our leadership to develop and review strategies.
The Global Board is supported by the Network Advisory Council whose members come from the expert boards that support each of our programs and foundations.
Thematic programs engage in global issues, such as access to health care, education, and human rights. Geographic programs, such as Open Society-U.S. or our Asia Pacific Regional Office, address issues in specific countries or regions.
Supporting Independent Voices
Every year, the Open Society Foundations give over 2,500 grants to a wide array of groups both large and small. These grants can range from a few thousand to several hundred thousand dollars.
Advocating for Positive Change
We engage in direct advocacy to promote inclusive and just public policy at national, regional, and international levels. In the United States, these efforts are led by the Open Society Policy Center, a nonpartisan and nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. In Brussels, the Open Society European Policy Institute focuses on informing decision-making on European Union laws, policy, and funding. Advocacy teams across our network commission research on key issues, and draw on the deep expertise of both our grantees and staff.
Fostering New Thinking
Our fellowship programs offer support for one or two years to people pursuing innovative approaches to social change. Our program staff also commission independent experts to pursue research projects that define critical issues and explore new solutions.
Confronting Abuses in Court
The Open Society Justice Initiative includes a team of lawyers that has engaged in more than 60 strategic litigation cases before regional and United Nations human rights tribunals, seeking to achieve changes in law and practice that support Open Society’s broader mission.
Our social impact investment arm, the Soros Economic Development Fund, has deployed over $400 million in private-sector investments to advance the Foundations’ enduring commitments of equity, free expression, and justice.
Working With Governments
Delivering positive public policy change is ultimately the task of national government—and working with governments, legislators and civil servants around the world has always been part of what we do. Today, we help connect policy makers with global expertise, on issues as diverse as economic policy, judicial and constitutional reform, natural resource management, and climate change. We also support constructive partnerships between government and civil society groups—in line with the aspirations of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Over the past three decades, hundreds of new projects, organizations, and advocacy groups have been created out of our program work. The Natural Resource Governance Institute, for example, formerly known as Revenue Watch, began in the 1990s as an Open Society effort to promote transparency in the oil, gas, and mining industries.