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The Open Society Foundations in Germany

The Open Society Foundations are the world’s largest private funder of groups that work for human rights, justice and democracy around the world, working through more than 20 national and regional foundations, with an annual budget in 2019 of $1.1 billion.

Open Society Foundations in Berlin

The Open Society Foundations established a regional headquarters in Berlin in 2018, transferring operations from Budapest as the result of an increasingly repressive political atmosphere in Hungary. The office, with around 150 staff members, is a base for the Foundations’ local, regional, and global work on issues ranging from justice system reform to affordable and accessible health care for all to inclusion and social justice for Europe’s Roma communities.

Office Director

Goran Buldioski has been part of the Open Society Foundations for over ten years and currently serves as the director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe and director of the Open Society Berlin office. He is originally from Macedonia and previously worked for the Council of Europe, the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, and the National Youth Council of Macedonia.

Director of Institutional Relations

Selmin Çalışkan is director of institutional relations at the Open Society Foundations’ Berlin office. Çalışkan was previously the secretary general of Amnesty International Germany. Other organizations she has worked for include the European Women’s Lobby in Brussels, Medica Mondiale, the German Society for International Cooperation in Kabul, and the Diakonia.


The Open Society Foundations provided 33 German organizations with grants in 2018. In 2019, the total budget for our work in Germany was $1.3 million.

We support innovative thinking around challenges facing all Europeans such as fighting discrimination, improving access and inclusion in education and health, and preserving digital freedoms. Our work in Germany includes:

  • Establishing the Berlin-based European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture in 2017, the first arts institution of its kind focused on the work and history of Roma artists
  • Sponsoring multiple efforts to improve relations between Berlin school authorities and parents of children from a migrant background
  • Supporting the Research institute WZB Berlin Social Science Center’s work on democratic innovations in Latin America
  • Bringing the 2015 Documentary Photography Project’s “Watching You, Watching Me: A Photographic Response to Surveillance” exhibition to Berlin in 2017
  • Supporting Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte, the first NGO dedicated full-time to strategic litigation for human and civil rights in Germany
  • Challenging inaccurate information through support for Mediendienst-Integration, an organization that provides the German media with facts, figures, and science-based information on the topic of migration
  • Working with the Aspen Institute Germany to establish a German policy hub for think tanks from the Western Balkans
  • Helping the Berlin-based Center for Intersectional Justice make European antidiscrimination policies more inclusive and address structural inequalities, factoring in issues of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and disability
  • Sponsoring Neue Deutsche Medienmacher promote the participation of people with an immigrant background in the media industry
  • Collaborating with the Berlin think tank d|part in February 2019 to launch the research series “Voices on Values.” The series explores people’s views on open society values in Germany and other European countries
  • Supporting a range of Berlin-based advocacy and research organizations that work to strengthen the rule of law and democracy in Europe and globally. These organizations include the Civil Liberties Union for Europe, Transparency International and the Hertie School of Governance


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