Open Society Foundations to Invest $50 Million to Support Civic Engagement of Women and Youth
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Open Society Foundations will invest $50 million to boost nonpartisan civic engagement among women and young people—two diverse and historically underfunded communities who are central to building a multiracial, multiethnic, and multifaith democracy in the United States.
The funding will provide scaled support to women’s and youth organizations, including those focused on engaging Black women and younger women of color.
The active participation and leadership of these constituencies is especially important in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade, rolling back a constitutional right that impacts everyone and had been in place for nearly a half century. Women and young people have turned out in force to vote on state and local measures—from Kansas to Michigan, and recently, in Virginia and Ohio—to protect reproductive rights and stop states from implementing onerous restrictions on women’s reproductive rights and health.
Open Society’s investment will go to building the capacity of women’s groups and enhancing their ability to lead, engage, advocate, and litigate on issues ranging from voting and abortion rights to advancing an economic agenda that includes support for paid leave, child, elder and home care, and disability.
In addition, some of the funding will bolster organizations engaging young voters and supporting their nonpartisan advocacy efforts on issues such as voting rights, gun safety, reproductive freedom, LGBTQI+ rights, and climate change.
“This investment comes at a key moment in our history, when women and young people are central to protecting and, critically, to reimagining, our democracy,” said Laleh Ispahani, the executive director of Open Society-U.S. “This investment in further building the capacity of a selected set of organizations and supporting women leaders enables these critical partners to do bolder advocacy, more litigation, and to more fully engage on a range of issues on a nonpartisan basis. Their engagement offers us the best opportunity to deliver a democracy that is a better version of itself.”
Funding for this effort will be provided by separate 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations within the Open Society Foundations network. Open Society Policy Center (OSPC) is the 501(c)(4) funder.
“Ensuring that all communities have the tools they need to maximize both individual and collective engagement in our society creates a more vibrant American democracy for everyone. This historic investment will help ensure that the voices of women and our young people are heard, valued, and included in this critical work,” said Leah Daughtry, a co-convenor of Power Rising, an organization that seeks to advance racial, gender, and social justice on a nonpartisan basis.
“Run for Something Action Fund is so grateful to Open Society Policy Center for its sustained investment in our nonpartisan work recruiting and supporting thousands of young diverse leaders running for state and local office,” said Amanda Litman, co-executive director of Run for Something. “The millennial and Gen Z leaders we recruit, who are a majority women and a majority people of color, are doing the hard work of engaging their communities and rebuilding our democracy from the ground up. Their leadership has never been more important as they fight to protect and expand abortion access, stop book bans, and engage young voters in authentic ways. We'll have their back; we're so glad OSPC has ours.”
“The Open Society Foundations’ generous commitment of $50 million ignites an unprecedented pathway for youth and women's activism. This is more than funding; it’s a resounding vote of confidence in our young and women changemakers’ untapped potential and visionary power,” said Dakota Hall, the executive director of the Alliance for Youth Action. “As we embrace this transformative moment, we're not just part of history but actively forging it. This investment is a call to action, ushering in an era where silenced voices take the lead, and our collective organizing shapes a future with limitless possibilities.”
These new investments build on Open Society’s earlier multiyear investments in Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous communities, and are part of a multi-year strategy to build a pro-democracy alliance in the United States by shoring up support for organizations sometimes overlooked by philanthropies in the past.
Earlier investments include:
- A $220 million investment in Black-led organizations and leaders pressing for racial equity and justice, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
- A $100 million commitment to Latino organizations that strengthen nonpartisan Latino civic engagement and support immigrants' rights organizations.
- A $52.8 million commitment to Indigenous and Asian communities.
This $50 million investment comes alongside a recently announced $25 million commitment to women’s rights globally, through an Open Society commitment to the Women’s Political Leadership Fund, supporting nonpartisan work around the world that empowers women leaders fighting for human rights, equality, and democratic values.
Bolstering Women and Youth, Linchpins of Democracy
Philanthropy has historically underfunded women and youth. Open Society’s new $50 million investment in their engagement addresses that imbalance—and builds on recent surges in civic engagement crucial to the future of American democracy.
Art and Activism
Reimagining January 6th
The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol left him in a cold sweat. Creating a comic book seemed like one way to reach people not obsessively following the news and spark activism to help defend a multicultural democracy.
How Resilience Workers Help Combat the Climate Crisis
After climate disasters hit, migrant workers play a key role in rebuilding U.S. cities. But in this multibillion-dollar industry, they face abuse and exploitation. Now, they're fighting to have their rights recognized.