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OSI Grantees Ensure Stimulus Brings Opportunity to All

The Open Society Institute today announced grants to nonprofits in six states to monitor stimulus spending, encourage public participation in state-level decisions, and advocate for an equitable distribution of recovery funds. Coalitions in California, New York, Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Mississippi will each receive up to $500,000 over two years for their efforts.

"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is the largest federal spending package in history, and it demands close scrutiny," said Ann Beeson, executive director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute. "Strong oversight and advocacy at the state level is critical to ensure that the recovery brings opportunity to all Americans."

In New York, the New York Stimulus Alliance has held meetings across the state to review new stimulus jobs data from the federal government, and to invite testimony from their members to learn how the recession has affected them and what needs to done so that stimulus spending reaches all communities. Texas groups will generate a twice-yearly "Accountability Report Card" spotlighting the performance of local and state agencies in transparency and spending as compared to other states. The Recovery Watch Maryland Alliance will develop a set of criteria to evaluate the state's Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding proposals with an eye toward advancing opportunity across the state.

In each state, the grants were structured to bring groups that focus on data collection and policy analysis together with community-based groups.

 "Working together, these organizations are a formidable force for change because they can advance policies that are responsive to the needs of the people most affected by them," Beeson said.

Beeson also said the grantmaking was designed with an eye toward restoring confidence in government.

"Transparency and equity are core values of an open society, and this is a pivotal moment for both in the United States," she said. "The success of the federal stimulus depends upon the ability and willingness of people to hold decision-makers accountable."

The funds will be awarded by the Foundation to Promote Open Society, a sister organization of the Open Society Institute. The grants are part of a number of new initiatives the foundation has recently launched in the United States. U.S. Programs recognizes that the challenges to open society are deeply linked, and supports efforts that bring people together across issues and communities to address them.

A list of organizations within each coalition follows. A second round of grants will be announced in December.

Budget allocation by state partner groups*

$500,000, 2 years

The California coalition includes the PowerPAC Foundation ($100,000); California Alliance ($225,000); Equity California ($75,000); Mobilize the Immigrant Vote ($75,000).

New York
$500,000, 2 years

The New York Stimulus Alliance includes Make the Road NY ($140,000); Common Cause NY ($60,000); Gamaliel NY ($80,000); National People's Action New York ($60,000); New York Immigrant Coalition ($60,000); Community Voices Heard ($80,000).

$500,000, 2 years

The Texas alliance includes the Texas Impact Education Fund ($101,000); Texans Together ($80,000); Sierra Club TX ($70,000); Texas Legal Services ($42,000); The Texas Observer ($50,000); La Fe Policy Research and Education Center ($50,000); Public Citizen TX ($40,000); Center for Public Policy Priorities ($22,000); Texans for Public Justice ($16,000). 

$470,000 2 years

The coalition of groups in Wisconsin includes State Voices ($25,000); Wisconsin Citizen Engagement Project ($30,000); Institute for Wisconsin's Future ($90,000); WISDOM ($70,000); Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund ($60,000); Wisconsin 9to5 ($30,000);  Wisconsin League of Young Voters Education Fund ($40,000); Midwest Environmental Advocates ($10,000); Voces de la Frontera ($20,000); Wisconsin Council on Children and Families ($20,000); Institute for One Wisconsin ($15,000).  

$442,000, 2 years

The Mississippi alliance includes Community Policy Research Training Initiative ($232,500); Mississippi Economic Policy Center ($30,000); Mississippi Low Income Childcare Initiative ($25,000); Children's Defense Fund ($25,000); Mississippi Center for Justice ($10,000); MIT CoLab - national partner ($30,000) 

$500,000, 2 years

The Recovery Watch Maryland Alliance includes Progressive Maryland ($100,000);  Maryland Association of Nonprofits ($80,000); CASA de Maryland ($80,000);  Job Opportunities Task Force ($80,000); Safe and Sound: Baltimore's Campaign for Children and Youth, Inc. ($160,000).

*Non-partner specific allocations such as non-personnel expenses have not been included in the listing above.

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