The Open Society Foundations in Georgia
The Open Society Georgia Foundation began its work in 1994, as the country was still dealing with the economic and political tumult that followed its independence three years earlier from the failing Soviet Union.
The foundation’s initial programs focused on helping Georgians weather the difficult economic and social transitions then underway—providing equipment, technology, and expertise to schools, universities, health care facilities, media outlets, and cultural institutions.
Subsequently, the foundation shifted its focus to broader support for local, independent, civil society groups that share our commitment to the values of democratic participation and government accountability. Today, Georgia’s civil society sector is flourishing in a way that has offset the threats posed by continuing political uncertainties.
To date, the foundation has invested over $85 million to support Georgia’s social and economic development. From helping the Georgian government fulfill its ambitions to integrate with the European Union to building support for human rights and good governance, the Open Society Georgia Foundation continues to fund and support a broad range of local partners working for positive change.
Nine Facts About Georgia and the Open Society Foundations
- More than 1,200 Georgians have received scholarships from the Open Society Foundations for university studies abroad, including at Central European University.
- To improve access to knowledge, the foundation invested $1 million to develop the first Georgian alphabet fonts for Microsoft, the first Georgian websites, and the first free fiber-optic internet access at Georgian universities.
- In August 2008, following Russian intervention in the conflict in South Ossetia, the foundation mobilized aid for displaced people, and supported efforts to record human rights violations.
- In 2005, the foundation launched Georgia’s first legal aid clinic in partnership with the Ministry of Justice. The clinic has provided more than 10,000 people, with free legal aid.
- To allow terminally ill patients die with dignity, the foundation introduced palliative care standards in Georgian hospitals, trained 300 doctors and nurses in pain management techniques, and opened two adult hospices, as well as the first hospice for children in the Caucasus.
- When a series of legislative amendments threatened electoral fairness in 2012, the foundation reacted by directing support to local civil society organizations working to mobilize opposition at a grassroots level. By coordinating the This Affects You Too campaign, the foundation helped protect Georgian democracy in a crucial election—one that yielded the first peaceful transfer of power by ballot box since independence.
- In 2012, graphic videos of prisoners being tortured in Georgia’s prisons were leaked to the media. The foundation subsequently helped develop a prison monitoring mechanism that has drastically reduced cases of inhumane treatment: in the past five years, not a single case of prison torture has been reported.
- From its establishment, the Open Society Georgia Foundation advocated for the deinstitutionalization of people with mental health challenges. The foundation has worked with local doctors to develop adequate outpatient care and establish Georgia’s first community-based treatment facility.
- Starting in 2011, the foundation helped mobilize local and international support for a government drive to eliminate Hepatitis C in Georgia, which began with a free treatment program in the country’s prisons, and then expanded into a successful nationwide effort.
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The Open Society Foundations in Armenia
For more than 20 years, the Open Society Foundations have been working with civil society leaders in Armenia to support justice reform, transparency, and measures to fight corruption.
The Open Society Foundations in Turkey
Since 2001, the Open Society Foundations have invested over $35 million in projects in Turkey, working with both independent civil society groups and with government agencies.
The Open Society Foundations in Ukraine
Ukraine’s International Renaissance Foundation is part of the Open Society Foundations and has been supporting Ukraine since 1990.