The Open Society Institute will give $100 million to help communities in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union hardest hit by the global economic downturn.
“I believe it is the duty of those who have the means to step in to help,” said Open Society Institute chairman George Soros. “My foundation has a long commitment to the region. I wanted to do what I can, although I know it cannot alleviate the suffering.”
The funds are a one-time gift to be spent over the next two years in the Balkans, the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Ukraine.
Many of the target countries are new members of the European Union that have had to slash budgets in the face of turbulent economic times. In addition, many donors have pulled out of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
“We want to help those communities most at risk. My priority is helping young people. We need to help the next generation,” Soros said.
A committee made up of people from Eastern Europe will evaluate the severity of the crisis in each country. In cooperation with Soros foundations located in the 20 countries, the group will consider proposals for funding.
“No funding decisions have been made yet,” Soros said. “But projects could range from support to keep children in school to shelters to cultural institutions at risk of failing.”
The countries eligible to receive funds are Albania, Armenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan and Ukraine.