The Open Society Foundations have announced grants of $1.9 million each over two years to groups of nonprofits in Buffalo, San Diego, and Puerto Rico in support of efforts to secure greater justice and opportunity for residents of their respective communities.
The grants were awarded through OSF's new Open Places Initiative, which aims to increase marginalized communities' access to economic, civic, and political opportunities. In Buffalo, a group of nonprofits that includes Partnership for the Public Good, PUSH Buffalo, VOICE-Buffalo, and the Coalition for Economic Justice will work to create an economic development strategy that creates high-quality jobs, reduces the number of youth in the criminal justice system, and engages residents and artists to advocate for a more open and inclusive community. In San Diego, the Employee Rights Center, Center on Policy Initiatives, San Diego Organizing Project, California Endowment, James Irvine Foundation, and others will work to promote social and economic security for immigrants and formerly incarcerated individuals by improving their access to middle-income jobs, advancing policies that strengthen workers' rights, and engaging the social service sector to press for improvements in service provision by local government. And in Puerto Rico, the Center for a New Economy will partner with the ACLU of Puerto Rico, the University of Puerto Rico Law Clinic, and the Angel Ramos, Banco Popular, and Flamboyán foundations to increase government transparency, facilitate access to legal representation in civil cases, and create income supports and encourage savings for low-income residents.
The three sites were selected from among eight communities that were awarded planning grants last April and invited to participate in a competitive selection process. OSF plans to fund the sites for at least three years and, with the goal of effecting lasting change, may fund one or all of them for as many as ten.
"The Open Society Foundations have a long-term interest in addressing equality, justice, and democratic practice at the local level,” said Ken Zimmerman, OSF's director of U.S. programs. "By investing in collaborations between nonprofit organizations, and supporting them in their partnerships with government, business, and community, we aim to expand their potential to pursue effective responses to the profound demographic, economic, and technological changes that are taking place throughout the country."