$25 Million Fund Launched to Advance Constitutionalism in South Africa

$25 Million Fund Launched to Advance Constitutionalism in South Africa

The Open Society Foundations, the Ford Foundation, and Atlantic Philanthropies have announced the launch of a $25 million fund to advance constitutionalism in South Africa.

The Constitutionalism Fund will support South African civil society organizations working to articulate and address the many challenges that South Africa, twenty years after adopting a constitution described as the world's most progressive, faces in delivering on its civil, political, and socioeconomic aspirations. The fund will award grants through three or four funding cycles over ten years, based on recommendations from an independent local selection panel to be chaired by former Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro. Selection criteria will include a strong leadership commitment to specifically address racial and gender transformation; the ability to partner and collaborate with other civil society organizations and social movements; and effective evaluation mechanisms.

"An active, representative civil society is crucial for advancing democracy, human rights, and social justice in South Africa," said OSF president Chris Stone. "On the twentieth year of our philanthropic presence in South Africa, we are very excited to be part of the development and implementation of this much-needed Constitutionalism Fund. It will help address the need for sustainable financial support as well as assist with building a second and transformed layer of leadership in South Africa's legal and other organizations that reflect the society that they serve." All three foundations have decades of grantmaking experience in South Africa.

"Our constitution sits at the very heart of our democracy, setting out the values and principles which we have chosen as a country to live by," said Mokgoro. "We also know that South Africa’s long-term stability and the progressive realization of those rights and values depend on the maintenance and promotion of the rule of law and key constitutional institutions. The next decade is likely to prove pivotal in the context of our evolving political democratic landscape, and thus the fund has the potential to play an important role in responding to our needs."

"New $25M Fund for SA Civil Society Groups Working to Advance Constitutionalism." Atlantic Philanthropies Press Release 02/05/2015.