Open Society commits $220 million to empower Black communities

Open Society commits $220 million to empower Black communities

The Open Society Foundations has announced a $220 million commitment in support of efforts to build power in African-American communities across the United States.

The largest portion of the funding, $150 million, will be awarded as five-year grants to Black-led justice organizations that have played a critical role in catalyzing and sustaining calls for racial justice and equity. Recipients include emerging groups such as Black Voters Matter and Circle for Justice Innovations, as well as more established organizations such as Repairers of the Breach and the Equal Justice Initiative

The remaining $70 million will support efforts to advance racial justice, including financial, advocacy, and technical assistance for city governments and local organizations working to reimagine public safety, move beyond the culture of criminalization and incarceration, and create safe, healthy, and racially just communities. OSF also will invest in efforts to foster civic engagement among young people by creating internship and fellowship opportunities focused on racial justice, democracy, organizing, and mentorship; ongoing work to fight voter suppression and disinformation and ensure safe and secure elections; and projects to establish truth commissions and other tools to promote racial healing.

As labor, racial, and social justice organizations prepare for a national "Strike for Black Lives" later this month, the foundation also will provide support to organizations working to improve labor conditions, especially for Black workers and other workers of color.

"This is the time for urgent and bold action to address racial injustice in America," said OSF deputy chair Alex Soros. "These investments will empower proven leaders in the Black community to reimagine policing, end mass incarceration, and eliminate the barriers to opportunity that have been the source of inequity for too long."

"We recognize that the struggle to dismantle systemic racism is an ongoing one; it has existed from the dawn of the republic to the present day and is embedded in every level of government and in our penal and justice systems," said OSF president Patrick Gaspard. "But the power surge of people who have taken to the streets to demand that this nation do better — people of all ages, from all backgrounds, and in every corner of this country — gives hope to us all."

(Photo credit: Black Voters Matter)