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Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is a resource for innovative people and institutions worldwide. Our goals are to: strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation and advance human achievement. Created with gifts and bequests by Edsel and Henry Ford, the Foundation is an independent organization, with its own board, and is entirely separate from the Ford Motor Company.

A fundamental challenge facing every society is to create political, economic and social systems that promote peace, human welfare and the sustainability of the environment on which life depends. We believe that the best way to meet this challenge is to encourage initiatives by those living and working closest to where problems are located; to promote collaboration among the nonprofit, government and business sectors; and to ensure participation by men and women from diverse communities and at all levels of society. In our experience, such activities help build common understanding, enhance excellence, enable people to improve their lives and reinforce their commitment to society.

The Ford Foundation is one source of support for these activities. We work mainly by making grants or loans that build knowledge and strengthen organizations and networks. Since our financial resources are modest in comparison with societal needs, we focus on a limited number of problem areas and program strategies within our broad goals.

Since its inception it has been an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization. The trustees of the foundation set policy and delegate authority to the president and senior staff for the foundation's grant making and operations. Program officers in the United States, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Russia explore opportunities to pursue the foundation's goals, formulate strategies and recommend proposals for funding.

Peace and Social Justice Program

Peace is a precondition for the full achievement of the foundation's mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation and advance human achievement. Armed conflict destroys not only human lives but also livelihoods, governments, civil institutions, trust – in short, everything in its wake. Social justice is the aspiration of all healthy societies and the only long-term guarantee for sustaining peace. Policy, civic participation and the law are the principal strategies used by the Peace and Social Justice program, a network of some 50 program staff members based in two New York program units and our offices overseas.

The Governance and Civil Society unit of the Peace and Social Justice program, under the leadership of Michael A. Edwards, director, and Lisa Jordan, deputy director, works in two fields:

In Governance we strengthen the responsiveness of state and local governments, improve the ability of national government institutions to secure peace and social justice, and build democratic global governance in the arenas of international economics and human security. The unit supports efforts to improve government performance and accountability, build public awareness of budget and tax issues and confront the challenges posed by the trend toward government decentralization. Additional areas of work promote the value of political equality in America through sound reforms in electoral procedures and campaign financing. The global dimensions of governance are addressed through grant making to improve the management of the international economy and to prevent, mediate and address the consequences of conflict within and between nations.

In Civil Society we seek to increase the impact of citizens' groups working for peace and social justice, strengthen the philanthropic community that supports them, and encourage citizen oversight of the public and private sectors. We believe in the value of associational life and in nurturing strong, independent and democratic civil societies. Grants seek to increase participation in public affairs beyond the act of voting and to strengthen civil society organizations. Another initiative aims to foster philanthropy that contributes to social justice outcomes. Other work strengthens global civil society and the ability of transnational citizens' coalitions to address public policy problems.

Asset Building and Comunity Development Program

The Asset Building and Community Development program helps strengthen and increase the effectiveness of people and organizations working to find solutions to problems of poverty and injustice. Thirty-one program staff focus grant resources in two program units in New York and abroad. We support people who are building human, social, financial and environmental assets that enable people and communities to expand opportunities, to exert control over their lives and to participate in their societies in meaningful and effective ways. Grants support vibrant social movements, institutions and partnerships that analyze contemporary social and economic opportunities and devise responses to them.

Knowledge, Creativity and Freedom Program

The Knowledge, Creativity and Freedom program works globally to advance achievement in the arts, education and scholarship and to advance a positive understanding of sexuality. It also seeks to promote the media and religion as forces for democracy in a range of cultural contexts. This body of work, which is carried out by 28 program staff members in two units in New York and overseas, recognizes that knowledge and creativity are central to the richness of people's lives and the progress of communities. It also affirms the importance of freedom to think and act critically, originally and responsibly in facilitating the building of more just and pluralistic societies.

In Media our work strengthens free and responsible media that address important civic and social issues, and promotes policies and regulations that ensure media and information systems serve the public's diverse constituencies and interests. In addition, we support high-quality productions that enrich public dialogue on such core issues as building democratic values and pluralism.

This info was updated in 11/06.

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