Can philanthropy tackle social polarisation? Lessons from France

Anne Lescot and Jean-Marie Destrée

Six years ago, a group of French foundations joined forces to help tackle social polarisation and create a more inclusive society. What has their collaboration achieved?

Education workshop on secularism and religious facts held by Enquête. Photo credit: Association Enquête

A few days after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher supermarket in France in 2015, ten foundations came together under the umbrella name of Fonds du 11 janvier (January 11th Fund),[1] the date of the protest march against the attacks which brought together 3.7 million people. The aim of the Fonds was to provide a collective, concrete response dedicated to the prevention of violence among young people and to promote the values of tolerance, freedom and mutual understanding.

…the question of secularism – a specific French issue – and the place of religion has become central to public debate, sometimes leading to very violent reactions.

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