Ford Foundation gives $80m for nonprofits facing global authoritarianism


Alliance magazine


The Ford Foundation has announced an $80 million programme aimed at building the resilience of civil society organizations in the Global South. The money will go to virtual hubs in 12 countries over the next five years, where groups can receive help to make their organisations stronger.

Developed with partners in eight regions in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Weaving Resilience will strengthen and connect civil society organizations and movements on the frontlines of the fight for social justice.

The initiative lays the groundwork for interrelated yet localized resource hubs in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda so that organizations can empower each other with the expertise and tools they need to build and sustain social change.

‘At the Ford Foundation, we believe that the people closest to a problem are also closest to its solution. We must listen to and learn from the individuals, communities, and organizations who have been courageously leading the way for years – particularly in the Global South, where civil society operates with insufficient resources, and yet, their resilience is more important than ever,’ said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation.

A closing space for civil society

Across the world, especially in the Global South, there has been a rise in authoritarianism and a compounding decrease in democratic values, which are collectively deepening inequality. Since March 2020, 155 countries have placed new restrictions on public assemblies, while barely three per cent of the world’s population lives in countries that are considered to have open civic space.

According to Ford, the aim is that the resource hubs will become centres of excellence for civil society resilience in their respective regions, providing strategic assistance and guidance on security and institutional adaptability. Each will be grounded in its unique local context, meeting the greatest areas of need for the continuance of civil society: institutional resilience, strategic relevance, and holistic well-being.

‘Weaving Resilience… is a natural complement to the foundation’s long-standing commitment to provide flexible and multi-year support to those fighting for social justice,’ said Helena Hofbauer Balmori, international program director for Civic Engagement and Government at Ford Foundation.

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