New funds for a democratic South Africa

On 21 March five major US foundations announced the commitment of $10 million for grants commemorating the tenth anniversary of democracy in South Africa. This is in addition to their usual programme budgets. Ford, Kellogg, Mott, Rockefeller and Carnegie will support efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, promote community engagement and encourage public debate about the experiences, advances and challenges since the country’s first democratic elections ten years ago.

The five foundations will identify projects for special funding to address challenges like HIV/AIDS, strengthening the role of civil society in South Africa’s democracy, and addressing the economic gap between blacks and whites. Kellogg, in particular, will also be looking at what the ten years have meant for the southern African region, and the challenges the region faces.

The five foundations have already collaborated to provide funding for Constitution Hill, the site to which South Africa’s Constitutional Court has moved – 21 March was also the official opening of the Court. The site was once a notorious prison, where both Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were incarcerated, so great symbolism is attached to it. A place of injustice and indignity, representing some of the worst excesses of apartheid, has been transformed into a place celebrating freedom and housing the institution created to uphold South Africa’s new democracy. Other institutions established to protect the country’s democracy, like the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Gender Equality, will also move to Constitution Hill in due course.

Each of the foundations will take responsibility for their own grantmaking, which will be in areas where they have a particular focus. But special efforts will be made to look for opportunities for collaborative funding, where the foundations can collectively express their commitment to the building of a non-racial democracy in South Africa.

For more information, contact Russell Ally at the Mott Foundation at RAlly@mott.org


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