Open Society Foundations
What is the Open Places Initiative?
The Open Places Initiative is a new Open Society Foundations’ effort to increase low-income and minority communities’ influence and access to economic, civic, and political opportunities in local areas. It aims to further the capacity of local nonprofits and communities to bring about lasting systemic change relating to equity, justice, and democratic practice. The initiative is a response to the fundamental changes occurring in local communities across the country— budgetary, demographic, technological, and otherwise.
On April 8, the Open Society Foundations awarded planning grants of up to $100,000 each to collaborations of organizations in eight sites across the U.S. In late 2013, the foundation will award implementation grants to three to five of these sites with funding of up to $1 million per year for a minimum of three years and potentially, a full decade.
Planning grants were awarded to: Albuquerque, NM; Buffalo, NY; Denver, CO; Jackson, MS;Louisville, KY; Milwaukee, WS; San Diego, CA; and Puerto Rico.
During the planning grant phase, organizations in each place will work together to conceptualize and design a multi-issue, multi-faceted plan that—through policy, procedural, administrative, judicial or other kinds of reform—secures greater justice and opportunity for local populations.
The sites will assess the current local civic capacity to bring about lasting change and identify goals and strategies to expand that capacity. In certain Open Places sites, the organizations have chosen a region larger than the city proper to be the focus of their proposed work.
One of the primary goals of the Open Places Initiative is to increase the ability of each place to extend beyond current agendas and abilities to develop new abilities and strategies to ongoing and new challenges. OSF seeks to learn from the work in local places and hopes place-based lessons will guide future efforts in other cities, regions, and states.
What is the Open Society Foundations?
The Open Society Foundations is a foundation that works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations supports justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.
Areas of particular emphasis in U.S. grant-making and other activities include:
- The advancement of effective and fair criminal justice and drug policies;
- Support of the rights of racial minorities and other vulnerable groups;
- Support of institutions and practices that advance a more informed and engaged public and responsive and effective government.