Open Society Foundations
|George Soros, Chairman
Christopher Stone, President
Jonathan Soros, Global Advisory Board Member
Open Society Foundations (OSF), formerly the Open Society Institute, is a grantmaking network founded by George Soros, aimed to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform. On a local level, OSF implements a range of initiatives to support the rule of law, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSF works to build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as combating corruption and rights abuses. In the last 30 years, the foundation had expenditures of over 11 billion dollars.
One of the aims of the OSF is the development of civil society organizations (e.g., charities and community groups) to encourage participation in democracy and society. The name is inspired by Karl Popper's 1945 book The Open Society and Its Enemies.
On May 28, 1984, Soros signed a contract between the Soros Foundation (New York) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the founding document of the Soros Foundation Budapest. This was followed by several foundations in the region to help countries move away from communism.
Open Society Institute was created in 1993 to support Soros foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In August 2010, it changed its name to Open Society Foundations (OSF) to better reflect its role as a funder for civil society groups around the world.
In 2012, Christopher Stone joined the OSF as the second president. He replaced Aryeh Neier, who served as president from 1993 to 2012. OSF has expanded the activities of the Soros Foundations network to other areas of the world where the transition to democracy is of particular concern.
The Soros Foundations network has nodes[clarification needed] in more than 60 countries, including the United States. OSF projects include the National Security and Human Rights Campaign that opposes detention of unprivileged combatants and the Lindesmith Center and others dealing with drug reform.
Related initiatives include the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA). Recent efforts have included those that have met with controversy, including an effort in the African Great Lakes region aimed at spreading human rights awareness among prostitutes in Uganda and other nations in the area. The initiative was not received well by the Ugandan authorities, who considered it an effort to legalize and legitimize prostitution.
Other initiatives includes: AfriMAP; Arts & Culture Program; Americas Quarterly; Burma Project/Southeast Asia Initiative; Central Eurasia Project; Central Eurasia Project; Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap; Documentary Photography Project; Soros Documentary Fund (SDF); Early Childhood Program; East East Program: Partnership Beyond Borders; Education Support Program; EUMAP; Global Drug Policy Program; Information Program; International Higher Education Support Program; Internet Program; Latin America Program; Local Government & Public Service Reform Initiative; Media Program; Middle East & North Africa Initiative; Open Society Fellowship; OSI-Baltimore; OSI-Brussels; OSI-Washington, DC; Coalition for the International Criminal Court; Public Health Program; Roma Initiatives; Scholarship Programs; Special Initiatives; Think Tank Fund; Turkmenistan Project; US Programs; International Women’s Program; the Youth Initiative; the International Migration Initiative; Policy Matters Ohio and the Open Society Justice Initiative.
Activities by regions
According to the 2009 OSF expenditures report, Africa region (outside of South Africa) was the key area of funded activities: about $51,000,000 was spent on civil society support, human rights, education, justice, media, public health, transparency, and other activities there.
Among other regions, activities in five countries received the most funding (excluding funds provided by non-OSI parties): Ukraine ($8.47M; mostly in civil society support, human rights, public health), South Africa ($7.23M; human rights, civil society, information and media and other), Russia ($6.29M; almost solely civil society support), Serbia ($5.04M; mostly civil society, education and youth, human rights, transparency), Georgia ($4.84M; media, human rights, civil society, administration, transparency, public health and other).
Of the ten countries in which the Institute was most active in 2009, six are post-Soviet states, with another three situated in Eastern Europe.
Critics on the left have argued that the Open Society Foundations serve to perpetuate institutions which reinforce the existing social order. Nicolas Guilhot, writing in Critical Sociology, connects the Soros charities to the history of capitalist philanthropy maintained by the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. Guilhot argues that control over the social sciences by monied interests has depoliticized this field and reinforced a capitalist view of modernization. He argues that despite critiques of malfunctioning free markets, Soros is actually a neoliberal who believes that competitive markets are the best way to organize society. According to this view, the apparent radicalism of Soros' "open society" serves as cover for the capitalist order, the basic rules of which are never actually questioned or "opened".
Critics on the right, such as Glenn Beck, have accused Soros of using his Open Society Foundations to intentionally undermine societies with the intention of establishing a unitary global government. Beck has argued that the Open Society Foundations have too much control over academics and media, and in some countries have obtained political power that qualifies them as "shadow governments".
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- Krepel, Terry (9 November 2010), "What Beck wants you to believe about Soros", Media Matters.
- Beck, Glenn (November 10, 2010), "Five Step Plan", Fox News Channel:,
The five steps to control. The first one is form a shadow government using humanitarian aid as a cover. Now, is he doing this? Well, let me start with the central George Soros operation, which is OSI. This is his main group. OSI, it is the Open Society Institute.
- "Glenn Beck Explains George Soros Conspiracy Theory On 'O'Reilly Factor'", The Huffington Post (video), November 13, 2010.
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- Miniter, Richard (2011-09-09), "Should George Soros be allowed to buy US foreign policy?", Forbes,
Soros, through foundations and his Open Society Institutes, pours some $500 million per year into organizations in the former Soviet world... And Soros gets results. Through strategic donations, Soros helped bring down the communist government in Poland, toppled Serbia’s bloodstained strongman Slobodan Milosevic, and fueled the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia. Soros has also funded opposition parties in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Georgia, and Macedonia, helping them into either power or prominence. All of these countries were once Russian allies..
- Palley, Thomas (2003), "The Open Institute and Global Social Policy", Global Social Policy 3 (1): 17–18, doi:10.1177/1468018103003001312.
- Roelofs, Joan (2003), Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism, Albany: SUNY.
- Stone, Diane (2010), Transnational Philanthropy or Policy Transfer? The Transnational Norms of the Open Society Institute, Policy and Politics 38 (2), pp. 269–87.
- ——— (July 2007), "Market Principles, Philanthropic Ideals and Public Service Values: The Public Policy Program at the Central European University", PS: Political Science and Politics: 545–51.
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