Stefan Batory Foundation
The Stefan Batory Foundation (Polish: Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego) is an independent Polish non-government organization established by American financier and philanthropist, George Soros and a group of Polish opposition leaders of 1980s, and registered in Poland since May 1988. It was named after Stephen Báthory, the 16th-century Polish king. The Foundation’s mission is to support the development of an open, democratic society in Poland along with other Central and East European countries.
Foundation’s activity is financed from income on endowment and grants from foreign institutions, from gifts of individual donors and 1% personal income tax designations.
The mission of the Batory Foundation is to build an open, democratic society - a society of people aware of their rights and responsibilities, who are actively involved in the life of their local community, country and international society.. In its activity, the Foundation is guided by principles of transparency and accountability. Up-to-date information on its activities and grant-seeking opportunities is posted on the website Its finances are audited by external experts and the financial statements are published in the Annual Report, together with the list of grants awarded and projects implemented during the year.
History and beginnings
The Batory Foundation was founded in 1988 when the communist system in Central Europe was disintegrating. It was established by an American philanthropist of Hungarian extraction, George Soros, and Polish democratic opposition leaders of the 1980s. The mission of the Foundation was to contribute to the preparation of Polish society in the transition from communism to democracy, civil society and a market economy.
Early on, the Batory Foundation invested in the preparation of cadres for the market economy and democratic system taking roots in Poland by funding hundreds of scholarships and travel grants for economists, bankers, physicians, teachers, and local government activists. It also made a significant contribution to the various reforms being implemented in the country after the collapse of communism, supporting the reform of local government, public administration, and social welfare policy. These reform-related initiatives eventually gave rise to the Institute of Public Affairs, a major think-tank in Warsaw, which the Foundation helped to establish in 1995.
Based on the belief that democracy and open society cannot be realized without active involvement of the public, the Foundation disbursed hundreds of micro-grants to a variety of local civic initiatives, contributing to the establishment of numerous local organizations.
The Foundation has also been very active in the field of education and culture. It has promoted leadership skills and provided civic, health and business education to youth, trained teachers for foreign language instruction, provided Internet access to schools, worked to improve the quality of teaching and management at universities, and provided funding to allow for more diverse curricula. For many years the Stefan Batory Foundation has remained the only non-governmental patron of ethnic minority education and culture, and the leading promoter of culture on the local level: in neglected areas and provincial Poland, where it stimulated cultural life and worked toward equal access to culture.
In its grant-making activity the Batory Foundation concentrates on supporting innovative projects that break new ground and can serve as models for others. It has devoted special attention to the problems that were neglected or not sufficiently present in the public consciousness: it was among the first to address women's issues, child abuse, palliative care, and the rights of ethnic minorities and the disabled. The role of the Stefan Batory Foundation has gone beyond grant making. It has served as a facilitator to promote open debates and discussions on important public issues, and acted as a liaison to advance knowledge and increase abilities of non-governmental organizations, universities, and motivated individuals through grants, fellowships, and conferences.
Since the very beginning the Foundation has not limited itself to assisting democracy in Poland, but it has made the support to democratic changes in the region one of its top priorities. As a result, the Foundation has become the largest non-governmental organization in Poland promoting international cooperation in Central Europe and the Newly Independent States. The programs attracted thousands of influential leaders and opinion makers from Central European, Eastern European, Baltic and Balkan countries, Caucasus and Central Asia.
Until 2007, in 20 years of its existence, the Stefan Batory Foundation has spent USD 95,9 million on all its programs, USD 71 million of which were assigned for grantmaking. Throughout 2007, the Foundation provided 513 grants to institutions and organizations, 47 travel grants to cover costs of 169 participants attending events and projects abroad, as well as 5 awards; overall expenditure for grantmaking and operational activities in 2007 totaled EUR 4,9 million.
Priorities of the Foundation
In 2016, the Foundation ran 3 grantmaking, and 5 operational programs.
- Citizens for Democracy – the aim of the Programme, planned for 2013-2016 is to strengthen civil society development and enhance the contribution of non-governmental organizations to social justice, democracy and sustainable development. The Programme, of a budget EUR 37 million, is financed from the Financial Mechanism of European Economic Area (the EEA Grants).
- Equal Opportunities – the aim of Equal Opportunities - run by the Foundation since 2000 is to develop a local scholarship system for secondary school students based on local community activity and resources. In this way we would like to contribute to equalize the educational opportunities of children from urban and rural areas and help talented youth from low-income families.
- For Belarus – the program’s objective is to support civic initiatives aimed at building an open society and preparing for democratic changes in Belarus.
- Batory Foundation Debates – are an attempt at establishing an independent meeting and discussion forum for politicians, professionals, public intellectuals and journalists. We have long organized conferences and discussions on changes taking place in our country, in Europe and in the world, on Polish and EU foreign policy and international affairs relations. Our goal has been to foster public debate on issues important to the future of our country and region.
- Your Vote, Your Choice – the program's goal is to increase public interest in local affairs and to encourage civic participation in public life, including an informed and responsible participation in local and parliamentary elections.
- Public Integrity (prev. Anti-Corruption Program) – the goal of the program is to increase transparency and integrity in public life and to promote open, accountable governance.
- Open Europe – the goal of the program is to promote an active, coherent and friendly Polish and European Union policy towards our Eastern neighbors and to support democratic processes and pro-European trends in Eastern Europe.
- Regional Drug and Alcohol Program – the aim of the program is to transfer the Polish experience in fighting alcohol, drug and other additions to Eastern European and Central Asian countries by promoting innovative addiction prevention and treatment methodologies and ways of ‘treating violence’, based on the self-help group concept.
Apart from running its own grantmaking programs, the Foundation also administers funds entrusted by companies and individuals. The donors advised funds are created on the basis of donation agreements between a company or an individual donor and the Foundation.
Chair of Batory Council is Marcin Król, historian of ideas, head of Department of the History of Ideas and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw. Members include: Jan Krzysztof Bielecki – economist, former Prime Minister of Poland, at present Chairman of the Partners Board at EY Poland; Bogdan Borusewicz – historian, vice-Marshal of the Senate; Agnieszka Holland – director, screenwriter, President of Polish Film Academy; Olga Krzyżanowska – MD, physician; Helena Łuczywo – editor, co-founder of Agora SA; Andrzej Olechowski – economist, Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the City Handlowy Bank, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Prof. Andrzej Rapaczyński – lawyer, Columbia University, USA; Henryk Woźniakowski – President of Znak Publishers
Among members of the Council there were also the late: Jerzy Turowicz (Chair of the Council,1991–1999), Anna Radziwiłł (Chair of the Council, 1999–2009), Prof. Bronisław Geremek, Prof. Leszek Kołakowski, Prof. Krzysztof Michalski and Józef Tischner.
Chair of Batory Board of Directors is Aleksander Smolar, political scientist. Members include: Mikołaj Cześnik – sociologist and political scientist, Institute of Social Sciences (SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities).; Anna Materska-Sosnowska – political scientist, Institute of Political Science (University of Warsaw).
The budget is published in the Annual Report, together with a list of grants awarded and projects implemented throughout the year. The work of the Batory Foundation is funded by donations of Polish and foreign private and public institutions, commercial organizations and individual donors, including taxpayers who donate 1% of their personal income tax.