KUALA LUMPUR: George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF) have so far spent more than USD13 billion (RM54.4 billion) on various activities in numerous countries.
The total OSF budget for 2016 is USD930.7 million, according to information on its website.
All the information provided seems to indicate that the OSF gives grants for projects and programmes that are beneficial to society, including giving educational opportunities to Syrian refugees and fighting Islamophobia.
It is not only involved in promoting human rights and governance but also in ensuring better education and public health, and opportunities for youths to improve themselves.
The website also contains interviews with grantees of the OSF.
True to its name, OSF says its mission is “to work to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.”
George Soros is the founder and chairman of the Open Society – a network of foundations, partners, and projects in more than 100 countries.
The website says Soros began his philanthropy in 1979, giving scholarships to black South Africans under apartheid. From there, he gradually expanded his philanthropy.
The OSF funds a range of programmes around the world, from human rights to public health to education to business development.
It also funds the media. It says: “A free and independent press is vital to any democracy, ensuring government accountability and a diversity of viewpoints.
The OSF’s support efforts that expand and protect press freedoms, increase public access to knowledge and information, include minority voices in media, and use the arts to address pressing social issues.”
Of the USD13 billion it has spent over the past three decades, USD1.6 billion went to “democratic development in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union”, according to the OSF website.
Another USD737 million was spent on public health issues such as HIV and AIDS, TB, palliative care, harm reduction, and patients’ rights; USD214 million was spent on fighting discrimination and advancing the rights of Roma communities in Europe; and USD2.1 billion was spent on education projects ranging from preschool to higher education reform.
Among the projects funded by the OSF this year is one to support universities providing higher education to Syrian refugees in Europe.
Last year, the OSF had a programme to counter Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims in Europe, according to the website.
Noting the rise in discrimination and xenophobia in Western Europe, the OSF website says: “Attitudes, behaviours and policies have reinforced one another. Some have taken advantage of the economic crisis and used migrants or religious and ethnic minorities, in particular Roma and Muslims, as scapegoats.”
It says: “Open Society wants to tackle causes and manifestations of intolerance based on an ethnic or religious bias. We aim to reduce discriminatory behaviours, to guarantee non-discriminatory policies and to ensure a social and cultural consensus in which racist or discriminatory views and practices are unacceptable. Thus the overarching goal of this call is to counter structural discrimination affecting Muslims and the effects this has on wider society”.
Also last year, it had a Regional Policy Initiative on Afghanistan and Pakistan to “bring new voices and perspectives to public discourse and contribute to a greater understanding of compelling human rights violations that impact communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan”.
It had also undertaken a programme to tackle drug addiction in Baltimore, US.
The vast majority of its grants are awarded to organisations, and the OSF approaches most of these organisations directly, and invites them to submit grant applications or proposals, according to the OSF website.