Ford Foundation Spells Out Cuts to Make Way for Its Shift in Focus to Inequality

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Under a new strategy announced today, the Ford Foundation will double the amount it provides to grantees to cover administrative overhead costs and steer $1 billion over five years toward strengthening social-justice organizations. At the same time, it will cut its support of several initiatives, including LGBT rights in the United States, direct cash transfers in Latin America, and microfinance.

The grant strategy fleshes out a broad shift first laid out in June, when the grant maker announced that it would direct all of its work toward reducing inequality.

“We have had an ongoing dialogue with our current portfolio of grantees about our evolving strategy,” said Darren Walker, the foundation’s president. “Those grantees who are being transitioned have already been given notice. We are providing final grants to a number of those organizations.”


The foundation has reduced the number of its subject areas from 35 to 15. The cuts will result in about 800 fewer active grants in Ford’s portfolio, which has averaged about 4,000 in recent years. The 15 separate program areas Ford will concentrate on are grouped under the following seven headings: civic engagement and government; gender, racial, and ethnic justice; equitable development; inclusive economies; Internet freedom; youth opportunity and learning; and creativity and free expression.

In a letter posted on Ford’s website, Mr. Walker wrote that decisions on which programs to discontinue were based on how central reducing inequality is to their work, the progress they’ve made in their goals, and the availability of other philanthropic support.

For instance, although Mr. Walker said there was much work to be done domestically to increase opportunities for LGBT people, the foundation will now focus its work on the subject internationally, after spending $67 million in the United States over the past ten years. The reason, he said, is that others have shouldered some of the load.

“The reality is there still remain embedded structural barriers to the advancement of LGBT people in the U.S.,” he said. “What has changed is there is more philanthropy directed toward solving the problem.”

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy (link opens in a new window)

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microfinance, philanthropy