Founded in 1994 as a part of the Open Society Foundations’ global network, the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) works to build vibrant and vocal civil society capable of holding government accountable to its citizens. The Foundation drives forward important policy debates and reforms.
Through grant-making and partnership projects funded from its national and international programs, the Foundation empowers civic organizations, civil rights activists and initiative groups to guard against threats to rights discourse and the risk of the country backtracking on democratic reform commitments.
Over the course of more than two decades of work in Georgia, the OSGF has made massive efforts to rebuff threats to democratic progress. The Foundation achieved this by strengthening independent public institutions and setting high standards in the key areas such as human rights protection, rule of law and good governance. The OSGF enhanced citizens’ participation in governance and decision-making, bolstered independent journalism, and gave voice to minorities and vulnerable groups.
As a donor, the OSGF has been open to working with both well-established organizations and fledgling activist groups to advance change across its priority fields.
From 1994 onwards, the Foundation has invested over $100 million in fostering open society in Georgia.
To achieve the change we seek, we conduct in-depth research and identify priority areas. Our research is largely geared towards identifying individuals and organizations best positioned to make a difference, and also the best tools to achieve change. Grant-making, advocacy, litigation, awareness campaigns, publications, and conferences are the tools we employ to achieve our ends.
Through open door grant making and competitions in 2019-2020 Open Society Georgia Foundation’s programs will address judiciary reform, health policy, EU integration, self-governance, media freedom, minority integration, equality and social justice issues.
We often make swift and audacious decisions while putting trust in individuals and groups that had not had the chance to receive donor funding before
Campaigns and Coalitions
OSGF has spearheaded and supported a number of public campaigns in recent years, such as This Affects You, Support Real Self-Governance, campaigns against criminal punishment for recreational drug use. The Foundation also helped local partners develop the capacity to monitor distribution of foreign aid and implementation of European Union/Georgia Association Agreement.
OSGF has also played a crucial role in coordinating and supporting various coalitions of NGOs that pushed for reform in variety of fields, including criminal justice, anti-discrimination, social equality, media freedom, public health and health rights.
Ten Facts about Georgia and the Open Society Foundations (1994-2018)
- More than 1,200 Georgian citizens have received scholarships from the Open Society Foundations to study in foreign universities, including in the Central European University in Budapest. Over 700 local medical doctors had an opportunity to participate in Saltsburg Medical Seminars
- To the tune of $8 million has been invested to support start up and development of independent national and local media outlets
- To improve access to knowledge, the Foundation spent $1 million on developing the first Georgian alphabet fonts for Microsoft, the first Georgian websites, and the first free fiber-optic internet access at Georgian universities
- On light of hard social and economic situation, Arts and Culture has been totally ignored by the government in the 90ies. At that time, the Foundation was the only donor to support preservation of cultural heritage on top of promoting contemporary creativity
- In 1999 the Foundation introduced palliative care standards in Georgian health care sector including hospitals and thus helped thousands of terminally ill patients meet the end of their lives with dignity. The Foundation has been supporting development and maintenance of two adult hospices; helped create the first hospice for children in the Caucasus.
- In 2005, the Foundation launched Georgia’s first free legal aid service in partnership with the Ministry of Justice. Since its establishment, the center has extended free legal services to more than 30 000 people annually. In 2018, the Foundation and Georgian Bar Association started free legal aid program targeting persons with disabilities and palliative care patients
- In 2011, Open Society Georgia Foundation has started large scale advocacy campaign for accessibility to Hepatitis C treatment. The campaign gathering civil activists, experts, and international organizations around the cause succeeded to convince Georgian government to embark on the ambitious program of eliminating Hepatitis C by offering free treatment to prisoners at the initial phase and then to all infected citizens
- In 2012, following up to the leak of video recordings of torture and abuse of prisoners in penitentiary facilities, the Foundation conducted a quantitative survey to investigate living conditions and estimate the incidence of inhuman treatment of inmates in prisons in the period from 2003 through 2013. The survey remains the only comprehensive study that sheds light on the situation in prisons in the said period. The Foundation also channeled its resources towards rehabilitation of as many as 500 prisoners
- The Foundation has been actively advocating for deinstitutionalization of large size facilities of mental health care and creation of outpatient services. The OSGF supported programs that address ostracizing of people with mental health problems. In tandem with its US-based partners, the Foundation developed the first community-based treatment facility in Georgia.
- Concerned by the decline of housing rights in Georgia, the Foundation funded the first large-scale study of homelessness in 2017. The study became the first comprehensive, data-based description of the scale and causes of homelessness in the post-Soviet period in Georgia. Understanding the root causes and the prevalence of this pressing social issue is the first step towards finding solutions. In 2018, as a result of Foundation supported advocacy effort the Government of Georgia has promised to elaborate national housing policy as a part of Open Government Partnership (OGP) action plan
The Open Society Foundation was established in Georgia during the hardest times for the country. It was the first philanthropic organization to lend a helping hand to the scientists, artists and young people seeking international education.
For 25 years, the Open Society Georgia Foundation has supported more than 6000 projects and has awarded hundreds of Georgian organizations with startup grants. Many of them are still active and engaged in building an open society in Georgia.
Open Society and George Soros
George Soros is a Founder and Chair of Open Society Foundations. He launched his philanthropic work in South Africa in 1979. Since then he has given over $32 billion to fund the Open Society Foundations, which work in over 100 countries around the world.
Under his leadership, the Open Society Foundations have supported individuals and organizations across the globe fighting for freedom of expression, accountable government, and societies that promote justice and equality. The foundations have also provided school and university fees for thousands of promising students who would otherwise have been excluded from opportunities because of their identity or where they live.
On light of attacks by anti liberal groups particularly in 2018, the Financial Times granted George Soros the title of the Person of the Year as liberal standard bearer.
More on George Soros.
People behind us
The Open Society Georgia Foundation is governed by the Executive Board. The Board is composed of eminent and distinguished citizens with expertise in a variety of fields including media, finance, academia and health.
Team members of the Foundation are noted for their professionalism and passion for open society values. Together we make a difference in creating free and open society in Georgia.