The Open Society Foundations, founded by the business magnate George Soros, is investing $220 million in efforts to achieve racial equality, a huge financial undertaking that will support several Black-led racial justice groups for years, the New York Times reports. The initiative will reshape the landscape of Black political and civil rights organizations. Soros is positioning his foundation near the forefront of the current police protest movement. Of the total, $150 million till go to emerging organizations like the Black Voters Matter Fund and Repairers of the Breach, founded by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of the Poor People’s Campaign. The money will also support more established organizations like the Equal Justice Initiative, founded by civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson.
The foundation will invest an additional $70 million in local grants supporting changes to policing and criminal justice. Some funds will pay for opportunities for civic engagement and to organize internships and political training for young people. Open Society Foundations president Patrick Gaspard said now is “the moment we’ve been investing in for the last 25 years.” He added, “If we’re going to say ‘Black lives matter,’ we need to say ‘Black organizations and structures matter.’ ” In making the grants last for five years, Open Society’s leaders said, the organization is freeing groups to think beyond the current moment. In 1994, Soros started Open Society’s domestic work with a focus on criminal justice reform. Alexander Soros, who serves alongside his father as the deputy chair of Open Society, said, “These investments will empower proven leaders in the Black community to reimagine policing, end mass incarceration and eliminate the barriers to opportunity that have been the source of inequity for too long.”