When we can begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves. - Katherine Mansfield

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. - Eden Phillpotts

THE FORD FOUNDATION is an international non-commercial charitable organization. It operates as an independent, non-profit, nongovernmental organization, under the direction of a Board of Trustees. Founded as a local charity in 1936 by bequests from members of the Ford family, the Foundation no longer has any connection with the Ford Motor Company. The Trustees of the Foundation set policy and delegate authority to the president and senior staff for the Foundation's grantmaking and operation. In addition to its New York headquarters, the Foundation has field offices in many parts of the world. Program officers in New York and in the field offices explore opportunities to pursue the Foundation's goals, formulate strategies, and recommend proposals for funding. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided over eight billion dollars in grants and loans.

The Foundation's Moscow office was opened in 1996.


The goals of the Ford Foundation are to:

  • strengthen democratic values;
  • reduce poverty and injustice;
  • promote international cooperation; and
  • advance human achievement.

This has been our purpose for almost half a century.

A fundamental challenge facing every society is to create political, economic, and social systems that promote peace, human welfare, and sustainability of the environment on which life depends. We believe that the best way to meet this challenge is to encourage initiatives by those living and working closest to where problems are located; to promote collaboration among the nonprofit, government, and business sectors; and to assure participation by men and women from diverse communities and at all levels of society. In our experience, such activities help build common understanding, enhance excellence, enable people to improve their lives, and reinforce their commitment to society.

The Ford Foundation is one source of support for these activities. We work mainly by making grants or loans that build knowledge and strengthen organizations and networks. Since our financial resources are modest in comparison to societal needs, we focus on a limited number of problem areas and program strategies within our broad goals.


In its work throughout the world, the Ford Foundation seeks to promote pluralism and equal opportunity and to end discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or gender. Usually we use the English term "diversity" to describe this principle. When Foundation staff consider grant applications, they examine first the quality of the proposed project and then such factors as the qualifications of the staff, budget projections, and the contribution the project's success would make to the Foundation's larger goals. As discussions proceed, staff also consider the opportunities applicants provide to historically disadvantaged groups and the scope of their efforts to achieve diversity within their organizations. In the United States, diversity concerns focus on gender and minority representation and, where appropriate, national origin. Outside the United States, diversity in gender and, where appropriate, ethnic, racial, or national origin is considered. The organization's efforts to achieve diversity in its organizational structure are often discussed during the grant or loan period and they are a factor in the Foundation's consideration of subsequent grant requests.


Beginning in 1950, the Foundation sponsored a range of activities in the countries of the former Soviet Union and those in Central Europe, particularly in the area of educational and cultural exchange. During the period 1950-1988 the Foundation spent some $60 million to improve Western understanding of the region, to further the analysis of key issues in East-West relation, and to promote freedom of expression, cultural pluralism, and respect for human rights. In 1989, the Foundation's Board of Trustees authorized staff to begin making grants in direct support of indigenous institutions in the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary (and more recently Czechoslovakia) in order to advance the process of democratization and reform. During the period 1989-1994 the Foundation spent approximately $30 million on projects in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe. In 1994 a decision was taken to concentrate grant-giving on projects in Russia, and in Central Europe. To this end an office, for Russia, was opened in Moscow in January 1996.

The activities of the Foundation in Russia focus on the following broad areas:

  • Human rights, legal reform, and legal education;
  • Independent analysis of economic and social policy;
  • Higher education in sociology, politics, economics, and modern Russian history;
  • Regional civic initiatives:
  • support for nongovernmental organizations;
  • development of local communities and local governance.

In each area, the Foundation is interested in working with Russian institutions in the governmental, nongovernmental, and private sector. The reason for this is that we seek to concentrate our efforts on the creation and support of institutional structures or organizations which over time will become self-supporting. The Foundation therefore welcomes projects which are conceived by and are to be executed by Russian organizations and institutions. Grants are normally made to Russian organizations, which are financially accountable for them. If the organizers of the project wish to include foreign participants, this is of course permissible.

We also welcome proposals from Russian organizations to hold conferences, seminars, and similar useful activities in areas related to the Foundation's program priorities. However, the Foundation rarely makes grants to individuals or for purely academic research projects. Travel grants to conferences are only made in exceptional circumstances. Sometimes confusion arises on this point. The Foundation may make a grant to an institution, such as the Moscow Public Science Foundation, which then organizes an individual grants program. However, the Ford Foundation's staff play no part in awarding these grants. Similarly, the Ford Foundation may make a grant to the Russian American Human Rights Group to run a small grants competition, but it is the RAHRG jury, independently, which makes decisions about awarding these grants.

We repeat: our aim is to support Russian initiatives, of many different kinds, and throughout Russia.


Applications are considered throughout the year. There are no application forms or deadlines. We advise all applicants to begin by sending a brief (two-page) letter of inquiry. This can be addressed either to an individual program officer or simply to the Ford Foundation. This letter allows the appropriate program officer to determine whether the project falls within the Foundation's present interests and whether available funding permits consideration of the request.

Such a letter should include:

  • the purpose of the project;
  • the problem/issue it will address;
  • information about the organization which will conduct the project;
  • the qualifications of those responsible for the project; and
  • the estimated overall budget of the project.

The Foundation considers it crucial that the size of the grant correspond to the goals of the project, and that funds can be effectively managed by the grantee. In practice the Foundation's Moscow office handles grants ranging from several thousand to half a million dollars.

Activities supported must be charitable, educational, or scientific, as defined under the appropriate provisions of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations. Support is not normally given for routine operating costs of institutions, or for building, construction or maintenance. A grant may be for a period from one month to two years, and additional support may be provided in cases where an initial project is judged to be successful.

Program officers endeavor to answer all inquiries within one month. If the program officers asks the grant-seeker for further information, to meet to discuss the project, or to prepare a formal proposal, that does not indicate that the project will necessarily be supported. If the program officer considers the project a realistic candidate for Foundation support, he or she will advise the applicant on how to prepare a formal proposal. This proposal will provide the basis for a grant recommendation put forward by the program officer.

Potential grantees should be aware that a successful grant application - from the submission of the formal proposal and accompanying documentation to receipt of the first grant payment - will take at least two months.


Each of the broad program areas is the responsibility of one of the program officers.

Human Rights, Legal Reform, and Legal Education

Since 1990 the Foundation has supported organizations such as Memorial, the Glasnost Defense Foundation, the Human Right Project Group and its small grants competition, as well as women's organizations. It has financed training for judges, preparatory work on the jury system, related research and publications, and regional seminars and a journal on constitutional reform. The Moscow office will continue to support organizations which use legal methods to defend freedom of speech, as well as individual and collective rights violated by the government or private organizations. It will also support projects aimed at strengthening legal institutions, or encouraging legal defense of rights, including legal education. Applications from practicing legal and academic institutions, and from nongovernmental human rights organizations, from both the regions and the capital, are equally welcome.

Program Officer: Mary McAuley

Independent Analysis of Economic and Social Policy

One of the Ford Foundation's priorities in Russia is to support economic reform and mitigate its negative social consequences. Grants support indigenous Russian institutions and initiatives which seek to define and promote solutions to problems in such areas as banking and fiscal policy, pension reform, labor market development, income distribution and social stratification, migration and refugees, and taxation policy. Past grants have supported, among others, the Institute for Economic Analysis in Moscow, the Expert Institute for research on the adaptation of enterprises to economic reforms, and the Moscow School for Social and Economic Sciences for a conference on the "informal" economy.

Program Officer: Anne Stewart-Hill

Higher Education in Sociology, Politics, Economics, and Modern Russian History

For the last five years, the Ford Foundation has supported the strengthening of individual social science disciplines such as economics, political science, sociology, and modern Russian history, as well as the creation and development of independent institutions which contribute to improving the quality of higher education in Russia. During the past five years, Foundation-funded programs have included the social science research competition "New Perspective" administered by the Moscow Public Science Foundation, and the establishment of a new university in St. Petersburg. Preference at this time is given to proposals which seek to develop the social sciences and higher education in Russia's regions; inter-regional proposals are given particular attention.

Program Officer: Anne Stewart-Hill

Regional Civic Initiatives

The Ford Foundation believes that the initiatives of citizens, united in civic associations and local governments, are the basis for a civil society, as well as an important mechanism for the defense of citizens' interests.

Support for Nongovernmental Organizations

Many of the Foundation's grantees are organizations that help third sector groups organize, and develop more effectively. Funded activities may take many forms. Some grantees provide training for NGOs, such as the Charities Aid Foundation. Others disseminate information to aid social movements, such as the Information Center for the Independent Women's Forum, while others provide telecommunications support. Although many of the Foundation's initial grantees, including those listed above, are Moscow organizations, the Foundation is very interested in expanding the geographic scope of its activities. It welcomes and supports projects from the regions (for example, the Congress of Women of the Kola Peninsula). In addition, the Foundation foresees providing support in new areas, which have particular importance for the nonprofit sector.

Program Officer: Christopher Kedzie

The Development of Local Communities and Local Governance

Decentralization has thrust new responsibilities on Russian city, oblast , and republic administrations. Assistance for the development of local self-government is a new area of activity for the Ford Foundation in Russia. Key aspects of this initiative may include public accountability, municipal finance, the delivery of social services, and NGO/government relations. The Foundation expects that innovative programs to address these issues will come from a variety of sources, including educational institutions, community-based organizations, research institutes, inter-regional associations, and local administrative bodies themselves, as well as other groups.

Program Officer: Christopher Kedzie


Although the Moscow office is primarily concerned with supporting Russian organizations, the Foundation is interested in the development of relationships between organizations and institutions in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe. A grantmaking program for the countries of Central Europe is administered from the New York office. Program officers from the Moscow and New York offices work together on projects which include participants from the whole region. One example of such a project was a seminar on public interest law which brought together lawyers and human rights activists from Central Europe and Russia. We welcome proposals from Russian organizations to promote similar joint projects.

The Ford Foundation
Moscow Office
Representative: Mary McAuley
Program Officers: Anne Stewart-Hill
Christopher Kedzie

103009 Moscow
Ul. Tverskaya 16/2
tel. (095) 935-7051
fax: (095) 935 7052
e-mail: moscow@fordfound.org

Ford Foundation
New York Office
Deputy Director
for Central Europe: Joseph Schull

320 East 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017
tel. (1 212) 573 5283
fax: (1 212) 599 4584

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