NEW YORK, 24 April 2012 — The Ford Foundation today announced $4.5 million in special grants along with a program of activities to commemorate its 50th anniversary in Latin America—a region that is thriving and growing but which is still striving to deepen its democracies and include all people in the benefits of growth.

The grants represent work supported by all three of the foundation’s offices in the region, which encompass Brazil, the Andean Region and Southern Cone, and Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

“The organizations we supported in the 1970s and ‘80s played a central role in pushing back against human rights abuses and fighting for democracy during that period,” said Luis A. Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. “Our work today focuses on ensuring that all people are able to contribute to and benefit from the growth of democracy and prosperity that now characterizes much of the region.”

The package of special grants—in addition to the approximately $40 million the foundation invests in the region each year—will strengthen efforts to build inclusion, expand opportunity, foster cultural expression, deepen democracy and strengthen human rights, themes that have been hallmarks of Ford’s support for Latin American organizations for five decades.

“We have been honored to be part of the civil society landscape in Latin America for 50 years,” Ubiñas said. “Our grantees in the region have been, and continue to be, courageous leaders who have helped create the vibrant and strong Latin America we see today.”

The grants will support organizations across the region. They include:

  • $1.35 million to advance equitable and sustainable development through support for organizations working on just and sustainable cities, natural resource rights and strengthened accountability, all timed in connection with the upcoming Rio+20 conference.
  • $500,000 to support the arts through Voices from Latin America, a festival celebrating Latin American music and culture at Carnegie Hall; and $250,000 to the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, to explore new artistic talent emerging from the Latin America.
  • $2 million for at least three Latin American human rights organizations to help them grow from regional groups to global leaders with a voice on the global human rights stage.
    $450,000 to support special activities in Mexico and El Salvador that address poverty and promote the rights of women and indigenous peoples.

The foundation has invested nearly $1 billion in Latin America since 1962, focused primarily on advancing higher education, building civil society, fighting poverty and promoting human rights and democracy.

In recent years, the foundation has placed emphasis on local efforts to address issues of migration, discrimination, the status of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, and community land and resource rights.

Throughout the year, the foundation will host a series of events to build dialogue around key issues facing the region. These events include a symposium in Rio de Janeiro focused on prosperity and democracy in Latin America, a series of conversations in Mexico around migration, and a regional conference in Colombia to explore the influence of extractive industries on the well-being of communities in the Andean countries. The foundation will also host photography, art and film exhibitions in Mexico Chile and Peru.

In a typical year, each of the foundation’s regional offices allots some $12-15 million in grants to Latin American organizations working on pressing national and regional issues.

“Remarkable progress has been made by the people of Latin America over the last 50 years, economically, politically, and socially,” said Maya Harris, vice president for Democracy, Rights and Justice, who oversees Ford’s work in the region. “As we look forward, we remain committed to supporting work focused on reaching those who have been left out. That’s the promise of democracy—inclusion and opportunity for all.”

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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