Since 1962, when our office in Nairobi opened on the eve of decolonization, we have supported courageous leaders on the frontlines of social change in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
Early on, the foundation provided nascent African governments with much-needed technical assistance, paving the way for an expanded role in the region. In the following decades, we played an active part in developing the civil service, advancing nation building and economic development, and, through support to universities, educating the next generations of East African leaders.
We continued to support the region’s transition to democracy through the 1980s and 1990s, assisting in its progression to a more democratic environment through reforms of laws, state institutions, and economic policies. The foundation also supported advancements in agriculture-based rural development, women’s rights, and reproductive health. Through grants to museums and arts organizations, we worked to strengthen cultural identity and understanding as well as free expression.
By 2000, the Nairobi office’s priority was helping the poor and disenfranchised gain access to the information, skills, and assets they need to improve their lives. As a result, our grantmaking began to reflect the importance and well-being of citizens, with particular emphasis on equipping East Africans to participate in the expansion of democracy in their countries.
By 2007, when Kenya was seized by ethnic violence upon the conclusion of general elections, we had rigorously focused our grantmaking on advancing democracy, fairness, opportunity, and human rights for all people of the region. In recent years, we have supported efforts to help communities become rightful stewards and owners of their indigenous lands; connect women, youth, and marginalized groups to opportunity; and build renewed trust and assets among communities.
Today, as East Africa readies itself for a new era of fairness and opportunity, our grantmaking focuses on breaking down barriers that prevent many East Africans, particularly women and youth, from acting as engaged citizens and contributing to the region’s future.