The Open Society Foundations in Greece
The Open Society Foundations, founded by George Soros, are one of the world’s largest private funders of groups that support human rights, democracy and accountability—with an annual budget of over $1 billion. Just under 10 percent of our funding goes to Europe.
The majority of this funding is directed towards supporting human rights and democratic participation in East and Central Europe and the Balkans. Open Society is also the largest private funder of efforts to support Europe’s Roma communities.
In Western Europe, where democratic traditions and civil society groups are well established, our work has largely involved helping local groups respond to rapidly evolving new challenges—from dealing with the social impact of economic austerity programs, to efforts to revitalize democratic participation, and to respond to the challenges of migration.
We began working in Greece in 2013, with a focus on helping people most impacted by the severe austerity measures then in place. We funded the provision of legal aid, medical care, and employment service, and paid for heating oil for schools, orphanages, and hospitals in Northern Greece during the winter months.
In 2015, we supported local groups in Greece, as they responded to the arrival of over 800,000 refugees fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. Since then, Open Society Foundations’ approach has been twofold: to support Greek civil society to ensure that in these most difficult times, all voices are heard; and to ensure, working with local volunteer and humanitarian organizations, that refugee and migrant rights are upheld.