Open Society Foundations: Grants for Global Health

OVERVIEW: In the global health field, Open Society's grantmaking seeks to empower people oppressed due to their sexual practices, sexual orientation or gender identity. It also seeks to expand access to reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS treatment. 

IP TAKE: While not well known as a global health funder, OSF's funds have long impacted this area in ways that support its broader mission to advance civil society and human rights. 

PROFILE: One of the world's largest funders, the Open Society Foundations invests in an array of health-related causes. Its Public Health program seeks to "[s]trengthen the capacity of marginalized populations to advocate for better health policies and practices" and more "government accountability" in healthcare. In contrast, its Health program intends to "[e]stablish health policies and practices that are based on evidence and promote social inclusion, human rights, and justice."

As with the majority of its grantmaking, the foundation's global health grants often involve some aspect of social justice, inclusion, human rights and transparency under oppressive political administrations. Open Society generally makes global health grants to health projects that support people stigmatized for their sexual practices, sexual orientation and gender identity. As such, its staff writes regularly about the foundation's policy-intensive approach to sexual health rights for those who routinely face discrimination, including women and children, transgendered people, sex workers, injection drug users and men who have sex with men. Overall, the foundation serves vulnerable populations that have disproportionate sexual health service and rights needs.

Open Society's grantmaking practices are relatively straightforward. It regularly posts calls for proposals, so organizations whose work overlaps with Open Society's can apply on a rolling basis. The OSFs encourage grant seekers to contact them regarding projects that do not necessarily correspond with calls for proposals listed on its website.

Unlike many other foundations working on global health issues, Open Society does not focus exclusively on medical service delivery. Instead, the foundations prioritize the political and power dynamics that prevent sexually marginalized groups from exercising their basic rights — medical and otherwise. 


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