Many false claims circulate about George Soros. We have responded to some of the most common misconceptions here, to set the record straight.
What is the scope of George Soros’s philanthropy?
The magnitude and geographical scope of Soros’s charitable activities are unprecedented. A list of his philanthropic activities on his foundation’s Web site spans 500 pages. They provide the most comprehensive overview of his giving and may be accessed here.
Why did Soros establish the Open Society Foundations?
"When I had made more money than I needed for myself and my family, I set up a foundation to promote the values and principles of a free and open society," George Soros has said.
What is an “open society”?
An open society is a society based on the recognition that nobody has a monopoly on the truth, that different people have different views and interests, and that there is a need for institutions to protect the rights of all people to allow them to live together in peace. Broadly speaking, an open society is characterized by a reliance on the rule of law, the existence of a democratically elected government, a diverse and vigorous civil society, and respect for minorities and minority opinions.
The term “open society” was popularized by the philosopher Karl Popper in his 1945 book Open Society and Its Enemies. Popper's work deeply influenced George Soros and it is upon the concept of an open society that Soros bases his philanthropic activity.
When did Soros become active as a philanthropist?
Soros began his philanthropic activity in 1979 when he provided scholarships for black students to attend Capetown University in apartheid South Africa. The Open Society Foundations were established by George Soros in 1984.
What are the annual expenditures of the Open Society Foundations?
Total expenditures by the Open Society Foundations currently average approximately $500 million a year.
In what countries do the Open Society Foundations operate?
The Open Society Foundations are active in more than 60 countries around the world.
How much has Soros donated?
To date he has given more than $7 billion.
What are examples of Open Society Foundations activities?
The Open Society Foundations fund a range of initiatives around the world to advance justice, education, public health, business development and independent media.
A representative sampling of the activities of the Open Society Foundations includes:
Making a $100 million grant to Human Rights Watch.
Responding to devastating flooding in Pakistan by giving a $5 million emergency grant to provide food, clean water, shelter and medical supplies for those in the affected region.
Institutionalizing free after-school programs in New York City through the After-School Corp, which has transformed the way such programs are funded. The Open Society Foundations have provided more than $100 million for this project.
Awarding $11 million in grants to support New York City arts organizations and educational arts initiatives hard hit by the financial crisis.
Contributing $50 million to the Millennium Villages initiative, which seeks to lift some of the least developed villages in Africa out of poverty and into self-sustainability.
Creating a foundation in Hungary to support culture and education and facilitate the country’s transition to democracy. (One early action entailed importing photocopy machines that allowed citizens and activists in Hungary to spread information and publish censored materials.)
Funding the underground Solidarity movement in Poland.
Assisting the Soviet physicist-dissident and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.
Contributing $100 million toward providing Internet access to every regional university in Russia.
Donating $50 million to help the citizens of Sarajevo endure the city’s siege during the Bosnian war, funding among other projects a water-filtration plant that allowed residents to avoid drawing water from distribution points targeted by Serb snipers.
Providing palliative care to the dying. In Armenia, with the support of the Foundations' International Palliative Care Initiative, the government made end-of-life care an official health care service, allowing death with dignity to those suffering from terminal illness. In Georgia, the Foundations joined with lawyers to provide child care and free legal assistance in estate planning to palliative care patients and their families. The Foundations are also a supporter of the European Palliative Care Research Centre at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Winning release for prisoners held without legal grounds in penitentiaries in Nigeria.
Helping halt the spread of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS by joining with global and community-based organizations and activists in Europe and Asia to obtain funding for needle exchange programs and other HIV-related services.
Helping resource-rich countries establish mechanisms to manage their revenues in a way that promotes economic growth and good governance rather than poverty and instability.
Prompting the Kenyan government to acknowledge and address shortages of medicines in public pharmacies. The Foundations activists in Kenya used text messaging to immediately report inventory shortfalls of ten essential medicines.
Launching a kindergarten curriculum for deaf children in Mongolia.
Collaborating with the Margaret Mead Traveling Film Festival to support documentary filmmakers in the Caucasus and Central Asia. Through its Arts and Culture Program, the Foundations present filmmaking workshops and encourages documentary filmmakers to submit films to the Mead Film Festival in New York.
Contributing $35 million to Back to School New York, a state and federal program providing funds to low-income families for the purchase of school supplies.
Providing safety training for journalists and supporting independent media in Pakistan.
Leading a solidarity mission of African feminists to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to support women in that country facing sexual violence, poverty and HIV/AIDS.
Inducing major retailers in Europe and the United States to demand that Uzbekistan stop using child labor to harvest cotton, a crop that generates export revenues of nearly $1 billion for that country's government.
Awarding a grant to Costa Rica's EARTH University to fund a four-year program of study for Haitian and African students. At EARTH, a private, nonprofit institution focusing on entrepreneurial agriculture, OSI scholars study for a bachelor of science degree in agronomy and gain land-use expertise applicable to their home countries.
Supporting development of a radio network and news syndication system in Nepal.
Establishing the Campaign for Quality Education in Pakistan to advance values such as creative and critical thinking, tolerance and social responsibility.
Sponsoring research on environmental degradation and promoting progressive development in Turkmenistan.
Reforming suspension and expulsion practices and drafting a new code of student conduct for Baltimore's poorly performing schools.
Helping human rights activists in the West Bank monitor treatment of Palestinian civilians by Israeli troops at security checkpoints.
Producing a guide to inclusive educational practices for special needs children in Serbia.
Integrating legal services into HIV prevention and treatment programs in East Africa to protect the rights of those living with AIDS against traditional authorities who may be ignorant of or unwilling to apply the law in cases involving people with HIV/AIDS.
Launching the Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative in New York to fund counseling and legal assistance in response to the subprime lending and foreclosure crisis.
Supporting a review of education policies for special needs children in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, publicizing the findings of the review, and funding projects for community-based services for these children.
Funding the National Geographic Society's All Roads Photography Program for local artists photographing their home countries. All Roads grantees are mentored through meetings with photo agencies, publishers and NGOs, and their work is curated by the National Geographic Society for international exhibition.
Launching the Campaign for Black Male Achievement to reverse the exclusion of African American males from full participation in U.S. cultural, economic and political life.
Combating "brain drain" in South Eastern Europe, the Former Soviet Union and Mongolia by supporting returning scholars who, having earned postgraduate degrees abroad, seek university positions in their home countries.
Financing advocacy efforts for passage of freedom of information legislation in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Operating EurasiaNet, a Web site that offers news and analysis of developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus. English and Russian language versions of EurasiaNet aim to inform policy decision makers as well as the general public about issues in the region.
Awarding $4.8 million in grants to organizations across the United States that advocate for improved access to alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
Preparing a manual for community groups in Kenya to use at the grassroots level to monitor local development funds. By conducting budget monitoring, community organizations can reduce incidents of corruption and misuse of finances.
Recognizing the achievements of European Muslim women and raising awareness of the contributions of Muslim women to European life by sponsoring the European Muslim Women of Influence List.
Prompting changes in Turkey's treatment of mentally disabled people. Patients have more access to outdoor activities and better hospital food, and the use of electroshock therapy without anesthesia is banned.
Launching a Web site to cover the trial of Thomas Lubanga, charged with conscripting child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mobilizing opposition to U.S.-sponsored torture during the Bush administration.
Sponsoring photojournalism workshops for youths in the Middle East and North Africa in which students learn to tell their stories through photography, using simple digital cameras and open-source software.
Joining with 40 international groups and experts from around the world to issue a call to action urging governments to reform ineffective and harmful drug policies. The Foundations advocate a drug policy based on scientific and medical research, not politics, that promotes humane treatment of drug users and reduces drug-related violence and health risks.
Awarding grants to Ugandan youths ages 19 to 29 to mobilize their peers and other civil society groups in community-based projects to improve public life.
Increasing public access to statutory and case law in Southern Africa. The Foundations are working with legal information institutes to develop an infrastructure through which the body of law is collected by governments, courts and bar associations, and made freely available to the public in 16 countries across the region.
Supporting the Belgrade Open School in Serbia, an alternative school that incorporates multidisciplinary courses and interactive teaching methods in its curriculum.
Advising developing countries in negotiating migration agreements with developed countries to ensure the protection of migrants' human rights and freedom of movement, and the transparency and accountability of the agreements.
Hosting the OSI Youth Initiative global meeting, which provided an opportunity for leaders from various youth organizations to discuss their efforts to shape public life in their communities.
Here is additional information about the Open Society Foundations’ initiatives.