Ford Foundation: Anti-Racism Research

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Ford Foundation: Anti-Racism Research

The Ford Foundation's 2000 Annual Report notes that:

"Beginning in the United States with the civil rights movement of the 1950's, the foundation supported groups like the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (L.D.F.) in their efforts to insure equal access to voter registration, employment, housing and the administration of justice. Recognizing the need to combat discrimination against other groups in American society, the foundation went on to help create the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the Native Americans Rights Fund and the Women's Law Fund Inc. The foundation also turned its attention to racial discrimination outside the United States with support for the long struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the longstanding efforts of African-Brazilians to obtain equal rights and the growing movement to address openly issues of race and ethnicity in new constitutions being drafted in Africa and Asia. In the year 2000 alone, the foundation's Peace and Social Justice program made some $80 million in grants for human rights worldwide, including $26 million for minority rights and racial justice, $7 million for refugees' and migrants' rights and $8 million for women's rights. And returning to its roots, the program made new grants totaling $14 million to L.D.F. and MALDEF as they pursued courtroom battles to defend affirmative action and equal access to higher education.
"The coming United Nations conference represents a special opportunity to focus global attention on the challenge of overcoming racism, but it will fail to have lasting impact without careful preparation and follow-up. For this reason the foundation's Peace and Social Justice program has committed some $10 million for pre- and postconference events during 2000 and 2001. Like the previous United Nations global conferences, the one on racism involves an arduous schedule of preliminary meetings—in Geneva, Tehran, Bangkok, Addis Ababa, Strasbourg, Santiago and Dakar. In these "prep-coms," "regional preparatory meetings" and "regional expert meetings" governments will identify specific problems of racism along with policies and programs for addressing them. A portion of the foundation's funding, therefore, is going directly to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to help with the official preparations.
"With the growth of civil society and the advent of more democratic forms of government worldwide, United Nations conferences are increasingly welcoming a broad range of citizen participants. Few governments will bring their positions to South Africa without a lengthy process of planning in which nongovernmental organizations have taken part, either by invitation or by earning a hard-won seat at the table. NGO's will strive to have their voices heard as they "shadow" the official process by holding preparatory meetings of their own as well as an international NGO Forum concurrent with the official South Africa conference.
"The bulk of the foundation's support for the conference is earmarked for this NGO process, since it is through such organizations that the voices of those who suffer racism can best be heard. In late 2000, for example, the Chilean IDEAS Foundation organized the Citizens' Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in the Americas, with more than 1,500 participants, to forward recommendations directly to the regional intergovernmental "prep-com." The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights is working to place on the United Nations conference agenda the issue of broad-based discrimination against nearly 160 million Dalits, who are considered to be below the lowest rank of India's caste system. The Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia is contributing ideas from its foundation-supported project on comparing race relations in the United States, Brazil and South Africa. Organizations like the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium and the Indian Law Resource Center are preparing their U.S. constituencies for participation. And the International Human Rights Law Group in Washington, D.C. is demystifying the complex United Nations conference procedures for citizens' groups around the world." [1]

Projects by year

In 2002, New York University was "awarded a grant of $117,000 from The Ford Foundation to support an upcoming conference that will examine the psychological factors driving racism in America and how to best to confront them. Entitled “The American Dilemma Revisited: Psychoanalysis, Social Policy, and the Socio-Cultural Meaning of Race,” the conference will draw noted scholars and public policy experts from across the country for a multi-disciplinary dialogue exploring how racial categories are determined by social and unconscious psychological factors." [2]

In 2007 it was announced that "The Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC) and Columbia University’s Center for Contemporary Black History (CCBH) have received a grant for $91,219 from the Ford Foundation to develop the prototype for a new web-based multimedia resource, The Amistad Digital Resource for Teachers." [3]

Groups receiving funding

Resources and articles


  1. 2000 Annual Report, Ford Foundation, accessed July 4, 2007.
  2. NYU Receives Ford Foundation Grant for Psychoanalytic Conference On Racism in America, NYU Press Release, accessed July 4, 2007.
  3. Columbia’s Amistad Project Receives Ford Foundation Support, Columbia University Libraries, accessed July 4, 2007.

Critiques from the Right

Gerald M. Steinberg, "NGOs Make War on Israel", Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2004.

Other External Resources


In 1938 the Carnegie Corporation "commissioned a landmark analysis of black-white relations from sociologist Gunnar Myrdal; the result, An American Dilemma, would help spark the civil rights movement." [2]