The Open Society Foundations, a private operating and grantmaking foundation, aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform. On a local level, OSF implements a range of initiatives to support the rule of law, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSF works to build alliances across borders and continents on issues such as combating corruption and rights abuses.
OSF was created in 1993 by investor and philanthropist George Soros to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Those foundations were established, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. OSF has expanded the activities of the Soros foundations network to other areas of the world where the transition to democracy is of particular concern. The Soros foundations network encompasses more than 60 countries, including the United States.
The Open Society Foundations – Armenia was established in 1997 to assist democratic transformations and promote the values of an open society, the one characterized by rule of law, democratically elected government, respect for minorities and their rights, vigorous civil society. Towards this end, the OSF – Armenia has been supporting numerous projects and activities in the field of civil society, law, education, mass media, information, including publishing, electronic communication, support for libraries, public health, women’s rights, arts and culture. Like all other Soros foundation throughout the world, the OSF – Armenia seeks to collaborate and partner with other international organizations, local NGOs and governmental structures in implementation of its projects in order to ensure the efficiency and consistence of its operations.
In consistence with its mandate for long-term and sustainable impact, the OSF – Armenia strives to build up institutional capacities of local organizations. The mechanism of institutional grants introduced by the Foundation in 1999 helped a number of carefully selected Armenian NGOs to become long-term implementing partners of the Foundation and assume leadership roles in promoting democratic idea and practices.
In general, the concept of strong institutions, grassroot organizations, communities and individuals capable of taking charge of continuity and sustainability of projects and initiatives runs through all aspects of grantmaking by the Foundation. Open society consisting of numerous such organizations and communities that are able to initiate public dialogue, exchange ideas and find solutions to burning issues thus perpetuating democratic progress is the ultimate goal of the Foundation.
Over the years of functioning in the country the OSF – Armenia has been collaborating with various international organizations and donor agencies in those program areas that welcome diversity of experience, exchange of ideas and alternate efforts, as well as enlisted support of governmental structures that has added scalability and sustainability to its endeavors. With the accession of Armenia to the Council of Europe and all the implications proceeding from that in terms of legal, economic and social reforms in the country, the OSF – Armenia has got ever great role to play in helping the society and the government in the process of building a truly open society and strong democratic state that is capable of facing the challenges and meeting the standards of contemporary global community of states.