NEW YORK and NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ford Foundation today announced a program of special grants and activities to celebrate its 50th anniversary working in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The anniversary celebrations throughout 2012 will highlight efforts by the foundation and the organizations it supports to deepen democracy, build greater inclusion, and expand opportunity in East Africa.
The centerpiece of the program is a $2 million grant for the Tuvuke Initiative for a Peaceful and Fair Electoral Process in Kenya – a national campaign being undertaken by a diverse group of 17 Kenyan NGOs and coordinated by Kenya Women Holding, a long-standing grantee of the foundation.
Over the next few months the foundation will announce other special initiatives to mark its 50th year working on the ground in East Africa. Announcements will include grants, lecture series, and other activities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
"We have been honored to be part of the East African community for 50 years," said Luis A. Ubinas, president of the Ford Foundation.
"In all the regions where we work, our mission is to help local people realize their aspirations for freedom, opportunity, dignity and achievement," added Mr. Ubinas, who will be visiting East Africa later this year during the climax of the jubilee celebrations. "The people and organizations we have supported in East Africa over the years are the true leaders – courageous people who have helped create the vibrant and strong East Africa of today."
The Ford Foundation began working in East Africa in 1962, just as newly independent states were emerging across the region. In the five decades since, the foundation has played a key role in the region's development. The foundation funded the first microfinance organizations in East Africa, for example, which now serve more than 1 million low-income households in Kenya alone. Early foundation support for scholarships trained two generations of government, academic, and civil society leaders. Early human rights grantees such as the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers and the Kenya Human Rights Commission are today leading voices in advancing constitutional reform and access to justice for historically excluded voices. And support for innovative community-based resource management approaches is now widely replicated by government agencies, benefiting rural communities that derive livelihoods from wildlife and forestry – to name just a few areas of impact on a large scale. The foundation has been a leading supporter of the arts, creative expression, and new media, as well.
About the Tuvuke Initiative
The $2 million grant on peaceful elections will support a national effort created by 17 leading civil society organizations to advance a vision of democracy, peace, and civic engagement in their country and the broader region.
Tuvuke (Swahili for "Let us cross over"), will be formally launched in a press conference on May 28th. The initiative aims to engage the electorate in a manner that sustains the progress of recent and ongoing constitutional reforms, and promote a new democracy in Kenya by promoting ethnic and religious understanding.
"This is a time of incredible promise for the region" said Maurice Makoloo, Ford Foundation Representative for East Africa. "We see renewed constitutional democracies and civil society organizations that have become stronger."
"The challenge we face is that millions of people are still excluded from opportunity in our region," Makoloo added. "The organizations we support are united in a belief that the promise of democracy can only be realized if all people participate fully, and peacefully, in the decisions that affect their lives. That's why we're so proud to support the Tuvuke initiative."
$300 Million since 1962
The foundation has invested nearly $300 million in the region since 1962, helping lay a foundation for democracy by supporting the growth of civil society, advancing women's rights, developing leaders in key sectors, and strengthening government.
Today the foundation provides some $12 million each year to support Kenyan, Ugandan and Tanzanian institutions working for a freer, fairer, and more prosperous East Africa.
"The work we support is designed to break down the barriers that too often prevent East Africans from contributing to the region's future and acting as engaged citizens," Makoloo said. "East Africans can be justly proud that these efforts have been led by home-grown leadership and grassroots efforts. Their commitment to human dignity and opportunity for all their fellow citizens inspires us."
SOURCE Ford Foundation