Ford Foundation Working with Visionaries on the Frontlines of Social Change Worldwide
Human Rights

Strengthening Human Rights Worldwide

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For Grant Seekers

Where We Work

The Strengthening Human Rights Worldwide initiative works at the global level and on the ground in the Andean Region and Southern Cone, Brazil, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, Middle East and North Africa, and Southern Africa. It aims to create worldwide impact by working with international and national organizations, particularly from the Global South.

What We Fund

This initiative supports national and international organizations in their efforts to develop and strengthen innovative strategies, approaches, and tools to implement and enforce human rights in their unique contexts, so that these rights become a reality in people’s lives. We also support flagship international organizations in their efforts to develop and strengthen their global programming to promote the rights of the historically marginalized. Global and regional program activities might include:

  • Advocacy to influence and develop new legal frameworks, policies and practices that improve the implementation and enforcement of rights
  • Capacity building and technical assistance to prepare organizations to harness new opportunities
  • Developing innovative methodologies, legal strategies and other tools to ensure more effective protection of human rights at the global and national levels
  • Building and strengthening alliances that will enable the human rights movement to navigate the challenges of addressing the needs of historically marginalized people.

Andean Region and Southern Cone:

We support efforts to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations that are working to strengthen the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities.


We fund organizations and movements that monitor, defend and promote the rights of vulnerable communities that are negatively affected by the impacts of mega projects and events.

India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka:

We support efforts to bolster a holistic legal ecosystem, focusing on key rights issues such as housing for the urban poor.

Middle East and North Africa:

We fund efforts aimed at building an environment that will contribute to respect for, protection and realization of economic and social rights during a time of transition.

Southern Africa:

We support innovative programs and legal strategies that strengthen the implementation of the country’s progressive constitutional framework, and ensure greater transparency and accountability in government.

Additional Selection Criteria

We do not give direct support to governmental and intergovernmental institutions under this initiative. We also do not provide funds for human rights education.

To Apply for a Grant

Follow these steps:

  • Review the Initiatives most relevant to your work.
  • Read our Grant Application Guide, which describes our grant-making process.
  • If you determine that your work aligns with our priorities, submit a Grant Inquiry. (While we welcome submissions, please keep in mind that our funds are limited in relation to the large number of worthwhile inquiries we receive. In a typical year, less than 1 percent of unsolicited inquiries result in a grant.)

Please Note:

It is important that you use our grant inquiry form—and refrain from contacting program officers directly. Given the volume of inquiries we receive, this allows us to log, track and respond quickly to your application.


The vast majority of foundation grants go to organizations. We provide a very limited number of fellowship opportunities for individuals through the Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships Program, which aims to diversify the faculties of American colleges and universities.

The foundation does not have any other active fellowship opportunities at this time.


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