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



Overcoming deep inequalities and the full implementation of rights and principles set forth in the 1988 Constitution are critical to achieve the economic and social justice changes necessary for Brazil to fulfill its national potential.

The Regional Context

With the end of military dictatorship in 1985 and the adoption of a new constitution in 1988, Brazil developed a solid foundation for a vibrant democracy. This foundation supported sweeping social progress: infant mortality has dropped almost in half since 1990, enrollment in basic education reached 97 percent in 2005, and poverty rates have been reduced 13 percent from 1995 to 2008.

Despite this progress, much of Brazil's wealth remains highly concentrated. With the 10th largest economy in the world, Brazil still has 53 million citizens living below the poverty line, and more than 19 million living in extreme poverty. Crime and violence kills thousands of Brazilians every year, and land ownership remains largely in the hands of the rich and powerful. People of color, in particular, continue to face discrimination and exclusion from decision-making processes and are underrepresented in key institutions.

Our Goal

The goal of our work is to help change structures and policies that deepen the inequalities faced by marginalized groups.

We support efforts to bring positive change to key public systems and institutions that perpetuate inequality, discrimination and exclusion. We believe these steps will strengthen democracy and create a process for broader social justice change, where vulnerable groups across the country will have the opportunity to access public services and protect their rights.

What We're Doing

Our work is carried out in collaboration with innovative people from a range of fields and organizations, including universities, government agencies, civil society groups and other key institutions to better represent the interests of the underrepresented, including Afro-Brazilians, traditional and indigenous populations and women.

We focus on:

  • Strengthening enforcement of the justice and rights systems, especially pertaining to the challenges of enforcing human rights in cities
  • Securing land rights and sustainable natural resources use
  • Promoting a balance between freedom of expression and media regulation
  • Strengthening Afro-Brazilians and Indigenous people's organizations and leadership

Our grant making in the region is pursued through the following initiatives.

Issue Initiative
Human Rights
Sustainable Development
Freedom of Expression

Regional Office



  • Nilcéa Freire
  • Letícia Osório
  • Graciela Selaimen
  • Aurélio Vianna Jr.


Ford Foundation
Praia do Flamengo 154, 8° andar
CEP 22210-030
Rio de Janeiro, R.J.

+55 21 3235 2100
+55 21 3235 2104

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