As this busy, fruitful year winds to a close, we take a moment to look back on some of the highlights of the past 12 months. To learn more about the work we supported throughout the year, browse our 2013 grants in our grants database.

Telling Powerful Stories

The foundation provided major support to eight films that competed and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival before going on to wider release and acclaim. One of them, “How to Survive a Plague”—about a group of activists who helped transform AIDS from a death sentence into a treatable disease—earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

Expanding Learning Time

Early in the year, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both used their State of the State addresses to make strong statements in favor of expanded learning time. One year after the launch of the TIME Collaborative (in which Ford is a key partner), more than 9,000 students at schools in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts and New York are benefitting from expanded school schedules. And more and better learning time is gathering steam, being implemented in increasing numbers of schools across the U.S.

Promoting Transparency and Accountability

Our Nairobi office worked to ensure that Kenya’s elections, held in March, were free and fair. Through the foundation-supported Tuvuke Initiative, the office created opportunities for civil society organizations to strategize about their efforts to safeguard the electoral process and promote democracy, supporting efforts to conduct voter education, establish a media center that will report on the election in real time and strengthen public outreach.

Improving Workers’ Lives

This year saw progress in securing paid sick leave for low-wage workers and increasing the minimum wage, goals of our Ensuring Good Jobs and Access to Services and Promoting the Next Generation Workforce Strategies initiatives. When a new policy is implemented in 2014, workers in Portland, OR will be eligible to receive paid sick time without fear of lost pay or being fired. And in a victory for the nearly two million home care workers, the U.S. Labor Department announced regulations that will protect home care workers’ rights to minimum wage and overtime payments.

Marching Forward for Justice

In a year that marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington—and in the wake of disappointing Supreme Court decisions on voting rights and affirmative action—the foundation brought together leading figures from the civil rights and social justice movements, policymakers, business leaders, artists and activists to discuss the rulings’ implications and explore the next frontlines of the civil rights movement.

Fighting Gender Violence in India

In July, Kavita N. Ramdas, the Ford Foundation’s representative for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, wrote an essay about her horror at the spate of sexual violence in India and her hopes for a future of justice, opportunity and equality for all people. Throughout December, our India office put a spotlight on gender justice. We gathered grantees to share strategies and challenges in addressing gender-based violence, and brought together donors to develop a more sustainable source of funding for these issues.

Creating Just Cities

Building on a long history of support for Detroit, we funded robust community engagement that resulted in tens of thousands of conversations, ideas and suggestions from Detroiters and the in-depth study “Detroit Future City.” In the wake of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, we remain committed to helping revive this essential American city.

In Colombia, we established a partnership with the city of Cali to promote inclusive urbanization. Working together with the city, we’re supporting urban development priorities like slum improvements, housing relocation for families displaced by armed conflicts, a transit and greenway corridor, an inclusive regional planning initiative, and access to social protection programs.

Welcoming New Leadership

In September we welcomed the foundation’s 10th president, Darren Walker, followed by new vice presidents to lead all three of our core program areas: Hilary Pennington in Education, Creativity and Free Expression; Martín Abregú in Democracy, Rights and Justice; and Xavier de Souza Briggs in Economic Opportunity and Asset. Moving into 2014 with this team in place, we look forward to reaffirming our commitment to the values that have guided our work for more than 75 years, and exploring new ideas and frontiers.

Advancing the Freedom to Marry

This summer, we cheered as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. Just this month, New Mexico became the 16th U.S. state (plus Washington, D.C.) to legalize same-sex marriage—joining Illinois, Delaware, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Hawaii and New Jersey on the list of states that cleared the way for equal marriage in 2013. Grantees in our Advancing LGBT Rights initiative helped bring about these victories, as we know they will continue to do until we realize true equality for all.

Protecting and Empowering Consumers

Grantees of our Improving Access to Financial Services initiative led a range of efforts to address predatory lending and saw their work having an impact. In a report, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau came out strongly against payday loans: short-term, high-cost credit that can mire borrowers in debt. Federal regulators are also cracking down on websites that sell sensitive consumer data to payday lenders and banks that offer innocuous-sounding “deposit advances.”

Reinvigorating the Global Human Rights Movement

We announced $6.25 million in grants to seven leading human rights organizations that will strengthen and diversify the global human rights movement. The grants focused on human rights organizations that operate in numerous countries and international forums, underscoring the foundation’s long commitment to supporting collaboration and fostering effective networks.

Protecting Immigrant and Migrant Rights

Our grantee NDLON collaborated with the musician Aloe Blacc to create a video for his hit song “Wake Me Up” that tells the story of a day laborer family striving for a better life and struggling to be united across borders, putting relatable faces on the immigration debate. Part of that debate was put in stark relief by a study published by our grantee the Migration Policy Institute, which showed that the U.S. spends more on than on all other federal law enforcement combined.

In a move marking the culmination of efforts by our grantee Sin Fronteras, the Mexican Supreme Court issued a protocol that will enable authorities to implement the recent constitutional human rights reform and strengthen the judiciary’s capacity to respect and guarantee rights for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

Building a More Equitable Region

As the greater New York metropolitan area continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, the foundation has engaged in a broad effort to support the region’s long-term response to the storm. We granted $5 million to the NYC Nonprofit Recovery Loan Program, which has been providing interest-free loans to local nonprofits affected by the storm. Our Good Neighbor Committee helped communities rebuild by making 23 grants, totaling $469,000, to a diverse set of community organizations. We supported efforts to promote transparency in the allocation of disaster recovery funds, and to ensure that the needs of low-income people are addressed equitably in the rebuilding process. And we collaborated with worker centers in New York and New Jersey to expand and extend job opportunities as a means of strengthening recovery efforts.

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.