From the 1970s to the present, the Ford Foundation’s investment in fellowship and research grant programs in the Middle East and North Africa has expanded access to high-level academic and professional opportunities, particularly for marginalized groups. How effective have these efforts been in advancing progress toward broader goals, such as network building, expanding the pool of social justice leaders, leveling the playing field for disadvantaged populations, and laying the groundwork for more equitable public policies?
In this report, program officer Moushira Elgeziri reviews four major programs, outlines their successes and shortfalls, and distills a set of lessons that can inform the design of current and future awards programs. The report underscores the importance of defining target populations and disciplinary scope, while remaining receptive—and responsive—to constituency needs as they arise. It points to potential missteps for programs attempting to become less dependent on primary funders. And it stresses the need to develop ways to gauge the more intangible and less immediate impacts these programs have on individuals and their communities.