Published in Fast Company | January 20, 2017

The Ford Foundation funds social justice work through a $12 billion endowment that includes committing about $500 million a year in grants to nonprofit organizations. The group, originally founded by Ford Motor Company tycoon Henry Ford and his son Edsel, supports national and international efforts aimed at greater equality through civic, social, and criminal reforms. The group is known for spending creatively to find new ways to solve problems: Typically, foundations limit funding on overhead costs in favor of supporting program-related efforts. In 2016, it committed $1 billion toward helping up to 300 nonprofits improve their backend operations over the next five years allowing struggling groups to sustain and scale. Foundations generally spend just 5% of their endowments, putting 95% back into fund-related investments. In 2017, Ford pledged that it would deploy $1 billion of its endowment over the next decade on mission-related investments to match the financial returns with social strides.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries 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. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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