We work to build strong and resilient institutions across the Middle East and North Africa to help advance social inclusion and reduce inequality in all its forms.
We provide multiyear BUILD grants to a subset of our grantees in the MENA region so that they can invest in core organizational strengthening. Below is a list of organizations in the region that have received BUILD grants to date.
Action for Hope provides cultural relief and development programs to meet the cultural, social, and psychological needs of distressed, displaced, and informal communities, using a flexible, multifaceted model that tailors activities to the needs of the target communities. The organization launched with a focus on Syrian refugees but plans to extend its work to reach other marginalized communities in the Arab region. Action for Hope was founded on the belief in arts and culture as a fundamental human need and a vital element of personal development. It believes that artists, writers, cultural activists, and social workers can fill gaps left by traditional relief efforts by providing tools and safe spaces for creative expression, sharing stories, and encouraging the building of support networks.
Action for Hope launched its Landscapes of Hope project in October 2018 to establish a platform for discussion and collaboration among civil society actors from different countries working in different sectors, such as human rights, arts and culture, development, and urban planning. The initiative explores ways to scale up and consolidate efforts to address some of the world’s most pressing problems related to freedom of expression, social and economic marginalization, forced displacement and migration, and gender inequality, to name a few. It also highlights the role the arts can play in addressing social change issues. Landscapes of Hope community members bring diverse experience in working toward social change in situations of distress, especially during and in the aftermath of armed conflict, or under volatile political or economic conditions—and all have achieved demonstrable impact in their respective local, national, or regional context.
The Arab Council for the Social Sciences is a regional, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening social science research and knowledge production in the Arab world. By supporting researchers and academic/research institutions, the ACSS aims to contribute to the creation, dissemination, validation, and utilization of social science research and to enrich public debate about the challenges facing Arab societies. The ACSS also aims to enhance the role of the social sciences in Arab public life and in informing public policy in the region.
Deep-rooted social, political, and economic transformation in the Arab world have impeded academic and research capacities for analyzing Arab societies and charting the way forward. To remedy this, the ACSS has delineated three critical tasks for itself: 1) building a community of Arab social scientists, 2) producing quality research and building capacity, and 3) generating relevant and meaningful research agendas to allow the social sciences to prosper in the Arab region.
The Arab Social Science Monitor, a major project of the ACSS, is an observatory dedicated to surveying the landscape and assessing the trajectory of social science research in Arab countries as well as following up on emergent research agendas and themes. To that end, both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected and analyzed, and a resource website will be created for the posting and dissemination of the data and analysis. A key publication of the Monitor is the biennial Arab Social Science Report.
Culture Resource (Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy) is a regional nonprofit organization founded in 2003 that seeks to support artistic creativity in the Arab region and encourage cultural exchange within the region and beyond. The work of Culture Resource is based on an appreciation of the value of the diverse cultural heritage within the Arab region and a belief in the critical role of culture in the development of civil society, the importance of access to culture for all, and the rights of artists to freedom of expression.
Culture Resource seeks to fulfill its mission to support artists and cultural organizations throughout the Arab region with a range of services and programs. These activities include support for independent artists to create new work and to travel and tour these works, capacity-building and training programs as well as publications in Arabic aimed at developing cultural managers and organizations, cultural policy research, support for artists at risk, and support for the sustainability of cultural industries in the region without undermining the value of culture as a public good and a basic human right.
The mission of Culture Resource is based on a belief in the importance of independent cultural expression in building democratic societies and in promoting dialogue and respect among societies and nations. In the current context of war, forced migration, and shrinking space for free expression in the Arab region, Culture Resource provides a unique window for independent reflection on the fundamental social changes the region is undergoing.
The Wijhat: International Mobility Fund for Artists and Cultural Actors program, launched by Culture Resource in July 2018, aims to promote arts and culture from the Arab region by supporting the local and international travels of artists and cultural actors from the region, providing them the opportunity to operate in a wider context, taking part in cultural events and activities, presenting their work to diverse audiences, exchanging knowledge and expertise with peers, and building their professional capacities.
Ettijahat – Independent Culture is an institution that looks toward a plural, diverse, intellectually productive, and artistically genuine Syria, where culture is the inalienable right of every citizen. Ettijahat supports Syrian artists, builds alliances between individuals and cultural institutions, and helps Syrian communities wherever they are gain access to culture and the arts.
Ettijahat’s capacity-building program aims to provide full-time research opportunities for young Syrian and Palestinian-Syrian researchers (ages 22-35) within the field of cultural studies. The program seeks to enhance the researchers’ skills, providing them the tools and guidance needed to carry out their research. Often, the program is their first research endeavor following their academic studies, and they benefit from working with experienced cultural researchers who constitute the program’s selection committee and directly supervise the young researchers’ projects.
The Alexandria Trust works to fulfill its vision of an Arab region that once again is home to world-class standards of education, recapturing the ancient traditions of Alexandria as a center of learning, where teachers and students engage in vibrant debate and first-rate instruction and scholarship.
Al-Fanar Media "الفنار للإعلام" (The Lighthouse), a project of the Alexandria Trust, is an interactive online platform dedicated to covering higher education in the Arab region. Launched in 2013, the bilingual site (in Arabic and English) provides a forum for faculty, senior leadership, and students across Arab universities and beyond to learn about one another’s challenges, opportunities, and best practices. It aims to provide balanced, accurate, and insightful coverage of academic life in the Arab world, and seeks ways to support the training of young journalists interested in covering higher education through responsible and accurate reporting. Al-Fanar Media also serves as a watchdog for academic freedom—monitoring whether women, minority groups, and the poor have full access to education—and it champions universities as beacons of arts, culture, and scholarship.
The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture is an independent initiative that offers financial and professional support to emerging and established artists and contemporary arts and culture institutions across the Arab region. It is recognized as one of the main legitimate sources of support for creative people from the region and as a model for a responsive service provider grant-making organization. Since its inception in 2006, the AFAC has been dedicated to supporting a diversity of voices and to repositioning culture to be an integral priority for the development of contemporary Arab societies.
Already, the AFAC has supported more than 200 institutions and 850 projects, of which 58 percent of the artists are emerging and 40 percent are women. This has resulted in the direct employment of over 11,000 man-years of cultural professionals, and the works supported have reached millions of people.
The AFAC is unique among similar organizations in the region, not only in the artistic production it has enabled, but also in continuously cultivating Arab philanthropy and seeking to match donations from international foundations with donations from Arabs. It has made serious steps toward encouraging investment in culture among a relatively nascent Arab philanthropy traditionally focused on investing in education, health care, and humanitarian aid.
The AFAC initiated the Arab Creativity & Entrepreneurship Fund to encourage individuals from the Arab region and around the world to buy $1,000 shares—with a goal of reaching $1 million in total—in support of arts and culture initiatives. The AFAC’s master class on Philanthropy in Arts and Culture, run in partnership with top European business schools and banks, is building the capacity of cultural philanthropy to invest in the social development of the Arab region.