Ford Foundation kicks off 50th anniversary in Eastern Africa with program of special grants

NEW YORK / NAIROBI, 23 May 2012 — The Ford Foundation today announced a program of special grants and activities to celebrate its 50th anniversary working in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The anniversary celebrations throughout 2012 will highlight efforts by the foundation and the organizations it supports to deepen democracy, build greater inclusion and expand opportunity in Eastern Africa.

The centerpiece of the program is a $2 million grant for the Tuvuke Initiative for Peaceful and Fair Electoral Process in Kenya—a national campaign being undertaken by a diverse group of 17 Kenyan NGOs and coordinated by Kenya Women Holding, a longstanding grantee of the foundation.

Over the next few months the foundation will announce other special initiatives to mark its 50th year of working on the ground in Eastern Africa. Announcements will include grants, lecture series and other activities in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

“We have been honored to be part of the Eastern African community for 50 years,” said Luis A. Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation.

“In all the regions where we work, our mission is to help local people realize their aspirations for freedom, opportunity, dignity and achievement,” added Ubiñas, who will be visiting Eastern Africa later this year during the climax of the jubilee celebrations. “The people and organizations we have supported in Eastern Africa over the years are the true leaders—courageous people who have helped create the vibrant and strong East Africa of today.”

The Ford Foundation began working in Eastern Africa in 1962, just as newly independent states were emerging across the region. In the five decades since, the foundation has played a key role in the region’s development. The foundation funded the first microfinance organizations in Eastern Africa, for example, which now serve more than 1 million low-income households in Kenya alone. Early foundation support for scholarships trained two generations of government, academic and civil society leaders. Early human rights grantees such as The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers and the Kenya Human Rights Commission are today leading voices in advancing constitutional reform and access to justice for historically excluded voices. And support for innovative, community-based resource management approaches is now widely replicated by government agencies, benefiting rural communities that derive livelihoods from wildlife and forestry—to name just a few areas of impact on a large scale. The foundation has been a leading supporter of the arts, creative expression and new media in the region as well.


The $2 million grant on peaceful elections will support a national effort created by 17 leading civil society organizations to advance a vision of democracy, peace, and civic engagement in Kenya and the broader region.

Tuvuke (Swahili for “Let us cross over”), will be formally launched at a news conference on May 28. The initiative aims to engage the electorate in a manner that sustains the progress of recent and ongoing constitutional reforms and to promote a new democracy in Kenya through ethnic and religious understanding.

“This is a time of incredible promise for the region,” said Maurice Makoloo, Ford Foundation representative for Eastern Africa. “We see renewed constitutional democracies and civil society organizations that have become stronger.”

“The challenge we face is that millions of people are still excluded from opportunity in our region,” Makoloo added. “The organizations we support are united in a belief that the promise of democracy can be realized only if all people participate fully, and peacefully, in the decisions that affect their lives. That’s why we’re so proud to support the Tuvuke initiative.”


The foundation has invested nearly $300 million in the region since 1962, helping to lay a foundation for democracy by supporting the growth of civil society, advancing women’s rights, developing leaders in key sectors, and strengthening government.

Today the foundation provides some $12 million each year to support institutions in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania that are working for a freer, fairer and more prosperous East Africa.

“The work we support is designed to break down the barriers that too often prevent East Africans from contributing to the region’s future and acting as engaged citizens,” Makoloo said. “East Africans can be justly proud that these efforts have been led by home-grown leadership and grassroots efforts. Their commitment to human dignity and opportunity for all their fellow citizens inspires us.”

For more information on the Tuvuke initiative, contact Dr. Jennifer Riria at [email protected] or +254722203824.

Media Contacts

Press Line
Tel (+1) 212-573-5128
Fax (+1) 212-351-3643
[email protected]

Joshua Cinelli
Media Relations Chief
[email protected]

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.