News and analysis
February 06, 2012

No. 4: George Soros

Derek Lieu, for The Chronicle

George Soros

Amount donated in 2011: $335-milion

Beneficiary: Open Society Foundations

Donor’s background: Mr. Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management, a New York firm that manages hedge funds, and founded the Open Society Foundations.

Mr. Soros, 81, gave $335-million to his Open Society Foundations, an organization that includes the Open Society Institute and other grant makers that are primarily supported by his wealth. Mr. Soros established the Open Society Institute in 1993 to support the development of democratic institutions throughout Central and Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union.

In 2011, the Open Society Foundations awarded $862-million to nonprofits. The largest was a $95-million grant to the Institute for New Economic Thinking, which Mr. Soros helped start in 2009, when he donated $50-million to establish the organization at Central European University, in Budapest. (The philanthropist also helped found the university in 1991.) The institute was established as a response to the global financial crisis and focuses on challenging traditional economic thought through research grants, a scholarly journal, and conferences.

In addition, the foundations gave $60-million to Bard College, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., for its Center for Civic Engagement, the college’s public-policy institute. The college must raise an additional $120-million from other donors to receive all of the grant money. The foundations also awarded $30-million to support the Young Men’s Initiative, a new program started by New York’s mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg (No. 5 on the Philanthropy 50 list) to fight economic and social disparities that stymie the progress of young black and Latino men.

—Maria Di Mento

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