Open Society Institute
The Open Society Institute (OSI) was created, in 1993, by George Soros, as a private operating and grantmaking function to support his foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Those foundations were established, starting in 1984, to help countries make the transition from communism. They have expanded to 60 countries, including the United States, and are guided by citizen boards based on local priorities, consistent with the broad goals of the original foundation. "...initiatives are established with predetermined life cycles and funding levels. Over the years, several of them have been either closed down completely or spun off as entities that are no longer affiliated with OSI." George Soros also makes direct contributions, especially where a foundation might be barred from funding political activities.
The broad mission is shaping "public policies that assure greater fairness in political, legal, and economic systems and safeguard fundamental rights. On a local level, OSI implements a range of initiatives to advance justice, education, public health, and independent media. At the same time, OSI builds alliances across borders and continents on issues such as corruption and freedom of information. OSI places a high priority on protecting and improving the lives of people in marginalized communities."
OSI-United States contributes to community development groups, but also to organizations considered liberal to progressive, such as American Civil Liberties Union, Public Interest Research Group, and People for the American Way projects.
There are a number of families of initiatives:
- Black Male Achievement
- Criminal Justice
- Democracy and Power
- Equality and Opportunity
- National Security and Human Rights
- Special Initiatives
- Strategic Opportunities
- Transparency and Integrity
Under the Transparency and Integrity initiative is an Academic Freedom area, which focuses on two clusters of threats to academic freedom:
- those posed by conservatives who wish to regulate university hiring policies and pedagogy on the basis of political criteria; and
- those posed by the increasing commercialization of the academy.
The first cluster specifically creates the Free Exchange on Campus coalition, which specifically names David Horowitz as an example of "conservative activists' ideological assault on higher education." (see David Horowitz Freedom Center). "With OSI support, Free Exchange has been able to hire dedicated coalition staff and organizers."