A year ago, we set out to ensure that the Ford Foundation's grant making was addressing the challenges of the next generation. Our aim was to produce a set of strategies that look forward but that also draw upon Ford's more than 50 years of experience on the frontlines of social change around the world, fighting for social justice and focused on the poorest and most marginalized among us.
We dedicated ourselves to a collaborative process, listening carefully to leaders and partners in every sector, from nonprofits and academia to business and government. I thank all of you—more than 2,000 individuals and institutions in all the regions in which we work—whose thoughtful input helped us make this a broadly informed process.
The effort has resulted in a profound recommitment to the mission and values that have long defined the Ford Foundation. This recommitment is expressed in a comprehensive set of new strategies aimed at creating fairness and equity for people everywhere. It is our intention to make certain that the objectives of our programs are clear, that our grant-making approaches are oriented to a changing world and that our contributions help bring about real and lasting change in people's lives.
In short, we embarked on this work to ensure that all our resources—our staff, funding, and reputation—are aligned in the most effective way to achieve our mission. To that end:
We are very conscious that our grantees have a stake in the choices we have made, as well as questions about how the shift to new strategies will be managed. We are pleased that, thus far, our grant making has experienced minimal disruption, and we are devoting the remainder of 2009 to working with our partners on a smooth transition. To allow time for this, full implementation of our new grant strategies will not begin until October, when our 2010 fiscal year starts.
We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. We believe that the next generation of Ford's work has the potential to help achieve the lasting social change in which we all believe.
But it will not be easy. The challenges of discrimination, economic inequity and lack of access to opportunity are real and growing. In many areas where our past support contributed to significant gains, ground is being lost. More immediately, all of us are feeling the pain of the global economic crisis, and this year will likely be harder than last.
That's why our effort to bring greater focus and strategy to our work is so timely, and why the efforts we will pursue with our partners in the years ahead are perhaps more vital than at any time in the past 40 years.
As we look to the future, we remain fully committed to the courageous people who struggle every day to have their voices heard, find dignity in their work and provide opportunity for their children. These are the people, and these are the issues, the Ford Foundation was created to address.
Now more than ever, we look forward to helping you find lasting solutions for the challenges of these urgent times.
Luis A. Ubiñas