Soros Foundation Romania

The support for the development of Romania as an open society dates from 1990, when the Soros Foundation for an Open Society Association was established. Following the management and legislation changes, in 1997 it became the Open Society Foundation.

The political changes that took place in Central and Eastern Europe about the year 1990 caught the attention of the businessman and philanthropist George Soros who had been promoting the values and the ideal of an open society and was already interested in the transitional process from a closed society to an open one.

"The reason for which I have pursued with the creation of Foundations was the collapse of the soviet regime, which, at the time, I felt it as a revolutionary moment when things impossible to achieve in normal times could be accomplished" declared George Soros. "The majority of the people werenít ready, but I was, I had a goal, which was the open society and I decided to devote myself to this goal, using for it both the money I have as well as my time and energy" said George Soros recollecting those moments.

For Romania, George Sorosí commitment meant the establishment of the Soros Open Society Foundation in 1990, with an initial budget of approximately 1,480,000 USD and with the mandate of developing programs to promptly and efficiently fill the lack of civic initiatives and educational alternatives.

Between 1990 and 1994 the Foundation continued its activity on this direction, not only through its programs, which offered scholarships, but also through a sustained cooperation with the Ministry of National Education in order to use informatics within the educational institutions and to elaborate alternative textbooks. Throughout this period of time, the main fields of interest of the Foundation were education, supporting the civil society, supporting culture, health policies and the reform of the medical field. The available budget for accomplishing these goals increased gradually, reaching approximately 10,000,000 USD in 1994.

The years 1994-1995 brought a change to the Foundationís strategy, which realizes that its role is that of creating opportunities and opening paths, instead of entirely building them. The change of strategy brings about a change of organizational structure and a delimitation of some procedures and more precise responsibilities for the National Council, the managerial team and the juries of the programs. The main fields of activity continue to revolve around education, civil society, communication, culture and health.

The Foundation's renewal process continued along with the changes within the Romanian society and has led to its re-birth, under the name of Open Society Foundation, in 1997. The Foundation, which kept the mission of supporting the advancement of an open society in Romania, focused on four prior domains: public administration, legislative and judiciary reform, education and public health.

The means through which the Foundation promotes the values of an open society and involves in changing the system and mentalities opposite to these values suffered new changes in the year 2000, as a response to the need of expertise concentrated on key domains of reform and to the necessity of an approach that allows the efforts focused on specific fields of society to interpenetrate and multiply, creating effects at the level of a system. The transformation is profound. Gradually, the Open Society Foundation restructured its most important programs as independent organizations. Consequently, 13 organizations were born, functioning as centers of expertise and public policies development, all united within a network, SON (Soros Open Network- Romania).

The creation of SON has also a special signification in the context of reduction of the financial commitment of George Soros towards the Central and Eastern Europe countries. "The path that the Open Society Foundation- Romania has chosen is that, when becoming very efficient in certain fields, to establish autonomous organizations for the financing of which to contribute only partially. These institutions created by the Open Society Foundation will survive even when my financial support diminishes", said George Soros.

Beginning with 2002 and especially since 2003, the Foundation chose to intervene in the institutional reform and in the democratization process through advocacy activities, both directly, as well as supporting other non-governmental organizations in their public activities.

In March 2007, the Open Society Foundation changed its name, becoming the Soros Foundation Romania. Continuing to focus on critical issues for the development of the Romanian society, the Foundation currently streams its financial and human efforts towards advocacy activities, also gaining and providing substantial expertise in fields such as migration and inclusion of vulnerable and marginalized minorities, and going further with monitoring the decision-making process at both central and local levels, the fair allocation of EU funds etc
Contact details:
Address: Str. Caderea Bastiliei nr. 33, Sector 1, Bucuresti
Phone: +40 21 212 2201/02
Fax: +40 21 2121032
email: info@soros.ro
www.soros.ro/ro/