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Nongovernmental Organizations and Foundations


Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are entities, usually international nonprofits, which work in an independent fashion yet complement the work of governments for the benefit of constituencies in civil society. The nature of NGOs runs the gamut from lobbying and advocacy to operations and project-oriented organizations. Their mandates often but not always include working to complement the efforts of state and local governments. Since becoming players in the international economic development world in the early 1980s, NGOs have proliferated in both developed and developing countries.

Foundations are institutions through which private wealth is contributed and distributed for public purposes. They are institutions financed by charitable contributions or endowments and can either be for-profit or nonprofit entities depending on the manner in which their money is invested and managed. Foundations generally grant funds to certain causes in keeping with their mandate and mission. In the case of education, foundations often supplement the public provision of financing for education, many times specifically channeling funds to needy or underserved populations. The board of a given foundation establishes the grant-making policies from which the programming agenda is then derived. Foundations provide grant money to a variety of types of organizations, including nonprofits and NGOs, as well as to universities and schools. The programming agenda is periodically revised to keep abreast of changes in society. For example, following the 2000 U.S. presidential election controversy, the Carnegie Foundation changed its programming agenda to include strengthening U.S. democracy as one of its four main programmatic areas.

Although the work of foundations may be regarded collectively, several people have written scholarly pieces on the work of specific foundations (Robert F. Arnove on the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller foundations; Jeffrey Puryear on the impact of the Ford Foundation's programs in Chile; and James S. Coleman and David Court on the Rockefeller Foundation's impact in Africa). The debate about foundations includes the position that foundations promote the causes that the elite and powerful determine worthwhile (Arnove) versus the argument that they facilitate institution building (Puryear, Coleman, and Court). Although these two positions may seem diametrically opposed, they both start with the premise that social change and developmentas a result of the planning, research, expertise, and leadership of people interested in particular social causesbecomes more viable with funding from private charitable contributions. It is frequently NGOs that are conduits or tangential beneficiaries of the programming decisions or internal policies of these very foundations. Without trying to resolve the debate, it is imperative to recognize the role in international development that both foundations and NGOs play, together with the multilateral development banks, bilateral aid agencies, and governments. The descriptions that follow provide details on the individual organizations, their mandates, objectives, programming agendas, and target populations.

Nongovernmental Organizations

CARE. The Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) is a nonprofit, nonsectarian federation of agencies and NGOs devoted to channeling relief and self-help materials to needy people in foreign countries. Originally organized in the United States in 1945 to help war-ravaged Europe, CARE soon expanded its program to include developing nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Famous for its "CARE packages" of food and other necessities, CARE in now also involved in population, health care, land management, and small economic activity. It is an international organization with ten member countries and headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

CARE's goal is to build self-sufficiency by helping families meet three basic needs: income, education, and health and population services. Its work in education includes promoting literacy, numeracy, and school attendance, particularly among girls who are often denied schooling. Programs improve education for all children, with an emphasis on keeping girls in school. Groups are created so parents and teachers can discuss traditional educational barriers, such as housework or baby-sitting, which keep girls from attending school. CARE also provides economic incentives to help parents cover the cost of keeping their daughters in school.

CARE first began its education program in 1994 with pilot projects in Peru, Guatemala, India, and Togo. Within four years of its inception, it expanded this number to twenty-nine projects in eighteen countries.

Education International. Located in Brussels, Belgium, Education International (EI) has become an important organization for many NGOs, such as teachers unions, in their advocacy work at the national and international level. As an international association of teacher unions, with local teacher associations or unions as members, EI's mission is based on a growing conviction that basic education is a key factor in the eradication of poverty and a cornerstone of freedom, democracy, and sustainable human development. Education also plays a role in eliminating the worst forms of child labor.

Through the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), this NGO brings together organizations working in 180 countries and seeks to hold governments accountable for the fact that 125 million children are denied an education. Education International, Action Aid, Oxfam International, and Global March Against Child Labor jointly launched this program. In terms of teacher evaluation, EI advocates a type of evaluation that is perceived by teachers as being affirmative and supportive as well as balanced and fair and that can contribute to promoting quality in education.

Education Trust. Located in Washington, D.C., the Education Trust is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. Established in 1990 by the American Association for Higher Education as a special project to encourage colleges and universities to support K12 reform efforts, in the early twenty-first century it strives to promote high academic achievement for students at all levels from kindergarten through college (K16). The organization functions on the premise that in order to achieve significant change in K12 it must simultaneously change the way that postsecondary education does business. Similarly, the Education Trust maintains that postsecondary education needs as much improvement as the K12 level.

The Education Trust works for the high academic achievement of all students. It abides by the tenet that all children taught at high levels will learn at high levels. The students and institutions most often left behind in plans to improve education are its focus, in particular those institutions serving low-income Hispanic, African-American, and Native American youth. Education Trust strives to close the achievement gaps that separate poor and minority students from their more advantaged peers. Efforts to improve elementary and secondary education must be undertaken in conjunction with postsecondary education. The organization places emphasis on high standards, rigorous curriculum, good teaching, and accountability for results. Participating in education debates at the national and state policy level, the Education Trust works alongside policy-makers, parents, education professionals, and community and business leaders in communities across the United States to transform schools and colleges into institutions that genuinely serve all students.

Oxfam International. Oxfam International is an international confederation of eleven autonomous NGOs committed to working together to fight poverty and injustice around the world. Each shares the commitment to end waste and the injustice of poverty, in long-term development work and during times of urgent humanitarian need. The common mandate for all of the Oxfams is to address the structural causes of poverty and related injustices and create lasting solutions to hunger, poverty, and social injustice through long-term partnerships with poor communities around the world. The organization has an advocacy office in Washington, D.C., which lobbies the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations on issues agreed upon by the eleven member organizations. As a privately funded organization, it strives to speak "with conviction and integrity to challenge the structural barriers that foster conflict and human suffering and limit people from gaining the skills, resources, and power to become self-sufficient."

Oxfam invests privately raised funds and technical expertise in local organizations around the world that hold promise in their efforts to help poor people move out of poverty. These projects are characterized by partnerships with local organizations, a unique and highly successful approach that ensures lasting change. Through the local partnerships, Oxfam listens to the local needs and works jointly toward solutions that enable communities to prosper and organize for economic stability and democratic opportunity. Oxfam is committed to these long-term relationships in search of lasting solutions to hunger, poverty, and social inequities. As part of this commitment, Oxfam is dedicated to educating the public worldwide on the realities of poverty and the universal obligation to establish a future that is equitable, environmentally sustainable, and respectful of the rights of all peoples.

In education, Oxfam plays an active role in ensuring that aid resources are channeled to education, which plays a vital role in poverty reduction, economic growth, and democracy. The organization plays an advocacy role, regularly issuing policy and position papers that react to the policies of G8 countries, large donor organizations, and international summits.

Save the Children. Save the Children is an international nonprofit child-assistance organization (or NGO) based in Westport, Connecticut, which works in forty-six countries worldwide, including the United States. Its mission is to make lasting, positive change in the lives of children in need. Save the Children is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a worldwide network of twenty-six independent Save the Children organizations working in more than 100 countries to ensure the wellbeing of children everywhere.

Nearly seventy years of experience working alongside families and communities in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Eurasia, Africa, and Asia has convinced Save the Children that poverty "need not be a life sentence." To help children get the best possible start in life, Save the Children promotes locally appropriate programs in education, health care, environmentally sound agriculture, and economic productivity.

In a world where the majority of illiterate adults are women, improving access to education for girls is urgent. At the outset of the twenty-first century, nearly two-thirds of the 125 million children not attending primary school are girls. The cycle of illiteracy traps millions of girls and women throughout the developing world. But with education, this cycle can be broken. Studies show that an educated mother is more likely to provide her children with adequate nutrition, seek needed health care, and send her girls, as well as boys, to school. Save the Children focuses on education as a critical means of improving the quality of life for both mothers and their families.

In an effort to address the lack of access to quality education experienced by more than one billion people, Save the Children's programs support communities in the development of quality education programs. Working with communities, the organization explores initial concepts to bring Strong Beginnings programs to the area. The programs include research and project development in each community, which leads to the implementation of active intergenerational-learning programs for all ages, early childhood development, primary education, and youth and adult nonformal education.

Save the Children's education programs have produced many dramatic results in the lives of women and girls around the world. In Afghanistan, where prior to 2002 girls were kept in seclusion and not allowed to attend formal school, the program has established home-based classrooms to provide basic education that would otherwise be denied. More than 20,000 girls in remote villages of Mali, where schools were once rare, are learning to read and count. And women participating in literacy programs in Guatemala are learning to manage their lives and take on leadership roles in their communities.

World Vision. Based in the United Kingdom, World Vision is an international Christian relief and development NGO, which works to promote the wellbeing of all people, especially children. World Vision strives to enable families and communities to transform their conditions and gain self-reliance in a sustainable manner. It achieves this by working with the poor in their communities; it helps them gain access to clean water, better agricultural production, improved health care, and primary education.

World Vision's advocacy initiatives draw on the expertise and experience of staff throughout the world who work in countries and communities that are afflicted by poverty. World Vision works to raise their concerns in the United Kingdom, with ministers and members of Parliament, through meetings, briefing papers, a discussion paper series, and special reports. World Vision has policy staff working on the areas of child rights, conflict, peace building, and also global economic issues. Each of these advocacy themes has the potential to bring real benefits to ordinary communities in developing countries.

Although World Vision is a Christian organization, the organization has child-focused projects that are offered freely, regardless of belief, ethnic background, or gender. The organization's literature claims that "faith fuels our work and supplies our staff with wisdom and ability, our donors with the resources they share, and enables our recipients to work toward the fulfillment of their dreams."


The Broad Foundation. Located in Los Angeles, California, and established in 1999, the Broad Foundation supports innovative efforts to strengthen local, state, regional, and national initiatives to improve governance, management, and labor relations in large urban school systems. The foundation is dedicated to building K12 educational leadership capacity, strengthening union-management relations, and supporting aggressive, systemwide strategies to increase student achievement. It aims to infuse a new kind of school system leadership in order to strengthen the state of public education.

The Broad Foundation's investments are targeted toward the following five program areas: (1) support for entrepreneurial and nontraditional leaders;(2) leadership training; (3) recruitment and selection strategies; (4) visibility for high performers; and (5) venture philanthropy.

The area of support for entrepreneurial and nontraditional leaders provides funding to current innovators, such as superintendents, school boards, union presidents, and other leaders in the K12 public education system, through rewards for high performance, grants for specific district and union projects, and funding for ongoing networking and assistance. A leadership training area provides grants for the support and development of training for aspiring and current innovators. The area of recruitment and selection strategies provides assistance to districts and to business and community organizations interested in securing the next generation of entrepreneurial educational leaders and managerial talent. Visibility for high performers is an area that permits the foundation to engage in public visibility campaigns that showcase the results of systemwide improvements in urban districts. The foundation also supports research and dissemination projects that actively communicate the results of high-potential endeavors. Finally, the venture philanthropy area funds entrepreneurial ideas from inside and outside the current system that offer high-leverage opportunities to improve K12 education.

Carnegie Corporation of New York. Founded in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie for the "advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding among people of the United States," the Carnegie Corporation is a general-purpose, grant-making foundation. Charter amendments made subsequent to its founding permit the corporation to channel close to 7.5 percent of its income for the same purpose in countries that are currently or have been members of the British Commonwealth. Most such grants are in British Commonwealth Africa. As a grant-making foundation, the corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in this world."

The focus of the corporation's work has evolved over time, adapting its program areas to changing circumstances as Andrew Carnegie wished. Although current program directions have been designed to correspond with the corporation's historic mission and legacy and to maintain the continuity of its work, they are also intended to serve as catalysts for change. A current challenge facing the Carnegie Corporation is how to support the development of a global community in an age when both isolationism and nationalism seem to be fostering a fractured view of the world. This raises the question of how to use the current glut of information to foster a sense of community, rather than letting it disintegrate community.

After a review of the foundation's management structure and grant programs under the leadership of Vartan Gregorian, the corporation refined its programmatic focus, which in the early twenty-first century includes education, international peace and security, international development, and strengthening U.S. democracy. In addition, a new program, Carnegie Corporation Scholars Program, strives to support fundamental research by young scholars with outstanding promise and also by established expert who stand to contribute significantly to the corporation's mission.

In education, the Carnegie Corporation dedicates a large majority of its funds to education reform ranging from early childhood education to higher education. The education program focuses on three key areas: early childhood education, urban school reform, and higher education. Within these areas, the corporation's goals are to promote the creation of high-quality early learning opportunities on a large scale; accelerate urban school reform; strengthen the education of teachers; and stimulate an examination and strengthening of liberal arts education. In education, the corporation has traditionally had a significant impact on public policy for children, teachers, and other stakeholders in the educational process. Through its focus on education, Carnegie has successfully convened special bodies of experts and opinion leaders to study related issues and publish several key reports.

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is a national and international center for research and policy studies about teaching and is an ancillary philanthropy of the Carnegie Foundation. With a focus on the scholarship of teaching, the foundation seeks to generate discussion and promulgate sustainable, long-term changes in educational research, policy, and practice. Foundation programs are designed to foster deep, significant, lasting learning for all students and to improve the ability of education to develop students' understanding, skills, and integrity.

The Ford Foundation. Established in 1936 by Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, and his son Edsel, the Ford Foundation is one of the most important and prominent foundations in the field of education. From 1936 to 1950 the foundation made grants mostly to organizations in its home state of Michigan. In 1951 the foundation moved to New York City and began its focus on national and international giving.

The Ford Foundation is a private philanthropic institution, which seeks to improve the well-being of people around the world by funding "experimental, demonstration, and developmental efforts that give promise of producing significant advances in various fields."

The foundation is governed by a board of trustees and administered by a professional staff. The board of trustees includes CEOs, senior officials in higher education, and people involved in Native American interests. The trustees determine general policies and budgets. The staff evaluates grant applications, identifies institutions to administer programs, and makes recommendations for grants.

The foundation has identified certain program areas in which it is interested in funding projects. It generally does not make grants for normal operating costs of an organization, construction of buildings, or for strictly religious activities.

The foundation has identified six broad categories of programs in which it is interested: urban poverty, rural poverty and resources, human rights and social justice, governance and public policy, education and culture, and international affairs.

The type of work the foundation funds is equally diverse. The foundation funds projects, which involve direct assistance to the needy, and grants to organizations, which seek to influence public policy. Over the years the foundation has provided grants to establish new organizations, found new academic departments at universities, fund demonstration projects, and assist other philanthropies. The foundation has organized coalitions with other philanthropies, government, and nonprofit organizations to work on projects. It also administers its own projects.

In some cases the foundation has funded programs on an ongoing basis, which over time become established institutions, such as community development corporations (CDCs). Since the late 1960s it has made grants of nearly $200 million to CDCs in depressed urban areas, which initiate economic development projects; raise additional funds; offer job training, day care, and credit; and advocate for improved government services.

The Ford Foundation has sixteen offices overseas. Approximately 35 percent of the annual budget is allocated for overseas projects. Programs include agricultural development in Latin America, Africa, and Asia; a training program for judges in China; international studies in Chile; and philanthropy in Egypt.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The William H. Gates Foundation (founded in 1994 with a focus on health issues in developing countries) and the Gates Learning Foundation (founded in 1997 but renamed the Gates Library Foundation) merged in August 1999 to become the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which encompasses those two foundations and the Gates Center for Technology Access. The Gates Foundation ranks as one of the wealthiest private foundations in the world. Established by the Microsoft cofounder and chief executive officer, the Seattle, Washington-based foundation is led by Bill Gates's father, William Gates Sr., and supports initiatives in education, technology, global health, and community giving in the Pacific Northwest.

Although many benefit from the linking of the globe in a digital web of communications and information flow, the foundation strives to pay attention to those who have not shared in the promise of the digital age. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to sharing the promise of new technologies with all citizens. The foundation is focusing its efforts in three critical areas: (1) U.S. education; (2) libraries; and (3) public access to information.

In its work on education, the foundation perceives the education system as an immensely important strategic front for forging a future in which all children can participate in the opportunities of the digital age. In March 2000 the foundation announced a $350 million, three-year investment in a series of education grants designed to help all students achieve at high levels by improving teaching and learning and enhancing access to technology.

In 1999 Bill and Melinda Gates made a defining gift of $1 billion to establish the Gates Millennium Scholars program, which will provide scholarships for academically talented minority students (African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans) who would otherwise not have the financial resources to attend college. Additional scholarships are available for minority scholars pursuing graduate degrees in science, mathematics, engineering, education, or library science.

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Based in Flint, Michigan, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation was the brainchild of the sailor, automotive engineer, industrial pioneer, banker, educational innovator, and community leader by the same name. In addition to these attributes, Mott was also a philanthropist.

The grant-making activities of the foundation focus on four main areas: civil society; the environment; development in Flint, Michigan; and pathways out of poverty. In addition, the Exploratory and Special Projects program permits the foundation to explore new opportunities. About 20 percent of the foundations grants are international in scope.

Of particular interest to educators are the program for civil society and the efforts to decrease poverty. The mission of the civil society program is to "strengthen citizen and nonprofit-sector engagement in support of free and pluralistic democratic societies," with primary geographic focus on the United States, central and eastern Europe, Russia, South Africa, and at the global level. In the United States the efforts focus on strengthening the fabric of civil society in the face of public apathy and cynicism, extremist forces, and an economically and racially divided society.

Within the program area of Pathways Out of Poverty, efforts include improving community education, expanding economic opportunity, building organized communities, and special initiatives. The mission for the programmatic area of improving community education is to "ensure that community education serves as a pathway out of poverty for children in low-income communities by building a continuum of quality learning opportunities that stretches from the preschool years through preparation for higher education and the work force." This includes promoting school readiness, success in school, and learning that spans beyond the classroom.

Lilly Endowment. Founded in 1937 by pharmaceutical manufacturer Josiah K. Lilly, this foundation, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, grants funds for religious, educational, and charitable purposes. Of special interest to the foundation are programs designed to foster the growth and development of Christian character.

Its endeavors in education include aid to Protestant theological seminaries, other colleges, and elementary and secondary education. Most of the foundation's work in education focuses on raising the educational-attainment level of citizens of the state of Indiana. The endowment also provides grants to private, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) throughout the United States. In addition, the endowment focuses on positive development of youth by providing support to direct-service organizations, building the capacity of intermediary organizations, and providing professional development for staff members in such organizations.

The Pew Charitable Trusts. Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Pew Charitable Trusts support nonprofit activities in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy, and religion. The trusts consist of seven individual charitable funds established between 1948 and 1979 by two sons and two daughters of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew. Though the trusts are separate legal entities, their grant-making activities are managed collectively and guided by a single set of program priorities. The trusts make strategic investments that encourage and support citizen participation in addressing critical issues and effecting social change.

The work of this foundation in education seeks to raise the performance of students at all levels of education, especially the capabilities of students to learn for understanding and to acquire the types of literacy necessary for productive employment and effective citizenship in an increasingly complex society. The foundation's broad efforts in education include an interest in publicly funded preschool education programs, standards-based reform in K12 education, other K12 reform efforts, and support to higher education. In higher education, the foundation is interested in issues of access to higher education, the quality of higher education, and the means for keeping the United States competitive in the emerging global and technology-intensive economy.

Rockefeller Foundation. Based in New York City, the Rockefeller Foundation is a knowledge-based, global foundation with a commitment to enrich and sustain the lives and livelihoods of poor and excluded people throughout the world. The foundation seeks to identify, and address at their source, the causes of human suffering and need. The foundation's approach to current global challenges focuses on poor people's daily existence, and how the process of globalization can be turned to their advantage. Program funding is focused on grant-making areas that reflect the interconnections between people's health, food, work, creative expression, and the impact of globalization on the poor. The Rockefeller Foundation's central goal is to "give full expression to the creative impulses of individuals and communities in order to enhance the well-being of societies and better equip them to interact in a globalized world."

Within the unit that encompasses education, knowledge, and religion, the foundation seeks to enhance educational opportunity, especially for low-income and chronically disadvantaged groups, and to address the challenges of pluralism and diversity using interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches. Through education reform, the foundation seeks to enhance the capacity of schools and higher education institutions to broaden access and increase levels of student achievement, particularly for historically unserved populations. In higher education and scholarship, the foundation seeks to build fields of knowledge that deepen scholarship and public understanding of pluralism and identity. The foundation emphasizes the importance of social science training as a means to educate a new generation of leaders and scholars who can be more effective in their civic roles.

Smith Richardson Foundation. H. Smith Richardson, son of the founder of Vicks Family Remedies, and his wife, Grace Jones Richardson, created the Smith Richardson Foundation in 1935. Located in Westport, Connecticut, the Smith Richardson Foundation seeks to "help ensure the vitality of our social, economic, and governmental institutions," and "assist with the development of effective policies to compete internationally and advance U.S. interests and values abroad." This mission is embodied in its international and domestic grant programs.

The foundation has two grant programs: the International Security and Foreign Policy Program, which supports research and policy projects on issues central to the strategic interests of the United States; and the Domestic Public Policy Program, which supports research, writing, and analysis on public policy issues and strives to help inform policymakers and the public on domestic issues. Education policy and school reform are two of the foundation's most important areas of grant making. Such grants support research at universities, think tanks, and research organizations on important education policy issues, such as charter schools, school choice, teacher training and pay, class size, and educational standards. This grant making is focused on policy debates in the United States. Although the grant-making efforts do not include a particular focus on certain levels of education, research on higher education is not supported.

Soros Foundation. American stock trader and philanthropist George Soros has used his wealth to create a network of foundations, most of which are intended to aid former Communist countries in creating an "open society." Other Soros foundations fund health initiatives and aid immigrants in the United States.

In the parlance of the Soros foundations network, the term national foundation refers to an autonomous nonprofit organization founded by George Soros in a particular country to promote the development of open society in that country. National foundations are located primarily in the countries of central and eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, although there are some in other parts of the world. A local board of directors comprising distinguished citizens from different ethnic, geographic, political, and professional backgrounds determines the specific priorities and activities of each foundation. Given the diversity of social, political, and economic conditions in the countries of the network, programs vary greatly in nature and urgency from one foundation to another. Yet all of the foundations' activities share an overarching common mission: to support the development of an open society. The local nature of the decision-making process at the foundations is one of the distinctive features of George Soros's approach to philanthropy.

In promoting an open society, education plays a role in the work of most of the foundations; however, the focus varies from country to country. For example, the Soros Foundation provided education to 300,000 Burmese refugees in Thailand, India, and Bangladesh, serving otherwise underserved populations. In Armenia the Internet and National Education programs, redesigned in 1999, increased school outreach and community involvement in education. A network of schools and organizations provided the training and support required to develop the idea of community schools. The aim is not only to strengthen community participation but also to improve the quality of the education system by introducing modern methodology and criteria for curriculum development.

In other countries such as Latvia, the Soros Foundation emphasizes the importance of raising critically thinking, tolerant, and creative young people. In such countries the foundations provide continued support to primary and secondary education while simultaneously devoting efforts to the strengthening of higher education, especially in terms of the study of law and pedagogy.

Stuart Foundation. Based in San Francisco, California, the Stuart Foundation's overarching purpose is to help the children and youth of California and Washington states become responsible citizens. The foundation's approach is to help strengthen the public systems and community supports that contribute to children's development. Three grant program areas exist: (1) strengthening the public school system; (2) strengthening the child welfare system; and (3) strengthening communities to support families.

The Stuart Foundation employs a systemic approach to change. The following themes characterize the foundation's approach to strengthening public systems and communities in all three grant-making programs: (1) making public policies more effective by supporting efforts to improve statewide or local policies so that public systems and communities can support the development of children and youth more effectively; (2) policy analysis and policy development by supporting projects that examine the effectiveness of policies for children and youth; that improve the quality of information available to policymakers, stakeholders, and the public; and that provide a nonpartisan forum for discussion and dialogue to build understanding and consensus for improvements; (3) standards or accountability through support to the development of standards and systems for measuring results that promote greater accountability and program improvements, and that can gain the support of policymakers, practitioners, communities, and business leaders; and (4) making connections and building understanding to solve social problems by uniting people and organizations with different perspectives (e.g., educators, parents, policymakers, business people, and service providers) to build a shared understanding and reach agreement on what needs to be done.

The foundation seeks to foster stronger connections among policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to foster information exchange, fresh thinking, and creative solutions. It promotes collaboration across agencies and disciplines in which closely related programs integrate their work to achieve greater benefits for children and youth. It strives to build public understanding of key issues in education, child welfare, and community well-being, and to secure a more supportive environment for effective policies and practices. It seeks to improve practice through the development and dissemination of more effective practices, through the promotion and dissemination of successful innovations, and through effective methods to promote widespread improvements in practice.

Spencer Foundation. Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Spencer Foundation was established by Lyle M. Spencer, founder of the educational publishing firm Science Research Associates. The foundation investigates "ways in which education, broadly conceived, can be improved around the world." A basic research foundation with both international and domestic interests, the foundation supports high quality investigation of education through its research programs by promoting scholarship through various grant programs for research, postdoctoral fellowships, predissertation research, conferences, and training. Such grants are open to people from an array of backgroundsresearchers, practitioners, and young professionals.

The foundation's programs are organized within three divisions: Research, Fellowships, and Training. In addition, a handful of programs are also operated out of the office of the vice president. Programs in the research division support work that shows promise of contributing new knowledge, understanding, and improvement of educational thought and practice. Programs in the fellowship division support educational researchers at different stages of their professional careers, providing resources to both beginning and senior researchers to pursue concentrated intellectual activity. Programs in the training division are aimed at improving the work and performance of agencies and institutions, mainly universities and graduate schools of education at universities, which hold a mission of training and apprenticing educational researchers. Funding programs within the vice president's office are experimental or developmental, spanning and augmenting the other divisions' programmatic objectives. The majority of the programs administered within the training division and the office of the vice president are invitational.

See also: International Development Agencies and Education.


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Smith Richardson Foundation. 2002. <>.

Soros Foundation. 2002. <>.

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Katherine Taylor Haynes

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Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)

Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)

Collaborative efforts among the public have played an important role in shaping the political and social values and hence public policy of the United States. Organizing with others who share a similar vision enhances the potential for change. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) accomplish just that. Established outside of political parties, NGOs are aimed at advocating the public's

organization founding budget focus accomplishments
conservation international 1987 $50,000,000 to preserve and promote awareness about the world's endangered biodiversity. working with the cambodian government to create a one-million-acre protected area. sponsored scientific research of coral reefs off indonesia. helped create the world's largest national rain forest.
izzak walton league of america 1922 $3,000,000 to protect and promote sustainable resource use. helped create the land and water fund. were instrumental in the protection of the boundary waters canoe area wilderness, everglades national park, and isle royale national park.
national audubon society 1905 $44,000,000 to restore and protect the natural habitat of birds and other wildlife for the benefit of human interest and biodiversity. involved the public in bird counts across the united states to track populations. has opened nature centers to promote understanding of birds.
national wildlife federation 1936 $96,000,000 the largest member-supported conservation group working to protect wildlife and ecosystems. function in forty-six states to promote the protection of species and their environments. worked in the western united states to prevent urban sprawl and sustainable forestry.
natural resources defense council 1970 $30,632,992 using science and law to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places. worked with the epa to restrict pesticide use, prevented the development of a large airport near the florida everglades, and have helped design a plan to restore yosemite.
nature conservancy 1951 $245,000,000 to protect aquatic and terrestrial habitats for the survival of biodiversity. own over a thousand preserves and have protected more than fourteen million acres of land in the united states.
wilderness society 1935 $14,700,000 protect the remaining wilderness in the united states by keeping roads, loggers, and oil drilling efforts out of wilderness areas. helped block oil exploration near arches national park, created the wilderness act, which was passed in 1964, and the conservation act which was passed in 1980.
wildlife conservation society 1895 $95,000,000 support international survival strategies as well as habitat conservation projects. formed jackson hole wildlife park in 1956, led the national campaign to reintroduce bison to the kansas grasslands, and created the bronx zoo.
world wildlife fund 1961 $60,000,000 protect and preserve endangered species. launched wildlands and human needs projects to address the needs of people living in fragile ecosystems.
sierra club 1892 $43,000,000 to educate and enlist people to protect the environment through lawful means, and address key issues including commercial logging, urban sprawl, and water quality. assisted in preserving the north grove calaveras big trees, fought to return yosemite to federal management, and worked to create the national park service.
environmental defense fund 1967 $39,000,000 create solutions to environmental problems including policies to reduce fossil fuels. won a ban on ddt use, prevented the development of a resort on former state park land that would endanger native species.
greenpeace usa 1971 $19,266,530 nonviolent direct action to expose environmental threats. drew attention to ocean incineration of toxic waste, resulting in a ban of the practice; also, won an end to sperm whale hunting, halted the testing of nuclear arms off florida.
friends of the earth 1969 $3,000,000 to protect earth from environmental disaster through toxic waste cleanup and groundwater protection. conducted lab tests proving that genetically altered food not approved for human consumption was being sold, won a federal court case that prevented army corps of engineers from illegally issuing permits for developers to fill in wetlands.

concerns and pressuring governments to do a better job. These organizations may range from a handful of local citizens enacting recycling in their community to a million-member-strong organization with a budget of $20 million.

Agents of Information and Action

NGOs are often nonprofit groups that employ a variety of tactics for achieving awareness among the public and the government. The very nature and structure of NGOs has been advantageous in dealing with pollution issues for several reasons. First, membership within NGOs consists of people with a strong personal commitment to their cause. Second, the focused efforts of NGOs allow their leaders to become specialized. Third, the loose structure of NGOs enables them to respond with greater speed and flexibility than the government.

Throughout the forty years of the modern environmental movement, NGOs have been crucial in bringing visibility to pollution problems affecting both the local and international communities. According to Peter Willets, "Information is the currency of politics, and the ability to move accurate up-to-date information around the globe has been a key factor in the growing strength of environmental groups" (Willets, p. 114). The communication of information has been accelerated through the use of the Internet. In addition, NGOs also rely heavily on publications, media coverage, and conferences to collaborate with one another and to educate the public.

Although reformers of the Settlement House era of the late 1800s and early 1900s organized efforts for change within city neighborhoods, the formation of prominent mainstream organizations such as the Wilderness Society and Sierra Club are widely considered to be the first major environmental NGOs. Rooted in early-twentieth-century debates over the exploitation of land, these early NGOs lobbied the government by talking with local officials and publishing works on the importance of wilderness. One of the most notable efforts to drum up public support was a series of full-page advertisements taken out by the Sierra Club from 1965 to 1968 in the New York Times vilifying the prospects of building hydroelectric dams in and flooding the Grand Canyon.

Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace are two NGOs with international status that have fought to keep the public informed about pesticides and toxics pollution through direct action techniques. Their practices of physically obstructing or protesting industry has made them popular in the media since the groups' inception in the 1970s. In one particular instance, Friends of the Earth amassed a collection of Schweppes bottles and subsequently dumped them on the company's front steps. Their efforts to send a clear message to the beverage company about waste pollution attracted media coverage and brought about a rise in membership. Similarly, Greenpeace employed confrontational tactics by sailing the vessel Phyllis McCormack towards a French nuclear testing site to halt testing. In another campaign, Greenpeace members put themselves in small boats between whalers and whales.

The Rise of International Networks

By the mid-1980s there were thousands of NGOs. Their success across the globe was encouraging to environmentalists and it was encouraging to a publicboth national and internationalthat had begun to see the importance of NGOs in environmental issues. Danish NGOs won a complete ban on throwaway beverage packaging while Australian NGOs won concessions on mining in their national parks. The use of phosphates in detergents was banned in Switzerland with the help of NGOs. But as pollution became a major factor in the global debate of acid rain, global warming, and ozone depletion, NGOs saw a great need to collaborate internationally.

The discovery of a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica provoked furious action among American NGOs. Apparent disinterest shown toward the issue by European NGOs prompted several U.S. NGOs to send representatives to Europe to discuss the consequences of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) on the atmosphere. As a result of their meeting, the U.K. branch of Friends of the Earth drew up a campaign to publish its own guide to pollutants. In 1986 Aerosol Connection was a resounding success in communicating to the public how to support non-CFC products. Thousands of people were eager to get their hands on a copy. Raising public awareness weakened the position of the chemical companies in the United Kingdom, because they had controlled most public information about CFCs. The scientific information that NGOs supplied for the debate over CFCs helped speed negotiations on the Montréal Protocol, which called for a ban on CFC use. The experience clearly illustrated the power of NGOs to successfully lobby internationally.

NGOs experienced greater inclusion in the political arena throughout the 1990s. NGO pressure on World Bank policy set a precedent for collaboration by the World Bank with NGOs in the international realm. By challenging the World Bank to support environmentally viable water projects, NGOs exposed an array of existing problems to the media, to the U.S. government, and to congressional staff. Just a week after collaboration with the World Bank, NGOs from across the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the 1992 Earth Summit. Twenty years earlier, the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm was a major turning point for NGOs. Because only government officials were invited to the conference, NGOs gathered around the conference site to debate their own positions. To help clarify confusion surrounding conference issues, NGOs published a newspaper which they delivered to the media, embassy, and hotels where attendees were staying.

The 1992 Earth Summit

Having learned from the 1972 UN Conference, the planners of the 1992 Earth Summit coordinated a parallel conference for NGOs. Known as the Global Forum, this satellite conference enabled NGOs across the world to network, share research, and evaluate their collective role in protecting the environment. Together, NGOs drafted an extensive collection of treaties including the Earth Charter, a document meant to parallel the Summit's Rio Declaration, an agreement defining the rights and responsibilities of countries. Five years after the 1992 Earth Summit, five hundred NGOs met in New York to judge their progress and push for a redrafting of the Earth Charter. By 2000 a new draft was finalized to express the renewed vision NGOs hoped to fulfill.

By the mid-1990s NGOs had secured an important position in the environmental movement's crusade against pollution. Organizations large and small, striving to eradicate pollution, raised the public's level of awareness. Because pollution is at the same time a local and international problem, NGOs have been essential on all levels. Their dedication to issues and their multifaceted approaches to disseminating information makes them an important asset to the cause they represent and to the legislation they are hoping to influence. International NGO networks only serve to improve the environmental movement as receptivity to NGO work continues to expand worldwide.


fox, jonathan, and brown, l. david. (1998). the struggle for accountability: the world bank, ngos, and grassroots movements. cambridge, ma: mit press.

gottlieb, robert. (1993). forcing the spring. washington, d.c.: island press.

hays, samuel p. (2000). a history of environmental politics since 1945. pittsburgh: university of pittsburgh press.

hedblad, alan, ed. (2003). encyclopedia of associations, 39th edition. detroit: gale group.

markham, adam. (1994). a brief history of pollution. new york: st. martin's press.

willets, peter. (1982). pressure groups in the global system. london: st. martin's press.

internet resources

ciesin. "a summary of the major documents signed at the earth summit and global forum." available from

citizens campaign for the environment. "coalitions and affiliations." available from

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environmental defense fund. "notable victories." available from

natural resources defense council. "environmental legislation." available from

transformational movement. "earth charter." available from

united nations. "un conference on environment and development (1992)." available from

worldwatch institute. "wto confrontation shows growing power of activist groups." available from

Christine M. Whitney

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Nongovernmental Organizations (Ngos)

Nongovernmental Organizations (Ngos)




The term nongovernmental organization, or NGO, refers to a vast range of nonprofit organizations that are not a part of any government. They vary in size from a few people operating on a shoestring budget to huge globe-spanning organizations. Highlighted below are some crucial questions and controversies that are salient in shaping the political economy of NGOs as social actors, particularly in relation to their often assumed status as expressions of civil society; their relationship to social movements; and the ways they both constrain and enable progressive social change.

The number and visibility of NGOs have expanded dramatically since the 1970s, in part because neoliberal policies have reduced the role of the state in many areas. NGOs commonly work in numerous fields, including humanitarian and other social services; research, monitoring, and information provision; and advocacy around particular issues, such as the environment, health, the empowerment of marginalized communities, human rights, and the status of women and minorities. Many NGOs contract with states and intergovernmental organizations to provide services. During the early decades of NGO growth, they were celebrated as efficient providers of services and deliverers of empowerment. As a result, they became consultants to governmental and international agencies, particularly as representatives of the grass roots.

NGOs are sometimes called voluntary organizations, highlighting a presumption that social values, rather than profit or political power, are the primary motivators in the functioning of such organizations. These notions of values and voluntarism have led observers to see NGOs as expressions of civil society, similar to social movements, and to interpret their increased visibility as a strengthening of the influence of civil society in the affairs of the state and the economy.


Since the mid-1990s, the popular perception that NGOs are potential agents for diffusing development and enabling empowerment has increasingly been subjected to critical scrutiny in academia and in the community spaces where NGOs operate. Critics have pointed out that it is incorrect to assume that NGOs are automatically accountable to the target groups in whose name they work. Indeed, some pseudo-grassroots, or astroturf, NGOs have been set up by business or political interests to provide a misleading impression of grassroots action to advance their own agendas. Often astroturf groups try to hide their status as a vested interest.

More generally, the NGO form itself can blunt its potential for social activism for several reasons. First, NGOs commonly have an organizational hierarchy with paid staff and offices, so they must raise funds, either from donors or through contracting to provide services. This financial dependency frequently renders NGOs accountable to their funders. It also promotes a tendency toward professionalization. These factors often create tensions with movement-based models of social change that rely on mass mobilization.

Second, when NGOs rely on donors for funding, it becomes difficult for them to support alternative visions and local initiatives. For instance, David Hulme and Michael Edwards, in NGOs, States and Donors (1997), ask whether the interests, values, methods, and priorities of NGOs have become so tied with those of northern-government donors and developing country-states that they have now been socialized into the development industry. Have NGOs gained so much leverage, Hulme and Edwards wonder, because they now have the social grace not to persist with awkward questions and the organizational capacity to divert the poor and disadvantaged from more radical ideas about how to overcome poverty? (p. 3).

Third, NGO structures and project funding often lead to increased standardization and constrain the spaces for NGOs to learn in response to local concerns, leading to major gaps between advocacy and practice. As states increasingly outsource their functions to them, NGOs find themselves in a race to do rather than to reflect. As David Lewis and Tina Wallace put it in New Roles and Relevance (2000), Finding ways of becoming learning organizationsas well as finding ways to increase accountability at all levelslargely continue to evade NGOs, yet the successful search lies at the heart of NGOs ability to respond in ways that are truly relevant (p. xiv).

These processes, through which organizations working at the grassroots level lose their connection with their prime constituency and support base, have been called NGOization. There is thus an implicit or explicit critique that NGOs and their ties with the state are significantly reshaping, or even replacing, community-based activism. For Arundhati Roy, such NGO-ization of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job. With a few perks thrown in (Roy 2004).

NGOization is by no means confined to the Third World. For example, Sabine Lang argues in The NGO-ization of Feminism (2000) that the NGOization of German womens movements brought with it: (1) a structural emphasis on professionalized but decentralized small-scale organizations; (2) a turn from antihierarchical to more hierarchical structures; and (3) the partitioning of a complex feminist agenda of emancipation and equality into specific single issues with a state-oriented politics. While feminist movement-building prioritized the making of a new democratic counterculture, new feminist NGOs have aimed for issue-specific intervention and pragmatic strategies that have a strong employment focus.

On a global level, gender mainstreaming and poor womens empowerment have been important features of NGOization, with issues such as violence against women, adult literacy, HIV/AIDS, and microcredit being addressed (in isolated forms) as significant priorities. At the same time, issues that had been prominent in womens movements in the prestructural-adjustment era, such as price inflation of basic foods, womens unions, and land reforms, have been pushed aside. Thus, the structure and social location of NGOs can situate them as diffusers of the hegemonic values, ideologies, and knowledge to people at the grass roots, rather than as challengers of existing hierarchies of power that advance broader visions of social change.


In a context in which NGOs have increasingly been called upon to help manage the problems produced by neoliberal policies and to pacify those who have been hardest hit by such policies, many small movements have found it impossible to exist without engaging with donor agencies or local and national NGOs in one form or another. The challenge before such organizations is to find creative ways to support their political work while also maintaining their accountability and transparency before the people they work for and work with. Despite the countless challenges, resistance to NGOization continues in many small organizations.

SEE ALSO Accountability; Feminism; Human Rights; International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs); Marginalization; Microfinance; Minorities; Organizations; Poverty; Resistance; Third World; Volunteer Programs; Volunteerism; Womens Movement


Hulme, David, and Michael Edwards. 1997. NGOs, States and Donors: An Overview. In NGOs, States and Donors: Too Close for Comfort?, ed. David Hulme and Michael Edwards, 332. New York: St. Martins.

Lang, Sabine. 2000. The NGO-ization of Feminism: Institutionalization and Institution Building within the German Womens Movements. In Global Feminisms since 1945, ed. Bonnie Smith, 290304. New York: Routledge.

Lewis, David, and Tina Wallace. 2000. Introduction. In New Roles and Relevance: Development NGOs and the Challenge of Change, ed. David Lewis and Tina Wallace, ix-xvii. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press.

Roy, Arundhati. 2004. Tide? Or Ivory Snow? Public Power in the Age of Empire. Speech given in San Francisco, California, on August 16, 2004.

Sangtin Writers, and Richa Nagar. 2006. Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

David R. Faust

Richa Nagar

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Nongovernmental Organizations

Nongovernmental Organizations

The term nongovernmental organization (NGO) gained widespread use beginning in 1945, when it was used in the United Nations Charter to clearly distinguish between governmental and private organizations. To be considered an NGO, an organization must be free from government control, non-profit, not considered a political party, and not involved in criminal activity.

While NGOs are, by definition, independent from government, they often engage in political activities and work closely with governments. NGOs are involved in activities related to international development, including relief work, provision of health and human services, advocacy for human rights, and environmental protection. There are several types of NGOs, such as charity organizations, churches, research institutes, community-based organizations, and lobbying groups. Those whose primary focus is on the development and implementation of projects and programs are referred to as operational NGOs, and those whose primary focus is on defending or promoting a certain cause or influencing policies are called advocacy, or campaigning, NGOs. However, both operational and advocacy NGOs have to mobilize financial resources, needed materials, and volunteers in order to achieve their goals and purposes.

NGOs can be divided into three broad categories based on the scope of their work: community-based organizations (CBOs), national organizations, and international organizations. CBOs are usually established by members of a local community to serve their own needs. National organizations are formed to serve people within an entire country, and international organizations are usually headquartered in a developed country and provide services to more than one developing country. CBOs, national organizations, and international organizations may interact and work together. Since the mid-1970s the number of NGOs around the world has increased substantiallyby the late twentieth century there were between 6,000 and 30,000 national NGOs and thousands of CBOs (the data on the number of NGOs is, unfortunately, very incomplete).

see also Disaster Relief Organizations.

Laura Nelson


Basch, Paul F. (1999). Textbook of International Health. New York: Oxford University Press.

Internet Resources

Duke University Perkins Library. "Non-Governmental Organizations Research Guide." Available from <>

Willetts, Peter (2002). "What is a Non-Governmental Organization?" Available from <>

World Bank. "NGO World Bank Collaboration." Available from <>

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