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Occasionally we make exceptionally large or significant grants to an organisation or a group of organisations. These grants usually address pertinent or pressing issues of our time and fall outside the remit and budget of our regular programmes. Read on for a list of our Special Initiative grants with links to more information.



Human rights related Special Initiative grants

Human rights are standards that allow all people to live with dignity, freedom, equality, justice and peace. They ensure fairness and equality in our societies.


We are concerned, because despite decades of steady gains in nearly every country around the world, support for the human rights movement is regressing. Many argue that it is the end of the human rights era.


Through the following grants, given in 2018, we hope to strengthen these key partners to address the challenges facing the human rights movement overall.


  • Amnesty International – USD 3,600,000 (36 months)
  • Fund for Global Human Rights – USD 4,400,000 (36 months)
  • Human Rights Watch – USD 4,000.000 (36 months)
  • Physicians for Human Rights – USD 3,000,000 (24 months)

If you would like to know more about these Special Initiative grants, please read the International Human Rights section in our 2018 Annual Report (pages 34 – 39)


  • The Voices Project – USD 2,000,000 (48 months)

The Voices Project is a human rights advocacy group supporting Syria’s heroes in the struggle for freedom and democracy. In 2017, the Syrian conflict entered its seventh year, with more than 465,000 Syrians killed in the fighting, more than a million injured and more over 12 million Syrians displaced from their homes. The UNHCR estimates that 5 million of these people sought protection outside of Syria.


Oak provided a grant to The Voices Project to support the UK-based 'The Syria Campaign' in its work to elevate Syria’s heroes and build global support behind them. The Syria Campaign works remotely to create a bridge between those trapped inside Syria facing violence on all sides and the international community. Believing in freedom, democracy and peace, it works to raise awareness of civil society groups in media and popular culture. By doing so it hopes to encourage the sense that there is a Syria worth protecting. This will also help ensure that the people’s voices are heard in political discussions on Syria’s future.

Visit The Voices Project website for more information.



Environment related Special Initiative grants
Climate change is happening and is real. All of us are concerned by this because climate change threatens ecosystems, societies and economies. These challenges require innovative responses. Through the power of collaboration, ClimateWorks Foundation is mobilising philanthropy to solve the climate crisis and ensure a prosperous future for everyone.


  • ClimateWorks Foundation USA – USD 75,000,000 (60 months)
    In September 2018, in the largest-ever philanthropic investment focused on climate change mitigation, 29 philanthropists pledged USD 4 billion over five years to combat climate change. Oak has pledged USD 75 million. This represents a broad global commitment to accelerate proven climate and clean-energy strategies, spur innovation and support organisations around the world to protect the air we breathe and the communities we call home.

    If you would like to know more about this grant, please read the
    Environment Programme section in our 2018 Annual Report (pages 22 – 23) or watch the video.


  • ClimateWorks Foundation USA – USD 75,000,000 (60 months)
    This first large grant of USD 75 million over five years in the ClimateWorks Foundation, given in 2014, reflected Oak’s wish to reduce greenhouse gas emisssions globally and to protect our climate and to mitigate the effects of climate change both socially and environmentally.


Climate Justice

The effects of climate change are being felt around the world. While the changing climate will ultimately impact everyone, some people are on the frontlines, already contending with climate risks to their families and livelihoods. While none of us may know what the future will hold, we can focus our efforts on what we can do – strengthening those on the frontlines of climate devastation and helping to build their resilience in the face of it.


  • Climate Justice Resilience Fund – USD 20 million (72 months)
    The goal of this grant is to support frontline communities, and to learn from their leadership in developing climate resilience solutions. The fund takes a human-centred approach that respects people’s rights and addresses the inequities associated with climate change – in other words, a climate justice approach.

    The Climate Justice Resilience Fund (CJRF) supports women, youth, and indigenous people to adapt and build resilience to a changing climate, and to build movements to advocate on behalf of their communities. It supports grassroots, community-led initiatives to help those on the frontlines of climate change reduce risk, manage shocks, rebound, and continue on the path to sustainable development. The Fund also seeks to ensure that these communities’ insights into climate resilience inform national- and global-level action, and are shared broadly. The CJRF works in East Africa, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arctic on four key climate justice issues: food security, water access, sustainable livelihoods, and climate-related migration. If you would like more info about the Climate Justice Resilience Fund and how climate change is affecting people personally, visit its website https://www.cjrfund.org/ or check out this article and videos:


  • 2015 – Climate justice grant-making – USD 5 million
    Five special initiative grants were provided to organisations that build on the values, approaches and mission of the Foundation’s different programme areas in addressing climate change. The main goal of these grants was to advance the urgent call for climate mitigation as part of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCC, which took place in Paris at the beginning of December 2015. The organisations that received grants include: Center for International Environment Law, Internews USA, Tebtebba – Indigenous  Peoples’ International Center for Policy Research and Education and Women’s Environment & Development Organization.



Health-related Special Initiative grants

Cancer is a global pandemic. There are few among us who have not lost a loved one or friend to this terrible disease. We wanted to support care-workers to provide the best possible care to cancer patients.


  • Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign – USD 33,333,333 (48 months)
    The Royal Marsden hospital (London), together with its academic partner The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), is the largest and most comprehensive cancer centre in Europe. It is a centre of excellence with an international reputation for ground-breaking research. It is doing pioneering work in the very latest in cancer treatments and technologies.

    In 2018 Oak granted GBP 25 million to The Royal Marsden hospital, which will soon begin constructing a state-of-the-art research and clinical care centre on its Sutton site in Outer London. This centre will house over 300 researchers under the same roof as patients, increasing opportunities for collaboration and putting patients at the heart of research into new treatments. It will also expand The Royal Marsden’s capacity and, using the latest and best possible technology, the Centre will provide patients with earlier and faster diagnosis as well as modern and peaceful environments.

    If you would like to know more about this grant, please watch the video



Philanthropy-related Special Initiative grants

Foundations operate in every sphere of life – health, education, employment, environment, the arts, culture, human rights and more. If we hope to tackle society's most pressing problems, collaboration is essential to success. This is why we support collaboration in many forms.


  • European Foundation Centre – USD 476,190 (48 months)
    The foundation sector in Europe encompasses a wide variety of organisational forms, sizes and purposes, with more than 146,000 ‘public-benefit foundations’ in Europe making an impact at community, city, regional, national and international levels. This grant aims to support the European Foundation Centre to facilitate sharing across this network.
    If you would like to know more, check out its website:



Learning-related Special Initiative grants

We also know almost intrinsically that a better future and a good education are linked, that learning today and opportunity tomorrow are intertwined. We believe that educated citizens contribute to more vibrant communities as well.


Approximately 10 million students in United States public schools have learning profiles that are not aligned with the expectations and teaching methodologies prevalent in mainstream school systems. Students with learning differences include those who have dyslexia, attention issues and learning disabilities.

We are concerned, because, as a result of this mismatch, students with learning differences are often perceived as not being capable of performing well in school, as unmotivated or as just not trying hard enough. These students often disengage from school, perform poorly and may not graduate. Those who graduate often choose not to pursue post-secondary educational opportunities. As adults, many are under-employed or can even end up in prison.


  • 2017 – Digital Promise Global (DPG) – USD 10,000,000 (60 months)
    DPG is a US-based not-for-profit organisation committed to educational innovations which improve opportunities to learn. DPG works at the intersection of education leaders, researchers and technology developers to improve learning opportunities for all. DPG believes that technology offers a tremendous opportunity to support learning in new and different ways. Educators can use technology to teach, motivate, and personalise learning. Its Learner Positioning System (LPS) initiative will develop research-based models to understand learning across content areas and for individual learners. Visit the Digital Promise Global’s website for more information.









Our mission

Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.

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Privacy Policy, Security Protocols and Terms of Use.


©2018 Oak Foundation.
All rights reserved.