George Soros: Philanthropist and Change Maker

George Soros may be well known now as a billionaire supporter of progressive causes but his beginnings are much more humble. Born in 1930 in Budapest, he came from war-torn Hungry to become a staunch supporter of human rights.

After amassing a fortune, Soros decided to give back to society by financially supporting various initiatives that focused on making societies freer. He started by financially supporting political dissidents in Eastern Europe and Black students in South Africa who, at the time, were living under apartheid. In the early 1990’s, Soros created the Open Society Foundations (OSF). It is a network of various organizations which seeks to promote democracy, religious tolerance and freedom. With these goals in mind, OSF has helped to establish freedom of information laws, drug policy reform that focuses on decreasing demand, refugee assistance, gender equality, decreasing discrimination against Roma people in Europe, among many other endeavors.

Similarly, George Soros has supported various initiatives in the US. One piece of activism that the Washington Times reported on in 2015 was George Soros’ funding of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. According to the article by Kelly Riddell, financial records and discussions with important players indicated that Soros funded the organizations which held protests in Missouri and other US cities, protests that were speaking out against the police killing of black teen Micheal Brown.

However, as stated by Kenneth Zimmerman, the director the OSF’s US operations, although some of the organizations involved in the protests did get grant money from the foundation, OSF was not involved in bringing those groups to protest. Yet, according to Riddell, the organizations funded by Soros continued to keep the Ferguson protests in the news by posting news reports, and quoting each other and creating academic research and opinion pieces to keep the story in the public.

This work, according to Riddell, was also used to widen the scope of the Ferguson incident to more than just policing problems and discrimination, but also to highlight the interrelated issues, such as the criminalized of minorities via drug policy, according to Kassandra Frederique, the head of the Soro’s founded Drug Policy Alliance.

Such work has led to the false rumor that George Soros himself funded the protests and supported them. While OSF does provide funds to organizations involved with criminal justice reform, among other issues, neither he nor his organization, were personally responsible for the protests or directing them, according to David Mikkelson at the fact-checking site Snopes.

Despite funding lots of progressive causes over the years, Soros had been less active after spending over $20 million in 2004 to try to defeat Pres. George W. Bush’s re-election. However, during the 2016 presidential campaign, he once again started to make major donations, this time for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. His interest in supporting her most likely stemmed from his strong belief in Clinton as well as his strong desire to not see Trump as president, according to close associates of Mr. Soros. Learn more about his profile at forbes.com

References:

https://www.georgesoros.com/

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/14/george-soros-funds-ferguson-protests-hopes-to-spur/

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/george-soros-democratic-convention-226267

http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/sorosferguson.asp