George Soros is a Hungarian-American business magnate, political activist, investor and author. On top of being among the 30 richest people in the world, Soros is a magnanimous philanthropist. He is also a well-known advocate of the American progressive as American liberal political causes. Between 1979 and 2011 he donated over $11 billion to various philanthropic organizations. He played a crucial role in the peaceful transition from communism to capitalism in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Eastern Europe. He also provided one of Europe’s biggest higher education donations to the Central European University which is found in Budapest. George Soros is the overall chair of the Open Society Foundations and has been an active philanthropist from the 1970s. That is the time he began providing funds to assist black students studying at the University of Cape Town during apartheid South Africa and began sponsoring dissident movements perpetrating the Iron Curtain.
George Soros’ philanthropic donations include efforts to promote peaceful democratization in some post-Soviet countries. These efforts, normally in Central and Eastern Europe, happen primarily through the Open Society Foundations which was originally known as the Open Society Institute or OSI. He also donates through the National Soros Foundations, which occasionally go under other names such as the Stefan Batory Foundation in Poland. By 2003, PBS estimated that Soros had given away over $4 billion. The OSI says that it spends over $500 million per year.
Read more: George Soros rises again
In 2007 Time magazine cited two projects worth $100 million related to Internet infrastructure for local Russian universities. There is also another one that was worth $50 million. It was dubbed the Millennium Promise to eliminate abject poverty in Africa. In the cause, George Soros had given over $742 million to projects in the US and donated a total of over $7 billion.
Other of Soros’ notable projects includes aid to scientists as well as universities all over Central and Eastern Europe to help civilians during the Sarajevo siege and Transparency International. The billionaire also pledged a donation of €420 million to the Central European University. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus and his bank Grameen Bank got support from the OSI.
As per the National Review Online, the Open Society Institute donated $20000 in 2002 to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee. The lawyer who defended controversial, poor and largely unpopular defendants in court was sentenced to two and half years in prison for “Offering material support for a terrorist syndicate” in a press conference for a customer. The OSI spokeswoman said that it appeared to them at that time that there was the right-to-counsel concern worthy of their support. However, it claimed that later requests for the support were declined.
In September 2006, George Soros gave $50 million to the Millennium Promise which was led by economist Jeffrey Sachs to offer educational, agricultural, as well as medical aid villages in Africa suffering from poverty. The New York Times termed the endeavor a “Departure” for Soros whose philanthropic cause had been on promoting democracy and good government. However, Soros noted that poverty normally resulted from bad governance.
Read an essay by George Soros in The Atlantic