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Baltic American Partnership Fund

Grantee:        Baltic American Partnership Fund
Ranking:       24th highest grantee, 2005 — 2009
Received:     $3,698,470
Type:             Public/Private Fund
Issue:             Grow Open Society

About: The Baltic American Partnership Fund (BAPF) was established in 1998 as a partnership between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the OSI, operated as a private charity based in New York.  USAID and the OSI each pledged $7.5 million to be dispersed to local charities and NGOs through Soros€™ Open Society foundations in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

In 2007, the BAPF listed as its significant accomplishments:

  • Introducing the concept and practice of public benefit advocacy to a greater number of NGOs in all three Baltic countries.  BAPF grants to support advocacy capacity and campaigns have encouraged an increasing number of community based groups to form coalitions seeking to monitor and/or develop improvements and alternatives to government policies in a wide range of issue areas.
  • Enabling the passage of key legislation and policy reforms to support the work of the non-profit sector and encourage volunteerism and charitable giving. This includes the first comprehensive NGO law in Latvia that defines public benefit status for non-profits, thereby facilitating tax exemptions for qualified organizations, and the landmark Civil Society Compact in Estonia, which was developed over a three year period by a BAPF-supported coalition of over 500 NGOs, and key government and parliamentary bodies. The Compact, the first of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe, lays out the principles of cooperation between the public and non-profit sectors, and requires the government to involve NGOs and individuals in public policy making, as well as to develop transparent and equitable means of providing state funding to NGOs.
  • Creating a pan-Baltic community philanthropy movement, which includes a network of 15 community foundations in the three countries . . . as well as the passage of the 2% income tax facility in Lithuania, through which approximately $20 million has been allocated by individuals from their income tax since 2004 to a variety of institutions, including NGOs, churches and schools.
  • Providing targeted internships and other professional development opportunities to young leaders in the non-profit community.

Guided by Soros€™ Open Society model of empowering NGOs, in a region where Soros enjoys economic and political power, and instituted prior to the period when his philanthropic activities came under scrutiny, the policy outcomes of the BAPF may offer a useful roadmap of Soros€™ ambitions for other countries, including the U.S.

The fact that the BAPF was supported by U.S. taxpayers, but administered by Soros€™ foundations and institutions, thus enhancing Soros€™s status in the region using U.S. taxpayer dollars, merits further inquiry.  Soros denounced American foreign policy during most of the BAPF€™s taxpayer-funded decade: why was he permitted to continue deploying Americans€™ money and administering American funds overseas during this time period?

Mission Statement:  Since 1999, the Baltic American Partnership Fund (BAPF) and its local partners, the Baltic American Partnership Programs (BAPPs), have invested over $10 million to strengthen civil society in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Particular focus has been placed on the development of the non-profit sector, through which individuals can come together in an organized fashion to participate in and influence political, economic and social decision-making processes in their countries. BAPF€™s support has been provided through grants, training, and technical assistance to a diverse range of organizations and individuals who, in different ways, have contributed to BAPF€™s three primary objectives for its ten year life span:

1) A clear, supportive legal and regulatory environment for civil society;

2) The institutional development of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs):

3) Financial sustainability of the NGO sector.

Soros Funding:  In 1998, the OSI pledged a total $7.5 million to the BAPF for the period of 1998 — 2008.  The funds dispersed between 2005 — 2009 appear to be part of the 1998 endowment.

Officers:

  • Rebecca Tolson, Executive Director, U.S. Foundation
  • Katrin Enno, Estonia Program Officer
  • Ieva Morica, Latvia Program Officer
  • Birute Jatautaite, Lithuania Program Officer

Board of Directors:

  • Stephen J. Del Rosso, Jr., BAPF Chairman Chair, International Peace and Security Carnegie Corporation of New York
  • Leonard Benardo,* Regional Director Open Society Institute
  • Irena Grudzinska Gross, Boston University
  • Willam S. Moody, Program Officer Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • Thomas Fleetwood Mefford,* Deputy Assistant Administrator USAID Bureau for Europe and Eurasia
  • Juris Padegs, Trustee LM Charitable Gift Trust
  • Lawrence P. Taylor, Former U.S. Ambassador to Estonia
  • Jane M. Wales, President & CEO World Affairs Council of Northern California
  • Michaela L. Walsh,  President Women’s Asset Management

*ex-officio

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