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Open Society Foundations, a nonprofit whose stated mission is to “build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people,” and which was founded and is currently chaired by George Soros, a prominent philanthropist and backer of liberal political causes, announced yesterday (April 8) the distribution of $100,000 to four local San Diego organizations.

San Diego is one of eight locales nationwide to receive an identical amount of funding as part of Open Society’s “Open Places Initiative,” which is to serve as seed money to “design plans to increase marginalized communities’ influence and access to economic, civic, and political opportunities,” to be presented to the organization in September.

In late 2013, Open Society will review these plans and will decide to fund between three and five of the proposals, with grants of at least $1 million per year for a period of three to ten years.

Local groups receiving the initial funding include the progressive think tank Center on Policy Initiatives, faith-based community group San Diego Organizing Project, the Center for Social Advocacy, and Christie’s Place, an HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy group.

“Together, our organizations have the expertise and local knowledge to design effective reforms that will open new opportunities for underserved communities in San Diego,” said Christie Hill, senior legal and policy analyst of the Center on Policy Initiatives in a release. “We are pleased this grant recognizes the need for local collaboration on long-term change.”

While development of a proposal for funding has yet to begin in earnest, and the groups involved say they intend to reach out to other organizations and members of the community, initial ideas include programs that would provide opportunities for working poor to gain upward mobility into the middle class, and that would help immigrants and those recently release from prison transition into society through “housing, healthcare, employment, and educational opportunities.”

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