Human Rights

Our Goal

The Foundation has a long history as a leading human rights funder, beginning with its very first grant in 1978.

Since then, MacArthur has supported more than 600 organizations that have been fundamental in providing the infrastructure for the human rights movement. Most recently, the program has sought to strengthen human rights protections, advance government accountability, and improve the reach and quality of justice globally.

While the current strategy and future directions are under review, ongoing grants support work that responds to trends and opportunities that have emerged in the field in recent years, such as:

  • Increasing threats to freedom of speech and association, ranging from intensified attacks on frontline human rights defenders to the rise of national laws that restrict the ability for civil society to operate;
  • Assertive citizen movements calling for greater government accountability and demanding more protection of basic rights;
  • Growing demand for localizing accountability for atrocity crimes and expanding access to justice;
  • Rapid advancement in digital technology that alters the way human rights advocates monitor violations, collect, manage, and protect data, and analyze findings.

What MacArthur Funds

Current grants pertain to free expression and criminal justice;

  • Work that defends free expression responds to government pushback against human rights advocates; promotes political accountability; and advances internet openness.
  • Work that enhances criminal justice expands national-level accountability for mass atrocities; and advances criminal justice reform in selected countries.

Areas of Geographic Focus

We currently support work to improve national laws related to atrocity crimes in countries across Africa.  In Mexico, we support efforts to improve investigation of human rights violations under the new criminal justice system. At the global level, we support work on a range of issues, including internet openness and government constraints on civil society.

The program is not currently accepting unsolicited proposals.


Updated September 2017


Portrait of Phillis D. Hollice

Phillis D. Hollice

Senior Grants Manager
Portrait of Stephanie Platz

Stephanie Platz

Managing Director, Programs

Sharon Bissell Sotelo

Director, Mexico
Portrait of Kole A. Shettima

Kole A. Shettima

Director, Africa Office
Portrait of Oladayo (Dayo) Olaide

Oladayo (Dayo) Olaide

Deputy Director, Nigeria Office
Portrait of Yvonne Darkwa-Poku

Yvonne Darkwa-Poku

Program Officer, Human Rights

Liliane Loya

Deputy Director, Mexico
Portrait of Eric Sears

Eric Sears

Senior Program Officer, Human Rights
Portrait of Ken Lee

Ken Lee

Coordinator, Human Rights