Annual Letter From The Trustees


In 2013 Oak Foundation made 319 programme grants to 308 organisations based in 42 countries. As Oak's Annual Report illustrates, our partners work in a wide range of areas, including on controversial issues and in extremely difficult environments. While working within broad strategic frameworks, Oak Foundation seeks to build on the knowledge and expertise of our partners. We continue to provide multi-year core support and project funding, facilitating the scale-up of proven approaches as well as innovation and new ideas. We are pleased with the results that our partners have achieved thus far.

The grants made this year reflect the priorities of each of our programmes, including the joint initiative underway in India and our support to local organisations in Denmark and Zimbabwe. In addition, three themes cut across all our work, including: an emphasis on promoting the “voice” and capacities of people most affected by issues or problems; increasing the access of individuals and communities to their rights and their abilities to claim them; and the strengthening of local groups and movements.

Highlights of grant-making in 2013 include:

  • The Child Abuse Programme’s focus on the positive engagement of men and boys in preventing the sexual abuse and exploitation of children has resulted in support for MenCare campaigns in several countries, particularly in Africa and Eastern Europe.
  • The Environment Programme has seen some big wins this year, including, after 15 years of effort from civil society, the reform of the European Common Fisheries Policy, which was approved with overwhelming support in July 2013.
  • The Housing and Homelessness Programme developed a special initiative on health and homelessness this year. The initiative, which will be launched through a call for proposals in 2014, is designed to bridge the divide between the health and housing sectors. Structural changes to the National Health Service in the UK, and the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the US have created opportunities for change.
  • Partners of the International Human Rights Programme made history in the struggle to end impunity.The trial of Ríos Montt in Guatemala marked the first time that a former head of state was held to account in a national court for crimes of genocide. The prosecution of Hissène Habré (former President of Chad) marks the first time that a former African head of state has been prosecuted by another African country (Senegal) for crimes against humanity. Both cases are significant milestones in international justice.
  • The Issues Affecting Women Programme now funds 20 women’s funds in the global south and east.These funds are pillars of the women’s movement in the countries in which they operate, providing flexible financial support to local women’s rights groups, platforms for convening and advocacy, support for research and learning and capacity building in a range of areas.
  • Recognising that many interventions for struggling students are driven by assumptions of what these students need rather than hard evidence, the Learning Differences Programme is supporting the creation of an open-source database, which incorporates student feedback. Students’ perspectives will help shape the database from start to finish – from research and development to implementation.
  • As in previous years, the Special Interest Programme spans a range of organisations, sectors and geographies. Grants include those designed to lift children out of poverty, respond to the needs of vulnerable groups, increase access to culture and the arts, support cutting edge medical research and strengthen the regulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals, among other efforts.

More details about these themes, programme reflections on the year, achievements, grant descriptions and lessons learned can be found in each programme section of this report. Most of these examples represent works in progress. We do not underestimate the challenges ahead nor the long-term nature of the solutions required. Inspired by the commitment and tireless efforts of our partners, we remain determined to stay the course.

The Trustees of Oak Foundation:
Kristian Parker - Caroline Turner - Natalie Shipton - Jette Parker - Alan Parker