Letter from the Trustees

As a grant-maker, we recognise that our role is to support and enable others to make the world a safer, fairer, and more sustainable place to live. In 2021, our grantee partners once again demonstrated great strength and resilience as they continued their work. We want our partners to know that we value tremendously the great work they do, especially given the current climate.

Throughout 2021, we provided more than 440 grants to 412 organisations in 41 countries. In addition, we provided USD 5 million in grants that were directly Covid-19-related. In total, Oak has granted USD 29 million in additional support to help organisations respond to the challenges of Covid-19 over the last two years. In addition, our regular grant-making has continued, and as we start a new year, we take time to reflect and celebrate our partners’ accomplishments in 2021. A short outline of each programme is laid out below, and these, as well as this report, give insights into our partners’ efforts. We hope their work generates as much joy for you as it does for us.

We were impressed by the strong presence of young people, Indigenous communities, and civil society groups at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. A different story is now being written. With support from our Environment Programme, tenacious clean power and climate justice organisations have sharpened their strategies and tactics, especially to end the use of coal. By working alongside governments, addressing key players, and joining affected local communities on the frontline, the impact of their efforts is being felt.

Many of our Housing and Homelessness Programme’s partners in the UK and the US have worked to ensure safe and secure homes for migrant communities, particularly refugees, asylum seekers, and those with uncertain immigration status. Our US-based partners provided legal and social services to low-income and at-risk migrants and refugees, in particular when the crisis in Afghanistan unfolded.

The International Human Rights Programme’s partners have been encouraging civic activism by trying to stop repressive digital practices. This has been done by providing technical assistance and advice to civil society groups and activists, media organisations, journalists, bloggers, and human rights defenders. Our partners have also been working to prevent the software of civil society actors being hacked.

Partners of the Issues Affecting Women Programme have been supporting feminist tech activists across Brazil to provide digital security training for women human rights defenders. “Covid-19 made us think about technology and digital care in a different way. We reached more women and connected them, and they also lifted each other.” In addition, Oak’s partners launched a campaign to mobilise emergency aid that prioritised emergency evacuations and resettlement for Afghan women.

Several new partnerships of the Learning Differences Programme are helping to find solutions for weak reading instruction, especially for students furthest from opportunity. Our partners’ work spans a range of approaches, from communications and advocacy, to school- and system-level support and closer school-family partnerships. “We know more than ever before about how to help children become strong readers.”

Thanks to the partners of Oak’s Prevent Child Sexual Abuse Programme, governments, civil organisations, and passionate activists are taking the issue of online child sexual abuse seriously. As a result, technology companies are redesigning their platforms so that child abuse is thwarted before it happens.

With our Special Interest Programme we are helping Native American communities in the American Southwest protect their land. Our support to the Hawaiian Community Foundation funds initiatives to: strengthen Hawaiian culture; protect the island’s nearshore waters; and provide young people who ordinarily would not attend college the chance to do so. In addition, our partners are defending the rights of immigrant children in US federal detention centres. In the UK, we are supporting staff of the Singing Medicine Programme to improve the wellbeing of sick children in hospitals through positive and inclusive interactive songs and singing games. We are also supporting the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London, the UK, by helping to create a new facility, purpose-built for the future, that will enable Moorfields to combine clinical care, education, and research.

In Zimbabwe, young adults are being trained to be after-school coding instructors, where the average annual income of graduates has increased four to five times. The Brazil Programme has been supporting not-for-profit organisations and news outlets to improve the equity and overall tenor of public discourse. “How about we create a web of reliable information that is just as powerful as the disinformation networks?” In Denmark, hopes and dreams find a home at the Joanna House, a centre recently set up for young vulnerable people who find themselves in difficult situations. The India Programme’s grant-making has been supporting efforts that lead to community-driven actions fostered by local leaders. “I believe it is time to recognise the role of natural leaders and community action in supporting children’s protection and wellbeing.”

We are proud of our foundation and our partnerships, and we hope that our support makes a difference in the lives of people. We look forward to continue working with our partners to build a positive future together.

Trustees of Oak Foundation
Natalie Shipton, Caroline Turner, Kristian Parker, Jette Parker, Alan Parker, Christopher Parker, Sebastian Turner