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C.S. Mott Foundation Partnership with Atlantic Philanthropies Gives South Africa’s Community Advice Offices Long-Term Support

Resource type: News

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

FLINT, Mich. — Supporting the ongoing efforts of the community advice offices that assist underserved South Africans is the focus of a new partnership between the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies that is expected to result in up to $1,936,080 in grants over three years.

In an effort to raise awareness of the need for additional sources of funding for the advice office sector, Atlantic and Mott have formed a regranting partnership which aims to ensure that rural, economically disadvantaged South Africans have access to legal services in the years ahead.

Under the terms of the partnership, Atlantic has made an initial grant of $934,080 to Mott, which in turn will make grants to support the community advice office sector. Atlantic — a limited life foundation that is concluding its active grantmaking worldwide in 2016 — expects to grant Mott an additional $1,002,000 over the next two years, pending a successful matching funds campaign led by South Africa’s National Alliance for the Development of Community Advice Offices (NADCAO) and its partners.

There currently are about 376 community advice offices in South Africa. A typical office provides legal advice and social development services, with each advice office tailoring its focus to the specific needs of the community it serves. The community advice office sector — which has struggled financially — has been supported for years primarily by private sources, with Atlantic and Mott among the lead funders.

“Community advice offices are often the first link to vital legal services for impoverished rural populations,” said Vuyiswa Sidzumo, director of the Mott Foundation’s South Africa office in Johannesburg. “Thanks to Mott’s new partnership with The Atlantic Philanthropies, many advice offices that would have otherwise closed will continue to get a lifeline and assist underserved people to access their rights.

“It will, however, be critical to get buy-in from the state if these institutions are to survive in the long term, as private money will not be able to sustain them for very long. As their work in these impoverished communities complements government services, one hopes that the state will respond positively to calls to support these institutions,” she added.

Gerald Kraak, program executive for Atlantic’s Reconciliation and Human Rights programs, agrees on the importance of the advice offices for sustaining poor, mostly rural communities.

“The advice offices pick up the pulse of what is happening in communities, in terms of issues like access to pensions, child foster grants and other forms of social security,” Kraak said. “These are often the only forms of livelihood for communities with high rates of unemployment. Advice offices play a vital role in ensuring that these payments are made on time. Some regional governments have, for example, fallen behind paying out monthly pensions. The advice offices have litigated in the courts to compel government departments to meet their obligations to pensioners. Similarly effective advocacy campaigns have led to an increase in the level of social grants paid out to poor communities. Coverage of indigent children through the child support grant has increased from those age seven and under in 1994 to all children under the age of 18 over the past two decades.”

Mott and Atlantic officials said the intent of the $1,002,000 in matching funds during the partnership’s second and third year is to attract additional funding from government and other sources within South Africa that will help sustain the community advice office sector over time. NADCAO in recent years has brought a greater degree of organization to the sector, building networks and unlocking funding from other sources. Atlantic and Mott officials said they hope to build on that progress.

The Mott Foundation made its first grant in South Africa in 1988. Since 1991, Mott has made 85 grants to the community advice office sector, totaling $11.4 million.

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic is a limited life foundation that makes grants through its five program areas: Aging, Children & Youth, Population Health, Reconciliation & Human Rights, and Founding Chairman. Atlantic is active in Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam. To learn more, please visit:

The Mott Foundation, established in 1926 by an automotive pioneer, is a private philanthropy committed to supporting projects that promote a just, equitable and sustainable society. It supports nonprofit programs throughout the U.S. and, on a limited geographic basis, internationally. Grantmaking is focused in four programs: Civil Society, Environment, Flint Area and Pathways Out of Poverty. Besides Flint, offices are located in metropolitan Detroit, Johannesburg (South Africa) and London. The Foundation, with 2012 year-end assets of $2.28 billion, made 439 grants totaling $91 million. For more information, visit

National Alliance for the Development of Community Advice Offices is an Atlantic grantee.