Regions South Africa
Helping Forge Democracy from the Pain of Apartheid
The 1990s were pivotal years in South Africa. First came Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, followed by his election as president in 1994. Two years later, Mandela signed a new South African constitution, hailed as one of the most progressive in the world—a remarkable achievement for this once repressive nation.
The “prospect of a new era” drew Atlantic to South Africa, according to Harvey Dale, Atlantic’s founding president. Dale, who initiated the foundation’s work there in 1991, saw the opportunity to be “engaged in a potentially game-changing period in a society emerging from apartheid repression.” In its first years, Atlantic focused on helping aspiring young black South African attorneys get law degrees as well as clerkships on the new multiracial Constitutional Court.
In 2000, Atlantic opened a regional office in Johannesburg. Over the years it worked in South Africa, the foundation made investments to boost nursing and health services and to support research at historically disadvantaged higher education institutions.
By the end of 2016, Atlantic’s investments totaled $422 million, funds that were used to build, strengthen and advance democratic institutions and organizations that promote equity, opportunity, dignity and democracy, and that have scored major victories in improving the lives for the country’s least advantaged people.
The Atlantic Philanthropies: South Africa
This 2018 book by Ryland Fisher tells the story of Atlantic's and our grantees' impact and work in South Africa.
From 1991–2016, Atlantic invested $422 million to advance justice, equality, education and health in an emerging democracy.
44% increase in the number of nurses between 2005 and 2011
2m South Africans with access to HIV antiretrovirals by 2013
$1b pledge by government to improve schools in the Eastern Cape
Delivering on Democracy
Atlantic supported activists working to ensure that post-apartheid South Africa delivered on the rights and protections promised in the country’s new constitution.
Atlantic provided crucial support to organizations in the Republic of Ireland and South Africa working to secure access to rights and services for LGBT people.
Atlantic’s investments addressed factors affecting the health of a country’s population, including supporting quality training of medical personnel and encouraging supportive government policies.
Atlantic supported efforts to revitalize, develop and restore pride in nursing in South Africa.
We've supported the building and development of facilities for higher education at key centers of excellence and promise.
Our final grants to promote racial equity aim to dismantle anti-black racism in the United States and South Africa.
To achieve health equity, we are helping to identify, connect and prepare a generation of young leaders committed to driving systemic change in health care.