Social Movements and Civil Rights Litigation: Ford Foundation, 1967

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



Prior to 1967, the Ford Foundation had spent very little money supporting the civil rights movement. That year, the Foundation elevated support for disadvantaged minorities to one of its top priorities. By 1970, grants in support of disadvantaged minorities constituted about 40 percent of Ford’s annual giving. Community development and civil rights advocacy efforts received the bulk of this funding. Other foundations were also funding community development and civil rights advocacy, but few were providing funding for the litigation strategy.
From the late 1960s through the 1970s, however, the Ford Foundation would expand into the arena of civil rights litigation, appropriating about $18 million to civil rights litigation groups. In adopting this strategy, the Foundation included among its primary objectives the promotion of equal opportunity and fair treatment by the government.



  • Field Building
  • Partnership
  • Strategy


  • Northern America

Blog Posts


Jan 27

JOIN US Wednesday, January 27th at 4:30 PM, on Zoom, for a VIRTUAL discussion on reinventing local journalism with philanthropic and civic capital. Registration is Required