George Soros: Open Society Foundations

It has been reported by both the New York Times and Forbes that billionaire philanthropist George Soros has donated $18 billion of his own fortune to the Open Society Foundations. The Open Society Foundations, first founded in 1984 in Hungary by George Soros, undertakes many different philanthropic acts on a global scale.

This donation, while quite large, does not come as much of a surprise. Soros has been active in both politics and philanthropy since the 1970’s. Initially, he donated to dissident movements behind the Iron Curtain. He provided financial support to the likes of Andrei Sakharov, the Solidarity Movement in Poland, and Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. These donations continue to play an important role to this day. Many Georgian citizens see Soros as a major player in the peaceful transfer of power from a Soviet-era government to a democracy in 2003. Soros also played a role in Hungary’s shift away from communism and provided an endowment for Central European University in Budapest.

George Soros is also active in Africa, both through his Open Society Foundations and through the Millennium Promise. The Open Society Foundations assist the people of Africa peacefully remove dictator regimes. The Millennium Promise, given $50 million by Soros, combats poverty throughout Africa by providing advanced medical care, modern education, and sustainable agricultural practices. Born in Hungary, Soros lived through the Nazi occupation of the nation. In 1947 his family immigrated to England, where Soros attended the London School of Economics.

Upon graduating he was unable to find work, and for a time he made a living selling fancy goods as a traveling salesman. His luck changed in 1954 when he was hired by Singer and Friedlander, a merchant bank based in London. Two years later he was offered a position by F.M. Mayer in New York City. Soros accepted and moved to the United States. His expertise in area of European stocks and securities caught the eye of Wertheim & Co. who offered him a job in 1959. Soros worked here until 1963 at which point he was offered the role of vice president at Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder.

At Arnhold and Bleichroeder Soros founded the Double Eagle hedge fund, which tripled its value in a four-year span. He also founded Soros Fund Management. He left Arnhold and Bleichroeder in 1973 to become the full-time chairman of Soros Fund Management. Soros’s $18 billion donations will fund his philanthropy for several generations, ensuring the noble work of the Open Society Foundations will continue worldwide.

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