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The Oak Foundation U.S.A.


Last Updated: 2016-07-17

At A Glance

The Oak Foundation U.S.A.

55 Vilcom Center Dr., Ste. 340

Chapel Hill, NC United States 27514-1690


Type of Grantmaker

Independent foundation

Additional Descriptor

Financial Data

(yr. ended 2014-12-31)

Assets: $47,556,882

Total giving: $27,562,774



Additional Contact Information

Additional e-mail (Geneva office):

Related Organizations


Established in 1986 in DE - The resources of the Oak Foundation originated from an interest in the Duty Free Shoppers business which Alan M. Parker helped to build up. The foundation was reorganized in 1998 and has offices throughout the world, with the main office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Purpose and Activities

The foundation's giving priorities include child abuse, the environment, especially climate change and marine conservation, human rights, issues affecting women, housing and homelessness, learning differences and special interest grants. .

Program Area(s)

The grantmaker has identified the following area(s) of interest:

Child Abuse

The foundation envisions a world where all children are protected from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. The program works to achieve this goal by catalyzing stakeholders, including children, to improve practice, influence policy and increase funding to address the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. The program supports initiatives that: directly address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation; and/or diminish other forms of abuse and violence that are related to or impact upon sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. The program funds key actors in Eastern Africa, Eastern Europe and Switzerland as well as key international civil society organizations. The program has a particular interest in promoting and supporting learning from the work of partners. This is done through the identification of learning opportunities within our existing partnerships as well as through new partnerships specifically designed to drive learning forward across the sector. Its current priority countries are: Switzerland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Moldova, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. Its current priority areas are: 1) to eliminate the sexual exploitation of children in all its forms; and 2) to make the positive engagement of men and boys a driving force in the elimination of the sexual abuse of children.


The program addresses global climate change mitigation and conservation of marine resources. The two main goals are: 1) to protect the global commons – the atmosphere and the oceans – by contributing to the development of responsible global and local governance mechanisms; and 2) to catalyze transformational changes in the way the global commons are perceived, exploited and cared for, resulting in a more socially and environmentally sustainable society. Through its grant making, the program aims to encourage the achievement of a zero-carbon global economy and the recovery of marine species and habitats. It has a special focus on climate change in Europe, North America (Canada and the US) and India. With respect to marine conservation, it focuses especially on Europe, the North Pacific, the Arctic and the Mesoamerican Reef system.

Housing and Homelessness

The program works to prevent homelessness and social and economic marginalization. It focuses on preventing homelessness through sustainable solutions that improve the economic and social well-being of the most marginalized youth, adults, and families. The program has three priorities: 1) Economic self-sufficiency to: equip homeless people and those who are at risk of homelessness, with the skills and support that will lead to their long-term economic stability; and contribute to projects that overcome barriers to employment and economic stability; 2) Increasing the supply of affordable housing and housing opportunity to: provide seed funding to facilitate affordable housing development and the preservation of existing affordable housing; and 3) Homeless prevention to: prevent homelessness among identified vulnerable groups and in regional “hot spots” from which it originates; and facilitate support and advocacy for individuals and families facing housing crisis. All three areas may include systems change objectives executed at a national or local level. These may take the form of securing mainstream statutory funding for a proven new solution, removing structural and cultural barriers which hamper individual success or changing the way a service is delivered. Systems change initiatives may be aimed at governments or the not-forprofit sector. The program’s geographic focus is currently on: Boston, New York and Philadelphia in the United States; London, Belfast, South Wales and Glasgow in the United Kingdom; and Ranchi and Kolkata in India. Projects which have national impact in the US and the UK are also funded.

International Human Rights

The program seeks to document and investigate the most egregious international human rights abuses, hold perpetrators to account and protect and support those who defend the protection of fundamental guarantees. The three main objectives of the program are to: 1) uphold fundamental guarantees prescribed by international law relating to liberty and security of the person (due process, freedom from torture and arbitrary arrest); 2) end impunity for gross human rights violation by holding abusers to account and ensuring that victims of gross violations obtain redress; and 3) equip human rights activists with the necessary tools and influence to conduct their work. The program supports NGOs working globally, regionally and nationally. Preference is given to innovative campaigns, including those which use new communication technologies, to win the support of both targeted constituencies and/or the wider community. The program’s established geographies are: Argentina, Brazil, Europe, India, Russia, Thailand/Burma and the United States. Through re-granting schemes, support is also directed to local human rights organizations which, by virtue of their small size and disparate locations, would otherwise be unable to access the foundation’s funds directly.

Issues Affecting Women

The program seeks to ensure that women have both the rights and capacity to experience safety from violence and to enjoy economic, social and political security. The overarching goal is to strengthen women’s human rights by supporting the development of a strong and vibrant women’s movement and by disrupting existing patterns of violence that impact the lives of women and their children. Within the broad spectrum of disrupting violence, the program focuses on: 1) exploitation and human trafficking; 2) domestic or intra-familial violence (including violence stemming from culture, religion or tradition); and 3) sexual violence in conflict, refugee and immigration situations. The program primarily supports women’s organizations, groups or funds that adopt a rights-based approach to tackling the issues outlined above through initiatives that: recognize women as rights holders and advance the rights of women and gender equality; have a participatory approach that places women center stage, building on their potential and strengths and ensuring their full and equal participation in society; take an integrated and holistic approach in considering women in the context of their culture and environment as well as understanding the nature and causes of the issues affecting them; and promote systemic changes that hold duty-bearers (i.e. governments and institutions) fully accountable for respecting, protecting and fulfilling women’s rights. These initiatives include supporting work in the following areas: awareness raising about women’s rights; changing public attitudes and behavior in respect of women’s rights; promotion of women’s leadership and empowerment; advocacy for legal frameworks that promote and protect women’s rights; provision of direct support and services to mitigate the consequences of violence against women; research, education and networking; and organizational capacity-building. .

Learning Differences

The program seeks to assist young people with learning differences. It supports programs, research and activities that contribute to both knowledge about and the strategies available to students (from kindergarten to college) who struggle in school as a result of learning differences. Learning differences are challenges faced by students with a learning profile that is not aligned with the expectations and teaching methodologies prevalent in mainstream school systems. Learning differences may include, but are not limited to, dyslexia, attention issues and learning disabilities. These differences represent a profile of learning strengths and weaknesses which, when understood by the student, parent and teacher, can be addressed and leveraged to promote success at school. The program has a particular focus on the U.S., and supports a limited number of European projects.

Fields of Interest

  • Abuse prevention
  • Child abuse
  • Climate change
  • Coral reefs
  • Domestic violence
  • Environment
  • Homeless shelters
  • Human rights
  • Learning disorders
  • Natural resources
  • Oceans and coastal waters
  • Sexual abuse
International Interests
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Bulgaria
  • Eastern Africa
  • Ethiopia
  • Europe
  • India
  • Latin America
  • Latvia
  • Moldova
  • Myanmar
  • Russia
  • South America
  • Switzerland
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
Population Groups
  • Children and youth
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • Females
  • Low-income and poor people

Financial Data

Year ended 2014-12-31

Assets: $47,556,882 (market value)

Gifts received: $1,028,000

Expenditures: $29,284,736

Total giving: $27,562,774

Qualifying distributions: $28,723,694