, in partnership with the , has announced that it will provide $1.9 million in grants over three years in support of ongoing efforts by community advice offices to assist underserved South Africans.
Under the terms of the partnership, which aims to ensure that rural, economically disadvantaged South Africans have access to legal services, Atlantic will award an initial grant of $934,080 to Mott, which in turn will award smaller grants to support the community advice office sector in South Africa. Pending a successful matching funds campaign led by the and its partners, Atlantic — which is in spend-down mode — expects to provide an additional $1 million before it concludes its active grantmaking in 2016.
For years, the two foundations have been lead funders of the nearly four hundred community advice offices in South Africa. A typical office provides legal advice and social development services to rural South Africans, with each location tailoring its focus to the specific needs of the community it serves.
"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. "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."