What We Do

AJWS responds to the most pressing issues of our times — from authoritarianism and the climate crisis to the persecution of women and minorities worldwide — by supporting social change organizations in the Global South and advocating for U.S. and global policies protecting human rights.

Our Strategies

AJWS invests more than $30 million annually to build a more just and equitable world through our two-pronged strategy: international grantmaking and U.S advocacy.

We support more than 500 social justice organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean—with the understanding that the people who are most affected by problems are best suited to address them.

AJWS serves as a strategic partner to these grantees, learning from them and helping them grow and ensure their sustainability. We promote their work to the media and foster their leadership on the world stage. And we facilitate connections between our grantees, supporting them to form, expand and participate in social movements—gaining strength in numbers and expertise to influence laws and society on a much larger scale.

Meanwhile, AJWS advances international human rights through extensive U.S. Advocacy. Throughout the year, our staff on Capitol Hill and a dedicated volunteer base of rabbis, Jewish leaders and supporters call on Congress, the White House and global bodies like the United Nations to uphold the rights of marginalized people everywhere.

Our Issues

In both our international grantmaking and advocacy, AJWS focuses on four central issues that we believe are key to securing human rights and ending poverty:

Why We Fund Human Rights

AJWS is an international development and human rights organization. This means that we do more than provide food, shelter or jobs. We work to address the root causes of poverty and oppression—like prejudice, unfair laws, and social norms that hold women or minorities back.

We do this by supporting activists working within and across borders, who combine their strategic know-how and their powers of persuasion to change hearts, minds and laws in order to create just societies.

Key to a rights-based approach is trust. We don’t ask our grantees to implement solutions we devise in New York or D.C. Instead, we support local ideas and invest in local talent, focusing especially on people and communities who are the most marginalized—women, ethnic minorities, indigenous communities, LGBTQI+ people and others. We invest in their visions and strategies so they can build the kind of societies they want to live in.

We work in this way because we believe that all people are equally entitled to realize their rights—a concept that is central to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the United Nations adopted in response to the Holocaust. The Declaration asserts that all people—regardless of religion, nationality, ethnicity or geography—possess a set of basic inalienable rights. These include the right to live free from violence, discrimination and oppression. The right to have a voice in the laws that govern society; to earn a fair wage; and to own land and have a stable source of food. The right to express their religion, culture, or identity without fear of persecution; and the right to live life with dignity.

This modern concept of human rights shares much in common with the Jewish belief that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim—in the Divine image—and are infinitely valuable and deserving of respect.

From El Salvador, to India, to Kenya, our commitment to upholding human rights is at the root of our vision for a just and equitable society—today, tomorrow and for generations to come.