The Foundation’s Institutional Grants program seeks to support changes to policy and practice that improve the lives of Latin Americans. The Foundation’s funding encompasses three program areas in which research, innovation, scaling of proven models, and exchange of ideas have the potential to make significant, positive impact.

Democratic Governance


Sustainable Resource Management

If you are interested in applying for funding, visit our application page to learn more.


Over the past three decades, the Tinker Foundation has supported Latin American organizations working to advance the rule of law as a foundational element of democratic societies. Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, Tinker provided funding to seminal efforts promoting judicial reform across the region. In the 2000s, we supported organizations across the Americas expanding access to pro bono legal services.

Today Tinker seeks to build on and deepen this commitment by prioritizing projects focused on justice and rule of law. We will continue to review and consider other Democratic Governance projects on an ad hoc basis through our letter of inquiry process but anticipate focusing our resources on these core issues.

We invite projects that work toward creating and consolidating systems of justice that are independent, effective, reliable, equitable, and transparent. We will consider proposals focused at the national or sub-national level, including those with comparative or regional components. Projects may relate to what could be called the “unfinished work of judicial reform,” i.e., the challenges and opportunities involved with implementing and operating within more recently adopted structures and frameworks.

Initial areas of interest include:

Promoting transparency and accountability in the justice sector, both from within justice institutions and without (civil society monitoring, etc.)

The selection, training, and assessment of justice sector actors, as well as developing next-generation talent

Increasing access to justice, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized groups

Tinker will consider a range of project types and methodologies that match our overall grant-making parameters and capacity. These may include research and policy analysis, experimentation with new models and early scale-up of proven approaches, and exchange of knowledge across countries and contexts. We generally do not fund litigation efforts.

We will refine our interest areas and approaches as we learn, along with our grantees, from this work.

We are introducing a special initiative, Ensuring Educational Equity during the COVID-19 Pandemic, that will temporarily replace our education program strategy for this grantmaking cycle. This initiative will be the focus of all Education grants made in the remainder of 2020.

At the Tinker Foundation, we believe that all young people have the right to a quality education. While many countries in Latin America have made tremendous strides in providing access to primary education, access to secondary education remains more limited. In addition, many countries consistently produce low scores on international assessments, calling into the question the quality of education available to students.

Our grantmaking in the education area supports projects/programs that improve the access to and quality of secondary education in the region. While we prioritize projects focused on improving secondary education in Central American countries, we invite organizations from across the region to submit projects that aim to improve student learning, classroom teaching, or other measurable academic results. We support projects that are looking to prove, replicate, or scale their impact. Funds may be used to pilot new programs, to conduct applied research and evaluations that will facilitate replication or adoption of successful programs by policymakers, or to generate public and policy debate on the topic.


We are interested in innovative programs to increase access to secondary school and vocational education among marginalized youth, including indigenous and rural youth, adolescents at-risk of early unions or pregnancy, juvenile defendants or post-incarcerated youth, and young people who have aged out of the school system. We prioritize programs that also focus on retention and graduate rates.


We support programs that improve the capacity of teachers and school directors at the secondary level to provide high-quality education. We are interested in programs that empower teachers through improving their subject matter expertise, use of student-centered pedagogical methods, and ability to support students in managing their lives outside the classroom. Teacher training programs must have a direct link to student learning and outcomes.

Public Financing

We support projects that seek to improve and increase government financing and accountability for education.

Please note that we do not provide funding for school tuition or scholarships, child sponsorships, capital improvements, or large-scale equipment purchases.

The Tinker Foundation’s work on the environment is focused on efforts that support sustainable management of habitat and resources and incorporate social and economic dimensions affecting the well-being of local communities. Projects will address these challenges at multiple levels ranging from engaging with policy makers, to capacity building, and standards development and implementation. Funding is available for projects that address one of the following key themes:

Promoting Sustainable Management Practices

Projects should address the crucial links between effective resource management and communities that use them and seek to ensure that economic returns resulting from improved management policies benefit local populations. Potential strategies include assessing and establishing best practices; developing the human talent required to manage and conserve resources (i.e., technical training); and identifying mechanisms, practices and/or policies that avoid or mitigate overexploitation. Issues of interest include sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry, and non-timber forest products. Projects may also consider the conservation and livelihood aspects of sustainable tourism, fisheries management, and payment for environmental service programs.


Water scarcity and quality issues have emerged as a critical concern worldwide. In Latin America, as elsewhere, the shortage of water and the resulting social, economic, and health costs disproportionately impact the poor. For that reason, the Foundation has a particular interest in projects that promote equitable access to a clean and secure water supply. Ideally, proposals should offer innovative ideas and policies that improve locally determined mechanisms for watershed management; develop water policies and management methodologies based on local hydrological assessments; or identify, implement, and replicate workable models of freshwater management and protection.


For additional information, please reach out to:

Democratic Governance

Sustainable Resource Management

Moving forward with grantmaking during COVID-19.

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