Elie Wiesel Foundation Announces Inaugural Grantees Dedicated to Uyghur Advocacy Efforts and Education

Grants totaling $550,000 to be awarded to Organizations supporting Elie Wiesel’s Values and Mission

July 10, 2023, New York, NY – The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity is pleased to announce today the first beneficiaries of its inaugural grant-making cycle. The grant-making initiative, launched in October of 2022, identifies and supports organizations whose efforts are grounded by Elie Wiesel’s values and the Foundation’s mission, and which align to portfolios reflecting Elie Wiesel’s legacy: Educator, Activist, Journalist, Student, and Man of Faith. The grant-making program takes a hybrid approach by not only supporting organizations through fiscal sponsorship but also by acting as an active thought partner to champion and elevate each organization’s cause.

This year’s Activist Portfolio Grantees were selected based on their commitment to advocating for the Uyghur community, who are being unlawfully detained by the Chinese government in an effort to create a single-ethnic state.

“Our inaugural Activist Portfolio grants are laser-focused towards advocates working purposefully and urgently towards restoring the rights and dignity of the Uyghur population”, said Elisha Wiesel, Chairman of the Foundation.

“Chinese regime de facto keeps the Uyghur people in concentration camps, treating them in the most inhuman way. It’s probably the most massive violation of human rights in our time, while the Free World’s response is disproportionately weak to the scope of this crime.” Says Natan Sharansky, renowned Human Rights Activist and member of the Foundation’s Grant Selection Committee. “That is why it is very logical and appropriate that the first grant of the Elie Wiesel Foundation is dedicated to elevating education and Uyghur advocacy efforts.”

The selected Grantees are:

  • World Uyghur Congress, Uyghur Human Rights Project, and Jewish World Watch: WUC, UHRP, and JWW will host a Conference of Uyghur activists and allies to consider the international response to the Uyghur genocide. To be held this winter in New York, the Conference will aim to foster collaboration between these stakeholders, energize current efforts of Uyghur activism, and discuss new ways to activate the Jewish community and engage other citizens of conscience.
  • Ana Care & Education: Ana Care aims to preserve the Uyghur language, history, and culture through interactive programming for Uyghur families in the diaspora. They provide school-based learning for students and adults that helps shape relationships, builds community, and continues to connect them to their Uyghur ancestry.

The Educator Portfolio honors Elie Wiesel’s commitment to education by supporting programs that foster dialogue connected to moral education grounded in Jewish values.

“Our inaugural Educator Portfolio grants will elevate the patient, thoughtful work being done by moral educators to bring Jewish values to life in the classroom”, said Elisha Wiesel, chairman of the Foundation.

The selected Grantees in the Educator Portfolio are:

  • The Witness Institute: The idea of the Witness Institute was born from discussions between Professor Wiesel and his Boston University student, Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger. The Foundation will partner with The Witness Institute to support this 15-month fellowship which sensitizes and equips emerging leaders with practices that develop moral courage, fusing Professor Wiesel’s teaching methods and published works to inspire moral leadership. Participants will graduate being able to influence their communities and support their missions in positive ways.
  • Gratz College & United Negro College Fund: The Elie Wiesel Foundation will support a 1-year Fellowship between Black and Jewish college students. Gratz College, UNCF, and The Elie Wiesel Foundation are committed to jointly facing the challenges of racism and antisemitism. The Fellowship will connect these two groups of students by visiting landmarks of importance to each culture while building on common experiences and understanding the need for mutual support and advocacy.
  • Valley Beit Midrash (VBM): VBM is a global center for learning and action. This grant will support The Elie Wiesel Social Action Fellowship, a new program that will consist of online moral education classes taught by renowned scholars/activists from around the world and putting those teachings into hands-on community volunteer projects.

The Elie Wiesel Foundation turned to a number of thought leaders in determining the most deserving recipients from the 110 applications received. The team assembled to review the top selections for the Educator Portfolio included Dr. Mehnaz Afridi, director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College, and Sarah Idan, founding CEO of Humanity Forward and Miss Iraq 2017-2018. Those selected to consider the leading selections for the Activist Portfolio included Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, the oldest resettlement organization in the world, Nadine Epstein, Editor-in-Chief of Moment Magazine, Gulhumar Haitiwaji, daughter of Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uyghur woman who survived a Chinese re-education camp, and Natan Sharansky, renowned human rights activist.

Director of the Holocaust Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College and member of the Foundation’s Grant Selection Committee, Dr. Mehnaz Afridi said: “It is an honor to be part of the team of evaluators and learn about the exceptional work being done around the world for justice, advocacy, and peacebuilding. I am especially grateful that the Foundation has focused on restoring the dignity of the Uyghur population. The work of the Elie Wiesel Foundation is an example of effective philanthropy, the message is loud and clear that we must work together by investing in all prejudice no matter who we are.”

The Elie Wiesel Foundation appreciates the many applicants who took the time and energy to engage with us and intends to open future grant cycles.


About The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity
Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, established The Elie Wiesel Foundation soon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace. Now led by Marion and Elie’s son Elisha Wiesel, the Foundation seeks to spark ethical consciousness of human rights by investing in programs that promote moral leadership and real-world outcomes for victims of injustice, and by making Elie’s teachings accessible via a central online archive. To learn more, visit: https://eliewieselfoundation.org/

Media Contact
Melissa Stavenhagen
[email protected]

Elie Wiesel Foundation Launches Its New Approach for Advancing Human Rights

The late Elie Wiesel’s son and wife, Elisha and Marion Wiesel, will oversee a hybrid approach involving both financial backing and advocacy for human rights grantees.

The Foundation, led by Elisha and Marion Wiesel, will adopt a hybrid approach that will not only grant funds but also work with organizations directly as partners, offering access to innovative thinking partners and acting as an emblematic megaphone to champion their cause.

The Foundation’s recalibrated grantmaking program will seek to fund organizations that embody Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel’s legacy as an educator and activist. Grants to educators will support moral educational programs inspired by Jewish values. The Foundation is seeking to support programs and projects that foster dialogue, especially in engaging ways.

Activist grants, meanwhile, will focus on programs that restore the rights and dignity of the Uyghur population, in keeping with Elie Wiesel’s belief that “sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitives become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

The Foundation will be awarding one or more grants in each portfolio for its 2022 cycle, ranging in size from $50,000 to $200,000. Applicants must be financially sound 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, able to demonstrate realistic plans for carrying out the program or project for which they seek funding. Submissions will be reviewed internally through various stages and finalists will be considered by a group of notable names, passionate about the respective value track.  Grant applications are being accepted online through the Foundation’s website and are due December 31, 2022. Learn more here.

“The values my father stood for – combatting indifference, educating youth, calling out injustice, and defending human rights – continue to be the moral bedrock of the Elie Wiesel Foundation,” said Elisha Wiesel. “We are so excited to announce our new grantmaking program to provide nonprofits that embody those values with the resources to achieve lasting impactful change.”

“Elie Wiesel was my dear friend and trusted partner in the fight for human rights around the world. I think it is very appropriate that his Foundation put the fate of the Uyghur people as one of its main priorities and will be focused on delivering resources and moral support to those advocating for the Uyghurs,” said human rights activist and EWF Advisory Board member Natan Sharanksy. “The free world cannot stay silent about China’s horrific persecution of its Uyghur minority. I know firsthand the power of outside support to those standing bravely against totalitarian regimes. That is why I am glad to serve as an Advisory Board member at the Elie Wiesel Foundation, dealing with this issue.”


Natan Sharansky is a human rights activist and author who spent nine years in Soviet prisons as a refusenik during the 1970’s and 1980’s. From 1996-2005 Sharansky served as Minister as well as Deputy Prime Minister, in four successive Israeli governments. Sharansky served as Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel from 2009-2018. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1986 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.

Mark Hetfield is the president and CEO of HIAS, the oldest resettlement organization in the world.

Gulhumar Haitiwaji is the daughter of a Uyghur woman who survived a Chinese re-education camp.


Mayim Bialik is a neuroscientist, an actress, a podcast host, an author, and an outspoken activist for mental health and Jewish causes.

Dr. Mehnaz Afridi is a Professor of Religious studies and the Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College.

Sarah Idan holds the title of 2017-2018 Miss Iraq and is the founding CEO of Humanity Forward, a multi-dimensional organization that promotes education and peace.

The Elie Wiesel Foundation was established after Elie was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. Under the direction of Elie and his wife Marion, the Foundation developed, implemented and funded several critical humanitarian programs in Israel, including the Beit Tzipora Centers and the Darfurian Refugee Program.

This new direction will allow the Foundation to widen its scope through meaningful, action-driven partnerships.

 About The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity: Elie Wiesel and his wife, Marion, established The Elie Wiesel Foundation soon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace. Now spearheaded by Marion and Elie’s son Elisha Wiesel, the Foundation seeks to spark ethical consciousness of human rights by investing in programs that promote moral leadership and real-world outcomes for victims of injustice, and by making Elie’s teachings accessible via a central online archive. To learn more, visit: https://eliewieselfoundation.org/

View the Original Article on JNS.com