Grant History – Mission Without Borders

Mission Without Borders

One Foundation’s Down Payment for Human Rights

Mission Without Borders was created in 2010 to catalyze real systemic change to counter injustices with dire consequences to our society and its members.


MWB was started at a moment when many in the US were awakening to the depth of human rights issues in the USA and its communities—large and small. Civic and human rights leaders also were noticing the growing scale of domestic human trafficking; the media sexism against women political candidates was undermining campaigns in several parts of the country and racial and gender inequity was creating bigger economic gaps for women and especially women of color. The Embrey leaders perceived the urgency of circumstances in which women found themselves regarding human and economic rights.


Could a young, medium-size Foundation make a difference in these outsize challenges? The Foundation leaders said, “YES!” and made four key decisions:

Focus on intersections of major themes that are central for gaining human rights/women’s rights:

  • Human Rights framing and policies
  • Domestic Human Trafficking
  • Women and Girls’ Leadership
  • Racial and Gender Equity
  • Women’s Media
  • Arts as Social Change Agent

Design strategy with a change- model that aims for systemic social change:

  • Transform the lives of real people
  • Engage more supporters
  • Define and re-frame the issues so that people understand
  • Change the policies and system
  • Build needed infrastructure
  • Resist backlash and invest in deep implementation

Going Beyond 5% investing

  • An investment of $15 million over 5 years—well in excess of EFF’s 5% and ultimately a step towards a long term spend-down strategy

Go Big…Innovate and Lead

  • Collaborative work and network building
  • More than money investments (Leadership, Leverage, Visibility)
  • EFF values and relationships embedded in every grant
More on the Embrey Human Rights Education and Awareness Program

Mission Without Borders - Taking Risks and Giving it All for Human Rights and Justice (Download the PDF Now)


The Foundation funded a total of 13 core organizations with multi-year grants over the five years and set to work as a forward-thinking funder using some of the best practices in social change models; collaborative learning; highly engaged grant making; emergent strategy design; participatory evaluation; and high-leverage actions including board-level leadership roles with some of the bigger grantees and a commitment to impact investing (a goal of 100% of its portfolio). In addition the foundation committed itself to initiate and support innovation in its own work and that of its grantees. Mission Without Borders has catalyzed important and immediate results as well as far-ranging ripples of change.

The Results

Build an Education Model to Fuel Human Rights Policy and Action


The centerpiece commitment of Mission Without Borders is the founding support for a Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University. Now known as the Embrey Human Rights Program, it engages faculty from disciplines across the university to find and teach to the human rights issues in their disciplines; and the program enables students to learn together through on campus activities and travel about human rights struggles globally.


The Center’s program is creating leadership for human rights in its students and faculty. And the University itself has emerged as a leader of human rights education in the higher education field. SMU’s Embrey Center is used by many others as a model for education and action.

Helped Build an Infrastructure to Counteract Domestic Human Trafficking


MWB supported the development and sustainability of the U.S  Trafficking Hotline and the Colorado model for identifying and organizing strategic and effective community responses to trafficking.

Pushed and Pulled Gender and Race into Central Strategic Positions


The plight and potential of women and girls is at the core of MWB’s design and the MWB grants seeded efforts big and small to move gender lens thinking into the center of human rights, human trafficking, and media.


  • Amnesty International revitalized its national programs on women and girls and acknowledged the growing importance of young women as the backbone of its college programs and next-generation membership.
  • The American Indian College Fund created a leadership program to strengthen the opportunities for women students in the Native American college system to complete their educations while learning personal and civic leadership skills.
  • The Women’s Media Center and She Should Run battled sexism and misogyny towards women political candidates.
  • The University of Texas Women’s Studies Program broadened gender into curriculum and tapped the civic leadership potential of UT students.


An interest in defining and clarifying the ways in which institutionalized racism holds back human rights and women’s equality led Embrey and the MWB to turn the attention of Dallas leaders to the significance of race in achieving the vision and aspirations of the city.  MWB initiated a partnership with Race Forward (a national resource organization) and also organized a local Dallas coalition of non  profit organizations, civic leaders, churches into Dallas Faces Race.  In November 2014 more than 200 local Dallas leaders joined the other 1400 leaders at the Race Forward conference hosted in Dallas.  Dallas Faces Race forum will continue to carry the work forward.

Positioned the Arts as Social Change in Conflict and Forgiveness


The Arts as a Tool for Social Change took shape through two major strategies:


  • Support of prize winning documentary films (Chicken and Egg; Moxie Institute and others).
  • One of the largest single investments was made in the Global Arts Corps to further develop its unique approach to original theatre production with and for people searching for conflict resolution and forgiveness while remaining in highly traumatized post-conflict situations (South Africa, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Cambodia).
Leverage and Leadership


The Foundation optimized its resources in every possible way. The maximum number of grants were made; a discretionary fund for smaller ventures and small supportive gifts extended seed support for many; the endowment was invested in mission-driven impact opportunities; and the Embrey sisters and their staff members invested time and effort mentoring and connecting their grantees and ultimately also served on the boards of many MWB grantee organizations.

MWB Grant History

2010 through 2015


Human Rights Education & Awareness

Amnesty International $1,200,000
Collective Heritage Institute – Bioneers $13,000
Pachamama Alliance $1,050,000
Peacejam – Nobel Women’s Initiative $54,508
Planned Parenthood – North Texas $250,000
Planned Parenthood Federation Of America $500,000
Smu Embrey Human Rights Program $1,762,569
Texas Freedom Network $200,000
World Affairs Council – Dallas Ft. Worth $50,000
Total Grants $5,080,077

Domestic Human Trafficking

Arlington Police Department $15,000
Children At Risk – Ht Resource Database $75,000
Equip The Saints – Ht Resource Database $20,000
Hunt Alternatives Fund – Demand Abolition Campaign $299,845
Laboratory To Combat Human Trafficking $1,177,343
Letot Capital Foundation $500,000
Polaris DC $150,000
Women’s Enews $20,000
Total Grants $2,257,188

Women & Girls Leadership

American Indian College Fund $1,125,000
New Leadership Development Network At UT $104,200
White House Project / Political Parity $130,000
Women’s Foundation Of Colorado $825,000
Women’s Funding Network $333,333
Total Grants $2,517,533

Racial & Gender Equity

Applied Research Center / Race Forward $75,000
Criterion Institute $25,000
Dallas Women’s Foundation $250,000
Dallas Faces Race Initiative $148,382
Man Up $50,000
Ms Foundation For Women $1,005,750
UT Women & Gender Studies $666,490
Total Grants $2,220,622

Arts For Social Change

Chicken & Egg Pictures – Mother Wit Fund $150,000
Culture Project $24,980
Dallas Film Society – Silver Heart Award 2011 & 2012 $55,000
Global Arts Corp $1,384,000
Half The Sky $25,000
Moxie Institute – Connected $112,500
Women, War & Peace – Educational Outreach $50,000
Working Films – Hell & Back $10,000
Total Grants $1,811,480

Women’s Media

Spark  $25,000
Women’s Media Center / Women’s Campaign Forum Foundation $751,440
Total Grants $776,440