The Trust for Mutual Understanding awards grants to American nonprofit organizations to support exchange in the arts and the environment (and the intersection of the two) between professionals from the United States and TMU’s geographic region of 29 countries: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.
Priority consideration is given to projects that involve direct, in-depth professional interaction, with the potential for sustained collaboration; that show evidence of professional accomplishment and innovation; and/or that respond to social contexts and engage local communities.
The Trust for Mutual Understanding was established in 1984 by an anonymous American philanthropist as a private, grantmaking organization dedicated to promoting improved communication, closer cooperation, and greater respect between the people of the United States, the Soviet Union, and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. TMU’s program reflects her conviction that grantmaking can contribute to this process by supporting international face-to-face contact and professional interaction. TMU’s mission has been shaped by the belief that creative international collaboration encourages global harmony.
TMU continues to support professional exchanges, reflecting the founder’s appreciation of the importance of culture and ecology in people’s lives. Before 1985, there was relatively little American funding for such activities, and what support there was—mainly governmental—was often restricted by political considerations. It remains TMU’s goal to enable talented people to come together from different countries to freely share ideas and stimulate creativity in a nonpolitical context.
TRUST FOR MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING CORE VALUES
Every word in our name has meaning.
Trust: We are legally incorporated as a trust, but trust is also at the heart of who we are, what we do, and how we do it. Our goal as grantmakers is to convey commitment, connection, honesty, transparency, and building trusted personal and professional relationships (between grantees and between us and our grantees).
Mutual: The exchanges we support are collaborative, multidirectional, and rooted in a commitment to equity, mutuality, reciprocity, solidarity, and shared learning and benefit.
Understanding: The international and interregional exchanges we support are intended to promote greater awareness, closer cooperation, empathy, harmony, peace, respect, and tolerance between people of the United States and their peers in TMU’s geographic region of focus.
It’s about our grantees.
Our work as a foundation centers on celebrating, validating, and advocating for the important and creative work of our grantees.
It’s about our mission as an advocate.
The advancement of our work is about increasing awareness among our peers and potential co-funders of the creative richness, environmental challenges, and strategic significance of the countries and regions where our grantees work.
It’s all about relationships.
Our effectiveness and impact as a grantmaker is measured not by metrics but by the authentic personal and professional relationships, collaboration, empathy, mutual understanding, and sharing and direct exchange of people, ideas, and information that our grantmaking enables.
We are grantee-centric.
Our primary commitment as grantmakers is to be empathetic, flexible, and responsive to the context, needs, realities, and trends our grantees face and to meet them where they are.
We respect the identity of place.
We strive to use inclusive language in referencing our specific geographic focus. Geographic references and terminology should not be US-centric but rather should be culturally sensitive and consistent with how local people self-identify.
We are apolitical.
While some of our grantees may be politically active directly or indirectly, our effectiveness relies upon us remaining unbiased, neutral, and apolitical.
Arts and environment are equal.
We give equal weight, consideration, and representation to our two thematic foci of arts and environment and help to break down barriers and make connections between them.
The margins are central.
Our primary commitment is to providing access to opportunity for people, communities, and organizations whose diverse voice and important work may be ignored, overlooked, or suppressed in order to overcome exclusion and isolation.
We are here to stay.
Commitment, constancy, longevity, resilience, sustainability, and stability are central to our work. We have been a presence in this part of the world for 35 years, and we will not change our programmatic areas of focus or our geographic areas of focus, which tend to be underrepresented within the world of philanthropy.