The Trust for Mutual Understanding awards grants to American nonprofit organizations to support the international travel component of cultural and environmental exchanges conducted in partnership with institutions and individuals in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe. 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 Eastern and Central Europe. TMU’s program reflects her conviction that grantmaking can make a contribution to that 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 East-West exchanges in the arts and environment, 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.