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NEO Philanthropy was formed in 1984 as a 501 (c)(3) public charity with the broad and flexible mission of advocating for issues of timely interest to consumers and the general public. Currently, NEO operates grantmaking, technical assistance and strategic planning programs for institutional and individual donors interested in social justice and human rights issues. For the past three years, NEO has administered a $1 million grants program for the Ford Foundation that provides grants to immigration coalitions and statewide and niche law and advocacy programs across the country. NEO also manages five funder collaboratives: The Four Freedoms Fund, Just & Fair Schools Fund, Communities or Public Education Reform, Sunrise. These collaboratives are multi-year national grantmaking initiatives that engage private, corporate, family and individual funders.
Historically, NEO has been a leader in incubating efforts that have resulted in the development of new social perspectives. Professionals for Environmental and Ethical Responsibility (PEER) got its start at a conference that was organized by NEO. Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that monitors federal spending, was a project of NEO for its first two years after receiving start-up funding from the Educational Foundation of America.