Mission & Overview


Mission & Vision

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography and Film aspires to encourage a new generation of photographers and filmmakers, armed with only a camera and a vision of a better world, to take to the streets every day and document humanity on the move. By rewarding the dedication and determination of emerging photographers and film makers, the foundation’s mission is to support photo and film reportage as a catalyst for change and social justice in communities where needs are most pressing.

The foundation, its founder and the Board of Trustees have a vision of continuous positive change in the lives of forgotten people ravaged by war, famine, poverty, exploitation and global distress. Our emphasis is to bring attention to these communities after the 24-hour news cycle is over; after the 'breaking news' media has moved on and world attention shifts elsewhere.

By empowering emerging photographers, we hope their efforts will take us all on a humanitarian journey that provides a voice to the voiceless, and an opportunity for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us — in every community in the world — to be seen and heard.  

Overview & History

The foundation is a 501(c)(3) Not-for-Profit Organization organized under the laws of the State of New York is committed to positive social discourse in underrepresented communities throughout the world by encouraging emerging and established photographers working in developing nations to keep their lenses fixed on the plight of the poor and disenfranchised.  The foundation is a charitable trust serving the international photographic community through exhibitions, publishing opportunities, grants, educational programming, and various other curatorial projects.

Established in 2010 by Manuel Rivera-Ortiz, with the generous support of Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd, Zurich, Switzerland, the foundation is headquartered in New York, with a presence in Paris, and Zurich.


The foundation issues grants and works in specific program areas including publication, exhibition and the publicity of the work of all of our photographers.

From famine to disease, human injustice to politics, our grant programs give photographers and film makers the opportunity to share pivotal and impacting stories of human interest that resonate globally.