Washington, DC - Today the White House is announcing a Call to Action for the U.S. private sector to stand with the Administration and make new, measurable and significant commitments that will have a durable impact on refugees residing in countries on the frontlines of the global refugee crisis and in countries of resettlement, like the United States.
The fifteen founding companies, all of whom have taken significant action to-date to assist the refugee crisis, have committed to standing with refugees, including: Accenture, Airbnb, Chobani, Coursera, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, IBM, JPMorgan Chase & Co., LinkedIn, Microsoft, Mastercard, UPS, TripAdvisor, and Western Union.
There are more than 65 million displaced people in the world today, the highest number on record since the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) began collecting statistics. More than 21 million of these people have crossed international borders in search of safety and are registered as refugees. The despair that drives these people to flee their homes is heartbreaking, but their resilience is awe-inspiring. Refugees are a valuable, untapped resource and, if given the opportunity, can thrive and contribute wherever they reside.
In addition to contributing billions of dollars to meet the immediate humanitarian need of displaced people and planning to welcome 85,000 refugees this year, the United States is rallying other countries to step up their efforts. On September 20, President Obama will host the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees at the UN for countries that have made new and significant commitments to increase support for UN humanitarian appeals; create greater opportunities for legal resettlement; and enact policies that allow refugees to be self-reliant.
A crisis of this scale, however, requires more than government action. For this reason, in the months leading up to the Leaders’ Summit, President Obama is challenging the U.S. private sector to draw on its unique expertise, resources and entrepreneurial spirit to help refugees regain control over their lives and integrate into their new communities. The Administration will convene a cross-section of private sector leaders with new pledges in response to the Call to Action at a high-level meeting that will take place alongside the Leaders’ Summit.
Call to Action Impact Areas:
While there are innumerable ways in which the private sector can stand with refugees, the Call to Action is principally focused on generating new commitments in three “impact areas” that align with the Leaders’ Summit’s goals:
- Education – Facilitating refugee children and young adults’ education by ensuring that refugee students can access schools of all levels and creating quality long-distance learning platforms and programs.
- Employment – Increasing employment opportunities for refugees, supporting refugee entrepreneurship, and assisting refugees’ reentry into the workforce.
- Enablement – Increasing humanitarian financing, strengthening infrastructure and access to resources needed for refugees to become self-reliant, and supporting countries taking new steps to welcome refugees or allow them to work and attend school.
Partnership for Refugees: Catalyzing Durable Solutions
To facilitate private sector commitments in response to the Call to Action, the White House is announcing the Partnership for Refugees, an initiative established through collaboration between the State Department and USA for UNHCR, with significant support from Accenture Federal Services. The Partnership for Refugees will provide guidance to private sector organizations that wish to take action and help ensure that their pledges are sustainable and responsive to refugees’ needs. Federal agencies supporting this initiative include the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Homeland Security, the Small Business Administration, and the Department of Commerce.
More specifically, from now until September, the Partnership will:
- Produce resources containing data and best practices to guide private sector action.
- Draw on knowledge of refugees’ needs to offer feedback on specific proposals.
- Connect interested private sector actors with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies, and government officials working in the impact areas.
- Develop criteria for assessing and measuring the impact of pledges made in response to the Call to Action.
Background on the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees
On September 20, President Obama will host the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in the wake of the UN General Assembly. The Summit will bring together leaders of member states who are prepared to make new and significant pledges in 2016 to help address refugees’ most urgent needs. To participate in the Summit, major refugee-hosting member states will enact new policies to improve refugees’ access to employment and education – so as to enable them to become more self-reliant. Other states will provide additional funding to UN humanitarian appeals and agencies, above and beyond what they gave in 2015; and welcome additional refugees to their countries, beyond what they had previously planned.
Building on these individual pledges, the Summit is expected to achieve three overarching goals:
- Generate a 30 percent increase in financing for global humanitarian appeals, from $10 billion in 2015 to $13 billion this year.
- Double the number of resettlement slots and alternative legal pathways for admission that are available to refugees, and increase the number of countries accepting significant numbers of refugees.
- Increase the number of refugees worldwide in school by one million, and the number of refugees granted the legal right to work by one million.
Founding Private Sector Participants in the Call to Action
While the Call to Action aims to strengthen private sector support for refugees, especially in the three impact areas described above, it builds on a long track-record of U.S. private sector leadership in response to the global refugee crisis. Fifteen of these companies that are already leading examples in this space, are joining the President today.
These companies put forth summaries of their work to date to assist refugees as follows:
- Accenture Federal Services will provide strategic consulting and digital services, as well as program management support to the Partnership for Refugees, working with the private sector and NGOs to help address the ongoing and enduring plight of refugees. Accenture will leverage the full expertise of its global experience, having worked closely with UNHCR to develop the Biometric Identification Management System, enrolling more than 230,000 refugees improving the protection and support for 33.9 million displaced persons; teaming with Upwardly Global to launch an online employment training program to help skilled refugees and immigrants launch professional careers in the United States; and leveraging digital innovation to create the Accenture Refugee Talent Hub—a digital platform and partnership between leading corporations, the Dutch government, NGOs and educational institutions to accelerate integration, education and employment of refugees in the Netherlands.
- Airbnb is partnering with leading international relief organizations including UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency), the International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps in responding to the global refugee crisis. Support includes the donation of travel credits to relief organizations, which allow their humanitarian workers to book accommodations on the front-lines where they are responding to some of the most urgent refugee needs.
- Airbnb has encouraged its community to join in supporting this important cause by donating financial resources through a dedicated landing page on their website. This summer, we are working with UNHCR to develop a renewed global call to action during the Olympics in Rio.
- Additionally, Airbnb has signed on as a pledge partner with The Tent Alliance to encourage and catalyze other private sector engagement as this humanitarian crisis evolves.
- Airbnb is working with a range of partners domestically and around the world to continue to assess how to support this global response.
- Chobani is a natural food company headquartered in Norwich, NY, with a mission to make better food for more people. Diversity and inclusiveness have been at the heart of the company since day one. In its early days in Upstate New York, Chobani worked with local refugee centers to support those who had come in search of safety and opportunity. It is a practice that has continued ever since, and today roughly 30 percent of its manufacturing workforce are resettled refugees. In addition to translating into more than 11 languages, the company works to provide English language training and other educational opportunities. Although most of Chobani’s employees grew up in communities near its plants in Idaho and New York, the company is proud to welcome people from all over the world to join its mission to make delicious, nutritious and natural food that’s accessible to all.
- In 2015, Chobani’s founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya signed the Giving Pledge, committing the majority of his personal wealth towards ending the global refugee crisis. That same year he founded Tent, an organization that seeks to improve the lives and livelihoods of the 65 million people who have been forcibly displaced around the globe. Tent does this by funding direct assistance, investing in innovation, promoting policies and partnerships to help the displaced realize their full potential, and organizing private sector leaders to make a meaningful difference in addressing the crisis.
- Coursera, the largest open online education provider, and the U.S. Department of State have partnered to create Coursera for Refugees, enabling an unlimited number of non-profits that work with refugees to apply for at least one year of group financial aid. Partner non-profits will be able to support refugees in quickly building career skills and gaining recognizable certificates through access to the 1,000+ Coursera courses offered by schools like Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Edinburgh, and IE Business School. Coursera for Refugees also includes organizational support services for partner non-profits, such as learner engagement data, private communication forms, and dedicated Coursera technical support.
- Goldman Sachs Gives has contributed over $4.5 million, representing one of the earliest and largest corporate investments in response to the Middle East refugee crisis, through public-private partnerships between the firm and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), and other nonprofit organizations including Concern Worldwide, Relief International and German Red Cross.
- The response by Goldman Sachs has focused on three core areas: the immediate humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean region; regional stabilization in camps; and resettlement for the 20,000 Syrian refugees in the United Kingdom.
- The grant to UNHCR supported thousands of families with survivor packs, emergency food packs, secure accommodation for extremely vulnerable children and temporary medical facilities, as well as secondary support focused on ongoing needs in and around the refugee camps. Through Relief International and Concern Worldwide, Goldman Sachs Gives provided educational support (including 40 classrooms, 3 new interactive learning libraries and 3 new playgrounds) for 26,000 children in the two main refugee camps in Jordan and in Turkey, and provided 3,000 winterization kits to refugees in and around Kobani, Syria.
- To address longer-term resettlement of refugees, Goldman Sachs will work to address English language and employability skills, two significant areas of need, with the intent to develop a mechanism to fill gaps across the current integration framework.
- Starting last September, Google has been supporting refugees by funding innovative solutions to connectivity, access to information and education. In the past 9 months, Google.org has given more than $13M plus employee expertise to support nonprofits developing those solutions. Those efforts include helping to develop RefugeeInfo.eu to provide access to vital information, deploying low cost wifi and charging kits in refugee camps and transit routes, helping to build Translation Cards to facilitate translations between aid workers and refugees and launching Project Reconnect to equip non-profits with managed Chromebooks to facilitate access to educational resources and training. Google’s combined efforts will help more than 1 million refugees get access to information and education this year.
- HP believes everyone, everywhere should have access to a quality education. This includes refugees and displaced communities. Technology can be a key enabler to reaching this goal by providing unstandardized ways of learning. HP has funded and provided technology to 57 Community Technology Access (CTA) centers in refugee camps in 26 countries. UNHCR’s CTA program provides access to computers, computer literacy, and connectivity, to UNHCR’s persons of concern including refugees and internally displaced persons. The CTA program launched an online learning platform, UNHCR Exchange, which provides refugees with vocational, business and IT skills training to improve their livelihoods. HP LIFE, free online business and IT skills training in 7 languages, is on the UNHCR Exchange.
- HP is working with the Global Alliance Institute and Girl Scouts of Nation’s Capital to support the Girl’s Truth Seekers Education Project which will connect Girl Scouts in the greater Washington area with young Syrian refugee girls currently living in the countries bordering Syria. Through this initiative, the Syrian girls will attend virtual, online classes to learn English, and the Girl Scouts will earn the Truth Seeker badge. As well as donating practical tools including HP Probook and Notebook laptops, HP LIFE will also be offered as part of the training at its refugee learning centers, enabling female refugees to continue their education – preparing them for the technology world and bringing them hope for a brighter future.
- IBM has been actively partnering with regional and international NGOs and launching IBM volunteer initiatives, in an integrated fashion, to provide a substantive and effective response to the critical and long-term needs of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe.
- IBM Impact Grants of mobile and cloud capabilities are supporting European NGOs as they collect medical data, track refugee health, and analyze data for trends and insights. Mobile apps designed for Italian NGOs INTERSOS and Médecins Sans Frontières are enabling better health interventions based on data and analytics. In Turkey, IBM is helping two NGOs which are UNHCR implementing partners and which provide services to more than 60,000 refugees monthly. IBM provided consulting on data strategy to improve services, and design and implementation of a web-based custom data management solution. To Singa France, an NGO that supports cohesion between refugees and local communities, IBM delivered data management consulting and support toward a solution to match refugees with local hosts, accelerating access to accommodation, cultural and economic opportunities and wider social integration. For the Deutsche Rote Kreuz (German Red Cross), IBM developed a solution, based on Sahana and hosted in IBM Softlayer, to help them manage and improve numerous sources of conflicting refugee information at the reception centre in Mannheim, which has a capacity of 6,000 refugees and migrants. Leveraging IBM’s capabilities in security, IBM granted to UK NGO Stop The Traffik five licenses of i2 analyst software and training, as well as Softlayer hosting for analysis of trafficking data. Refugees and migrants are uniquely susceptible to exploitation. Using the software, staff will be able to analyze data submitted by citizens around the world who suspect that human trafficking is taking place in their area
- IBMers also engage in skills-based volunteerism and mentoring programs for refugees, leading to better employability and social integration. In Austria, Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden, mentoring and skills training initiatives are supporting children with language and cultural learning, and helping to bring skilled refugees into the job market. In Belgium, more than twenty workshops in various topics are delivered per year. Volunteers in Sweden worked for three months with the Red Cross at the Swedish border in the height of winter, supporting refugees in various ways. Volunteers are innovating – in Denmark, by developing an app to match mentors with mentees; and in Austria, by joining a Social Hackathon on Migration organized for late June to work on apps and games related to education and refugees, using IBM Bluemix as the cloud development platform. Finally, IBM has launched internship opportunities for refugees in Finland, Germany, and Sweden – with some interns already having completed the program. IBM Sweden is a founding partner of an AmCham Sweden collaboration to integrate immigrant-owned enterprises into procurement processes of larger Swedish companies.
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO.
- JPMorgan Chase and its employees donated $1.7 million to non-governmental organizations serving refugee children and families across Europe and the Middle East, providing them with necessary medical treatment, food, clean water and other critical support services. Over 150 employees also created more than 500 hygiene kits that were distributed to refugees through the International Medical Corps. Finally, the Family Action Toy Appeal campaign, with support from JPMorgan Chase, provided over 5,000 children toys to refugees during the holidays.
- Integration Efforts: JPMorgan Chase provided nearly $680,000 to help adult refugees integrate into the German labor market through career guidance services, internship placements and job training in key business sectors. J.P. Morgan has also developed a partnership with Bertelsmann Foundation to pilot and scale plans that help cities integrate refuges into their labor markets. As a result, about a dozen cities will develop strategies for integrating refugees into the labor market. J.P. Morgan will also partner with JobLinge in Germany to provide office space and volunteer support for refugee language classes.
- In February 2016, LinkedIn launched its first pilot initiative in Sweden, Welcome Talent, to help address the refugee crisis. Using the LinkedIn platform, the company created a microsite that is an entry point to connect newly settled refugees with employers who have committed to hiring them. The site has information, resources and case studies to help refugees create optimal profiles. To date, more than 1,000 jobs have been posted from potential employers. This is a multi-sector initiative working with the Swedish government, NGO community, universities and the private sector. LinkedIn is also one of the founding partners of the Tent Foundation private sector alliance that has formed to address the refugee crisis. LinkedIn is currently exploring other markets to expand this work.
- By leveraging technologies and products such as MasterCard Aid Network and Prepaid, MasterCard collaborates with partners to provide essential services to refugees at a critical time in their lives. To date, MasterCard Aid and Prepaid cards have been deployed in humanitarian responses across Africa, Asia and Europe – in countries such as Turkey, Kenya, Yemen, Nepal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Niger, the Philippines, and Greece.
- For example, MasterCard worked with Mercy Corps to distribute prepaid debit cards to eligible refugees traveling through Serbia. Approximately $75,000 was distributed to nearly 400 families and individuals, who spent the assistance on transportation, food, medications and lodging. Many recipients also used their prepaid MasterCard to withdraw cash at automated teller machines. Based on the success in Serbia, Mercy Corps has launched a complementary program in Greece. Run on the islands of Lesvos and Leros, and on the mainland, the program will provide nearly 3,000 refugees with cash support.
- Microsoft Philanthropies is leveraging the company's technology, cash donations, and employee volunteers to support nonprofits who are driving Syrian refugee crisis relief efforts. In the past six months, Microsoft has donated more than $20 million in cash, grants and software to over a dozen nonprofit organizations, including NetHope, Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee. This has ensured its nonprofit partners have the capacity to provide millions of refugees with vital access to food, water, shelter, medical aid and legal/trauma counseling, as well as services that will help them to rebuild their lives, including education, employment training, and connectivity.
- Currently, through its nonprofit partnerships, Microsoft is supporting refugee education efforts in Turkey, Lebanon, Greece and Jordan. For instance, in Germany, Microsoft has made its YouthSpark Schlaumause (Arabic to German language training) program available to 3,000 elementary schools, serving approximately 30,000 refugee children. In the coming months, Microsoft will commit more resources to this initiative to double Schlaumause's impact. At the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, Microsoft has supported the establishment of The Norwegian Refugee Council's technology lab, which teaches adult refugees computer skills, improving their future employability. Through its support for NetHope, Microsoft has helped bring connectivity services to Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. With connectivity, refugees have been able to access information and resources, and connect to family. Going forward, Microsoft aims to work across the industry to help provide much-needed infrastructure, as well as longer-term aid. In the coming months, Microsoft will deepen its commitment and expand its ability to prepare for and respond to humanitarian and natural disasters.
- TripAdvisor has a culture of giving and giving back, it’s part of the brand ethos. TripAdvisor was moved to action with the tragic refugee crisis impacting so many millions who are on a journey trying to find safe haven. As a brand TripAdvisor helps travelers, and these refugees are travelers of a different kind that truly need help.
- In the fall of last year, the refugee crisis reached a peak and TripAdvisor knew it needed to do what it could to support on-the-ground humanitarian relief. Within a matter of days, TripAdvisor took three steps:
- Launched partnerships with two leading global humanitarian organizations, The International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Mercy Corps, donating $250,000 between the two.
- Appealed to the community of millions of travelers around the world to donate to IRC and Mercy Corps with a goal to match, dollar for dollar, community donations up to $375,000 from its Charitable Foundation
- Launched an appeal on the TripAdvisor website in almost 30 languages to reach as many community members as possible.
- TripAdvisor engaged employees in two ways:
- Doubled employees’ donations to a 2:1 match to IRC and Mercy Corps via an internal gift matching program through Dec 31, 2015. This means each employee’s donation had triple the impact.
- Introduced a new Volunteer Time Off (VTO) policy to allow those TripAdvisor employees to use their time and skills and take up to five days of paid leave to volunteer at any nonprofit organization tackling the refugee crisis
- Within 48 hours, the community exceeded expectations andthe TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation was able to donate over $1 million. Through the campaign, the combined contributions to Mercy Corps and IRC's emergency humanitarian efforts have totaled over $1.4 million, which exceeded the match goal.
- The current national security and humanitarian crisis the world faces ranks among the most pressing global challenges of our time. In response, UPS has guided its actions by the principle: Those who can, when they can, should do what they can. To that end, UPS has strengthened cooperation with law enforcement and deployed advanced technology to provide greater safety and security for people, customers and countries from those who seek to harm us and our global economy.
- UPS also believes everyone should help to address the humanitarian needs of the 60 million people – 1/3 of whom are children – fleeing war, disease, famine, oppression and religious intolerance. Despite the heavy toll of such unanticipated migration on social welfare systems and national economies, to stand idle and not provide aid in the face of such human suffering is unconscionable. UPS believes that we collectively need to do more.
- UPS sees that the preservation of life and individual dignity is essential to modern democracy. We cannot ensure peace in our world, economic growth or a better future for all, unless we all try to offer a courageous and compassionate alternative to terror. That’s why UPS has deployed its logistical resources and volunteers to address the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. UPS is providing financial, in-kind and volunteer support in partnership with UNHCR, the World Food Programme, Refugees International, ShelterBox USA and The Salvation Army. Company and employee-volunteers have brought dozens of ocean containers filled with supplies to critical relief points, like Erbil, Iraq, where UPS delivered 23,400 winter clothing kits for children, as well as food, tents, water sanitation devices, and health kits. Working closely with its partners, UPS brought mobile warehouses and sleeping mats to Gaziantep, Turkey, and 11,750 kilos of shelter supplies to Lebanon. UPS’s expertise in disaster relief logistics has also been mobilized in southern Turkey, as part of the World Food Programme’s Logistics Emergency Team. In Germany and Belgium, UPS volunteers have delivered vital supplies like blankets and toiletries, and distributed much needed food to refugees.
- Western Union (WU) has a long history of supporting issues related to migration, refugees, and humanitarian crisis. In 2013, WU drew early attention to the needs of young Syrian refugees through a multi-year consumer fundraising campaign to benefit UNICEF. In 2015, the company expanded its efforts to support humanitarian relief for refugees throughout the Middle East & Europe, taking a 360° approach by engaging a variety of assets and audiences, including its core operations, corporate voice, marketing and customer engagement programs, employee volunteerism, business partnerships, corporate giving, and support from the WU Foundation. WU designed a three-pronged approach, designed to address short-, medium- and long-term needs that were identified through hands-on field research. Taking a 360° approach, WU has also engaged its business partners, employees and customers in the campaign.
- Products: WU products have enabled NGO staff from Oxfam, IRC and others to send humanitarian payments from their desktops directly to programs in the field – including to refugees and fieldworkers. WU has also offered zero-fee and reduced fee promotions to support the refugee community. WU is working to launch a new Western Union MasterCard prepaid card that will enable refugees and asylum seekers to receive funds from governments or NGOs on a reloadable prepaid card. The card will be piloted in Europe, where an estimated half of refugees live in urban areas
- Giving: In 2015, Western Union and the Western Union Foundation provided more than $600,000 in philanthropic contributions to numerous charitable organizations serving refugee populations throughout the Middle East and Europe, including longtime partners Save the Children, Mercy Corps, and the Red Cross. The Western Union Company also contributed ten US cents per transaction for all consumer-to-consumer transactions originated within the European Union, giving more than USD$400,000. In 2016, the Western Union Foundation has committed to giving more than $500,000 in humanitarian assistance, raising additional funds from business partners and employees to deliver critical support
- Employees: WU has matched employee contributions 2:1, and WU employees in Europe have participated in hands-on volunteer efforts, collecting donations, handing out supplies, even babysitting the children of refugees so the parents could attend classes. Employees are working with NGOs to teach a full year of Italian and German to roughly 1,000 new refugees – a camp-full. They have worked with Caritas to create two homes for unaccompanied refugee children, and to provide language skills and education
- Customers: WU has made it easy for customers to make a difference through the MyWU customer loyalty program, which enabled WU customers to redeem their loyalty points to support the refugee crisis both in France and Germany, with WU matching their donations. WU actively promoted points donation via SMS and email, and used social media to provide transparent updates on progress and encourage others to join in. Earlier this year, WU donated more than €10,000 thanks to the generosity of loyalty members.