Although the media may be more focused on other crises around the globe, one of my priorities as president of the Western Union Foundation is to keep the Ebola outbreak in West Africa top-of-mind. Helping children, families and communities recover is something that will take time, additional resources, and a lot more funding.
When you think about it, the phase the disease is in now, with lowering rates of infection, is just as critical and time consuming as when the epidemic was at its peak. Each patient, and everyone that patient has contacted, must be monitored – no matter where they are. Missing one person who is infected with the disease can start another flash somewhere else; and that somewhere else isn’t just in Africa, it can be anywhere in the world.
You may know that in late 2014, the Western Union Company and the Western Union Foundation launched a million-dollar global business challenge to help fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Western Union Foundation granted a total of US$500,000 that will be split evenly between the International Medical Corps and Save the Children to support health worker training and infrastructure and stem the spread of the virus and check its catastrophic social, educational and economic impact on children, their families and entire communities.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of February 11, 2015, there have been nearly 23,000 suspected, probable and confirmed Ebola cases in eight countries since the outbreak was declared in March, 2014. WHO reported that case incidence increased in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone for the first two weeks in February. WHO reports this increase in cases shows that Ebola response still faces significant challenges.
Foundation grants to International Medical Corps are helping rebuild healthcare infrastructure, training existing healthcare workers and meeting critical staffing needs by providing high-quality training support for local staff, other partners, government employees and local NGOs working in the region. Funding is also supporting Ebola treatment units and providing emergency support teams to assist in hard-hit areas.
And with schools in Guinea already opened after a five-month delay, and schools in Liberia and Sierra Leone scheduled to open this month, support from the Western Union Foundation to Save the Children is helping rehabilitate schools, ensure that sanitation and hygiene facilities are in place, and provide students with “catch-up” or remedial lessons to make up for time missed. Teachers are being trained too – in providing psychosocial support, as well as on Ebola safety procedures and in helping children transition back to the classroom after many months.
The global community has a responsibility to see this through and we are asking you to help. Already, several Western Union® Agents have joined us in this effort, including Union Trust Bank (Sierra Leone), International Bank (Liberia), WorldBridge (Greece), Deutsche Postbank (Germany), La Banque Postale (France), and Union of Financial Corners (Switzerland). Please join me and the Western Union Foundation, Western Union Agents and employees, and other friends of the Foundation in supporting Ebola relief efforts. Western Union will provide a 1:1 match on all charitable donations made to the International Medical Corps and Save the Children to reach the total of US$1 million in support.
Please join our efforts and make your donation today.
While we are now firmly focused on 2015, it’s important to take a moment and reflect on accomplishments and progress made in 2014.
Last year was challenging, yet ultimately rewarding, and I am particularly proud of the Western Union Foundation’s efforts to continue to make positive impact in communities around the world.
Guided by the belief that the ability to realize dreams through economic opportunity is not just a privilege for the few but a right for all, the Western Union Company, through its Foundation, aspires to help all people in communities across the 200 countries and territories it serves.
Recently, the Foundation highlighted a fourth quarter where nearly 60 grants totaling more than US$1.8 million were distributed to nearly 50 organizations across the globe. Through our signature program, Education for Better, and with the support of the Western Union Company, its employees, Agents, and business partners, these grants were distributed to support education and disaster relief efforts worldwide.
Whether it’s supporting relief efforts in Africa to help contain and eradicate the Ebola virus or provide people with the training, tools and resources to help ensure a proper education, we are dedicated to discovering innovative approaches to give underserved people the tools they need to better their lives.
We have a lot to be proud of in the last quarter of 2014, but our work is not nearly complete.
As we move forward into 2015, we will continue efforts to improve access to education and improve academic achievement through our global education partners such as UNICEF and Teach For All. We’ll continue to partner with Western Union's Agents and employees, while building in opportunity to form new relationships around the world. And of course, we will continue the fight against Ebola, partnering with the business and individuals in our goal to raise US$1 million through the “Million Dollar Business Challenge” to support of efforts being implemented on the ground by the International Medical Corps and Save the Children.
2015 is already off to an exciting start. We look forward to working with all of our stakeholders to accelerate the momentum built toward ensuring better lives for individuals and families around the world.
As part of Western Union’s commitment to support the global communities it serves, The Western Union Foundation today announced more than US$1.8 million in 2014 fourth quarter grants were distributed to key non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide.
"The Western Union Foundation is proud of our history investing in programs and services that are making a positive and lasting impact in areas throughout the world," said Western Union Foundation President Patrick Gaston. "We are honored to team with our global NGO partners to achieve meaningful outcomes for people in communities that are facing significant challenges in education, disaster recovery, and economic stability.
The Foundation’s investment of more than $1.04 million in fourth quarter education grants enables communities worldwide to continue to grow and strengthen initiatives that improve education for students. Some of these grants included:
- UNICEF Education Programs – Grant supporting UNICEF’s education programs in Peru and beyond, which are helping to ensure that all children realize their right to a quality education.
- Interkulturelles Zentrum / Vielfalter - P2B (Proud to Belong) program – More than 2,000 primary and secondary students in Austria will benefit from a US$175,000 grant to help promote personal development, parental involvement, multi-lingualism and equal opportunities.
- Africare / Youth Center for Learning and Excellence – A Foundation grant will contribute to the educational recovery in Liberia, once the peak of the Ebola crisis has passed, by establishing centers of excellence to help young people increase technical and leadership skills. The goal is to help generate consistent income that would improve economic stability.
- Rotary Sanskardham Academy School for the Deaf / School Expansion – Grant to benefit 250 students in Mumbai, India through school expansion to address a broad range of learning and physical disabilities.
- White Land Foundation / Training Program for Income Generation –Funds distributed here will benefit 150 unemployed women in rural areas of Lebanon. The training will support their capability to work, increase their productivity and provide family income.
- Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA) / National Scholarship Program – Ten to 11 U.S. high school students will be awarded scholarships of approximately US$2,000 each.
More than US$630,000 in grants were distributed in the fourth quarter to support efforts including recovery from fires, Ebola treatment and flood disaster response. Disaster- Download Q4WUFGrants_FINALrelief grants included:
- International Medical Corps and Save the Children Federation / Ebola Outbreak Disaster Relief – Funding will focus on containing and stopping the spread of this deadly virus. The two organizations are on-the-ground delivering a broad spectrum of services to patients, caregivers, people at-risk and their surrounding communities. In addition, the Western Union Foundation has launched a million-dollar global business challenge to help fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Foundation will provide a 1:1 match for all donations, up to $500,000, supporting the International Medical Corps and Save the Children.
- Australian Red Cross / Victoria Bushfire Recovery – A US$15,000 grant used to support the recovery in communities impacted by the Victorian bushfires. This grant will focus on recovery efforts through training, education, and provision of resources.
About The Western Union Foundation
The Western Union Foundation is dedicated to creating a better world, where the ability to realize dreams through economic opportunity is not just a privilege for the few but a right for all. Through its signature program, Education for Better, and with the support of The Western Union Company, its employees, Agents, and business partners, The Western Union Foundation works to realize this vision by supporting education and disaster relief efforts as pathways toward a better future. Our combined social ventures efforts make life better for individuals, families and communities around the world. Since its inception, The Western Union Foundation has paid more than $101.1million in grants and other giving. These funds have been pledged to more than 2,739 nongovernmental organizations in more than 135 countries and territories. The Western Union Foundation is a separate §501(c)(3) recognized United States charity. To learn more, visit www.westernunionfoundation.org, or Follow us on Twitter @TheWUFoundation.
About Western Union
The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta, Pago Facil and Western Union Business Solutions branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers and businesses with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, to send payments and to purchase money orders. As of December 31, 2014, the Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta branded services were offered through a combined network of over 500,000 agent locations in 200 countries and territories and over 100,000 ATMs and kiosks. In 2014, The Western Union Company completed 255 million consumer-to-consumer transactions worldwide, moving $85 billion of principal between consumers, and 484 million business payments. For more information, visit www.westernunion.com.