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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blog: Grants spur economic development

WUSV_EmailHeader_PatrickGastonAs I complete my first two months as President of the Western Union Foundation, I continue to be in awe of the many ways the Foundation helps spur economic development – lifting up individuals, families and entire communities across the globe.

Our Foundation grants provide the resources people need to better their lives over the long term. The grants we fund for education enable young people and adults to learn new skills and find jobs. Our support helps children stay in school and provides them with the tools necessary to learn – paving the way toward a brighter future. Our grants connect entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to help their small businesses thrive and grow. And when disaster strikes, our support helps people recover, rebuild and restore their lives and livelihoods. What I find especially important is the sustainability of the projects we fund and the long-lasting positive impact they can have on future generations.

For example, in Uganda, Foundation funds supported a community-wide training program to teach sustainable organic agricultural techniques and livestock management to rural families. Through the program, women like Margarit and Rehema learned new skills, gained confidence, improved their household food security and nutrition, and increased their household income by selling the surplus.

But the benefits of this grant didn’t stop there. Sharing a common goal helped enhance social cohesion within Margarit’s and Rehema’s community. Improved food security and increased household income lessened the financial burden on their families and enabled their children to attend school instead of having to work. And as their future income grows, it can be reinvested into more livestock and increased crop production, benefitting the entire community and beyond.

In coming weeks, you’ll be hearing more about our three-year Western Union Education for Better initiative. Building on the success of Western Union’s Our World, Our Family program; Education for Better is a natural evolution – providing us with the ability to engage with communities around the world. By creating pathways to economic opportunity through secondary and vocational education, we will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of people like Margarit and Rehema, their families, and their communities.

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