NEW YORK (TNZT) — Water.org on Tuesday announced a $1 billion plan to help 100 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America gain continued access to water and sanitation.
The Water.org Water & Climate Fund, unveiled at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, plans to use $50 million in philanthropic money to create a billion-dollar investment portfolio to fund new water supply and wastewater treatment projects. disadvantaged communities, then use those communities’ energy bills to fund further projects. Amazon donated the first $10 million in philanthropic money needed for the fund.
It was the largest proposal of the day at the conference, which brought together world leaders from politics, business and philanthropy for the first time since 2016. And it showed how the conference is encouraging nonprofits to take on increasingly ambitious projects to tackle the world’s toughest problems.
Actor and water access activist Matt Damon said he and his water.org co-founder Gary White are “CGI OGs” because of their long ties to the conference, and that he was concerned about making his first commitment in 2009 because he was afraid of abandoning people.
On Tuesday, he encouraged those in attendance not to worry about that. “Please don’t be afraid to join in,” he said.
It is a message that reverberated throughout the two-day conference.
“The world needs heroes,” Joseph Deitch, founder of the Elevate Prize Foundation, said when announcing this year’s Catalyst Award winner, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Yousafzai said her Malala Fund plans to use the $250,000 award to add 80 new advocates for girls’ education in nine countries. She also plans to use the platform to raise awareness about the plight of girls in Afghanistan, who have been banned from attending secondary schools since the Taliban takeover.
“Afghan girls have seen what it means to be educated,” she said. “They will fight.”
Carolina García Jayaram, CEO of the Elevate Prize Foundation, said in an interview that the aim of the prize is to amplify the message of advocates like Yousafzai. “It’s how we inspire the world to feel more agency to do good,” she said.
Sasha Fisher, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Spark MicroGrants, came to CGI seeking partners to provide $25 million to expand training and support programs in villages across Africa. The additional funding would be used to take her community-building work to three to five other countries.
“The things that are the most scalable are also the most decentralized, so governments like the approach of getting small grants to villages to launch local projects and local businesses to accelerate economic development in their area,” Fisher said. “They know it’s going to work if it’s started by people in that village.”
Villages that received money from Spark MicroGrants weathered the pandemic better than those that didn’t, the nonprofit said. Those villages have also seen an increase in female leadership and a decrease in domestic violence.
CGI also saw the launch of numerous new philanthropic ventures.
dr. David Fajgenbaum’s new nonprofit Every Cure hopes to match generic drugs with rare diseases that currently have no treatment. It’s a process he knows has potential because he used it to treat his Castleman disease, a rare condition in which the immune system attacks vital organs.
“This is a huge problem,” Fajgenbaum said. “There are drugs in your neighborhood pharmacy that can cure you or someone you love, but the system isn’t built to discover them.”
He chose to announce his nonprofit to CGI because it allows him to tell his story with “the right people in the room.”
“I can tell how I live thanks to one of these drugs and hopefully inspire people to want to support this work,” Fajgenbaum said.
His presentation was certainly effective. Fajgenbaum received a standing ovation from the entire CGI audience. And former President Bill Clinton had already won.
“What I would love is if the president’s cancer program could do this for peanuts compared to what it costs to start major medical research,” Clinton told the The New Zealand Times in an interview. “They can save a lot of lives.”
The New Zealand Times reporting on philanthropy and nonprofits is supported by the TNZT’s partnership with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The TNZT is solely responsible for this content. For all TNZT philanthropic coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.