In 2012, Yuri Milner and his wife Julia signed the Giving Pledge. Becoming Giving Pledge signatories, they committed to supporting philanthropic projects focused mainly on science, including the Breakthrough Prize. Then, in 2022, the couple launched Tech For Refugees, a non-profit initiative that enables technology-focused organizations to support those living in crisis.
Tech For Refugees recently announced a new partnership with UNICEF USA, the United Nations Children’s Fund. The partnership will bring much-needed educational assistance to Ukrainian children.
Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge: Investing in Our Shared Future
Written more than 10 years ago, Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge letter discusses the importance of investing in science to benefit humanity’s shared future.
The letter references the Breakthrough Prize, which the billionaire founded with his wife, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, and Anne Wojcicki in 2012. Breakthrough Prize laureates each receive $3 million for their ground-breaking contributions to mathematics, fundamental physics, and the life sciences.
Yuri Milner also supports technology-driven enterprises to benefit humankind. The humanitarian disaster caused by the war in Ukraine deeply affected the Milners. With millions of refugees fleeing the conflict, the couple decided to launch another philanthropic initiative: Tech For Refugees.
Tech For Refugees receives funding from the Milners’ Breakthrough Foundation, an organization the couple founded after signing the Giving Pledge. The Breakthrough Foundation also sponsors the Breakthrough Prize.
Tech For Refugees’ Work With UNICEF USA
Tech For Refugees helps leading tech organizations provide refugees with:
- Transport, shelter, and temporary housing.
- Vital resources, like food, goods, and medical supplies.
- Access to online entertainment and education.
In June 2023, the non-profit announced a new grant for UNICEF USA that will help support education programming for children and young people in humanitarian disaster areas.
In particular, the partnership will address the educational challenges that many Ukrainian children currently face. The war has displaced approximately 20% of the country’s children. Moreover, thousands of educational institutions in Ukraine are now damaged or destroyed.
So far, with UNICEF USA’s support, more than 1.8 million children in Ukraine have been able to return to a school or informal educational setting. In addition, 1.4 million Ukrainian refugees have been able to access formal or non-formal education (including early learning).
Before the war began in Ukraine, UNICEF USA had 50 team members in the country; now there are 400. The Tech For Refugees grant will prove invaluable in helping these staff work with local communities and authorities in Ukraine to give children access to a safe learning experience.
- Renée Cutting, UNICEF USA’s chief philanthropy officer, emphasizes that Tech For Refugees’ support will help her organization ensure Ukrainian children don’t fall further behind in their education.
Tech For Refugees’ Partnerships
Tech For Refugees has partnered with many leading technology companies and organizations to enhance global refugee relief efforts.
In April 2022, the initiative joined forces with Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, and Spotify. This initial collaboration, supported by funds from a $100 million grant from Tech For Refugees, has brought shelter, supplies, and comfort to millions of people in or fleeing Ukraine.
In June 2022, Tech For Refugees partnered with Welcome.US to extend pathways for U.S. citizens to help refugees. The program included the launch of Welcome Connect, a first-of-its-kind sponsorship platform.
Read the list of Tech For Refugees partners.