Water.org Unveils  Billion Water Access Plan at CGI

Water.org Unveils $1 Billion Water Access Plan at CGI

NEW YORK (AP) — Water.org announced a $1 billion plan Tuesday to help 100 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America gain permanent 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 build a billion-dollar investment portfolio to help bring new water distribution and wastewater treatment projects to underserved communities. then use those communities’ utility bills to fund further projects. Amazon donated the first $10 million in philanthropic money needed for the fund.

It was the biggest 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 address of the world’s most difficult problems.

Actor and water access activist Matt Damon said he and water.org co-founder Gary White are “CGI OGs” because of their long-standing ties to the conference and that he was worried about making his first pledge in 2009 because he was afraid of disappointing people.

On Tuesday, he encouraged attendees not to worry about it. “Please don’t be afraid to get involved,” she said.

It’s a message that echoed throughout the two-day conference.

“The world needs heroes,” said Joseph Deitch, founder of the Elevate Prize Foundation. Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai won the foundation’s Elvate Prize Catalyst Award, which the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner said she will use to support alternative education and support the opening of girls’ secondary schools in Afghanistan that have been closed by Taliban takeover last year. .

“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 purpose of the prize is to amplify the message of defenders like Yousafzai. “In this way we inspire people to feel more committed to doing good,” he said.

Sasha Fisher, co-founder and executive director of the non-profit Spark MicroGrants, came to CGI looking for partners to provide $25 million to expand education and support programs in villages across Africa. The additional funding will be used to bring its community-building work to three to five more countries.

“The things that are most scalable are also the most decentralized, so governments love the approach of getting small grants to villages to start local projects and local businesses to accelerate economic development in their area,” Fisher said. “They know it will work if it starts with people in this village.”

Villages that received funds from Spark MicroGrants weathered the pandemic better than those that did not, according to the nonprofit. These villages also saw an increase in female leadership and a decrease in domestic violence.

CGI also saw the launch of several new philanthropic ventures.

Dr. David Fajgenbaum’s new nonprofit Every Cure hopes to match generic drugs to rare diseases that currently have no cure. It’s a procedure he knows has potential because he’s used it to treat Castleman’s disease, a rare disease where the immune system attacks vital organs.

“This is a huge issue,” Fajgenbaum said. “There are drugs in your neighborhood pharmacy that could cure you or someone you love, but the system isn’t built to detect them.”

He chose to announce his nonprofit at CGI because it allows him to tell his story with “the right people in the room.”

“I can share with you how I’m alive because of 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 full CGI crowd. And former President Bill Clinton was already won over.

“What I think would be great is if the president’s cancer program could do this for peanuts compared to the cost of starting major medical research,” Clinton told The Associated Press in an interview. “They can save a lot of lives.”


Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits is supported through AP’s partnership with The Conversation US, funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Glenn Gamboa, The Associated Press

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