Tech For Refugees, the global refugee initiative launched in 2022 by Julia and Yuri Milner in cooperation with major technology partners, and funded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, is making a multi-year commitment to support the humanitarian efforts of the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
The gift will enable the expansion of the IRC’s Signpost platform – a technology-enabled “HelpDesk” offering information and support to refugees and people displaced by conflict and disasters as they navigate their journey through a complex crisis. The three-year commitment is expected to propel the adoption of Signpost in 10 locations within Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and the Americas.
With over 100 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, and nearly 340 million people who will require aid in 2023, the world is seeing record levels of humanitarian need. Tech For Refugees was launched in 2022 with the mission of leveraging world-class technologies and networks to help assuage the crisis. Founded by Julia and Yuri Milner and funded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, the initiative supports tech organizations including Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, Spotify and Welcome.US to deliver food, aid, logistical support, and other assistance to refugees around the world. In the last year, the initiative has brought relief to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, as well as extending its programs to Pakistan and the Horn of Africa. With this latest partnership, it joins the IRC, which works in more than 40 countries and over 28 U.S. cities to help people affected by humanitarian crises to survive, recover, and rebuild their lives.
The IRC’s Signpost project epitomizes the potential of technology to improve the lives of refugees. Signpost is a community-led information service that empowers people worldwide who are facing civil war, natural disaster, grinding poverty and other harrowing conditions, to improve their lives. Its teams of local community liaisons research and share key information via an array of digital tools and portals. Liaisons also provide person-to-person support to guide critical decision-making and respond to questions about issues such as temporary housing, educational services, legal and psychological counsel. To date, Signpost programs have reached 36 million people with information products. Signpost’s partners include tech companies such as Google, Zendesk, Cisco, Meta, and more.
“The scale of today’s refugee crisis requires innovative ideas,” said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. “Tech For Refugees is honored to collaborate with the IRC to bring sophisticated technological tools that can support millions of people as they try to rebuild their lives.”
“The support from Tech for Refugees and Breakthrough Prize Foundation over the next three years will bring essential information resources to millions more displaced people globally,” said David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC. “The humanitarian crisis we are addressing is at a record levels, so we need to work in new ways, and this timely infusion of funding will help set new standards for information and support for people seeking safety.”
About Tech for Refugees
Tech For Refugees is a non-profit initiative that supports refugee relief efforts through technology. The initiative funds leading tech organizations to use their networks, services, and expertise to make a difference in the lives of refugees from Ukraine and across the world.
Current partners include Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, Spotify, Welcome.US, the International Rescue Committee, and others.
Tech For Refugees is funded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation established by Julia and Yuri Milner.
More details can be found at techforrefugees.org/.
About the Breakthrough Prize Foundation
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation is a charitable foundation founded by science philanthropist and technology investor, Yuri Milner and his wife Julia, dedicated to advancing fundamental knowledge, celebrating scientific achievement, and utilizing scientific and technological innovations to improve people’s lives and inspire future generations.
The Foundation’s programs include the Breakthrough Prize, which recognizes the world’s top scientists in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics; the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, an annual global video competition for students to inspire creative scientific thinking; and the Breakthrough Initiatives, a suite of science programs investigating the fundamental questions of life in the Universe.
Most recently, other philanthropic activities of Julia and Yuri Milner have included humanitarian efforts both in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian refugee crisis.
The International Rescue Committee
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) helps people whose lives have been shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and rebuild. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, we first helped people fleeing violence and persecution in Europe find safety in the United States.
Today, we work in over 40 crisis-affected countries, bringing ingenuity, fortitude and optimism to making a lasting impact for the people we serve. We arrive at the onset of crisis and aim to stay as long as we are needed. We also help refugees and other vulnerable people integrate into their new communities across dozens of cities in Europe and the Americas.
The IRC provides health care, helps children learn, and empowers individuals and communities to become self-reliant, always with a focus on the unique needs of women and girls.