This Initiative therefore seeks to ensure the right to education by these children is no longer denied by: 1) Formulating concrete policy recommendations for education for all children, including those whose lives have been thrown into disorder by extreme and difficult circumstances because of conflict and 2) Promote private and foundation funding for specific model education projects for refugee and conflict-affected children that could overtime lead to funding the education of hundreds of thousands of such children and young people.
First Project Inspired by the Initiative -- $15 million, Six Year Grant by NoVo Foundation to International Rescue Committee: The NoVo Foundation will support the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in building sustainable educational opportunities for children and youth in conflict or post-conflict situations in West Africa. The hope for next year is to fund far more such high quality education projects for children in conflict situations.
The founding partners of this initiative are:
The Center for Universal Education at the Council on Foreign Relations, which is led by Gene Sperling, will serve as an honest broker facilitating private funding to high quality education projects, and will collaborate with the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) in developing policy recommendations and organizing policy roundtables in Washington D.C. Their Center's policy analysis work is funded by the Hewlett Foundation.
Two foundations, the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and Unbound Philanthropy have committed to providing multi-year financial support for the staffing, monitoring and evaluation of model education projects in refugee and conflict situations that could be funded by private donors in the framework of this partnership initiative.
Angelina Jolie was instrumental in inspiring the creation of this initiative. In her role as Honorary Chairperson for the U.S. Global Campaign for Education and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she will raise the profile of the fundamental human right of all children who are refugees or internally displaced to receive a quality basic education.
The overall purpose of the Education for Children in Refugee and Conflict Situations Initiative is to ensure that children and young people affected by conflict, internal displacement and refugee status not be denied their fundamental human right to education. The fact that such children live in fragile states or refugee situations cannot, as a matter of justice, be an excuse for the global community to ignore and deny these children the education they need to reach their potential. Unfortunately, the education of these children too often falls through the cracks: the global community is often unwilling to provide education assistance to the countries these children are in because the governments are in conflict or considered fragile, and yet on the other hand, those implementing humanitarian relief often fail to focus on education because it is not considered life-saving.
Growing out of conversations with Angelina Jolie concerning her role as Chair of the US Global Campaign for Education, Gene Sperling approached a variety of NGOs, including Rebecca Winthrop of the International Refugee Committee, Women's Refugee Commission and the INEE about forming a partnership to further policy analysis and funding for education in refugee and conflict situations. These discussions brought forth several commitments: the commitment of the Novo Foundation, headed by Peter and Jennifer Buffet to fund a major $15 million, six year IRC project in West Africa. It also lead to Jamie Cooper-Hohn of the CIFF and Deborah Berger of Unbound Philanthropy deciding to sponsor ongoing staff support for the Center for Universal Education to build a list of model projects and to ensuring such model programs will be monitored and evaluated over a three-four year period.