Some of the world’s leading tech companies have partnered with Julia and Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation to create Tech For Refugees. Launched in 2022, in response to the war in Ukraine, the new non-profit initiative supports global refugee relief efforts through technology.
Yuri Milner is a tech entrepreneur, author of Eureka Manifesto, and, together with his wife, a Giving Pledge signatory. The Milners launched the Breakthrough Foundation to realise the commitments of their Giving Pledge. The organisation supports Tech For Refugees and other causes, such as the Breakthrough Initiatives and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge.
How Tech For Refugees Is Helping
Tech For Refugees funds established tech organisations that are using their networks, platforms, and resources to provide critical assistance for refugees. The Breakthrough Foundation has committed $100 million to the initiative, with a $6 million grant for humanitarian relief programmes announced in 2023.
Technology can dramatically enhance efforts to provide humanitarian relief and improve refugees’ quality of life. Besides enabling access to communications and connectivity, technology can help with fundraising; coordinating resources; and providing shelter, entertainment, education, and employment opportunities.
Launched in spring 2022, Tech For Refugees has mainly focused on the emergency in Ukraine. The initiative is now expanding its scope to refugee crises elsewhere in the world, including the Horn of Africa and Pakistan.
Tech For Refugees’ Partners and Programmes
Tech For Refugees’ partners include Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, Spotify, the International Rescue Committee, and Welcome.US. The initiative encourages technology organisations that are in a position to contribute substantially to humanitarian operations to consider becoming a partner.
Tech For Refugees’ programmes include:
- Flexport programmes in Ukraine, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa.org works with international aid agencies and non-profits to coordinate the delivery of supplies to refugees and internally displaced people in these areas.
- Airbnb, Flexport, Spotify Ukraine programme. Tech for Refugees helps Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, and Spotify provide shelter and hosting, deliveries and logistics, and entertainment to Ukrainian refugees.
- US Ukraine programme. Tech For Refugees supports Welcome.US’s platform Welcome Connect. This platform offers a safe way for U.S. citizens to connect with beneficiaries and help displaced Ukrainians who need sponsorship.
- International Rescue Committee programme. Tech For Refugees’ multi-year donation is helping the International Rescue Committee grow Signpost. This community-driven information platform empowers clients in times of crisis.
Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge and the Breakthrough Foundation
Over 10 years ago, Julia and Yuri Milner joined the Giving Pledge and promised to donate the majority of their wealth to mainly scientific enterprises. This led them to establish the Breakthrough Foundation, which provides funding to the Breakthrough Prize, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, the Breakthrough Initiatives, and Tech For Refugees.
While the Breakthrough Prize celebrates the work of great scientists, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge encourages young people to engage with scientific ideas. A global competition, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge asks teenagers to submit creative videos explaining a tricky scientific or mathematical concept.
The Breakthrough Initiatives are space science research programmes focused on the search for life beyond Earth. Yuri Milner announced the Breakthrough Initiatives in 2015 with Stephen Hawking at the Royal Society in London.
Yuri Milner suggests that this mission must centre on exploring and understanding the Universe. He also advocates for a new enlightenment in which everyone can benefit from a shared culture of knowledge.