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The Responsibility of Philanthropy to Join Forces to Achieve the SDGs

The UN General Assembly and Climate Week are in full swing, placing a spotlight on the significant issues facing humanity and galvanizing a global community towards action. At The Rockefeller Foundation, we are dedicated to solving big problems to help improve the lives of the most vulnerable. This week also reminds us that as philanthropists, we must work together more effectively – and collaboratively – to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

We live in a world of growing disparity and inequality, coupled with the degradation of our precious natural resources and a warming climate. Some 770 million people live on less than two dollars a day, millions lack access to basic healthcare, and more than 800 million people live without adequate access to power.

When we observe that scale of human suffering, it’s reasonable to ask the question: Can philanthropy make a meaningful difference?

We believe collaboration with philanthropists, governments, scientists and businesses can make a meaningful difference in the fight to ensure that no one suffers the indignity of extreme poverty.

We, along with our fellow Core Partners, launched Co-Impact to bring together some of the world’s most creative and committed philanthropists to ensure our investments were delivering results at a scale that matches the challenges we face. Co-Impact now includes over 30 philanthropists and foundations in the collaboration, including Core Partners Richard Chandler, Bill and Melinda Gates, the ELMA Foundation, Rohini and Nandan Nilekani, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Jeff Skoll.

Co-Impact is a new collaborative model of philanthropic giving. We align our objectives before making investments. We pool our funding to make it possible for grant recipients to reach their full ambition, and we build deep trusted partnerships with local governments in areas where we work, to ensure our efforts are sustainable.

Co-Impact’s first set of grantees received over $80 million and will reach nine million vulnerable people to help them improve their health, education and move out of poverty.

  • In India, Colombia, and Paraguay, we work with local governments and NGOs to provide low-income women with mentoring and seed capital to help them move out of extreme poverty. This effort intends to reach 1 million of the world’s most marginalized people.
  • In Liberia, we are building a national network of 4,000 trained community health workers to reach 1.2 million Liberians and reduce deaths among children under five by up to 30 percent. Just five years ago, when Liberia was swept up in the worst Ebola outbreak on record, community health workers helped break the curve of the epidemic. Today we are building on that progress to develop a nationwide corps of trained professionals.
  • In Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Zambia, we work with national education systems to teach 3 million children basic math and reading skills with a focus on increasing their mastery by at least 70 percent. We have to ensure that every child doesn’t just show up to school, but actually learns when she gets there. The UN estimates that 617 million children around the world cannot reach even minimum proficiency levels in math and reading. Through Co-Impact, we can work together to do what few others can: change this reality at scale.

At The Rockefeller Foundation, we believe these types of collaborations with philanthropists, governments, scientists and businesses can make a meaningful difference in the fight to ensure that no one suffers the indignity of extreme poverty.

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