Water.org Unveils $1 Billion Water Access Plan at CGI | National news

By GLEN GAMBOA – AP business writer

NEW YORK (AP) – Water.org announced a $1 billion plan Tuesday to help 100 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America gain lasting access to water and sanitation.

The Water.org The Water and Climate Fund, unveiled at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York, plans to use $50 million in philanthropic funds to create a billion-dollar investment portfolio to help bring new water and wastewater projects to underserved communities and then use these community utility payments to finance further projects. Amazon has donated the first $10 million in philanthropic money needed for the foundation.

It was the largest offering of the day at the conference, which brought together world leaders in politics, business and philanthropy for the first time since 2016. And she showed how the conference is encouraging nonprofits to take on increasingly ambitious projects to tackle the world’s toughest problems.

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Actor and water access activist Matt Damon said he and his water.org co-founder Gary White is a “CGI OG” because of their long association with the conference, and that he was worried about making his first commitment in 2009 because he was afraid of letting people down.

On Tuesday, he urged those present not to worry about that. “Please don’t be afraid to get involved,” he said.

That’s the 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 has won a $250,000 Elevate Prize Catalyst Award, which the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner said she will use to add 80 new advocates for girls’ education in nine countries. She also plans to use the platform to raise awareness of the plight of girls in Afghanistan, who are no longer allowed to attend secondary schools after being taken over by the Taliban.

“Afghan girls have seen what it means to be educated,” she said. “They will fight.”

Carolina Garcia Jayaram, CEO of the Elevate Prize Foundation, said in an interview that the purpose of the prize is to amplify the message of advocates like Yousafzai. “This is how we inspire the world to feel more willing to do good,” she said.

Sasha Fischer, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Spark MicroGrants, came to CGI looking for partners to commit $25 million to expand training and support programs in villages across Africa. The additional funding will be used to bring community-building work to an additional three to five countries.

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

According to the nonprofit, villages that received funds from Spark MicroGrants survived the pandemic better than those that did not. These villages have also seen an increase in female leadership and a decrease in domestic violence.

CGI has also seen the start of many new philanthropic ventures.

Dr. David Feigenbaum’s new nonprofit, Every Cure, hopes to match generic drugs to rare diseases that are currently incurable. It’s a process he knows has potential because he’s used it to treat Castleman’s disease, a rare disease in which the immune system attacks vital organs.

“It’s a huge problem,” Feigenbaum said. “There are medicines in your neighborhood pharmacy that could cure you or someone you love, but the system is not designed to detect them.”

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

“I can talk about how I’m alive because of one of these drugs and hopefully inspire people to support this work,” Feigenbaum said.

His presentation was definitely effective. Feigenbaum received a standing ovation from the full CGI crowd. And former President Bill Clinton has already been won over.

“I think it would be great if the president’s cancer program could do that for a price compared to what it costs to start major medical research,” Clinton told The Associated Press. “They can save a lot of lives.”

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

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