Aid to MozambiqueOn July 20, 2022, the U.S. pledged to provide $116 million of aid to Mozambique for the 800,000 refugees currently displaced. This amount of money is part of the United States’ plan to send $2 billion to the Horn of Africa because of its humanitarian crises. Along with the U.S., other partners of USAID have also pledged to deliver resources to Mozambique.

Recent Conflicts in Mozambique

Since 2017, the terrorist group al-Shabaab has been destroying Mozambique’s northern province, Cabo Delgado. Cabo Delgado contains much of Mozambique’s rich natural gas supply, which is vital to its economy. Al-Shabaab has committed several violent acts toward the people who live there such as destroying schools and hospitals, kidnapping children and killing numerous people. In March 2022, 88,000 people fled the town of Palma because of a terrorist attack. This destruction has threatened the continuation of many gas fields in the province.

Along with the terrorism, cyclone Gombe wreaked havoc on the country in March 2022. This was only one of three natural disasters that struck Mozambique during its cyclonic season. The hurricane affected approximately 736,015 people or 148,253 families and displaced around 23,000 people. Additionally, Gombe destroyed an estimated 91,000 hectares (approximately 225,000 acres) of crops.

In total, because of these issues, more than 800,000 people have experienced displacement. Mozambique has not been able to recover from the damage of these two problems it has faced, especially with the current Russia-Ukraine war and the food insecurity it has caused.

Relief to Mozambique

The United States has a history of giving foreign aid to African countries. In 2019, the U.S. donated an estimated total of $7.1 billion to sub-Saharan Africa. This aid went towards addressing health and humanitarian issues. The U.S. is also Mozambique’s biggest donor as it provides more than $560 million annually.

Currently, in Africa, there are 27.1 million refugees and 53 million internally displaced people, and 800,000 of them are located in Mozambique.

In addition to the $592 million already pledged to countries in the Horn of Africa, the U.S. has committed $116 million in aid to Mozambique. This funding is part of Biden’s plan to provide a total of $2 billion to African nations and those affected by the Russian-Ukrainian war. Feed the Future, an organization that President Obama established, has labeled Mozambique as one of the eight countries the organization will target to increase its support and stop its humanitarian issues. Other partners of USAID have also pledged to send other resources to help with the food, water, sanitary, hygienic and agricultural needs.

Aid to Improve Mozambique’s Infrastructure

In addition to the $116 million aid package to Mozambique, the U.S. plans to invest $10 million to help address the country’s infrastructure and development needs. Some of this money will go toward helping smallholder farmers develop sustainable farming practices while also allowing them to access a wide variety of crops to grow.

The U.S. is hard at work ensuring that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine affected receive assistance. Its donation of $116 million to aid Mozambique is just a portion of its end goal of donating $2 billion to countries affected by this war. Millions across these countries will receive aid and relief, helping alleviate some of the damage that the Russian-Ukrainian war caused. Mozambique specifically will greatly benefit from this money, and the 800,000 displaced persons will receive resources to help their situation.

 Janae O’Connell
Photo: Wikimedia

It is no secret that the issues associated with global poverty were only made worse during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Factors such as the cost of living, food security, healthcare and education are all points of concern for many nations with a struggling poor population. Luckily, there are many organizations working to address these issues. The Zakat Foundation has recently begun working with the United Nations to address worldwide hunger and global poverty.

The Zakat Foundation

The National Zakat Foundation Worldwide is an Islamic charity organization that is dedicated to helping the world’s poor. Zakat is one of the pillars of Islam which dictates that all Muslims should be kept financially viable, and one way to ensure this is for all Muslims to donate 2.5% of their earnings to charity organizations that aid the poor. The NZF Worldwide is the perfect channeling organization for all of this funding. It is estimated that the total amount of Zakat donations reach $300 billion to nearly $1 trillion dollars annually. The NZF Worldwide wants to use this incredible amount of money to help eradicate poverty.

Success so Far

The National Zakat Foundation currently has five member countries, Austria, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland and the UK, which all provide a pathway for Muslims to send their Zakat donations to help eradicate global hunger and poverty. Through the Zakat Foundation, the member countries have raised more than $30 million since 2016 that has been used to provide aid for people living in poverty in other countries.

The UN and NZF Worldwide

The United Nations Development Programme announced in early August 2022 that it will once again be working with the National Zakat Foundation to use Zakat donation funding to help achieve the sustainable development goals for the world’s poorest countries. The first major project of this partnership is the goal of achieving the eradication of hunger and poverty in Somalia. The NZF with the help of the U.N. will work with local government officials, Islamic officials and the Central Bank of Somalia to help direct the Zakat funds in a productive manner that helps alleviate food insecurity and improve quality of life conditions for people living in poverty in Somalia.

Other NZF Programs

The National Zakat Foundation has had some recent success in the summer of 2022 before this partnership with the U.N. was announced. In the closing weeks of July, the NZF was able to provide the state of Osun in Nigeria with much needed power equipment that improved the quality of life in every sector, from nutrition to education. With the help of Zakat donations made by the member countries, the NZF was able to provide the state of Osun with cash grants, fridges, sewing machines, laptops, printers and more. Small items similar to those listed can have a profound impact on the lives of those who receive them, such as fridges keeping food from spoiling and laptops aiding educational growth.

The Future of Zakat

Despite the looming effects of an increased cost of living for those living in poverty, it appears that good news in the form of charitable religious donations may be what is keeping those people from continued suffering. The partnership with the United Nations and the already proven success are just a few reasons why the outlook for the world’s poor is bright, thanks to hard working organizations like the National Zakat Foundation.

Declan Harkness
Photo: Flickr

Economic Development Aid to TurkeyThe relationship between the United States and Turkey began in 1831 when the country was still the Ottoman Empire. Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and one can best describe the U.S.-Turkey relationship as diplomatic. While the United States only had $220 million in obligations to the Western Asian country in 2020, more economic development aid to Turkey could help alleviate poverty and an ongoing economic crisis.

Poverty in Turkey

In 2019, the World Bank reported that 0.4% of Turkish citizens lived in poverty. In a country of 84 million people, that equates to 336,000 impoverished people.

One of the most significant factors contributing to poverty in Turkey is the lack of education. In 2019, only 66% of the population 25 and older had finished lower secondary education. Low education attainment gives rise to unemployment. In 2021, unemployment in Turkey stood at 13.4%. While the COVID-19 pandemic does stand as a contributing factor to the unemployment rate, the unemployment rate increased only about 3% since 2018.

With the unemployment rate also comes low wages, which factors into poverty. In 2018, the average wage stood at about 4,000 Turkish lira (about $220). But, the cost of living in Turkey jumped nearly 70% in April 2022, according to the BBC. To try and counteract that, the Turkish government has raised the minimum wage to 5,500 lira a month, but citizens say rent alone equates to “3,000-4,000 Turkish liras.”

Foreign Aid to Turkey

The majority of foreign aid to Turkey from the United States comes from the U.S. Department of State, largely going toward humanitarian aid. The Department of Defense gave Turkey $28.43 million in 2020 for “conflict, peace and security” programs. However, Turkey only received about $2.8 million through the Trade and Development Agency for economic development.

Trade and the Economic Crisis

Money for economic development from the Trade and Development Agency involves creating economic opportunities by exporting goods from the United States for development projects. This is beneficial to the United States as the money is invested in the Turkish economy through products produced domestically. In turn, that investment is returned through the continued trade partnership of U.S. goods.

The trade relationship between the United States and Turkey has increased significantly since 2009. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, from 2009 to 2019, U.S. exports to Turkey increased by about 41% to $10 billion.

Despite a GDP increase of 0.9% in 2019, Turkey is facing an economic spiral. The value of its currency, the Turkish lira, has endured instability since 2018. Outstanding circumstances like the pandemic and economic sanctions have created a perfect storm of financial woes for the country, along with rampant inflation.

In November 2021, the value of the lira dropped sharply by 30%, triggering another wave of panic in the country. In 2022, the war between Russia and Ukraine exacerbated these financial circumstances, with Turkey seeing inflation rise more than 70% this year.

The United States can help alleviate poverty and the ongoing economic crisis via increased foreign aid to Turkey, especially through economic development. Expanding programs through the Trade and Development Agency would be one instrumental way to facilitate change in Turkey. Additionally, increasing economic development aid to Turkey could greatly aid the stability of the country until the lira crisis resolves.

– Emma Rushworth
Photo: WikiCommons

Charities Operating in KosovoKosovo, the smallest country in the Balkans, ranks as “one of the poorest countries in Europe,” struggling with its newfound freedom since declaring independence from Serbia in February 2008. This partially recognized state is home to around 1.8 million people, but Kosovars continue battling for international recognition and an improved economic outlook. With its most recent data in 2015, the World Bank reports that the country has a 17.6% national poverty rate, significantly higher than many European counterparts. As the nation contends with more than 300,000 impoverished Kosovars, five charities operating in Kosovo are making a difference.

5 Charities Making a Difference in Kosovo

  1. Sunny Hill Foundation. Dua Lipa, a world-renowned singer and songwriter, established the Sunny Hill Foundation in 2016 to advance the quality of life for Kosovars. The organization based in Pristina, Kosovo, works to improve Kosovan society, focusing on helping the country’s most vulnerable residents. The Sunny Hill Foundation raises money to donate to local cultural institutions and NGOs, with a requirement of only contributing to volunteer-led organizations. In 2018, this charity contributed €100,000 to 17 local institutions with focuses ranging from educating special needs children to advancing artistic talent. As a result of Lipa’s efforts to support the nation through the Sunny Hill Foundation, in August 2022 she became an honorary ambassador of Kosovo.
  2. The Ideas Partnership. This is a volunteer organization established in 2009 that focuses on improving education in Kosovo. The organization generally focuses on vulnerable ethnic groups in Kosovo, namely the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities. Completed projects include sending 10 blind children to learn Braille and providing a kindergarten education for 30 children. One ongoing project assists six families with access to nutritious food. Through its network of volunteers, the Ideas Partnership is advancing opportunities for minority communities in Kosovo to increase their quality of life.
  3. PL4Y International. Since 1999, PL4Y International has promoted youth engagement in sports to encourage educational attainment and spur societal change. The NGO has helped more than 500,000 children across 15 countries through its programs. In Kosovo, PL4Y International launched a project called “YOUth can change the future for Kosovo,” concentrating on bridging ethnic, religious and cultural differences in Kosovan society through child sports. As Kosovars struggle to overcome the lasting societal impacts of the Kosovan 1998-1999 conflict and the lingering uncertainty associated with the nation’s international status, PL4Y International is working to bring Kosovan youth together and build a more promising future.
  4. Action for Mothers and Children (AMC). Also known as Akcioni per Nena dhe Femije, AMC concentrates on improving maternal and child health in Kosovo. Since the organization’s founding in 2013, AMC has specialized in projects focusing on education, fundraising, research and advocacy. AMC successfully developed five Women’s Health Resource Centers in Kosovo, helping to educate thousands of women on their pregnancies, deliveries and newborns. In August 2016, AMC expanded its services to an online platform called Beba-ks, offering remote assistance in English, Serbian and Albanian to deliver evidence-based information to new and expecting parents.
  5. HALO Trust. Beginning in 1988, the HALO Trust has worked to unearth landmines and prevent fatalities in former war-torn communities. Because of the 1990s conflict between Yugoslav forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army, landmines and other unexploded ammunition remain buried throughout Kosovo, presenting a fatal threat to Kosovan communities. Since then, 580 people faced injuries and fatalities in Kosovo due to these remaining explosives, driving the HALO Trust’s mission to remove and dispose of these threats. These ready-to-explode landmines are especially dangerous for poor Kosovans in rural areas. Many farmers, for instance, risk their lives by simply going into a field to maintain their crops. Therefore, the work of the HALO Foundation in Kosovo is critical to improving the lives of impoverished Kosovars.

Looking Ahead

From sponsoring youth sports and opening centers for reproductive health to unearthing landmines, these charitable institutions are truly improving Kosovan society. These philanthropic organizations are helping Kosovo achieve a brighter future with less poverty and fewer societal divisions.

– Michael Cardamone
Photo: Flickr

 Rise in Public GivingU.S. inflation reached 9.1% in June 2022, the highest inflation rate in nearly 40 years. An alarming rise in the cost of goods and services paired with stock market volatility reflects ongoing concerns of a burgeoning economic recession. Economists’ forecasts grow bleaker as the government races to tackle historic inflation rates. Even so, 2022 sees a rise in public giving despite mounting economic hardship.

2022 Fidelity Charitable Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs)

According to Fidelity Charitable, the largest grantmaker in the United States, Americans donated a record-high $4.8 billion to Fidelity Charitable accounts within the first six months of 2022. Approximately $128 million of these donations went to Ukrainian relief efforts, providing aid to alleviate the many crises Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused. Donations to prominent NGOs such as Jose Andres’s Central World Kitchen and the International Medical Corps also increased significantly when compared to previous years.

Fidelity Charitable’s 11% increase in donations is a significant divergence from the norm, as charitable giving is generally the first thing cut from the budget during times of financial duress. The 2008 financial crisis, for example, caused donation rates to plummet by approximately 12%, according to Fast Company.

Recent changes in America’s charitable activity can be attributed to the emerging prominence of Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs). DAFs allow individuals and corporations alike to deposit assets for donations to charity over time. Donors invest their charitable donations in advance, allowing them to tap into these funds later down the road when a crisis unfolds. DAFs are essentially donation reserves that allow donors to access funds that have been already been set aside, thus enabling a steady rise in public giving despite mounting economic hardship.

DAFs Bolster Americans Capacity to Give

DAFs are quite new and have grown in popularity since the financial crisis of 2008. Because DAFs create a ready supply of donations over time, they bolster donors and charities alike against future economic hardships. Rapid economic expansion in the decade since the 2008 market crash boosted general economic confidence and encouraged expansive investment in DAFs, which is translating into elevated levels of giving during times of crisis, according to Fast Company.

The purpose of DAFs is to increase the amount that individuals and corporations are able to give. They are incredibly flexible, allowing individuals to invest cash donations as well as assets such as stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, life insurance and retirement funds, according to Nerd Wallet. The versatility of DAFs is part of what makes them so successful, as they provide a plethora of investment options that appeal to everyone from the wealthy elite to the average middle-class American family.

Once an individual invests assets in a DAF, they cannot retrieve their contribution from the fund. This works to prevent individuals or companies from abusing DAFs for their tax-deduction qualities. Sponsoring organization controls DAFs, which controls the assets within DAFs as well as the investment options available to donors, according to Nerd Wallet. Once invested, DAF assets mature or appreciate tax-free until they are donated.

Some sponsor organizations do not have a mandatory distribution date, meaning that a donor can allow their funds to grow as long as they wish before donating. Other sponsor organizations require donors to contribute a portion of their funds to charity regularly in order to avoid fraudulent activity.

DAFs offer various tax benefits, permitting donors to receive tax deductions for their DAF contributions. Tax-related donor benefits contributed to the expansive rise in DAF investment in the past decade, fostering the current rise in public giving despite mounting economic hardship. The tax deductions attributed to DAFs faced criticism in the past as they provide a possible tax shelter for the wealthy. Despite these concerns, DAFs have proven a vital funding source for charities during times of economic volatility by bolstering Americans’ capacity to give.

An Evolution in How Americans Give

Although it is America’s largest DAF sponsor organization, expanding DAF investment is not unique to Fidelity Charitable. The 15th annual DAF report by the National Philanthropic Trust of 2021 analyzes data from 976 charitable DAF sponsor organizations from 2020. The report found that DAF donor grants reached approximately $34.67 billion in 2021, an astonishing 27% increase since 2019.

Additionally, the number of individual DAF accounts within the U.S. reached 1 million for the first time in history. This encouraging increase in charitable investment and DAF donations seems counterintuitive considering the economic austerity imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The success of DAFs in 2020 and 2021 reflects the current rise in public giving despite mounting economic hardship.

Experts are confident that donation rates will continue to rise as 2022 persists, surpassing all previous records. Historically, Americans tend to give more during the fourth quarter of the financial year. The President of Fidelity Charitable, Jacob Pruitt, expects this trend to continue, with hopes of surpassing 2021’s year-end record of $10.3 billion, Fast Company reports. These donations will be a pertinent source of aid for low-income nations that are most vulnerable to high inflation rates.

Most DAF sponsor organizations do not have a minimum initial contribution, meaning anyone is welcome to open an account, according to Nerd Wallet. A small initial investment followed by regular deposits will appreciate over time, allowing one to mature their donation reserve at a pace that fits their financial situation. DAFs are an investment, so starting one now will not reap immediate results nor will it provide instant gratification.

If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that the course of life is unpredictable and that there will always be someone, somewhere in need of assistance. DAFs were designed with this reality in mind, enabling charitable individuals to plan ahead and prepare a ready reserve that can be tapped into when the need arises. A small DAF contribution today could translate into a major impact in the future, so there really is no better time to start investing than the present.

– Mollie Lund
Photo: Flickr

USG Funding for EthiopiaDespite Ethiopia’s fast-growing economy, it is one of the most impoverished nations in Africa. However, the United States Government (USG) is making a significant effort to combat poverty in Ethiopia. On April 26, 2022, the U.S. announced that it would provide about $43.7 million in order for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support along with health, nutrition and food aid to Ethiopians suffering from drought. Overall, USG funding for Ethiopia will help the nation make headway with poverty reduction.


According to USAID, drought, flooding, food insecurity, vector-borne disease and minimal access to health services are just a few of the acute shocks that Ethiopian populations routinely suffer. These issues are worsened by continued large-scale violence, conflict and displacement, leading to a complicated emergency humanitarian situation.

On top of these challenges, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have not only brought about health impacts for countries but also economic repercussions. The World Bank predicted that Ethiopia’s poverty rate would stand at 27% by 2019. Like many other countries, Ethiopia suffered economically after the pandemic as its gross domestic product growth shrank from 6.1% in 2020 to 5.6% in 2021. Real wages for Ethiopians in Addis Ababa alone declined by 14% for high skilled workers at the onset of the pandemic.

How Will it Help?

According to the World Bank, Ethiopia is the “second most populated country in Africa” as of 2020. With this comes the increasing problem of water shortages. Besides water shortages, there is a lack of access to clean and safe water, which can lead to water-borne diseases, such as cholera, as individuals resort to consuming water from unsafe and potentially contaminated sources.

In fact, according to an article by Lifewater, “7.5[%]of the global water crisis is in Ethiopia alone” as of 2019. According to USAID, by April 2022, 8 million people in the southern parts of Ethiopia faced the impacts of drought conditions as a result of a third continuous “poor rainy season” in the latter part of 2021, which sparked severe water shortages and increased demand for emergency food aid.

WASH support aims to combat this by supplying safe water and preventing disease outbreaks. Food insecurity is also an issue in Ethiopia. According to the World Food Programme, despite Ethiopia’s progression, there are 20.4 million people who are still in need of food aid. The U.S. will ensure more people in Ethiopia have access to food by “providing assistance to drought-affected populations.”


Ethiopia continues to show effort in slowing down poverty. In fact, according to the World Bank, the government created a 10-year plan based on the 2019 Home-Grown Economic Reform Agenda for Ethiopia. With the intention of moving to a “private-sector-driven economy” and fostering “competition in key growth-enabling sectors” while promoting efficiency and a proper “business climate,” the plan will run for approximately 10 years from 2020/21 to 2029/30.

Ethiopia’s five-year growth and transformation plans aim to achieve “middle-income status” for the nation by 2025 by “sustaining high growth and speeding up structural transformation.” In the meanwhile, the USG funding for Ethiopia is actively lessening the burden on those who suffer from poverty in Ethiopia.

– Frema Mensah
Photo: Flickr

USAID Programs in KosovoKosovo, officially known as the Republic of Kosovo, is a small country situated in the middle of the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe. Since Kosovo’s independence from Serbia in 2008, the United States has maintained a close relationship with the relatively young country, providing everything from military aid to economic assistance and COVID-19 relief. The U.S.’s main foreign aid avenue, USAID, has played a vital role in this relationship between the two countries and their joint mission of reform, modernization and transition. With roughly 23% of Kosovo’s population living in poverty and an estimated unemployment rate of 26% as of 2021, pursuing such endeavors to support goals like self-sustainability, job creation and economic prosperity are crucial to the country’s development. There are several notable USAID programs in Kosovo currently underway.

2022 Development Funding and COVID-19 Relief

In March 2022, the United States announced $31.9 million in assistance to Kosovo. Per a USAID press release, the funding will work to “[promote] Kosovo-led development solutions to economic and democratic challenges.” This aligns with USAID’s goal of Kosovan self-reliance outlined in the USAID-Kosovo Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) — a plan which acts as a developmental roadmap for the country through 2025.

Earlier, in January 2022, the U.S. announced $3 million in additional COVID-19 assistance for Kosovo, building on the $5.1 million in aid given over the course of the pandemic. Along with this financial aid, USAID has also worked to deliver personal hygiene kits, ventilators, testing equipment and nearly 538,200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Kosovo. As of 23 June 2022, Kosovo has had a total of 228,563 COVID-19 cases resulting in 3,130 deaths.

Energy Sustainability Activity

Launched in February 2021 and expected to run through February 2026, the USAID Energy Sustainability Activity aims to enhance Kosovo’s energy security by building “sustainable power networks,” increasing energy capacity for local institutions and accelerating investment in Kosovan renewable energy infrastructure.

“The next five years for Kosovo are critical for establishing a robust, reliable and regionally integrated power system in line with Energy Community (EnC) standards — an integral part of bolstering the country’s economic growth and increasing opportunities for its citizens,” a USAID fact sheet explains.

As one of the most impoverished countries in Europe, with a per capita GDP of $4,291 as of December 2020, building a sustainable, reliable energy infrastructure is absolutely crucial for Kosovo as the country’s ongoing energy crisis acts as a direct obstacle to its economic development. “Without reliable, affordable electricity, Kosovo’s businesses cannot invest, operate and create jobs; hospitals and schools cannot function fully or safely with frequent power cuts… Basic services that people in developed countries take for granted cannot be offered.” says the World Bank.

Commercial Justice Activity

Operating as a larger program containing a plethora of smaller programs, the Commercial Justice Activity is an initiative by USAID and various Kosovan judicial institutions to work on judicial reforms that have the potential to promote “investment, economic growth and job creation” in Kosovo.

This program has already made a positive impact on the Kosovan justice system. The Kosovan government adopted a draft Law on Commercial Court in August 2021, which proposed the establishment of a standalone court for business and investment disputes in order to streamline commercial justice. Kosovo’s Assembly unanimously passed the law in February 2022.

Other aspects of this program include improved training for judges and court staff as well as initiatives to increase court accountability and efficiency.

Kosovo Youth Dialogue

USAID established the Kosovo Youth Dialogue in August 2021 for the primary purpose of empowering and educating the Kosovan youth population. The ongoing 30-month project works to encourage dialogue and education among the youth population regarding the country’s past and the various ethnic groups belonging to the region.

Specifically, the program aims to “[empower] young people to actively participate in the dealing with the past and reconciliation process in Kosovo by encouraging inter-ethnic communication, interaction and cooperation, addressing common interests, building confidence and promoting mutual understanding and positive attitudes.” The program includes youth exchange programs, grants, educational programs and partnerships with various Kosovan non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Future

As one of the most impoverished countries in Europe, and considering its lack of recognition as a sovereign state by many, Kosovo has a long road ahead in achieving its sought-after self-sustainability. However, with its continued steadfast focus on policy reform, modernization and stability, the nation’s future is certainly bright.

With the work of these USAID programs in Kosovo and that of other like-minded organizations such as UNICEF, the World Bank and the European Commission, Kosovo can take much greater steps toward achieving its desired future of sustainability and improving the social and economic well-being of citizens.

– Riley Wooldridge
Photo: Pixabay

Homeless Youth in CanadaThe plight of homeless youth in Canada is a recent issue in the public eye. The increased representation and awareness have garnered celebrity support, such as from Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. The married couple has committed to donating $500,000 in total to the cause. Covenant House Vancouver and Toronto, foundations dedicated to opening their door to the homeless youth in Canada, are the lucky recipients.

The Issue

The first majority study done on homeless youth in Canada, “Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey,” was conducted just four years ago in 2016. A recent study found that the youth make up around 20% of the entire homeless population in Canada.

These children often experience housing instability and child abuse prior to their homelessness experience. Once on the streets, children under 16 — around 40% of the homeless youth in Canada — struggle through increased adversity. Further, various forms of oppression often couple homelessness. A staggering number of these children identify as POC, LGBTQ+, and of many other marginalized groups.

However, organizations and philanthropists alike have stepped up to address this dire situation.

Covenant House

Covenant House is an international organization that provides support and aid for homeless youth in Canada. The organization’s mission statement is: “Covenant House launched a federation-wide initiative to design and implement a cutting-edge, data-informed strategy to help even more of our kids achieve meaningful, long-term outcomes.”

It especially focuses on offering services to members of the LGBTQ+ community, POC, and abuse victims. The organization provides more than just direct support for these young individuals. Covenant House commits to restructuring data processing regarding homeless youth, reviewing methods of information analysis and generation, and finding the best performance measurement strategies. The organization works toward short-term as well as long-term change.

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively’s Involvement

The serious issue of youth homelessness in Canada deeply struck Ryan Reynolds, a Canadian himself. In response, Reynolds and Blake Lively decided to donate $500,000 to the cause. The couple even matches donations up to $375,000 before the end of 2020 to encourage others to donate.

The choice of where the funds should go was a personal one. Reynolds has a long-time relationship with the Covenant House. The dedication they put into their work and the extensive impact they wield in the community inspired his “investment.”

In the interview done by Covenant House, he described the donation as an investment rather than a monetary donation into homeless youth in Canada. Reynolds stated, “The young people who pass through the doors of Covenant House more often than not have a story marked by extraordinary trauma. They are so much more than that trauma. They have so much to offer the world. Matching this gift is saying you believe in them. You believe in the power of compassion to transform the trajectory of a human being.”

The CEO of Covenant House Vancouver, Krista Thompson, expressed her gratitude for the donation and continued relationship with the couple. Thompson remarked, “Ryan and Blake truly understand that young people who are facing homelessness deserve unconditional love and absolute respect.” The money will be used to assist with youth experiencing homelessness and fund much of the research that is occurring to combat the issue of homelessness as a whole.

Manasi Singh
Photo: Flickr

Indigenous communities in Canada

The Canadian Constitution recognizes three Indigenous communities — First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Here are five of the many Indigenous-led organizations in Canada, collectively working to create success and prosperity for Indigenous communities.

5 Canadian Organizations for Indigenous Prosperity

  1. First Nations Information Governance CentreThe First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) is working to achieve data sovereignty. With support from regional partners and a special mandate from the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs in Assembly (Resolution #48, December 2009), the FNIGC collects and uses data to “build culturally relevant portraits of the lives of First Nations people and the communities they live in.” Their motto, “our data, our stories, our future” reflects their vision of Indigenous stories being told by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.
  2. IndspireIndspire is using the gift of learning to help provide academic success and long-term prosperity with support through financial aid, scholarships/bursaries, awards, mentoring and physical resources.
  3. Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada – Aboriginal Financial Officers Association of Canada (AFOA) is creating a community of Indigenous professionals by supporting successful self-determination through “improving the management skills of those responsible for the stewardship of Indigenous resources.” This includes aid in management, finance and governance.
  4. Reconciliation CanadaReconciliation Canada facilitates the engagement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with meaningful conversations on reconciliation and the lived experiences of Indigenous people. They aim to inspire positive change and understanding. At present, the programs and initiatives offered by the charity are Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy, Reconciliation Dialogue Workshops, interactive community outreach activities and Reconciliation Canada.
  5. First Nations Child and Family Caring SocietyThe Caring Society supports First Nations children, youth and families. The organization has been able to provide 250,000 services and products to Indigenous children by putting Indigenous children and families first.

These five organizations are just some of many who are working to support success and prosperity for Indigenous communities in Canada. Their work helps blaze a path for a brighter future for Indigenous people and the country alike.

– Jasmeen Bassi
Photo: Flickr

How COVID-19 Will Impact This Holiday SeasonAs the holiday season approaches, there are many questions on how this holiday will look socially and economically amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has shown a significant loss following a few months of growth prior to the pandemic. Due to high levels of unemployment and potential health risks of indoor shopping and gatherings, it can be anticipated that we will not see an economic boom this holiday season. Purchases of gifts will lower due to limited budgets and food shopping will not see growth due to a lack of parties and large gatherings.

The Risk of Holidays and Low Spending Money During COVID-19

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the risk that upcoming holidays, such as Halloween and Thanksgiving, have on the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing, mask wearing and indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged, and this poses the question as to how people across the globe will choose to celebrate. If we examine past major holidays that were celebrated globally, such as Easter, we saw a rise in utilizing virtual and outdoor settings rather than indoor gatherings involving food. As these trends will continue over the next months, a decline in global food sales is likely as well.

The holiday season is also a time of a global rise in commercial shopping. According to a study done by Accenture, consumers reported that they plan to budget $540 for holiday spending this year, which is $100 less than the average budget of 2019. This comes as no surprise, as over 305 million workers globally have experienced unemployment since April. As a result of less spending on commercial products, specifically in the United States, manufacturers across the globe are subject to business losses rather than gains that are usually experienced during these coming months. When consumers are limiting spending this season on themselves and loved ones, we also must consider the limits in philanthropy and donations for those living in poverty during this time.

Aiding the World’s Poor During the Holidays

The holidays represent a time of giving for many. When looking over the past decade, charitable donations raise up to 42% during the months of November and December. However, as people across the globe are cutting their budgets on the spending for their families and friends, it is likely that some households will be unable to donate as much as last year.

The holiday season is a difficult time for the world’s homeless, due to feelings of loneliness, approaching harsh weather, and overpopulation in major cities. Philanthropic actions and donations toward those living in poverty during the holiday season often help them get through this challenging time. Unfortunately, it appears that there will be much less assistance for those in need due to people battling their own unemployment and difficult circumstances as a result of COVID-19.

However, charitable organizations that are frequently frontrunners in assisting the world’s poor have recognized the challenges of this season. The Salvation Army International has reported seeing a 155% increase in assistance requests this year, and as a result, the organization will begin collecting holiday donations prior to the beginning of November. Also, the U.K. government is implementing plans to help food insecure families feed their children with free school meals during the months of October through December. Financial insecurity is expected to be high during these times due to holiday expenses, and the U.K. government has recognized an avenue in which they can assist families in making sure their children are properly fed, while still being able to enjoy the holidays.

Overall, this holiday season will present challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic effects. Globally, we have seen the world adapt to economic changes, and the work of charitable organizations will allow us to adapt and assist those in need during a holiday season that will look significantly different.

– Evan Coleman
Photo: Flickr