- Press Release
- Oct 31, 2023
Leading Technology Companies And Yuri & Julia Milner Join Forces To Launch New Global Initiative “Tech For Refugees”
April 28, 2022 – San Francisco – Today some of the leading technology companies and organizations – including Airbnb.org, Flexport.org and Spotify – together with the Breakthrough Prize Foundation established by Yuri and Julia Milner, announced the launch of the Tech For Refugees Initiative. The new initiative will further efforts to bring humanitarian assistance to refugees around the world. The initial commitment from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation is $100 million, the majority of which will be directed to support civilians fleeing from Ukraine, as a first step toward extending the initiative to other regions.
Coordinated international aid for refugees is urgently needed, given the ongoing human tragedy created by the war in Ukraine and a worldwide refugee crisis that has grown to historic proportions.
Global crisis, catastrophe in Ukraine
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the number of people worldwide forced to flee their homes has more than doubled since 1990, to at least 84 million people – representing 1 in every 95 people on the planet. Of these, more than 26 million are refugees seeking safety in foreign countries.
Since the crisis in Ukraine began in late February, more than 5 million people, mostly women and children, have been forced to flee the country, the largest and fastest displacement of people in Europe since World War II. As well as dealing with the physical and emotional trauma of war, and the death and absence of loved ones, many refugees are now in urgent need of shelter, food and other vital necessities.
Tech for Refugees is inspired by the Stand With Ukraine GoFundMe campaign launched by Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher in March, which has so far raised nearly $36 million for refugees fleeing from the war in Ukraine, including $5.5 million from the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and DST Global.
Tech For Refugees
The new initiative will leverage the expertise and networks of leading tech firms and organizations to make a difference in the lives of refugees from Ukraine and across the world.
· Airbnb.org, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is offering free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, drawing upon Airbnb’s network of Hosts, technology, and trust and safety infrastructure.
· Flexport.org, the impact arm of digital freight forwarder Flexport, uses the company’s logistics platform and partnerships with trusted international aid organizations to deliver hospital beds, emergency medical equipment and other critical aid. It has already delivered over 880,000 lbs (or twenty two Boeing 737s full) of essential aid such as hospital beds and medical equipment to Ukrainian refugees.
· Spotify Premium will be offered at no cost to Ukrainian refugees, and Spotify will separately embark on a multi-year effort to use the power of music and audio to support the healing of children affected by war.
Tech For Refugees aims to both support existing humanitarian programmes, and fund new programs that provide much needed assistance to refugees. This initiative is open to new partners in the technology sector and fresh ideas for programs to address the global refugee crisis.
“Right now, we all need to ask ourselves, ‘how can we help?’ We are grateful for the generosity of the Yuri and Julia Milner Foundation and their Tech for Refugees initiative. Their support will help Airbnb.org continue to provide housing to as many refugees as we can,” said Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO.
“We’re honored to join the Tech for Refugees initiative together with Airbnb and Spotify,” added Ryan Petersen, founder and CEO of Flexport. “The support of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation will let Flexport.org help humanitarian aid organizations conquer one of their toughest challenges: getting the right goods to the right place at the right time.”
“In times of crisis, music has the power to provide comfort, lift people up, and bring them together. This initiative will give Ukrainian refugees around the world access to the power of audio and the shared human experiences it creates,”, said Daniel Ek, co-founder and CEO of Spotify.
Yuri and Julia Milner said, “We have been devastated by the heartbreaking suffering of the Ukrainian people. We believe that this initiative, in partnership with some of the world’s most creative technology companies and organizations, can provide practical assistance for people living in turmoil outside their homeland.”
Airbnb.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating temporary stays for people in times of crisis around the world. Airbnb.org operates independently and leverages Airbnb, Inc.’s technology, services, and other resources at no charge to carry out Airbnb.org’s charitable purpose. The inspiration for Airbnb.org began in 2012 with a single host named Shell who opened up her home to people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. This sparked a movement and marked the beginning of a program that allows Hosts on Airbnb to provide stays for people in times of need. Since then, the program has evolved to focus on emergency response and to help provide stays to evacuees, relief workers, refugees, asylum seekers, and frontline workers fighting the spread of COVID-19. Since then, Hosts have offered to open up their homes and helped provide accommodations to 100,000 people in times of need. Airbnb.org is a separate and independent entity from Airbnb, Inc.
Flexport.org—the impact arm of Flexport—was created to optimize logistics for social and environmental impact, working with trusted international aid agencies and nonprofits to deliver relief supplies wherever they’re needed and helping organizations meet their sustainability goals with greater ease and lower costs. Since 2016, Flexport.org has delivered over 16M lbs of aid to 60+ countries; reached 100M+ people with shipments funded by the Flexport.org Fund; and helped more than 300 companies offset their carbon emissions from shipping.
Spotify is the world’s most popular audio streaming subscription service with a community of 406 million Monthly Active Users and 180 million Premium Subscribers. With a presence in 184 markets, and more than 82 million tracks including over 3.6 million podcast titles, it has transformed the way people access and enjoy music and podcasts.
About the Breakthrough Prize Foundation
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation is a charitable foundation founded by science philanthropist and technology investor, Yuri Milner (yurimilner.com), and his wife Julia, dedicated to advancing fundamental knowledge, celebrating scientific achievement, and utilizing scientific and technological innovations to improve people’s lives and inspire future generations.
The Foundation’s programs include the Breakthrough Prize (breakthroughprize.org), which recognizes the world’s top scientists in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics; the Breakthrough Junior Challenge (breakthroughjuniorchallenge.
Most recently, other philanthropic activities of Yuri and Julia Milner have included humanitarian efforts both in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian refugee crisis.
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