Supporting disaster preparedness, relief and long-term recovery.

Responding to Disasters in the United States

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, cumulative losses from the 16 largest natural disasters in 2017 reached $306 billion in the U.S., surpassing the previous annual record of $215 billion, which was set in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Unfortunately, these serious economic losses are accompanied by many stories of lives disrupted—and experts fear that this increased frequency and intensity of disasters may become the new normal.

In 2017, the Foundation responded to four of these disasters: Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Maria, and the wildfires in both northern and southern California. Our approach focuses on investing in local community-based organizations, including community organizations and local foundations, and committing funds to long-term recovery programs.

Addressing Crises Across the Globe

Increasingly, global crises are the result of a combination of human and natural causes, resulting in what are known as complex humanitarian crises. These can be an event or series of events that represent a critical threat to the health, safety, security, or wellbeing of a community or other large group of people, usually over a wide area. It is estimated that 125 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance each year – this number has nearly doubled since 2011.

We work to help alleviate immediate the suffering caused by crises as well as invest in approaches that address long-term issues. When over 600,000 Rohingya refugees were forced to flee into neighboring Bangladesh starting in August 2017, the Foundation funded programming to increase safe spaces, education, and psychosocial support to children in the refugee camps. In response to the conflict in Yemen, we invested in life saving health interventions in 12 states across the country. The Foundation has also invested in innovative approaches, such as cash transfer pilots supporting refugees and internally displaced people in Rwanda and Syria.

Strengthening the Sector

The Foundation continues to support initiatives which strengthen the global community’s ability to respond to disasters through institutions, partnerships, and emerging technology. This includes the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, an institution which serves as the central repository for information and learning for disaster grantmakers. The Connecting Business Initiative (CBi) is another approach, a partnership between United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the private sector. CBi seeks to improve the resiliency of community by supporting small- and medium-sized businesses and connecting them to resources at the government and international level. The Foundation also invests in solution-oriented technology, like KOBO Toolbox, a free and open source data collection tool for humanitarian workers.

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