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NoVo Foundation awards $15 million to IRC for West Africa education programs

NEW YORK, USA, 22 September 2006 - The International Rescue Committee received the largest private donation in its history after the NoVo Foundation pledged $15 million over six years to support IRC’s work with children and youth in West Africa.  The NoVo Foundation announced its contribution at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brings together global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Through partnership with the NoVo Foundation, the IRC intends to provide on-the-ground services – everything from teacher training to school construction to vocational training – that will lay the foundation for sustainable education in West Africa, with a focus on Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, and Guinea.

There are more than 18 million children under age 18 in those four countries alone – children who have spent most of their lives in countries affected by the wars that began 17 years ago in Liberia, and that continued in one country or another until 2003. A particular emphasis will be on improving access to and quality of education, especially for girls.

“The key to successful rebuilding of war-torn societies is the development of solid educational systems, which give children the skills they need to become productive citizens,” said Bob Dandrew, executive director of the NoVo Foundation. “The IRC has a strong track record in the region, and our commitment will help them forge ahead with the sort of work that is crucial to economic and social stability and progress.”

Over the years, IRC has worked with approximately 300,000 children and young people in West Africa and currently supports education through work in almost 100 schools and refugee camps.

“West Africa is one of the harshest environments for young people today because of the history of wars and refugee crises, but thanks to this gift, the International Rescue Committee will be able to change that by offering education, job training, and hope to future generations,” said IRC President George Rupp. “We are extremely grateful to the NoVo Foundation for its generosity.”
Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee is a global leader in relief, rehabilitation, post-conflict development, advocacy and resettlement services for refugees and others uprooted or affected by violent conflict and oppression.  The IRC is committed to restoring hope, freedom, dignity and self-reliance.

Press Contact:
Ed Bligh, International Rescue Committee
Office: 212-551-3114; Cell: 732-319-4785



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