Western Union Foundation Giving Update

Giving By Emily Larson October 16, 2020

It’s safe to say that almost nothing has gone according to plan in 2020, yet the seasons continue to change, and our annual traditions and celebrations still appear on the calendar. As time rolls on we are finding new ways to adapt and support each other even as our plans shift. Despite the many shifts, at the Western Union Foundation, we remain focused on fulfilling our mission to empower forcibly displaced and marginalized youth to gain global 21st-century economic opportunities. One of the surest ways to do this is by providing access to education and workforce training as marginalized communities navigate a global pandemic, exacerbated economic hardship, and increased xenophobia.

In addition to the Foundation’s year to date USD $3.8M investment to support its Opportunity Beyond Borders initiative – including $1.5M in the third quarter – we recently announced a commitment of USD $250,000 to provide scholarships for international students in six countries struggling to fund tuition and basic needs such as healthcare, wellness, food, and housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Western Union Foundation remains committed to creating access to the global economy and shining a light on the challenges facing forcibly displaced and marginalized communities,”

said Elizabeth Roscoe, executive director of the Western Union Foundation and Western Union’s head of corporate brand and purpose.

“Awareness and action can be the difference between surviving and thriving for marginalized youth. Creating access to education and training programs is a long-term investment that allows individuals to succeed, which benefits families and communities.”

Below are two examples highlighting how the Foundation’s Opportunities Beyond Borders grant dollars are being put into action to meet the needs of the beneficiaries we have set out to serve, especially during this unprecedented moment in history:

IRC Denver

IRC Denver says that the work to be done around job readiness, work skills, employment supports, and financial wellbeing is more important now than ever, as a result of the pandemic. Migrants and refugees have been hit harder by layoffs over the past year, forcing organizations to scale up their services in order to meet the demands of their constituents. IRC’s clients bring tremendous skills, assets, and strengths, but it will take different strategies to activate those skills and help their clients succeed in the face of drastic changes in the labor market. The Western Union Foundation’s grant will support the implementation of new and effective strategies and create enabling environments for economic opportunity.

Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative

Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) worked quickly to adapt to COVID-19 circumstances by engaging in a partnership with MIT Open Learning. This partnership aims to digitally upgrade the learning resources already offered to vulnerable people residing within or around the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement (KRS) – where WPDI has been maintaining a youth empowerment program in partnership with the Western Union Foundation since 2016. This program entails a strong educational component with certified courses in civic and vocational areas, covering Conflict Resolution Education, Information and Communication Technology, and Business and Entrepreneurship. The digital upgrade will build upon e-learning tools that could be used both for distance and in-person learning as needed.

Additionally, the Western Union Foundation’s most recent grant round is supporting the following projects and programs. Read about the Foundation’s second-quarter investment here and follow the Foundation on Twitter to stay up to date.


Organization Program Focus Location
Aspen Institute


Artisan Alliance will partner with refugee founded, Gahaya Links to expand personal protective equipment (PPE) production, reconfiguring artisan organizations across Africa into workshop facilities that produce PPE and employ artisans in preparation and response to the COVID-19 crisis in Africa. Rwanda


Providing PPE to critical frontline staff and associated personnel working to protect and assist refugees and vulnerable communities in Venezuela. The primary purpose of the provision of PPE is to ensure the safety of all while continuing essential programmatic activity during COVID-19. Western Border Area, Venezuela / Colombia
Kiron Open Education


Pre-implementation research and a focused feasibility study on how to improve opportunities for marginalized communities in Jordan and Lebanon for vulnerable populations residing in refugee camps and urban areas.  

Jordan and Lebanon

Mile High United Way


Denver neighborhoods already facing the greatest challenges before COVID-19 have taken a heavy hit because of the poverty and systemic inequality experienced. In response, this grant seeks to accelerate and adapt community service programs to help even those odds, specifically addressing mental health referrals, basic and emergency needs, and access to technology for families to support remote learning. Denver and Greater Colorado Area, USA
Plan International Continue to serve families during COVID-19 providing girls and women of menstruating age,  life-changing hygiene and menstrual hygiene management kits. The program will also continue remote education including on the topics of hygiene, social distancing awareness, proper handwashing, managing colds and coughs, and the prevention of gender-based violence in emergencies.  Philippines
United Way India India experiences an unabated surge of COVID-19 cases. This program’s focus is on the provision of adequate medical equipment to dedicated COVID-19 government hospitals. India
Upwardly Global


Prioritize increasing scholarships and opportunities for licensing, credentialing and upskilling for job seekers so that they are more employable once there is an economic rebound post-COVID19, specifically for professional, yet unemployed and underemployed immigrants, refugees and asylees. San Francisco, California, USA
Village Exchange Center


The Mobile Village Pantry is a Village Exchange Center food access program that benefits residents, largely refugees and migrants, with groceries, prepared meals, toiletries and diapers weekly. Aurora, Colorado, USA