A child from Ethiopia plays
PRESS RELEASE

The Helmsley Charitable Trust Reinvests in SOS Children’s Villages with $5.9 Million Grant to Empower Children and Families in Ethiopia

SOS Children's Villages, the world's largest organization dedicated to the care and protection of orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children, announces a new phase of its partnership with The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust through a $5.9 million grant to scale EduCare – a holistic, community-led family strengthening program that works to keep children in school and empower vulnerable families with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty. 

This new award builds on a six-year partnership with Helmsley to support impoverished communities in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia. Since 2014, EduCare has reached over 3,500 vulnerable families and improved access to quality education for 4,600 children across 15 communities. 

EduCare’s integrated approach is founded on the belief that educational attainment has a direct impact on economic development and financial security. A 2017 UNESCO report examining this linkage states that “an educated population is one of the key prerequisites for economic growth and poverty reduction.” The study argues that: “Achieving universal primary and secondary attainment in the adult population would help to lift more than 430 million out of poverty, thus reducing the number of poor worldwide by more than half.” 

SOS and Helmsley recognize that education is more than just knowledge – it is essential to realizing global goals of eradicating poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy. This is particularly important in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest out-of-school rate for all age groups around the world. 

Working in close collaboration with government, school and community-based partners, EduCare provides comprehensive supports customized to each family’s unique needs. Vulnerable students receive school supplies, uniforms and monthly food stipends. Tutoring, life skills trainings and study skills sessions help children advance academically. And, interventions tailored to improve the household income of each student’s family successfully address economic barriers to school attendance. Year after year, the EduCare model produces impressive results – EduCare children boast lower dropout and higher promotion rates than other students at the same schools. And, when parents are able to adequately care for their children, families grow stronger and remain intact. 

“Our partnership with Helmsley adopts a holistic approach to child and youth welfare,” explains Neil Ghosh, CEO of SOS Children’s Villages USA. “Our model is rooted in the family unit and encompasses all aspects of a child’s life, providing a seamless sense of security. Together, we integrate care structures, education and vocational training to provide a foundation that lasts a lifetime.”

Helmsley’s newest and largest investment in EduCare comes at a critical time – in the midst of a global pandemic that has left 1.5 billion children out of school. COVID-19’s impact on the economy has also caused heightened household vulnerabilities due to widespread job and income loss. Both of these factors are deeply concerning, as increased economic insecurity among families and growing numbers of out-of-school children makes young people more at-risk to exploitation, child marriage, sex trafficking and other forms of abuse. 

To address this, Helmsley’s latest EduCare grant will not only expand the program to six new communities in the Amhara Region, but it will continue supporting the most vulnerable beneficiaries currently enrolled in the 2017 – 2020 phase of the project. This new infusion of funding will also incorporate COVID-19 prevention education and the provision of soap, sanitizer, personal protective equipment, emergency food support and higher micro-loan amounts for families working to rebuild their small businesses hard-hit during country-wide lockdowns. 

“Without question, the advent of EduCare at this critical juncture will play a buffering role to the most vulnerable members of society,” says Sahlemariam Abebe, SOS Ethiopia's National Director. “Helmsley’s continued investment in SOS and this program will contribute toward COVID-19 prevention, community recovery efforts, continued sustainable development and engagement with at-risk families that will ensure their safety, security and dignified futures.”

Renewed support from Helmsley demonstrates their commitment to sustainable development, community resilience and the allocation of critical resources to areas of greatest need. SOS is eager and excited to launch this new project in partnership with Helmsley, which will serve a key role in getting children back to school, improving economic security among struggling families and addressing heightened vulnerabilities in the Amhara Region caused by COVID-19.

About SOS Children's Villages

SOS works toward a world in which every child belongs to a family and grows up with love, respect and security. Across 136 countries and territories, our holistic approach impacts hundreds-of-thousands of lives each year. We build locally-led, scalable interventions to address the systemic issues that lead to family breakdown and child abandonment. With 99% of our 38,000-person workforce hired locally, SOS is uniquely positioned to implement programs that are tailored to the needs and context of each community, country and region in which we work. 

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning its active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $2.5 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes.

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