About us


Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises.


ECW was established during the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to help reposition education as a priority on the humanitarian agenda, usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground and foster additional funding to ensure that every crisis-affected child and young person is in school and learning.

Based on the recognition that continuous access to quality learning is a priority for children and families affected by conflicts, natural disasters and displacement and that no organisation can do it alone, ECW comes as a ground-breaking initiative bringing together public and private partners eager to work together differently and mobilise the funding required to deploy immediate and sustainable programmes tailor-made to the educational needs of these children.

ECW’s mandate is articulated around five core functions:

  • Inspire political commitment so that education is viewed by both governments and funders as a top priority during crises.
  • Generate additional funding to help close the $8.5 billion funding gap needed to reach 75 million children and youth.
  • Plan and respond collaboratively, with a particular emphasis on supporting programmes that enable humanitarian and development actors to work together on shared objectives.
  • Strengthen capacity to respond to crises, nationally and globally, including the ability to coordinate emergency support.
  • Improve accountability by developing and sharing knowledge, including collection of more robust data in order to make better-informed investment decisions, and knowledge of what works and does not

ECW is a first-of-its kind fund that offers governments, multilateral institutions and the private sector the chance to finance comprehensive education programmes for children and youth affected by conflicts, natural disasters and displacement, right from the onset of crisis through recovery phases.

ECW’s First Emergency Response investment window supports education programmes immediately in sudden-onset or escalating crises. The fund’s Multi-Year Resilience investment window addresses longer-term needs through multi-year joint programmes in protracted crises, enabling humanitarian and development actors to work together on delivering collective education outcomes in five priority areas:

  • Access: Ensure that crisis-affected children are provided with continuous quality learning
  • Equity and Gender Equality: Leave no one behind and ensure access is provided to the most vulnerable children, including girls and children with disabilities
  • Continuity: Ensure children stay in school until they complete their education
  • Protection: Make sure that schools and learning centres offer a safe, protective and healing environment to crisis-affected children
  • Quality: Improve learning outcomes by focusing on curriculum, teachers’ capacities and learning materials

By providing seed funding to develop and implement such programmes through selected partners, ECW aims to catalyse broader investments from global and in-country donors in education in emergencies. ECW’s third window of investment, the Acceleration Facility, supports research and data collection, advancing best practices and promoting innovation, learning outcomes and gender-targeted interventions in education in emergencies.

Additional information on ECW’s mandate, investments modalities and strategic objectives and results framework is available in our ECW Strategic Plan 2018-2021.

ECW investments will reach 8.9 million children and youth annually by 2021. 

These are among the most vulnerable, excluded and hard-to-reach children and youth in the world, including refugees, displaced and host communities, girls, children with disabilities, minorities and other marginalized children.

ECW-supported programmes span a wide spectrum of context-specific activities designed to meet education needs for crisis-affected children and youth aged 3-18 years old and are implemented through various grantees, including UN agencies, and international and national NGOs. 


 To learn more about ECW’s achievements, download our 2018 Annual Report and 2019 Annual Report. 

ECW Dashboard October 2021











For real time information on the flow of funds from our donors to the Education Cannot Wait Trust Fund and from the Education Cannot Wait Trust Fund to our grantees, visit our Transparency Portal.


The 2015 Oslo Summit on Education for Development urged governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), foundations, the private sector, academia and the civil society to mobilise collective action and more funding for education in emergencies. Two months later at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, Member States reiterated their commitment to SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all children and youth. The following year, under the UN Secretary-General’s leadership and through a series of reforms to humanitarian funding known as the Grand Bargain, the World Humanitarian Summit called for a new way to address emergencies and protracted crises through better collaboration and coordination between humanitarian and development actors, increased and more flexible funding, less bureaucracy, national ownership and a more holistic approach that addresses both immediate and long-term needs, leaving no one behind.

Education Cannot Wait, launched during the Summit, is a direct response to that call by offering an agile, inclusive platform and pooled funds for state and non-state actors and donors to join forces, at both global and local levels, to support education in emergencies with humanitarian speed and development depth. Learn more: Investing in Humanity – Understanding ECW’s Added Value


Education Cannot Wait is hosted by UNICEF. The Fund is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure. The High-Level Steering Group provides strategic guidance to the Fund’s operations. Convened at the ministerial level, it is chaired by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Rt Hon Gordon Brown, and is comprised of partner organizations, including heads of UN agencies and multilateral aid agencies, CEOs of civil society organizations and foundations, and private sector representatives. These constituencies are represented in the Fund’s Executive Committee which oversees operations. Education Cannot Wait’s day-to-day activities are carried out by a Secretariat under the direction of the Education Cannot Wait Director, Yasmine Sherif. High Level Steering Group – Composition & Terms of Reference


ECW is hosted by
at 633 3rd Ave., 8th floor
New York, NY, USA

Mailing Address:
3 UN Plaza, New York
NY, 10017, USA


The following donors and organisations support ECW through financial contributions, global advocacy and technical assistance. ECW’s investments are possible thanks to the generous and timely contributions of its donors. Figures for donor contributions and pledges are rounded up. Variations may occur due to exchange rates and fluctuations from local currencies to US$.    


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