The Lego Foundation and Kirkbi Announce US$5 Million Additional Contribution to Education Cannot Wait

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New funding from ECW’s largest private sector donor will be directed to education in emergency responses in Afghanistan and Haiti

New York

In response to the escalating crises in Afghanistan and Haiti, The LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI, the owners of the LEGO Group, announced today US$5 million (DKK 35 million) in new funding for Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies.

The LEGO Foundation is ECW’s largest private sector donor. The new contribution brings the foundation’s total commitment to ECW to US$32.5 million to date, with plans to continue to expand the partnership over the coming years.

“The humanitarian crises that are happening in Haiti and Afghanistan are unimaginable and only intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both require a response that focuses attention on the immediate and long-term impacts”, said Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chair of the Governing Board, The LEGO Foundation, and 4thgeneration representative of the LEGO owner family. “KIRKBI and the LEGO Foundation, as the owners of the LEGO Group, have an immense opportunity to respond to the crises. With the grant, we hope to take a targeted approach to support the needs of the people of Haiti and Afghanistan – not least the children who are in a urgent need of protection assistance.”

“Through our continued support for Education Cannot Wait, The LEGO Foundation is working to ensure the most vulnerable young children are able to learn, play, grow and thrive. For the children of Afghanistan and Haiti, this means safe learning environments to protect and help them heal in these challenging times. Play-based early childhood education can give the best possible start in life, and overcome the stressors caused by the crisis situation,” said John Goodwin, CEO of The LEGO Foundation.

The new funding will support ECW’s emergency responses to the escalating crises in Afghanistan and Haiti, ensuring crisis-affected girls and boys have access to life-saving and life sustaining services, such as safe learning spaces, mental health and psychosocial support, early childhood education, school-feeding programmes, and community-based education targeting the most vulnerable children.

“As a global fund dedicated to education in emergencies, our First Emergency Response is one of impatience. Education cannot wait until the emergency is over. Thanks to the rapid support by The LEGO Foundation and KIRKBI, we can now establish safe learning spaces for children, and provide mental health and psychological social support without delay,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait. “Early Childhood Education needs are central to our response, alongside other components of quality education. In Afghanistan, this additional funding will enable us to continue implementing community-based education to target the most vulnerable children, with an emphasis on girls.”

Events over the past few weeks will greatly impact the daily lives of the people of Afghanistan. The education system – already strained by COVID-19, waves of displacement connected with climate change, and other factors – requires substantial support. ECW is working closely with partners on the ground to ensure education in emergency initiatives continue.

As Haiti works to rebuild from a devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck on 14 August, ECW is working with the government, international and local partners, and donors to build a First Emergency Response that ensures girls and boys are provided with safe learning environments, early childhood education, school feeding programmes, and the mental health services they need to recover from the stress and anxiety of losing homes and loved ones.

ECW investments have reached 4.6 million children to date, including 274,000 pre-primary, 3.3 million primary, and close to 600,000 secondary school children. This includes 119,000 children and youth reached through ECW’s ongoing multi-year investment in Afghanistan, 58 per cent of whom are girls.

Working with partners such as The LEGO Foundation, ECW has already mobilized over US$700 million at the global level and an additional US$1 billion through our country investments. ECW is calling on public and private donors to urgently mobilize an additional US$1 billion to reach even more crisis-affected girls and boys.

Note to Editors

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. We support quality education outcomes for refugee, internally displaced and other crisis-affected girls and boys, so no one is left behind. ECW works through the multilateral system to both increase the speed of responses in crises and connect immediate relief and longer-term interventions through multi-year programming. ECW works in close partnership with governments, public and private donors, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and other humanitarian and development aid actors to increase efficiencies and end siloed responses. We urgently appeal to public and private sector donors for $1 billion to reach even more crisis-affected girls and boys. ECW is administered under UNICEF’s financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations; operations are run by the Fund’s own independent governance structure.  



KIRKBI A/S is the Kirk Kristiansen family’s private holding and investment company founded to build a sustainable future for the family ownership of the LEGO® brand through generations. The KIRKBI Group is focused on three fundamental tasks all contributing to enabling the Kirk Kristiansen family to succeed with the mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow: To protect, develop and leverage the LEGO brand across all the LEGO branded entities, commitment to a long-term and responsible investment strategy to ensure a sound financial foundation for the owner family’s activities as well as contributing to a sustainable development in the world. And, dedicated support the family members as they prepare for future generations to continue the active and engaged ownership as well as supporting their private activities, companies and philanthropic work. KIRKBI’s strategic activities include among others 75% ownership of the LEGO Group.  

About the LEGO Foundation 

The LEGO Foundation shares the mission of the LEGO Group: to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. The Foundation is dedicated to building a future in which learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. Its work is about re-defining play and re-imagining learning. In collaboration with thought leaders, influencers, educators and parents the LEGO Foundation aims to equip, inspire and activate champions for play. 

On Twitter, please follow: @EduCannotWait @YasmineSherif1 @KentPage 
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