Will Smith & Global Citizen Partnered to Raise Funds for Education Cannot Wait Cause at World Bank Spring Meetings

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Madge Thomas, Senior Director of Global Policy of Global Citizen, Yasmine Sherif, Director Education Cannot Wait, and Jana Babatunde-Bey, President and CEO of the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation.FUNDS RAISED THROUGH SMITH’S OMAZE CAMPAIGN WHERE HE BUNGEE JUMPED OVER GRAND CANYON

 Today during the World Bank Spring Meetings, Jana Babatunde-Bey, President and CEO of the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation and Madge Thomas, Senior Director of Global Policy, of international advocacy organization Global Citizen presented Education Cannot Wait with a check to support children whose education has been disrupted by conflict and crisis. The Fund aims to mobilize resources to deliver urgent educational support to 75 million children and young people affected by the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

Will Smith, globally renowned actor and a high-profile advocate for education, is among those supporting Education Cannot Wait in its efforts to raise US $1.8 billion by 2021 to support education programmes for close to 9 million children and youth living in crisis settings. Last year, in partnership with Omaze, a platform which democratizes traditional auction-giving by offering people the chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience for as little as $10, Smith bungee jumped from a helicopter over the Grand Canyon on his fiftieth birthday to raise funds for Education Cannot Wait.

Will’s historic jump raised $746,000 from donors from 166 countries, and helped mobilize millions more through a unique partnership that brought together Global Citizen, Omaze and the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation to help empower vulnerable children across the globe.

The resources mobilized through Global Citizen and the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation will support Education Cannot Wait’s ongoing actions to provide education to children living through some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian crises. This includes relief efforts to ensure children affected by Cyclone Itai – which destroyed parts of Mozambique and Southern Africa in late March – do not suffer from interruptions in their schooling. In addition, the relief efforts will include ongoing efforts to provide urgent access to education services to the hundreds of thousands of children fleeing the crisis in Venezuela and seeking refuge in neighboring countries.

Over the next three years, Education Cannot Wait will launch multi-year educational response programmes in 25 crisis countries that are struggling with long-lasting complex crisis to help reduce needs and build resilience. These priority countries include Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria.

Global Citizen recently led a field mission to Peru, which has taken in over 650,000 Venezuelan refugees – the second highest intake in the region, and met with Peruvian families who benefited from a previous Education Cannot Wait grant, as well as families arriving from Venezuela in search of hope, normalcy and a better future and regular schooling for their children.

“We need more people like Will Smith to take up the cause of education in crisis and fill the US$8.5 billion funding gap. He is truly driven by a sense of humanity. Providing education for the 75 million children and youth that lack access to reliable education worldwide is the way to go to serve our shared humanity. For boys and girls subjected to utmost inhumanity, such as sexual violence, kidnapping, forced recruitment to become child soldiers, and children living with the scars of violence and conflict, education is the only hope they have left,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director, Education Cannot Wait. “Education is one of the best investments we can make to empower the next generation to raise out of poverty and protect themselves from exploitation and extremism. Investing in them today means investing in peace, justice and prosperity tomorrow.”





Notes to editors

Will Smith has long been a champion for education. Will Smith: The Jump, a YouTube Original special, produced by Smith’s Westbrook Studios, provided global visibility to a crisis that affects millions of children worldwide, and profiled global efforts to provide universal, equitable and accessible education for all by 2030 as outlined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

At the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park,, Yasmine Sherif, Education Cannot Wait Director, underscored that global advocacy efforts – and the visibility created through the Global Citizen partnership and millions of fans who tuned in to see Smith’s “The Jump” and called on their governments to support the organisation.

Their calls encouraged $70 million in new commitments to Education Cannot Wait during the 2018 UN General Assembly from several donors, including Norway, the Netherlands and Dubai Cares. The Government of Denmark announced its new funding to Education Cannot Wait at the Global Citizen Festival, with a new US$46 million contribution – making Denmark the single largest government donor to Education Cannot Wait’s history. Minister for International Development for Denmark, Ulla Tørnæs, saluted both Will Smith’s bravery and deceased former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s belief in the power of education when committing the new funding.

“Thank you Will Smith! I admire your bravery and share your passion for this cause…Kofi Annan was right. Education is the foundation on which free, liberal, democratic societies are built….We need to act. And Denmark does act. Next year Denmark will… reserve US$46 million for our good friends at Education Cannot Wait,” Tornaes said.

At the Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100 in South Africa, additional funds were pledged by the leaders of Germany and Canada taking the total raised in 2018 to $124M.  Minister of Education for South Sudan, Deng Deng Hoc Yai said: “Someone who understands the importance of education is Will Smith, a true champion for children’s rights, who bravely bungee-jumped over the Grand Canyon in September raising over US$750,000 for the Education Cannot Wait initiative, to help countries like mine provide education in emergencies. I appreciate Will Smith for his support! Absolutely, education cannot wait.”

About Global Citizen

Since the first Global Citizen Festival in New York in 2012, Global Citizen has grown into one of the largest, most visible platforms for young people around the world calling on world leaders to honor their responsibilities in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and ending extreme poverty by 2030.

Global Citizens have generated commitments and policy announcements from leaders valued at over $37.9 billion that are set to affect the lives of more than 2.25 billion people. This year alone Global Citizens have secured 29 commitments totaling over $2.9 billion that are set to affect the lives of more than 501 million people by 2030.

With less than 2% of all humanitarian aid allocated to education, Global Citizen will continue to support Education Cannot Wait and other education finance initiatives to raise millions of dollars in funds from governments, businesses and individuals to fill the gap and leave no child behind.

For press enquiries and to schedule an interview, contact: Mr Andrew Kirk andrew.kirk@globalcitizen.org  +1 347 712 1877

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW)

ECW is a global fund launched by international humanitarian and development aid actors, along with public and private donors, to deliver education in conflict and crisis settings. ECW’s investment modalities are designed to usher in a more collaborative approach among actors on the ground, ensuring relief and development organizations join forces to achieve education outcomes.


ECW’s Secretariat is hosted by UNICEF in its Headquarters in New York.

Additional information is available at www.educationcannotwait.org

For press enquiries and to schedule an interview, contact:

Ms. Anouk Desgroseilliers,

adesgroseilliers@unicef.org, +1 917 640-6820

About the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation:

The Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation (WJSFF) is a non-profit organization that sits at the convergence of philanthropy, media and social impact. WJSFF is an incubator and accelerator that ignites the next generation of big ideas, cutting-edge artists, thought leaders, change-makers and social innovators. Together with grantees and partners, WJSFF invests in organizations and initiatives that empower traditionally overlooked communities and affect real change. For more information, please visit www.wjsff.org

About Omaze:

Omaze is an online fundraising platform that makes giving fun and easy by offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences in support of critical causes. Our campaigns connect influencers, nonprofits and donors to create lasting impact, and have raised funds and awareness for over 350 charities with donations from over 180 countries. For more information, please visit www.omaze.com


For Press Inquiries:

Anouk Desgroseilliers:

Kent Page: