Over the years, billionaire and philanthropist Yuri Milner has helped set up and sponsor several non-profit ventures. He co-founded the Breakthrough Prize in 2012 and established the Breakthrough Initiatives and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge in 2015.
In 2022, he and his wife Julia launched Tech For Refugees. The Milners pledged a seed donation of $100 million towards programmes assisting refugees and displaced people worldwide.
Tech For Refugees supports leading tech organisations like Spotify, Uber, and Airbnb.org. These organisations use their technological expertise and resources to affect positive change in the lives of refugees. Here’s a look at the collaborative efforts between Tech For Refugees and its partners.
The Inaugural Partnerships: Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, and Spotify
When Julia and Yuri Milner created Tech For Refugees in spring 2022, the initiative’s first partners were Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, and Spotify. These initial partnerships made a huge impact on relief efforts supporting civilians fleeing Ukraine.
Within six months, Airbnb.org provided shelter for 100,000 refugees in over 90 countries and regions. Flexport.org, the impact arm of the digital freight forwarder Flexport, delivered aid shipments that improved the lives of more than six million Ukrainians. Meanwhile, Spotify offered its premium subscription service to Ukrainian refugees for free.
Tech For Refugees has extended its partnership with Flexport.org. The initiative will provide new funding for programmes targeting refugee crises in Pakistan and the Horn of Africa. Additionally, Tech For Refugees and Airbnb.org are continuing to support refugees from Ukraine and around the world.
Supporting Tech Innovation: Welcome.US and the IRC
Donations from Tech For Refugees are helping humanitarian non-profits develop innovative technologies.
Tech For Refugees’ funding enabled Welcome.US to create and launch Welcome Connect. The first-of-its-kind platform offers a safe, streamlined way for U.S. citizens to connect with and sponsor Ukrainian refugees.
Elsewhere, a multi-year donation from Tech For Refugees will allow the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to expand its Signpost platform.
Signpost is a tech-enabled “HelpDesk” that offers information and support to displaced people. The three-year commitment from Tech For Refugees will propel the adoption of Signpost in new locations throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and the Americas.
Expanding Operations: NeedsMap, Uber, and UNICEF USA
In May 2023, Tech For Refugees announced a new collaboration with Uber and NeedsMap to provide relief to the victims of Turkey’s earthquake. A grant from Tech For Refugees allows NeedsMap users in the region to buy Uber ride credits. In turn, Uber covers all fees and forwards any payments directly to local drivers.
Uber and Tech For Refugees extended their partnership in August to offer ride credits to staff and clients of the IRC.
Tech For Refugees continuously seeks new partners to enhance the scope and diversity of its humanitarian operations. Most recently, the initiative partnered with UNICEF USA to support education for Ukrainian children.
Technology companies or non-profit organisations in a position to contribute to Tech For Refugees’ cause may apply to become a tech partner.
About Julia and Yuri Milner
Julia and Yuri Milner joined Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge in 2012. The couple pledged to donate most of their wealth to philanthropic — mainly scientific — causes. To this end, they established the Breakthrough Foundation.
The Milners’ Foundation funds programmes like the Breakthrough Prize, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, and the Breakthrough Initiatives.
The Breakthrough Prize rewards major discoveries in fundamental physics, maths, and the life sciences. Julia and Yuri Milner co-founded the Breakthrough Prize with Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, and Anne Wojcicki.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global competition that invites students to submit short videos about complex ideas from the world of science and maths. Breakthrough Junior Challenge winners receive several prizes. These prizes include a scholarship worth $250,000, a $100,000 science lab for their school, and $50,000 for a teacher who inspired them.
The Breakthrough Initiatives are a set of major space science research programmes. Listen, the first Breakthrough Initiative, recently announced a new partnership with Oxford University. The University will become Listen’s new headquarters.
Yuri Milner has also written a short book about humanity’s place in the cosmos. Eureka Manifesto argues that humanity should adopt a shared mission to explore and understand the Universe.