Yuri Milner’s Groundbreaking Humanitarian Initiative: Tech for Refugees

Top tech companies have teamed up with Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees to help refugees and displaced people worldwide. Founded in 2022 in response to the conflict in Ukraine, the non-profit initiative supports global refugee relief efforts through technology.

Yuri Milner is a tech entrepreneur and former physicist turned science philanthropist. He and his wife Julia signed the Giving Pledge in 2012, making a formal commitment to support charitable, primarily scientific projects. Their Breakthrough Foundation finances Tech For Refugees and other philanthropic causes.

Empowering Tech Solutions for Refugee Aid

Tech For Refugees awards grants to tech organizations that use their networks, resources, services, and expertise to aid refugees. The initiative’s current tech partners include Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, Spotify, Welcome.US, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), NeedsMap, Uber, and UNICEF USA.

Grants help Tech For Refugees’ partners develop their humanitarian efforts. For instance, donations of $8 million and $6 million have helped Flexport.org expand relief programs in Ukraine, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa.

Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Foundation has committed an initial fund of $100 million to help realize Tech For Refugees’ mission. The Foundation also supports the Breakthrough Initiatives, Breakthrough Prize, and Breakthrough Junior Challenge. These non-profit projects celebrate scientists and advance scientific ideas:

  • The Breakthrough Initiatives search for evidence of alien life and conduct research and development in the field of interstellar travel.
  • The Breakthrough Prize recognizes the work of brilliant scientists, awarding multiple $3 million prizes each year.
  • The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global competition that invites high schoolers to make creative science videos.

Tech For Refugees’ Programs

Since its inception in spring 2022, Tech For Refugees has mainly addressed the urgent situation in Ukraine. However, from October that year, the initiative began widening its focus to encompass refugee crises in other regions of the world.

Tech For Refugees’ programs include:

  • Airbnb, Flexport, Spotify Ukraine program. Tech For Refugees works with Flexport.org, Airbnb.org, and Spotify to facilitate logistics and deliveries, hosting and shelter, and entertainment for Ukrainian refugees.
  • Welcome.US Ukraine program. Tech For Refugees helped Welcome.US develop its platform Welcome Connect. The user-friendly platform provides a safe, streamlined process for U.S. citizens to connect with beneficiaries and serve displaced Ukrainians in need of sponsorship.
  • The IRC program. A multi-year donation from Tech For Refugees is enabling the IRC to expand its award-winning, community-driven Signpost platform. Signpost offers information and support to displaced people during crises.
  • Uber, NeedsMap Turkey program. A grant from Tech For Refugees enabled NeedsMap users impacted by the Turkey earthquake to buy Uber ride credits. Uber covered the fees for all rides taken and passed on any payments directly to local drivers.
  • Uber credit program for the IRC. Thanks to a grant from Tech For Refugees, Uber is donating ride credits to the IRC to help meet refugees’ transport needs. The IRC can also use Uber credits to facilitate staff travel.

Become A Tech For Refugees Partner

Technology can greatly enhance humanitarian efforts and help refugees enjoy a better quality of life. For example, technology can:

  • Inspire and collect online donations.
  • Match refugees to hosts and accommodation in new countries.
  • Coordinate the transport and delivery of essential resources.
  • Help refugees communicate with loved ones and access vital information.
  • Provide entertainment, education, and employment opportunities.

There are numerous ways for efficient, innovative tech organizations to help the world’s refugees. Any tech organization — whether non-profit, private, academic, or otherwise — interested in collaborating with Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees should consider becoming a tech partner.