In 2022, Yuri Milner founded Tech For Refugees to support the global refugee crisis. The organisation isn’t, however, the Eureka Manifesto author’s first philanthropic enterprise to offer global support.
Yuri Milner and his wife Julia signed the Giving Pledge in 2012. Their Giving Pledge committed them to donating the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. In the same year, they founded the Breakthrough Foundation, which funds Tech For Refugees. The Breakthrough Foundation also funds the Breakthrough Prize and the Breakthrough Initiatives.
Yuri Milner says, “Every life thrown into chaos is a great personal loss and also a loss to humanity — because we all need their knowledge, their questions, their ideas.”
Supporting People in Crisis
Yuri Milner is a strong advocate for using technology to support refugees globally. Tech For Refugees is a non-profit enterprise that funds tech organisations so they can make a positive impact on the lives of refugees.
The initiative initially focused on the emergency in Ukraine. However, in October 2022, its scope expanded. The organisation’s programmes now aid refugee emergencies in Europe, Africa, Pakistan, and Turkey.
Tech For Refugees’ programmes include:
- Airbnb Ukraine — Airbnb.org offers free, temporary accommodation to refugees fleeing Ukraine. It uses its network of Hosts and technology to ensure safe shelter for those in need.
- Airbnb, Flexport, Spotify Ukraine — a collaboration between Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, and Spotify. The programme provides Ukrainian refugees with shelter, logistics, deliveries, and entertainment.
- Flexport Horn of Africa — this programme supports projects that supply aid, including food, to those affected by famine and displacement.
- Flexport Pakistan — this programme oversees the distribution of supplies to refugees from Pakistan and helps those internally displaced.
- Flexport Ukraine — in the first 6 months of 2022, Flexport facilitated 348 shipments. These went to six countries supporting Ukrainian refugees. The shipments included ambulances, hospital beds, and emergency medical equipment. As a result, 5.3 million people received much-needed relief.
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) — in February 2023, Tech For Refugees committed to donate to the IRC for multiple years. Ongoing donations will enable the IRC’s Signpost service to expand its efforts globally.
- US Ukraine — this partnership with Welcome.US helped the organisation develop Welcome Connect. The platform enables U.S. citizens to connect with and sponsor relocated Ukrainians.
- Uber, NeedsMap Turkey — after the earthquake in Turkey in 2023, Tech For Refugees gave a grant to Uber. The grant supports users of NeedsMap by providing Uber ride credits. Uber covers all costs and fees for the rides, and payments go to the local drivers.
Tech For Refugees’ partnerships have expanded refugees’ access to vital resources and support.
About Yuri Milner
The Giving Pledge
The Milners’ Giving Pledge commitment saw the launch of Tech For Refugees and several other significant projects. These projects include the Breakthrough Prize and the Breakthrough Initiatives.
- The Breakthrough Prize: This global prize recognises the work of extraordinary scientists in the fields of Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics, and Mathematics. Each Breakthrough Prize is $3 million.
- The Breakthrough Junior Challenge: This worldwide annual video competition for students promotes — and celebrates — innovative scientific thinking.
- The Breakthrough Initiatives: A collection of space science programmes. The Breakthrough Initiatives focus on exploring the fundamental questions about life in the Universe.
In 2021, Yuri Milner wrote his Eureka Manifesto, which calls for increased scientific research and innovation investment. Eureka Manifesto also proposes a shared mission for humanity: To explore and understand our Universe.