Radcliffe Foundation, IKEA Foundation, Libra Group and The Coca-Cola Company Announce €4 million in Seed Funding to Address Critical Needs of Refugees, and Disadvantaged Greeks

Jun 07, 2017

Athens, Greece June 7, 2017 – Ascend, a new philanthropic initiative, was announced yesterday at the Concordia Europe Summit in Athens. Initial funding commitments include provision of humane shelter for displaced people with a focus on unaccompanied minors, community programming including provision of food, medical care, psycho-social services, and vocational training for refugees and Greeks struggling with the ongoing economic crisis.

“There are over 65 million displaced people in the world today,” said Frank Giustra, founder of the Radcliffe Foundation, “more than at any time since the Second World War. This is an urgent humanitarian crisis with implications that stretch far into the future.”

“Ascend is an innovative, strategic, private-sector initiative.  The partners are committed to finding entrepreneurial solutions to address a crisis that is too big for governments and international non-governmental organizations to deal with on their own,” commented Jimmy Athanasopoulos, Head of Social Responsibility, the Libra Group.

Even before the start of the Concordia Europe Summit, Ascend had launched a portfolio of aid activities. These include support for programs targeted at unaccompanied children.  The recently formed HOME Project provides secure housing, education and social inclusion for refugees, in particular vulnerable unaccompanied children.

“Taking care of unaccompanied minors and families is an emergency within an emergency, and the Safe Houses operated by Arsis Greece, provide shelter, psychological and legal support and education for refugee minors who have been out of school for far too long. We are profoundly proud to be part of this collective action in support of a significant cause,” said Nikos Koumettis, President of The Coca Cola Company Central & Eastern Europe.

At the IKEA Foundation, “we believe that all children should have the right to a safe place they can call home and this is why we are co-founding the Ascend initiative,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation.  “Setting up as many safe heavens as possible for unaccompanied refugee children in Greece is a major priority. We believe that the private sector, along with the government and the UN, must play their role in supporting these vulnerable children, help them reunite with next of kin and build a future for themselves,” Heggenes added.


Giustra, who gained first-hand knowledge of the Syrian refugee crisis when he visited the Greek island of Lesbos in late 2015, says the Ascend Initiative focuses on supporting high-impact local organizations and incubating innovative, replicable, scalable projects with the potential for sustainable impact.

Innovative partnerships are already emerging between Ascend partners. Airbnb, the leading housing platform and Solidarity Now, the pioneering Greek NGO, have joined forces to provide accommodation for refugees and other vulnerable populations. The partnership belongs to Airbnb’s global philanthropic initiative to match populations in need to volunteer hosts.  “When you combine the private sector’s entrepreneurial approach and ability to move quickly with the on-the-ground expertise of local civil-service organizations,” said Giustra, “you get partnerships with the potential for pattern-breaking social change. That’s what’s needed, and that’s what Ascend has already begun to deliver.”


Other partners of Ascend include Open Society Foundation, Microsoft, Western Union and NextFab Foundation.  Ascend provides these organizations a platform to create strategic partnerships based on their core competencies and philanthropic focus areas, whether they be innovative shelter models, community-based programming to support social cohesion, or livelihood and job creation initiatives.  Ascend invites other private sector actors to join us.


The Radcliffe Foundation

The Radcliffe Foundation was established in 1997, by Canadian businessman and philanthropist Frank Giustra. The Radcliffe Foundation supports a wide variety of international and local causes, focusing on education, children, economic development and homelessness. In 2007, Mr. Giustra and former President Bill Clinton launched the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, with the mandate of creating social and economic development programs through impact investing in parts of the world where poverty is widespread. Since 2005, the Radcliffe Foundation has been an active supporter of the International Crisis Group, a widely recognized independent, non-partisan source of analysis and advice to policymakers on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. Recently, the Radcliffe Foundation has actively responded to the on-going refugee crisis by providing humanitarian aid to refugees in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. The Radcliffe Foundation has been dedicated to improving the quality of life for those in need worldwide for two decades.  www.radcliffefoundation.org

IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. We aim to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world’s poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change. The IKEA Foundation works with strong strategic partners applying innovative approaches to achieve large-scale results in four fundamental areas of a child’s life: a place to call home; a healthy start in life; a quality education; and a sustainable family income, while helping these communities fight and cope with climate change. For more information visit www.ikeafoundation.org or  www.facebook.com/IKEAfoundation.

Libra Group

The Libra Group is a privately-owned international business group that controls 30 subsidiaries active in 35 countries across six continents. It is focused on six core sectors: aviation, energy, finance and diversified, hospitality, real estate, and shipping. The group is wholly-owned by the Logothetis family. One of the core values which govern Libra Group is the sense of social responsibility. This is principally expressed through its deep commitment to ten distinct and diverse initiatives which seek to deliver educational opportunity, business opportunity, and acts of humanity towards people who are neglected, marginalized or under-served. For more information please visit www.libra.com.

The Coca Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company, offering over 500 brands to people in more than 200 countries. Of our 21 billion-dollar brands, 19 are available in lower- or no-sugar options to help people moderate their consumption of added sugar. In addition to our namesake Coca-Cola drinks, some of our leading brands around the world include: AdeS soy-based beverages, Ayataka green tea, Dasani waters, Del Valle juices and nectars, Fanta, Georgia coffee, Gold Peak teas and coffees, Honest Tea, Minute Maid juices, Powerade sports drinks, Simply juices, smartwater, Sprite, vitaminwater, and Zico coconut water. At The Coca-Cola Company, we recognize that we cannot have a healthy and growing business unless the communities we serve are healthy and sustainable. As a global beverage company, we have committed ourselves to improving the quality of life in the communities where we do business. The Coca-Cola Company is committed to giving back 1 percent of its prior year’s operating income annually. This commitment is made through The Coca-Cola Foundation and company donations.  For more information, visit our digital magazine Coca-Cola Journey at www.coca-colacompany.com, and follow The Coca-Cola Company on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.


For more information, contact:

Jae Kim

Chief Philanthropy Officer

The Radcliffe Foundation



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