As a result of the war in Ukraine, 6.2 million Ukrainian people, a number greater than the population of Denmark, have been internally displaced. 5.5 million Ukrainian refugees, which is approximately equivalent to Finland’s population, have been recorded to have left Ukraine for other European Countries.
In addition to basic human needs such as food, water, and shelter, displaced people also need access to housing, legal support, and information. And because this is a war in a pandemic, they also need access to vaccinations and medical care. Organizations across the public and private sectors are coming together to tackle these challenges: Resolving these requires collaboration beyond providing financial donations.
The core mission of Tech To The Rescue (TTTR) is to empower changemakers with technology and to ensure that tech resources are commonly available to all organizations in the nonprofit sector. The way TTTR achieves this is through matching nonprofits with tech companies to build digital products and solutions. Since its inception in 2020, Tech To The Rescue has matched over 140 Tech for Good projects with Tech partners, and has created a community of 900 companies willing to offer their tech skills pro bono. With the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, TTTR launched #TechForUkraine campaign to assist NGOs delivering humanitarian aid to refugees.
As an organization that was selected to be part of the Google.org Fellowship, TTTR has become part of a collaborative effort similar to those it seeks to create.
Google.org believes that in addition to money, time is one of the most important resources needed by nonprofits that provide humanitarian support. Googlers are no stranger to this concept - since 2017, they have collectively donated over 160 years of their time to organizations they’re passionate about. As part of the response to the crisis, along with $45 million in donations and in-kind support, Google.org has kicked off 6-month Fellowships with three organizations: Tech to the Rescue, International Rescue Committee, and NeedsList to help them globally expand, scale their platforms, and maximize their impact. In other words, for the next 6 months, 30+ Google.org Fellows have temporarily left their day jobs to work on Ukraine response projects full-time, pro-bono.
On day 117 of the Ukrainian crisis, TTTR attended a four day summit organized by Google.org to bring the TTTR and IRC Fellows and their communities together. The goal was to share Fellowship learnings and next steps, collaborate on shared challenges, and to identify any potential new deliverables that could surface from bringing everyone together.
As part of this summit, Campus Warsaw hosted the Google.org #TechForUkraine Conference on the 22nd of June in the city that’s become a symbol of safety and hope for many Ukrainians fleeing the war. The conference brought together 85+ representatives from public and private organizations, the Ukrainian government, and the media sector in order to pave the way for future partnerships. Speakers and panelists represented a variety of intergovernmental organizations, companies in the private sector, public benefit organizations, educational institutions, and nonprofits who came together to discuss topics that included how technology can alleviate the suffering of people and maximize the impact of humanitarian aid.
TTTR has first-hand experience of how partnerships can result in tech that has human impact. One example is Yesterday Today Tomorrow (YTT): A small organization run by Bryan McCormack that, through an art app, strives to help Ukrainian children process trauma. Research on trauma has proven that both children and adults who experienced it are often not able to verbally communicate it, but that they are able to express their feelings through painting. The tech partner paired with YTT designed the app within a week - the app is estimated to have reached 30,000 refugee children. After this initial success, it’s planned to be further distributed to help other children around the world.
It’s estimated that the Google.org funding alone will help TTTR improve the lives of 2 million Ukrainian refugees. As for the Fellowship, TTTR estimates that the work and engagement of Googlers will be able to help double the number of NGOs it’s helping by building the presence of #TechForUkraine in other CEE countries hosting Ukrainian refugees such as Slovakia, Moldova, Hungary and Romania. TTTR has also found that the Fellowship program can help strengthen the organization itself in terms of the product, processes, and marketing.
The north star for the partnership of tech companies and nonprofits is investing in tech that can be scaled and that is applicable to similar future challenges. Promisingly, we’re seeing increasingly more of this happening as closer partnerships are formed. Google.org’s grant for and Fellowship with the International Rescue Committee and their local partner NGO United for Ukraine Association, for instance, helped expand the United for Ukraine platform, reaching over 150k refugees impacting over 10,000 lives through one on one legal support and temporary accommodation".
“The Google.org Fellows experience has been incredible.It has been this beautiful marriage with being able to combine their technology expertise with the right government partners to really develop solutions quickly.”
Google.org Fellowship Grantee
“I was pleasantly surprised by the efficiency and speed with which everything happened. Within a week, we basically had a working app. The process of collaboration was perfect!”
Tech To The Rescue Partner Nonprofit
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the efficiency with which everything has happened. We literally met … for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and now we already have a website for the product and we’re going live.”
Tech To The Rescue Partner Nonprofit
“Our goal was to help make proper diagnosis of bacterial infections more equitable and accessible, and ultimately to slow the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors without Borders) through the Google.org Fellowship has been a dream come true. First and foremost, it was fulfilling to work on saving lives. Secondarily, I was able to grow new skills very quickly, which has made me a more well-rounded engineer.”