Without equal opportunities, basic freedoms, and fundamental necessities, daily life is a struggle for hundreds of millions of people around the world. That’s why we put human rights at the center of the Dropbox Foundation. We work side by side with some of the most innovative and effective human rights organizations to help them meet their goals.
GOAL responds to humanitarian crises through emergency assistance and community restoration for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.
Over its 40-year history, GOAL has helped tens of millions of people in almost 60 countries survive upheavals and rebuild their communities. During that time, the Dublin-based organization has responded to virtually every major humanitarian crisis. From famine and conflict in Somalia, to the tsunami in Sri Lanka, and Ebola in Sierra Leone, GOAL has been there. It mobilizes huge collaborative efforts that bring together local and international NGOs with governments and community leaders to deliver food, re-establish water supplies, provide shelter, and coordinate medical care.
GOAL is dedicated to improving the behind-the-scenes systems and finding the inspired people that make this all possible. Head of Group Services Janet Humphreys explains that disciplines like HR, logistics, and IT have an important impact on humanitarian work by improving speed and agility. “If we can get all these systems working in the background, we can recruit the right people, and that makes a massive difference. People are just core to the quality of our programming.”
Over the past 30 years, Head of Programs Fiona Gannon has worked in more than 20 countries, including delivering medical supplies by bicycle in Swaziland and coordinating response to the genocide in Rwanda. She’s devoted not only to the people she serves, but also to creatively designing programs and building effective teams. “That kind of unity of purpose creates a great feeling of solidarity.”
The ability to create that solidarity is why Kasem Hijazy rose quickly to become Area Coordinator for GOAL’s Syria Program. “We are working in a war zone, dealing with local councils, local NGOs, military groups,” he says. “Everyone has an agenda.” Undeterred, he leads a team of 400 that runs nutrition, housing, and livelihood programs for the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons. “These folks like Kasem choose to be in there, dealing with the absolute worst situations, running that risk every day, to protect their communities,” says Deputy Head of Programs Chris Boucher. “It’s absolutely phenomenal courage. You can't quit, because they don't quit.” And back at headquarters, not quitting means focusing on improving the systems that keep programs running in the field. “Our efficiency ultimately translates into human lives being saved or people being pulled out of extreme poverty and desperation.”
GOAL, established in 1977, is based in Dublin, Ireland. In the photos above (left to right; top to bottom): Janet Humphreys, Fiona Gannon, and Chris Boucher; Janet Humphreys; Fiona Gannon; Chris Boucher. Photography by Julia Robbs.
Larkin Street Youth Services supports at-risk youth with the resources they need to rebuild their lives, meet their potential, and break the cycle of homelessness.
Night after night in San Francisco, 1,300 young people find themselves on the street without a safe place to stay. They hide in plain sight in order to survive and are extremely vulnerable to exploitation.
Since 1984, Larkin Street Youth Services has helped over 75,000 young people ages 12 to 24 who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness through a range of services including outreach, housing, health, wellness, education, and employment. It can be shocking to learn that so many young people experience homelessness. Every story is different, but Larkin Street’s compassionate, committed staff understand that young people are affected by an incredibly complex network of challenges. Nearly 90% of young people at Larkin Street have experienced some form of abuse, and many have been involved with the foster care or justice system. These issues are particularly acute for those from marginalized communities. In fact, 76% of the organization’s clientele are people of color and nearly half of young people experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area identify as LGBTQ.
Larkin Street can report these startling facts thanks to the work of Research and Evaluation Director Haley Mousseau. “In addition to our extensive services, what sets us apart is our deep investment in data,” Mousseau explains. Her five-person team gathers vital information—everything from which neighborhoods are experiencing spikes in virus transmission to youth employment trends—and collaborates with staff on the front lines to respond. “The reality is that these issues are not linear. In order to test our theories, it’s critical we bring in the voices of folks who have direct experience.”
One of those folks is Assistant Manager of Outreach Camilla Bolland. Her magnetic demeanor is indispensable when approaching young people on the streets. “Building rapport is the best way to be effective,” she explains. “I can tell someone they need to go to this or that facility until I’m blue in the face, but if they don’t trust me, why would they listen?”
Larkin Street’s comprehensive services create a foundation for young people to take the decisive steps needed to reach their full potential. And it’s working—three out of four young people who complete Larkin Street’s programs exit street life for good. Counselors like Torrence Avery play a key role in this success by helping integrate young people into the community. “I try to gradually lead them in the direction they need to go,” he says. Often that means connecting them to one of Larkin Street’s shelters or transitional housing programs, to educational and employment services designed to orient them in the professional world, or to new activities like yoga or art to inspire creativity, all of which help establish stability in their lives. “I let them know I’m here for whatever they need,” he says. “I won’t come walking—I’ll come running.”
Larkin Street Youth Services, established in 1984, is based in San Francisco, California. In the photos above (left to right; top to bottom): Angel Jamaica and Camilla Bolland; Tyler Spencer and Jilleen Ward; Haley Mousseau and Camilla Bolland; Ten Barnes and Deon Price. Photography by Julia Robbs.
War Child UK works with children affected by conflict, providing safe spaces and access to education, while equipping them with skills for the future.
Children are too often an afterthought in conflict zones. Their fragility and ongoing needs can fall through the cracks between humanitarian relief and long-term development work in countries with the most vulnerable populations. War Child UK exists to fill that gap—even after the initial crisis has passed. War Child’s Regional Program Manager for Africa Luz Larosa says that in places like the Central African Republic, “The whole cultural and community system is totally destroyed because of continuous clashes and shocks.” To repair the damage, War Child UK sets up safe spaces where children can learn, play, and “have access to normal processes by which they feel they have meaningful participation in their society.”
The struggle is that these holistic interventions can be hard to measure, and it’s difficult to demonstrate the impact in a simple way to donors. “It’s easier if you say, ‘I'm building a school,’” says Claas Beecken, Regional Program Officer for Asia/Middle East, “but the work that we do is to train the teachers so that when they return to the classroom the lessons are child-friendly and the school is a safe place for children to learn.”
Education has long been an area of focus for War Child UK as it’s a crucial next step beyond helping children process immediate trauma to supporting their long-term psychosocial health and well-being. Maintaining a sense of educational continuity is a big priority for children and families in emergencies. Jess Oddy, Education in Emergencies Advisor, discusses the importance of embedding creative and recreational activities in centers in Jordan where they “show young people how to use cameras and make films. It’s just an amazing creative outlet in a refugee camp.”
This kind of innovative and boundary-breaking work spans from programs that serve children in war zones to campaigns in the UK that raise awareness about the consequences of war for children and our responsibility to help.
“We're quite bold, and we like to think of different ways that we can actually get around our constraints rather than just sitting down and letting them be,” says Nina Saffuri, Director of Fundraising and Marketing. “Every child deserves the right to be in a world free from violence and to reach their full potential.”
War Child UK, established in 1993, is based in London, England. In the photos above (top to bottom): Nina Saffuri; Luz Larosa; Claas Beecken; Jess Oddy. Photography by Julia Robbs.
WITNESS harnesses the power of video and technology to help global activists document human rights abuses and distribute their stories in safe and ethical ways that lead to lasting change.
Video is one of the most powerful tools we have for exposing human rights violations. But the key is knowing how to use these tools so that they lead to concrete and lasting change. That’s where the work of 25-year-old Brooklyn nonprofit WITNESS comes in. Their team helps support anyone who is handling footage of human rights abuses—war crimes in Syria, the unlawful destruction of homes in Brazil, assaults on trans women of color in America—to use that documentation as safely, ethically, and effectively as possible. “When you’re dealing with video, you have to be highly strategic,” says Senior Program Manager Priscila Neri. “You have to think about security, ethics, production.”
WITNESS collaborates with a global network of human rights defenders. Together, they share valuable skills and guidance with millions of potential witnesses. Neri and others like US Program Coordinator Palika Makam train activists, lawyers, and journalists to consider a constellation of factors, including the verifiability of a video and the safety of those filming and their subjects. “We’re always looking to fill gaps and needs,” explains Makam. Her team responded to a growing number of immigrants and advocates with questions around how to document US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids. “In response, we created guidance on how to film ICE, and if and when to share that documentation.”
WITNESS' advisory activities also extend to some of the most influential technology platforms. Dia Kayyali, Program Manager of Tech + Advocacy at WITNESS, works directly with tech companies to help them understand how their products can impact human rights defenders and marginalized populations. “We think a lot about harm reduction,” says Kayyali. “How do we figure out the safest use of a technology?” Kayyali identifies vulnerabilities and suggests improvements to platforms and products, for example, to shield the identity of participants at a demonstration and to protect them from being harassed, imprisoned, or even killed.
The team at WITNESS also supports partners on the ground in myriad ways, whether they need emergency IT assistance or physical extraction. “I have to understand what’s at stake when an activist can’t open a document or access a social media account,” says IT Manager Greg Stamper, who maintains an infectious optimism. “I see the people I work with, who in some cases have risked their lives to tell stories, and feel so inspired. I have hope. I can’t not have hope.”
WITNESS, established in 1992, is based in Brooklyn, New York. In the photos (left to right; top to bottom): Greg Stamper, Palika Makam, and Priscila Neri; Priscila Neri; Palika Makam; Greg Stamper. Photography by Julia Robbs.
The Dropbox Foundation partners with impactful organizations that defend human rights around the world. We provide unrestricted grants—and to make that funding go further, we match organizational needs to the capabilities of Dropbox employee volunteers.
We’re building a relationship with our grantee partners based on trust. The Dropbox Foundation connects these partners to each other so they can share the valuable knowledge they’ve gathered over the years. Mutual respect and a shared passion for defending human rights guide everything we do.
Flexible, unrestricted grants
About 75% of grants to nonprofits come with a catch: the donor—not the nonprofit—chooses how the funds get used. The Dropbox Foundation offers flexible, unrestricted grants that our partners can use to meet their greatest needs. Our partners are experts in doing a lot with a little, and we don’t second-guess their judgment.
We collaborate with our partners to match their immediate volunteer needs to Dropbox employees who have the right experience—from recruiting to financial management to data security.
How do you define human rights?
The Dropbox Foundation defines human rights expansively. We partner with organizations that support a range of vulnerable populations by providing access to equal opportunities, basic freedoms, and fundamental necessities.
How are your Foundation partners selected?
The Foundation applicants were evaluated based on a set of criteria that took into account the applicant’s alignment with human rights, potential for long-term impact, and opportunities for deep partnership.
Do you accept proposals?
At this time, we don’t accept unsolicited proposals.
How can I learn more?
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