The Western Union Foundation launched its signature education program, Education for Better, in 2012, with the goal of improving secondary education and vocational programs across more than 50 countries around the world. Since its inception, the program has awarded more than $12 million in education-based grants, with major funding from Teach For All.
And the money keeps flowing. Teach For All recently received a total of $350,000 in grants from the Western Union Foundation, which is being split among Teach For All and its partner organizations. A sum of $250,000 went toward Teach For All’s efforts to scale and accelerate its leadership programs. The remaining $100,000 will be split among the organization’s partners in Mexico, Austria, India, and the United Kingdom. The money is supporting further teacher training and development in order to advance secondary education in those countries.
Supporting the global push for access to quality education is a big deal at the Western Union Foundation—around 70 percent of the foundation’s giving focuses on the issue. But its leaders didn’t decide to fund education initiatives simply because it seemed like a good idea. The foundation has been aligning its philanthropy with its business model. This started with a deep analytical dive into the destinations of the Western Union Company’s money wire transfers and how that money was being used by its recipients.
What analysts found was that around one-third of Western Union money transfers were being used to support the educational needs of its recipients. The foundation then established its flagship program, Education for Better, based partly on these analytics.
When we recently spoke with Patrick Gaston, president of the Western Union Foundation, he talked about how education is a linchpin to opportunity and economic security, stating, “In education... there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity.” He reiterated those thoughts at the announcement of Teach For All’s grant, saying, “Education plays a powerful role in changing peoples’ lives for better—translating into stronger, more resilient communities and economies worldwide.”
The foundation continues to conduct analytics in order to learn from its grantmaking. While it will continue to focus its education-based funding efforts on primary and secondary learning, the foundation has made a slight pivot to include the funding of job skills programs that focus on women and youth populations.