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Enhancing Mobility for Refugees: The Expanded Uber Partnership With Yuri Milner’s Tech for Refugees

ByDave Stopher

Nov 30, 2023

Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, Spotify, and UNICEF USA are amongst the major organisations that are partners of Tech For Refugees. Launched in 2022, the non-profit supports initiatives that leverage technology for refugee relief efforts.

Tech For Refugees Founder Yuri Milner established the Breakthrough Junior Challenge and Breakthrough Initiatives. He is also a Breakthrough Prize co-founder.

Uber is one of the latest tech-focused companies to become a Tech For Refugees partner. Here’s how the partnership between the two organisations helps refugees access work, education, and services.

Tech For Refugees Partners With Uber and NeedsMap

Tech For Refugees announced its first programme with Uber in May 2023. The organisations joined forces with NeedsMap, a data-matching platform, to help people impacted by the February earthquake in Turkey access safe transport.

A grant from Tech For Refugees has allowed NeedsMap users in the affected region to buy Uber ride credits. Meanwhile, Uber has covered fees and costs for all rides taken by NeedsMap users. Uber has also forwarded any payments received for rides directly to local drivers.

The scheme has operated in 11 cities throughout Turkey, including Kahramanmaraş, Hatay, Adana, Osmaniye, Kilis, Diyarbakır, and Malatya.

Supporting International Rescue Committee Staff and Clients

In August, Tech For Refugees announced it was expanding its partnership with Uber to support clients and staff of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC is another Tech For Refugees partner. The Breakthrough Prize Foundation, a non-profit founded by Yuri Milner, announced a multi-year financial commitment to the IRC’s humanitarian efforts in February 2023.

As part of the new programme, the IRC can access Uber ride credits to meet refugees’ transport needs and facilitate travel for its staff. Safe, reliable transport can help bring the IRC’s staff and clients together, which supports the IRC’s important work.

Why Access to Transport Is Vital for Refugees

Refugees may need to travel to meet basic needs, access vital services, or work towards employment and self-sufficiency. However, people settling in a new country often face major transportation issues. Factors like language skills, available funds, and varying degrees of driving experience can impact a person’s ability to travel.

On top of this, women refugees can experience barriers to car ownership, and caretakers might find themselves homebound with children. Some displaced people may face challenges using public transportation due to disabilities.

The unprecedented level of displacement, the pressing need for essential services for clients, and the rising global costs of fuel and transport have exacerbated these difficulties.

In light of these circumstances, the Uber and Tech For Refugees partnership is a vital component in bringing secure, dependable transport to refugees.

The partnership also embodies Yuri Milner’s commitment to practical, tech-driven solutions for humanitarian challenges. By supporting some of the world’s most innovative tech companies and organisations, Tech For Refugees continues to provide tangible assistance for those seeking to rebuild their lives outside their homeland.

Learn more about Tech For Refugees’ partners.

About Julia and Yuri Milner

Julia and Yuri Milner joined Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge in 2012. The couple pledged to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes with a focus on science. They established the Breakthrough Foundation to support their Giving Pledge goals.

In 2012, the Milners founded the Breakthrough Prize with Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, Priscilla Chan, and Mark Zuckerberg. The Breakthrough Prize rewards major advances in scientific research and raises the profile of leading scientists.

The couple created the Breakthrough Junior Challenge in 2015 to inspire future generations with scientific ideas. The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global competition in which students make short videos about important ideas in science and mathematics.

The same year, Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking announced the Breakthrough Initiatives. These space science research programmes concern the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. One Breakthrough Initiative, Starshot, is developing engineering concepts for interstellar travel. The other Breakthrough Initiatives are Listen, Watch, Message, and Discuss.

In 2021, Yuri Milner wrote Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilisation. In Eureka Manifesto, he argues that humanity needs a shared mission to survive and thrive into the distant future. The short book discusses why such a mission must centre on the exploration and understanding of our Universe.