Photo by Maura Griesse

We often see heartbreaking images of extreme poverty in the developing world and think, “that’s terrible.” We likely leave that thought with two conclusions: luckily there are organizations out there doing work to end extreme poverty, and it will probably never end – at least not in my lifetime. Why does the thinking stop there? What organizations are doing the work to end extreme global poverty and how can we support them? More importantly, it’s time to acknowledge that extreme global poverty can end in our lifetime (in 2030, more specifically) if we all act together right now.

In 1990, 43% of the population of developing countries lived in extreme poverty. By 2000 the proportion was down to a third and world leaders set a goal for our planet: end extreme global poverty by 2030.* Since then, several groups have risen to the occasion to help make this goal a reality. It’s 2015 and we’re halfway there… so how are we doing?

We’re making progress. In their 2015 letter, Bill and Melinda Gates, whose Foundation is at the forefront of the fight said the following: “The last time we cut the child death rate in half, it took 25 years. We will do it again in 15 years.” Progress towards ending extreme poverty is broken into two schools of action: advocacy and on the ground solutions. This dual approach has been successful thanks to the effort of many groups internationally.

Global Poverty Project focuses on international education and advocacy with a mission to grow “the number and effectiveness of Global Citizens to achieve the public, business and political commitment and action to end extreme poverty.” Their Global Citizen campaign aims to gather a community of activists who are committed to making a difference. Their specific campaign around ending extreme poverty is called Zero Poverty 2030 and to date they’ve gathered 545,115 of the 600,000 signature goal. These signatures represent the global community’s commitment to ending extreme poverty.

ONE (Bono’s campaign as it is more commonly associated), is an international campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases. Celebrities donning white tees on commercials help ONE raise public awareness about extreme poverty. The organization also works with political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency so governments are accountable to their citizens.

Founded by a Marine, Nuru International works to promote global security by ending extreme poverty in remote, rural areas of failed states and conflict zones. They do this by building self-sustaining, self-scaling programs that enable communities across an entire region to lift themselves out of extreme poverty within seven years. Nuru’s work is sustainable; they begin each project with an exit strategy and clearly defined exit criteria. Nuru equips local leaders with tools and knowledge to lead their communities out of extreme poverty by integrating impact programs that address the most prevalent and fundamental challenges of extreme poverty.

Mercy Corps also helps those in extreme crisis. When a natural disaster strikes, an economy collapses, or conflict erupts, Mercy Corps responds immediately to meet urgent needs for food, water and shelter. Post-emergency Mercy Corps to partner with communities for their long-term recovery.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation exemplifies a combination of advocacy and on the ground work. In their 2015 letter they asked their supporters to join as Global Citizens. UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, CARE, World Vision, Oxfam America and many others have joined in the request for global citizens to come together and “expand their circle of compassion.” Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given billions of dollars to date to various organizations in an effort to “help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” Their role in ending extreme poverty, both as leaders and funders, is creating change. Their “big bet” for 2015 is that by joining together we can reach the 2030 goal. If some of the smartest people in the world think ending extreme poverty is possible, then it is. Take action today!


Learn more about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
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