Jeremy Soulliere 203.295.5842 (M)
Conshohocken, Penn. (January 15, 2016) — More than 12 million children in over 46 countries have better schools, teachers and learning materials, thanks to a 13 year partnership between the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children and UNICEF.
Since 2003, the IKEA Foundation's "Soft Toys for Education" campaign has contributed $97.7 million (€88 million)* to Save the Children and UNICEF, helping to increase school attendance for some of the world's most marginalized and vulnerable children. Funds have also helped train teachers, provide educational materials and improve child protection systems in schools and communities.
During this year's campaign, which ran from November 1 through December 26, 2015, the U.S. alone raised over $1.4 million through soft toys, IKEA FAMILY children's books and card games sales.
"Education is the most solid road leading out of poverty. All children have the right to an education but still too many are left behind. Partnering with UNICEF and Save the Children for 13 years has allowed us to address this issue strategically and invest in improving the quality of education in some of the world's poorest communities—and we're incredibly grateful to the IKEA customers and co-workers who have worked so hard to make that right a reality for over 12 million children," said Per Heggenes, CEO IKEA Foundation.
In Ethiopia, funds from the IKEA Foundation have helped UNICEF reach children in rural farming communities with basic education. The flexible schooling model has been so successful that the Ethiopian government has rolled it out nationally.
"Over the last 13 years, the incredible support of the IKEA Foundation and IKEA employees and customers has been invaluable in helping UNICEF transform the lives of the world's most vulnerable children through education," said Caryl M. Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "Thanks to this partnership, millions of children around the world will have the opportunity to receive a quality education and build a better and brighter future for themselves and their communities."
In China, IKEA Foundation funding helped develop early-childhood development centers for disadvantaged children living in selected rural communities. The impact of these centers on children's lives contributed to the Government of China's decision to universalize preschool education.
With the support of the IKEA Foundation, Save the Children has worked in 17 countries in Asia and Europe to provide educational opportunities for previously out-of-school children, to improve the learning environment and to train teachers on child-centered, nonviolent and inclusive teaching methodology.
"With the help of the "Soft Toys for Education" campaign, Save the Children is creating a better and brighter future for children – giving the most vulnerable kids access to learning, and teachers the tools to provide a better quality education," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. "We are extremely thankful for our partnership with the IKEA Foundation, and all the support we've received from IKEA employees and customers the past 13 years. Together we have made an enormous difference in the lives of children."
In Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam, Save the Children has, together with education authorities and civil society organizations, supported policy reform and practices to ensure that children from minority groups learn in a language they understand.
Although the Soft Toys for Education campaign has ended its successful run, the IKEA Foundation will continue its commitment to UNICEF and Save the Children through ongoing grants in Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia in the areas of education, early-childhood care and development, child protection, adolescence and humanitarian response.
Through the IKEA IWitness program, IKEA co-workers get to see first-hand how the campaigns they support create a better everyday life for children and their families in developing countries.
*For every soft toy, children's book and card game sold, the IKEA Foundation donated one euro ($1.11)** to UNICEF and Save the Children to train teachers, improve child-protection systems, provide educational materials, and increase school attendance in some of the world's poorest communities.
** Dollar to Euro calculated at $1.11, August 31, 2015
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.