Yuri Milner’s Tech For Refugees Funds the IRC’s Award-Winning Signpost Service

Signpost is an award-winning humanitarian project from the International Rescue Committee (IRC). To date, the project has reached 58 million people with vital information products. Signpost’s partners include tech companies like Microsoft and Meta and non-profit initiatives like Tech For Refugees, which has provided essential funding to the project. With Tech For Refugees’ financial support, Signpost has gone on to win a United Nations (UN) SDG Action Award.

Tech For Refugees’ Founders and Funding

Giving Pledge philanthropist Yuri Milner and his wife Julia founded Tech For Refugees in 2022. The Israeli billionaire has published some of his ideas about humanity in a book called Eureka Manifesto: The Mission for Our Civilisation. Eureka Manifesto includes references to Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge, Breakthrough Prize, Breakthrough Initiatives, and Breakthrough Foundation.

In April last year, the Milners’ Breakthrough Foundation announced a commitment of $100 million towards Tech For Refugees. This donation has funded multiple programmes supporting refugees from the war in Ukraine and other people in need of humanitarian aid.

The Breakthrough Foundation

The Milners created the Breakthrough Foundation more than 10 years ago to follow through on their Giving Pledge. The Breakthrough Foundation provides and organises funding for several philanthropic projects, including:

  • Tech For Refugees.
  • The Breakthrough Prize.
  • The Breakthrough Initiatives.

The Breakthrough Prize honours remarkable achievements in science and maths, offering $3 million prizes to leading scientists and researchers. Meanwhile, the Breakthrough Initiatives are pioneering science programmes exploring the deepest questions of life in the Universe.

The Breakthrough Initiatives received support from Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg, with the latter also serving as a Breakthrough Prize co-founder.

Supporting Refugees Through Technology

With the world facing its largest refugee crisis since World War II, innovative ideas that can support refugees are more important than ever. There are currently more than 100 million forcibly displaced people (the highest number in history) worldwide.

Tech For Refugees supports established and emerging humanitarian programmes centred on technology. The initiative partners with commercial and non-profit organisations (such as Uber, UNICEF USA, and to achieve large-scale relief for refugees.

The impact of science and technology on human civilisation is one of the topics covered in Yuri Milner’s short book Eureka Manifesto. Written by the Giving Pledge philanthropist in 2021, Eureka Manifesto advocates for a shared mission to help humanity collectively overcome its challenges.

How Signpost Connects Communities to Life-Saving Information

Since its launch in May 2022, Tech For Refugees has backed numerous tech-focused initiatives, such as the IRC’s Signpost project.

Getting reliable, timely information into the hands of affected communities (instead of the responding agencies) is an often-overlooked challenge in crisis contexts. Signpost addresses this challenge by bridging the gap between displaced populations and the information they need to make informed — and often life-saving — decisions.

Signpost users can access crucial information and speak to trained community liaisons through the project’s digital platforms. These liaisons make, share, and update content based on localised trends. Questions from the affected community — posted on social media and local communication channels — drive the creation of new information resources.

With funding from Tech For Refugees, Signpost recently won the prestigious “Connect” award at the 2023 United Nations (UN) SDG Action Awards. This award recognises Signpost’s success in empowering refugees. By connecting crisis-affected communities and information providers, Signpost turns division into unity and returns agency and dignity to individuals.

Earlier this year, Tech For Refugees announced a multi-year commitment to the IRC to enable Signpost’s expansion. Both parties expect the donation to propel the adoption of Signpost in new African, Middle Eastern, American, and Asia Pacific locations.