Submitted by Nike Inc.
"The Nike Foundation is a further step in Nike's evolution as an engaged global corporate citizen," said Philip H. Knight, founder and chairman of Nike, Inc. "Its philanthropic focus on poverty and gender inequality allows us to further invest in human capital not just where we do business, but where there is the greatest need. We believe the Foundation's investments in human capital will spark a positive cycle of development and complements Nike, Inc.'s efforts around improvements in our fundamental business practices."
Working in partnership with leading organizations such as the United Nations Foundation, the World Bank, the Population Council and the International Center for Research on Women, the Nike Foundation will support projects that combine innovation with tested models that inspire and mobilize support for girls' empowerment and well-being through increased economic and social opportunities.
"Research has shown time and time again the ripple-effect of positive outcomes for girls and boys, communities, countries and the world when girls and young women are provided access to education and other meaningful opportunities to participate more fully in life,' said Maria Eitel, president of the Nike Foundation and former Nike vice president of Corporate Responsibility. "If given the chance, girls will play a critical role in educating future generations, improving economic conditions and the state of the world's health, as well as protecting the natural resources."
The philanthropic work of the Nike Foundation will complement the community investments directly made by the company largely through NikeGO, a global program designed to use sport and physical activity to bring positive change to young people. The Nike Foundation and Nike, Inc. combined will continue to target giving three percent of Nike, Inc.'s preceding fiscal year's pre-tax profit to non-profit organizations and community partners around the world. Last fiscal year ended May 31, 2004, that totaled $37.3 million in cash, product and in-kind services. Nike, Inc. has infused the Foundation with approximately $20 million (in cash and land donation) for the work ahead. Going forward, Nike, Inc. will direct a portion of Nike's annual giving target of three percent to the Foundation to support its mission.
At the core of its giving approach, the Nike Foundation is supporting programs in the areas of health, education and economic and social opportunities through investments, advocacy and the development of "safe spaces" to help bring together and empower young girls while encouraging freedom of expression, leadership and self-confidence.
"Through this new focus, our goal is to participate with leading organizations and help give a global voice to those who are least likely to be heard--young people in the developing world, and in particular, adolescent girls," said Eitel. "We are committed to working closely with partners to develop programs that empower girls by expanding their opportunities, capabilities and choices. The Nike Foundation is a long-term endeavor. As we invest in programs that support our mission, we will evaluate and evolve them, as well as our giving, to reflect the needs in the developing world against our focus--reducing poverty and promoting gender equality and social justice."
Projects totaling more than $5 million have already been selected for funding in countries the Foundation has identified as having the greatest need, such as Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Brazil and Zambia.
One of the initial projects is a more than $600,000 grant over two years to the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), one of the world's largest and most respected non-governmental organizations. The funds will support BRAC's Employment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) program, a pilot that uses learning centers to provide approximately 45,000 girls and young women in 1,500 rural communities across Bangladesh the opportunity to socialize and access information on personal finance, life-skills and reproductive health. The ELA model builds on BRAC's successful rural education efforts for girls throughout Bangladesh and should provide further opportunities to scale-up and replicate.
The Nike Foundation, originally founded in 1994, is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of Nike, Inc. senior executives and guided by an Advisory Group of leading experts in the fields of international development and gender equality. Additional projects of the Foundation will be announced as they receive funding. The Nike Foundation is not accepting unsolicited proposals, but instead will work with its partners to identify innovative projects in target countries.
Commenting on the Foundation's focus, Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation, said: "This year, participants at the World Economic Forum put an intense spotlight on the need for immediate and long-lasting solutions to reduce poverty. As we all face the challenge of addressing global poverty issues, we welcome this partnership with the Nike Foundation to further our collective and ongoing efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals."
For more information about the Nike Foundation and for a list of Advisory Group members, please visit www.nikefoundation.org.
NIKE, Inc. based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world's leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned NIKE subsidiaries include Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories and Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories. For more information, visit www.nikeinc.com.
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