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Join My Village, a "Click-To-Commit" Online Social Change Initiative, Announces New Partnership with Merck at The 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos

Merck joins forces with CARE and General Mills, bringing total support of online community "Join My Village" to more than $1 million and expanding education and empowerment of girls in Malawi

Published 01-20-11

Submitted by CARE

Join My Village, an online social change effort between international humanitarian organization CARE and General Mills announces a new partnership with global healthcare leader Merck. After its successful pilot year, General Mills and Merck are investing in Join My Village to drive deeper impact and develop new programming focused on the empowerment of girls and women in Malawi with a focus on education. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada.

Join My Village, a "click-to-commit" social change initiative, was launched in Fall of 2009 as an innovative, online pilot for engaging individuals in the fight against global poverty. One year later, General Mills and CARE are proud to return with Merck to the World Economic Forum 2011 in Davos, Switzerland (January 26th-30th) to enthusiastically launch the second year of Join My Village. Merck's investment will build on the success of the pilot year to increase girls' education and women's economic empowerment in Malawi.

Through Join My Village, CARE, General Mills and Merck are deepening their commitment to global empowerment of women and girls by extending the reach and impact of Join My Village. The online platform harnesses the power of collective small actions to address the root causes of global poverty. Individuals can visit www.joinmyvillage.com and complete an action, such as watching a video about how the program is helping to change the lives of girls and women in Malawi. Once this action is taken, funds are released by General Mills and Merck to support the cause. In addition, General Mills and Merck will match all individual donations made to joinmyvillage.com, dollar for dollar, up to a maximum of $900,000. By directly linking individuals with programs that assist girls and women in Africa, and communicating results through frequent updates with photos, videos, stories and statistics, Join My Village is inspiring a new movement in the fight against global poverty.

"Merck's participation as a partner with CARE and General Mills in Join My Village will make a tremendous contribution to the empowerment of girls and women in the developing world," said CARE's CEO, Helene Gayle. "Join My Village is delivering powerful and lasting change to communities in Malawi while informing Americans about the challenges facing girls and women around the world. It is a simple way to bring real change to people living in poverty worldwide."

"We are thrilled that Merck is joining us in the effort to combat global poverty," said General Mills CEO Ken Powell. "Through our combined investment in Join My Village, we believe that we can get more consumers individually engaged on the issue - and extend our involvement in General Mills' commitment to Nourishing Lives."

Programs will include a comprehensive girls' education package that will deliver four-year secondary school scholarships, construction of houses for female instructors that bring role models into the villages, and mentoring programs that enable young girls to model the educational successes of their secondary school-going peers.

"We know that healthcare can only advance when there is both educational and economic opportunity," said Richard T. Clark, Merck Chairman. "By partnering with CARE, General Mills and the Join My Village program, Merck can play a role in creating sustainable, community-based efforts that will empower the girls and women of Malawi."

The second year of Join My Village brings dramatic funding and programming expansion. General Mills will donate up to $750,000, which is a $250,000 increase from the pilot year of the program. Merck will donate an additional $500,000 to support the efforts in Malawi. Merck's contribution, when combined with General Mills', will bring the total of corporate and individually-influenced donations to more than $1 million. Online consumer and employee engagement mechanisms will be improved to increase participation and drive additional funding.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa, with 40% of the population below the poverty line. Life expectancy is 44 years of age and only 50% of women are able to read and write. Women represent two-thirds of the adults who cannot read or write. However, women and girls are also the greatest hope for ending global poverty forever. In its second year, the Join My Village program will focus on improving education for girls. Donations will provide scholarships for secondary schools, bring female teachers to villages, and help women in poverty learn how to start their own businesses.

Simultaneously, women will have new opportunities to increase their household income by participating in CARE's Village Savings & Loan Associations (VSLAs). Results from the pilot year show that the combination of girls’ education and women's economic empowerment acts as a powerful force in addressing the root causes of poverty. As girls have access to schooling, families deepen their commitment to supporting their daughters' futures. This results in greater participation in the VSLA programs, a proven method for growing family income and supporting girls in their path to a brighter future.

About CARE
CARE fights root causes of poverty in the world's poorest communities. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. In over 70 countries, women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. Each year, CARE helps tens of millions of people around the world effect real, positive changes in their lives. For more information, go to www.care.org.

About General Mills
One of the world's leading food companies, General Mills operates in more than 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Yoplait, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2010 global net sales of US$16 billion, including the company's $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales. General Mills works with communities to enrich the lives of children and families and enhance the health and vitality of neighborhoods and cities around the world. Since the General Mills Foundation was created, it has awarded more than $420 million to nonprofit organizations and helped more than 4.4 million kids lead healthy, active lives. Visit us at http://www.facebook.com/GeneralMillsGives.

About Merck
Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com.

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CARE

CARE

CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.

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