Western Union Advances Commitment to Global Refugee Crisis Launching Company-wide Global Initiative Supporting Economic Opportunities

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  • Western Union CEO attends White House Call-to-Action Meeting for Private Sector Engagement

As a founding partner of the White House Call-to-Action for private sector engagement on the global refugee crisis, the Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leader in global payment services, today announced expanded participation.

The Western Union Foundation has pledged a three-year grant support totaling USD$ 750,000 to the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) that will help provide access to education for 10,000 refugees in Uganda.

During a White House Call-to-Action meeting today in New York, Western Union CEO, Hikmet Ersek reaffirmed exploring the opportunity to use Western Union’s cross-border platform, marketplace voice, charitable giving and talent to help refugees participate more directly in the global economy. Western Union’s support will extend to include education, employment and enablement initiatives.

“The need for assistance is great, and a crisis of this scale requires action on many fronts,” said Ersek. “Supporting the people in the communities that we serve through education and economic opportunity is in the DNA of Western Union and can provide new ways toward a better future.”

Western Union’s White House Call-to-Action program includes looking at ways to expand access to education for refugee children and young adults, leveraging Western Union’s products and services to implement refugee crisis response initiatives, and proactively striving to make job opportunities available to refugees via traditional employment and shorter-term assignments, such as internships and freelance opportunities, with Western Union and teaming up with key corporate partners. The Western Union Foundation’s three-year commitment to WPDI, the non-governmental organization created by Forest Whitaker, represents the first step in this multi-year effort.

WPDI’s successful approach to training refugees focuses on life skills, vocational training and entrepreneurship. This will serve as a blueprint to implement a new program in a camp in Kiryandongo, Uganda where the UNHCR reports that approximately 70,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan reside, 85% of whom are under 18. Uganda hosts the eighth-largest refugee population in the world, third-largest in Africa.

“After meeting Hikmet at the United Nations World Humanitarian Summit this year, it became clear that partnering with the Western Union Foundation was a natural fit and alignment with our passion and purpose for strengthening communities,” said WPDI Founder and CEO, Forest Whitaker. “Connecting to people, empowering them with the tools they need to succeed, and teaching them to give back to others is a very powerful thing.”

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