USAID and UC Davis Launch Rural Poverty Research Program

The University of California, Davis, has introduced a new research program aimed at eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. The program, called Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk and Resilience (MRR), is being funded by a five-year grant of up to $30 million from USAID.

“USAID’s investment in this new Feed the Future Innovation Lab will expand our ability to work with communities and countries that face the greatest risks in today’s dynamic world,” said Gregory Collins, USAID Resilience Coordinator and deputy assistant administrator in the USAID Bureau for Food Security. “By drawing on the innovation and research expertise at UC Davis, this lab will accelerate opportunities for people in vulnerable, crisis-prone areas of the world and enable many more families to escape the grip of hunger and poverty for good.”

The program will focus on the root causes of poverty, with an emphasis on the risks posed by disasters such as droughts, floods, and wars.

“As global development efforts continue to improve, we still see humanitarian disasters that strip rural families and communities of hard-won gains,” said Michael Carter, professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis and director of the MRR Innovation Lab. “We will provide needed evidence on how to accelerate those gains and to ensure they stick.”

The objective is to develop resilience within these communities so that families are equipped with the skills and resources needed in order to persevere in times of hardship. Researchers are also hoping that the information gleaned from this study can be applied to U.S. farms and reduce the cost of foreign aid.

“We have an opportunity right now to build toward a new Green Revolution,” said Carter. “Our new Innovation Lab will join a global community of researchers, governments and private sector partners all working diligently to find better ways to promote prosperity and resilience for all families.”


Educating Underprivileged Girls

On March 3, 2015, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let Girls Learn, a global initiative to increase girls’ access to education. Let Girls Learn reports that worldwide, more than 62 million girls are not in school. Meanwhile, millions more are fighting just to stay in school.

“As I’ve traveled the world, I have met so many of these girls, and they are so bright, so determined, and so eager to learn,” Michelle Obama wrote in an email. “I see myself in these girls. I see my daughters in these girls. These girls are our girls, and I simply cannot walk away from them.”

Over two-dozen celebrities have harnessed their support for the organization, including: Jennifer Garner, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Steep, Denise Richards, Kelly Osbourne, Nick Cannon, DeAndre Jordan, and Rita Wilson. Michelle Obama even launched a song titled “This is for My Girls” written by Diane Warren, featuring Lea Michele, Kelly Clarkson, Missy Elliott, Zendaya, Janelle Monáe, Kelly Rowland, Jadagrace, and Chloe x Halle. All of the songs proceeds were donated towards the Let Girls Learn fund.

Let Girls Learn is partnered with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Peace Corps, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Just recently, the USAID donated $25 million in support of the teacher apprenticeship program for adolescent girls in Afghanistan. The donation kicked off a new partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) Girls Education Challenge.

Other major financial contributors include CARE, American Airlines, AOL, and World Bank Group.

Let Girls Learn is active in over 35 countries. The organization strives to tackle gender inequality on an individual, community, and global scale. Studies show that empowering women through education decreases poverty as well as maternal mortality rates, child marriages, and AIDS infections.