Portland, ORE and New York (Sept. 23) – The Lemelson Foundation this week announced three commitments during the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City, pledging a total of $4.5 million to Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, the Nonprofit Enterprise and Self-sustainability Team (NESsT) and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA).
The Lemelson Foundation, which is dedicated to improving lives in both the U.S. and developing countries, announced $600,000 in support of Sustainable Harvest's $3.89 million expansion of its small-producer coffee-growing operations in western Tanzania. The partnership was announced on Wednesday afternoon by David Griswold, Founder and President of Sustainable Harvest, during a panel session focusing on the world's smallholder farmers.
Sustainable Harvest, which is committed not only to selling high-quality coffee but also to helping growers generate higher household incomes, plans to transfer its "relationship-based coffee" approach to its new African sites, directly impacting 10,000 coffee-farming families by 2012.
Additionally, The Foundation pledged $2.9 million in support of NESsT's commitment of $7.5 million to assist with the development of social enterprises that improve the livelihood of artisans and small-scale producers in Latin America. The social enterprises that NESsT supports not only solve such critical social problems but do so in a financially sustainable manner to create lasting benefit. NESsT provides access to financing, training and technology for social enterprises that enable local producers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Peru earn a sustainable income and lift themselves out of poverty. NESsT expects 20,000 lives to be affected by its commitment.
Finally, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance—one of the first programs established by The Lemelson Foundation in 1995—announced this morning that it would commit $9.5 million to the creation of the Global Innovation Initiative (GII). GII will bridge the divide between access to technology and the people who need it most, addressing critical problems in the developing world in environmentally and economically sustainable ways. The NCIIA will enlist the help of faculty at 100 international universities and colleges to provide 500,000 students with science education and technical expertise by 2018. The Foundation pledged the first $1 million in support of NCIIA's target goal.
This year's conference also saw significant participation from Foundation leaders. Vice President of the Board, Robert Lemelson, Ph.D., moderated the Seeding Societal Renewal Panel. Dr. Lemelson is also the son of prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson, co-founder of The Lemelson Foundation. Executive Director Julia Novy-Hildesley served as a Topic Leader for the Market-Based Solutions Track.
"It's an exciting time to be a part of CGI," said Dr. Lemelson. "We first launched our Invention for Sustainable Development program in 2003, and it is gratifying to see numerous other organizations and foundations using invention and innovation to improve people's lives, both in the United States and in the developing world."
Nearly 30 Lemelson Foundation grantees and partners—including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Acumen Fund and Ashoka—are members of the Clinton Global Initiative. Since the establishment of the CGI Annual Meeting, Lemelson-affiliated organizations have made over 80 commitments, all in an effort to support CGI's mission to confront the world's most pressing problems.
About The Lemelson Foundation
The Lemelson Foundation uses its resources to inspire, encourage and recognize inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs to support invention-led economic, social and environmentally sustainable development. It has donated or committed more than $150 million in support of its mission to improve lives through invention in the U.S. and developing countries. For more information, please visit www.lemelson.org.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 125 current and former heads of state, 15 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made more than 1,700 commitments valued at $57 billion, which have already improved the lives of 220 million people in more than 170 countries. The CGI community also includes CGI University (CGI U), a forum to engage college students in global citizenship, MyCommitment.org, an online portal where anybody can make a Commitment to Action, and CGI Lead, which engages a select group of young leaders from business, government, and civil society. For more information, visit www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.