Washington, DC. The investor and philanthropist George F. Russell, Jr. announced this month a donation of $10 million to international water charity, A Child’s Right, allowing the nonprofit organization to demonstrate a large-scale replication of its model. I first profiled this important group and its founder in 2009 (here).
A Child’s Right has customized a water filtration system for charitable use by combining established water purification technologies used by multinational organizations. Funding from George’s personal donation will support an enormous, cascading roll-out of pilot installations to serve the vast water needs of children in poor, urban areas across Asia and East Africa.
“The need here is very real. I’ve invested in this organization for years, and I am proud of their work and more importantly, the results,” said George. “This gift is structured so that by 2020, A Child’s Right will have the platform and ability to serve one million children daily.”
Through a series of commitments, the donation will require A Child’s Right to meet annual targets and performance goals in 12 new countries. The exploratory strategy will assist the charity in determining whether the current operating model will work effectively in each new location while simultaneously building infrastructure and capacity in its Tacoma, Washington headquarters.
“It is amazing to consider that only philanthropy could have made this possible. Were it up to the market or government, these children would never be served. Indeed, they haven’t been,” said Eric Stowe, Executive Director of A Child’s Right.
“George is a savvy investor and has set the bar high for us with this incredible gift. Because of his donation, we can roll out our expansion in a disciplined way where future donors can observe success and know that all new dollars raised will be remarkably well leveraged, thanks to an assurance of infrastructure support,” Eric said.
Water purification systems will be piloted in 12 new countries: India, Thailand, Vietnam,
Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Laos, Burma, Kenya, and Uganda.
Mr. Russell’s investment is based on A Child’s Right’s existing operations in China, Nepal, Cambodia and Ethiopia. A child’s right works in partnership with local institutions, whose beneficiaries are guaranteed ten years of equipment, service, and support.
The filtration system designed by A Child’s Right provides safe drinking water of a quality equal to that consumed by children in the U.S. and Europe. The system is believed to be durable beyond thirty years – something unparalleled in water relief to date.
Beginning in 1958, George F. Russell, Jr. built the Frank Russell Company from a small, regional mutual fund company into one of the world’s leading investment firms. He served as chairman from 1958 until the firm was sold to Northwestern Mutual Life in 1999.
Today, the company, Russell Investments, employs more than 1,700 associates and manages more than $140 billion in assets. Mr. Russell also is founder of Threshold Group, a private family office that provides investment and financial services to a select number of multi-generational families in the U.S.
George is a well-known advocate of diversified global investing and, along with Warren Buffett, was named in 1993 as one of the four most influential people in the world of institutional investing. Warren Buffett’s son Peter is also a philanthropist whom I have interviewed (here).
George serves as Chairman of several philanthropic organizations including: One Nation and The Russell Family Foundation. After many years of service, he has recently transitioned to an emeritus role at the EastWest Institute, the National Bureau of Asian Research, and the Pacific Health Summit.
A Child’s Right is a Washington-based charitable organization founded in 2006. Their mission is to change the lives of vulnerable children in impoverished urban areas by providing clean, safe drinking water to orphanages, street shelters, rescue homes, schools and children’s hospitals.
A Child’s Right is the only water relief organization whose sole focus is bringing aid to vulnerable children in urban centers. In four years they have brought and continue to provide clean, safe drinking water to over 250,000 children in cities around the world.
I commend activist Eric Stowe and philanthropist George Russell for their respective leadership roles in bringing safe and clean water to orphaned children of the world. They are both the epitome of thought leaders and global citizens.
Originally published in The Daily Kos, Novermber 30, 2010.