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Western Union’s support for African education

15 September 2009 at 03:51 | 580 views

Press Release

Englewood, CO., September 14, 2009.

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU), a leading provider of global payment services, continues its tradition of giving back to African communities, both in the United States and abroad, through a variety of key education initiatives. Western Union and its Agents recognize the core value of learning, and that education is one of the most important tools to improve the quality of life of individuals in the African communities.

Since 2001, the Western Union Foundation has granted more than $3.5 million to nonprofit organizations across 30 African countries, with one-third of the grant money going to education-related projects alone. The scope of the projects supported ranges from providing desks to schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to contributing to the provision of vocational training facilities in Tanzania. One of the most recent examples is the Western Union’s project in Ethiopia to build additional schools.

Educational Support in the U.S.

Western Union works to advance education in the African Diaspora here in the United States with its most recent example being last year’s Cash for Education Competition, in which winners were encouraged to use cash awards to further their educations. This competition challenged full-time students in the U.S. to submit a resume and an essay about “Staying Connected to Africa with Western Union,” wherein the student described his or her own, friend’s or family member’s most interesting money transfer experience. Three winners each received a $2,500 cash award from Western Union. Overall, there were a total of 13 cash awards, totaling $17,500.

“Western Union is always looking for new ways to support education, as we believe getting a good education can change a life,” said Jennifer Briggs, vice president of Africa, U.S. Outbound for Western Union. “The Cash for Education program sought to reward students for sharing stories about how they or others are staying connected to Africa through Western Union.”

In addition to Cash for Education, Western Union has organized other initiatives that sought to propel students’ academic pursuits. In 2007, Western Union ran The African Independence Essay Competition, which rewarded students for creatively expressing what independence meant to them. At the conclusion of the competition, 14 cash awards totalling $13,000 were provided to help students fund their continuing education.

Ethiopian School Project

In May, Western Union, along with Agents in Ethiopia, Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Construction and Business Bank, and Dashen Bank opened a new school building with eight classrooms to the Omedla School in Ethiopia. The project, which cost $120,000 was selected by Western Union’s Ethiopian Agents and supported by the Western Union Foundation, as part of its global signature program, Our World, Our Family®.

Constructed in 1970, the original Omedla school buildings had gradually deteriorated resulting in dwindling student numbers. The new facilities are expected to reverse that trend by attracting new students from among the 10,500 school-aged children within the community. In addition, the new Omedla school premises will be multi-purposed to host evening literacy classes targeted for the 2000 adult learners residing in the Kebele region.

Overall, the community hopes to see improved literacy rates among children and adults, as an indirect result of access to a more conducive learning environment. Khalid Fellahi, Senior Vice President, Western Union Africa commented on the initiative, “Giving back to the community is engrained in the corporate culture of Western Union. We are committed to optimizing resources to improve the lives of our consumers and their families, through the Our World, Our Familyprogram. Together we can enrich the lives of global citizens on their quest for a better life.”

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About Western Union

The Western Union Company (NYSE: WU) is a leader in global payment services. Together with its Vigo, Orlandi Valuta and Pago Facil branded payment services, Western Union provides consumers with fast, reliable and convenient ways to send and receive money around the world, as well as send payments and purchase money orders. Western Union, Vigo and Orlandi Valuta operate through a combined network of more than 385,000 Agent locations in 200 countries and territories. Famous for its pioneering telegraph services, the original Western Union dates back to 1851. For more information, visit

About The Western Union Foundation

Through Western Union’s Our World, Our Family® signature program, the Western Union Foundation supports initiatives to empower individuals, families and communities through access to better education and economic opportunity. Recognized by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy in 2009, the program is a five year, $50 million commitment reflecting the efforts made by Western Union employees, Agents, and partners around the world. Since its inception, the Western Union Foundation has awarded almost $55 million in grants and disaster relief to over 1,870 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in 100 countries. For more information, visit

About Western Union’s Our World, Our Family® program

Western Union’s Our World, Our Family program is a five year, $50 million commitment to facilitating global economic opportunity and helping migrants and their families stay connected, overcome barriers and realize their dreams. The Our World, Our Family program features four major components designed to empower migrants on their journey toward a better life: Our World Gives, Our World Learns, Our World Strives and Our World Speaks. The program was originally currently piloted in four locations: Guatemala, United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and the United States and now has been expanded globally. As part of this effort, Western Union has forged a partnership with Mercy Corps, the company’s first global non-governmental organization (NGO) partner. For more information, please visit: