Mercy Corps and Reach Out To Asia join forces to expand youth activist network

September 15, 2009

Portland, OR – The global relief and development agency Mercy Corps today announced a bold new initiative with Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) to truly internationalize the Global Citizen Corps, an initiative that equips high school and college students with critical skills to fight global poverty and mobilize others toward peaceful change.

This partnership with ROTA brings in $2 million of support for the next three years, and will allow the youth activist network to broaden its reach significantly across continents. The program will bring youth together from the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.

“We are pleased to work alongside Mercy Corps to help prepare young people for the great global challenges of their generation,” said ROTA's Director, Omnia Nour. “By sharing our collective resources, we can make a powerful difference in young people’s lives.”

The Global Citizen Corps uses social networking and video conferencing technology to facilitate dialogue that encourages mutual respect and advances cross-cultural understanding. Together, Global Citizen Corps leaders from different countries study global issues such as climate change, health care, conflict, water, education and human rights. They not only discuss these issues in vibrant forums online but they also act on what they learn.

Last year, Mercy Corps formed a strategic partnership with Reach Out To Asia, a Qatar-based organization with years of experience in education. In addition to co-operating on other development initiatives, the two organizations are committed to offering young people around the world the knowledge and the management and communication skills to succeed. They are particularly interested in increasing opportunities for young people in the Middle East, where 65% of the population is under the age of 30 – many of whom have limited prospects for education and employment.

ROTA’s support jumpstarts an effort to take the Global Citizen Corps to more countries around the world. Founded five years ago as a program for American high school students, the Global Citizen Corps later expanded past US borders into Iraq, the Gaza Strip and the UK. To date, thousands of Middle Eastern and American youth have engaged in educational and local advocacy projects that transformed the way they see their role in society. Their activism has had a multiplier effect on hundreds of thousands more of their peers.

“The Global Citizen Corps is an incredibly powerful force for peaceful social change,” said Robert Sherman. Sherman is Executive Director of the Action Center to End World Hunger, and he oversees Mercy Corps’ youth engagement work.

Sherman added, “We are using the latest social media technology to directly link students in the US, UK, Middle East and Asia to one another – and thereby opening up eyes and dispelling myths in the process. They may live in different circumstances, but they all need to develop the confidence and the leadership skills to become engaged global citizens.”

To learn more about the Global Citizen Corps, visit globalcitizencorps.org.

About Mercy Corps:
Mercy Corps helps people in the world’s toughest places turn the crises of natural disaster, poverty and conflict into opportunities for progress. Driven by local needs and market conditions, our programs provide communities with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Our worldwide team of 3,700 professionals is improving the lives of 16.7 million people in more than 40 countries. For more information, see www.mercycorps.org.

About ROTA:
Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) is a Qatar-based non-profit organization that empowers local communities by providing access to quality primary and secondary education to children affected by crisis across Asia. ROTA operates under the auspices of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development and is chaired by Her Excellency Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Since its founding, ROTA and its partners have built or rehabilitated more than 60 schools in five countries, provided educational access to more than 13,000 students and trained more than 1,000 teachers. For more information, see www.reachouttoasia.org.