Michael and Susan Dell Foundation Awards $1 Million Grant to Innovative Nonprofit Solving Global W

Nov. 30, 2004
Grant is Second $1M Gift WaterPartners International has Received in Two Months

WaterPartners International, a nonprofit providing clean water to developing countries, will launch an innovative new program in India called WaterCredit with a $1 million grant from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF).

WaterPartners estimates it will provide more than 200,000 children and adults in India with ready access to safe drinking water over the next decade through WaterCredit and the MSDF gift.

"Access to clean water and sanitation is a basic need, and we would like to help further the current efforts in India to address this issue," said Janet Mountain, executive director of MSDF. "In our work to improve the quality of life for as many underserved children as possible in India, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation is joining hands with WaterPartners and WaterCredit to ensure access to safe, clean water for tens of thousands of families."

Through WaterCredit, WaterPartners will rigorously screen local partner organizations and work with those that show they can facilitate high-quality, sustainable projects at the community level. These certified credit partners will combine credit from WaterPartners with their existing grant resources to fund the construction of water supply systems and sanitation facilities in some of the poorest communities in the world. With WaterCredit loans, local credit partners can expand their efforts to additional communities in need of safe water supplies and improved sanitation. By making strategic loans for select water projects, WaterPartners ensures maximum impact of funds invested by donors, while meeting the basic needs of the world's poor.

"WaterCredit and our micro-lending model of providing access to credit is new to the water sector, though micro-lending for years has been successful in providing impoverished communities access to credit for income-generating activities and more recently, for housing. By enabling the construction of projects on full or partial credit, we will help communities align the supply of clean water with demand," said Gary White, co-founder and executive director of WaterPartners. "Our WaterCredit approach embodies the characteristics of the growing social entrepreneurship trend in nonprofits where the goal is to make philanthropic investments work harder by creating lasting social solutions."

To date, water supply projects have been largely funded in their entirety by grants, even when a community possessed financial resources to share the costs. WaterPartners uses market segmentation to identify and grant 100-percent funding of water project costs to the poorest communities. Through WaterCredit, communities that are able to pay for all or part of the expenses will be transitioned to loans, while communities that fall in between will be offered a combination of grants and loans.

The MSDF grant is the second $1 million gift WaterPartners has received in less than two months and matches the largest gift in the organization's 14-year history. Wynnette LaBrosse, founder of the Agora Foundation–a donor-advised fund of the Peninsula Community Foundation in San Mateo, Calif.–granted WaterPartners $1 million on Oct. 8 in Palo Alto, Calif. The Agora grant will also be used for the WaterCredit program. MSDF and the Agora Foundation were instrumental in making WaterCredit a reality; together, they previously granted WaterPartners nearly $225,000 to help pilot the concepts that form the basis of WaterCredit.

More than 1 billion people in developing countries lack access to a safe and reliable water source. Water-related diseases are the leading cause of death for children under age 5 and kill more than 13,000 people every day. These diseases account for 80 percent of the world's sickness and more than 5 million deaths annually. Some of the world's poorest urban inhabitants spend 25 percent of their income on water that is often contaminated.

Each day, people in developing countries spend 200 million hours walking to collect water. In India, the large and growing population severely strains the country's natural resources, and most surface water sources are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff. Only 14 percent of India's rural residents have access to a latrine. Lack of access to latrines combined with poor supplies of safe water contribute greatly to India's high infant mortality rate.

Founded in 1990, WaterPartners International is a pioneering nonprofit committed to providing clean drinking water to communities in developing countries such as India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Honduras and the Philippines. As a leading innovator working to solve the global water crisis, WaterPartners has solutions that work. What distinguishes WaterPartners from other approaches is the long-term involvement of the people to be served in each project and partnerships with high-quality organizations that have proven their ability to implement sustainable water projects. A true social entrepreneurial organization, WaterPartners blends grants and credit to ensure maximum impact of donated funds while still meeting the needs of the world's poor.

Based in Austin, Texas, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation was established in 1999 by the Dell family to help underserved children achieve their dreams and reach their full potential. The Foundation funds programs that foster active minds, healthy bodies and a safe environment where children can thrive. With an endowment of more than $1 billion, the Foundation has committed more than $125 million to children's and community initiatives to date.

Source: WaterPartners International