Tides Foundation Awards $1.9 million Matching Challenge Gift to the Earth Institute to Promote Sustainable Urban Development in Sub-Saharan Africa


In a landmark contribution to the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI) of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the Tides Foundation has awarded MCI with a challenge gift of up to $1.9 million. The gift will support the project’s work to assist selected mid-sized cities across sub-Saharan Africa to promote sustainable development and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight internationally-endorsed benchmarks designed to end extreme poverty.

In order to catalyze additional support of the MCI, the Tides Foundation will match new gifts or grants to the MCI at a 1:1 ratio up to $1.9 million in new funding, between now and December 31, 2009. New gifts or grants of any amount from individual donors, foundations or corporations are eligible for the match. In this way, the MCI stands to raise $3.8 million if all challenge funds are leveraged. Challenge gifts like this one have proven to be powerful fundraising tools for non-profit organizations and their supporters.

The cutting-edge work of the MCI stands to gain a real boost from this generous challenge. “This wonderful challenge grant is a tremendous expression of faith in MCI’s strategy and mission that, if met, will enable us to serve our Millennium Cities with the wide array of interventions planned for them,” says Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. “It presents a terrific opportunity for the MCI to demonstrate that its approach can succeed in helping not only these eight Millennium Cities, but also the populations of many other under-resourced cities in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”

Currently, MCI works in eight “Millennium Cities” in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal, using research and policy analysis to assist these cities to achieve the MDGs. More specifically, MCI helps its regional urban centers to attract more investment to spur increased employment and domestic enterprise development. The MCI team also assists in bringing about improvements in the delivery of vital social services and the initiative pays special attention to the urban – rural linkage, particularly with the Millennium Villages.

In Ghana, MCI has helped to develop a recently released investment guide for the second largest city of Kumasi. “MCI is assisting the city of Kumasi in achieving the Millennium Development Goals through a number of very useful actions such as needs assessments in social sectors and infrastructure, the identification of commercially viable investment opportunities, the publication and world-wide dissemination of information material on the city and these opportunities, targeting potential investors, strengthening the city’s investment promotion capacity, and fostering public-private sector dialogue. In addition, MCI has initiated specific interventions to help improve health services to the population,” says Patricia Appiagyei, Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive.

In Kenya, newly elected Mayor Samuel Okello of Kisumu, a city much stricken by the recent turbulences following the elections in December 2007, expresses his hope “that Kisumu, together with the MCI, can attract new investment needed to rebuild the city into a tourist destination of choice hence achieve a high level of sustainable economic development contributing to attaining the MDGs by 2015.”

There is a sense of optimism in the Millennium Cities. They are ready to take action and commit to making economic and social change happen. Your support has the potential to double the impact.