Calvin College President Gaylen Byker has joined nearly 30 past or current college or university presidents to form “The Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty.”
Announced on Monday, the pledge is a new intitiave whose focus is to help end extreme poverty and focus attention on the positive impact of personal philanthropy.
In the pledge, the 28 charter presidents have signed a public commitment to contribute 5 percent or more of their personal income each year to organizations that fight the causes or effects of extreme poverty.
At least half of the presidents’ contributions will fund international projects; up to half may be designated for anti-poverty efforts in the U.S.
The president’s pledge initiative was organized by Ann Svennungsen, past president of Texas Lutheran University, and others.
Svennungsen is Bishop-Elect of the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest synod in the denomination.
The charitable contributions of participating presidents are made individually and directly to organizations of their choosing that work to alleviate poverty.
Charter members of The Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty represent a cross-section of leadership at public and private universities nationwide.
The project aims to enlist other presidents, chancellors, past presidents and presidents emeriti in an effort to help reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and further engage the next generation of global citizens in poverty solutions.
“We are at a point in human history when ending extreme poverty is an almost achievable goal,” said George Rupp, president emeritus Columbia and Rice universities, a participant in the pledge, and currently CEO and president of a relief and development organization.
“Higher education is at the forefront of finding solutions that mitigate severe poverty. It also shares responsibility for preparing a new generation of globally engaged citizens,” Rupp added. “Ending poverty is certainly not simple. But personal philanthropy does have impact.”
Svennungsen initiated conversations with Rupp and other higher education leaders about creating The Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty.
“We are just getting started. University presidents hold a distinctive platform as moral leaders. Acting together, their commitment can help galvanize the collective will needed to address complex issues like extreme poverty. We look forward to growing momentum,” said Svennungsen.
The Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty is aligned with Bolder Giving, a 501(c)(3) organization. It received support from a private donor and a special grant from The Henry Luce Foundation to develop the project.