Holiday Impact Prize 2019 logo

Nicholas Kristof’s 2019 Holiday Impact Prize

Thank you to all the donors who contributed to Nick Kristof’s 2019 Holiday Impact Prize, which awarded an astounding ~$3,000,000 to four nonprofit organizations. You can still read Nick Kristof’s 2019 column and support the 2019 honorees by following the “Learn More” links below.

About the 2019 honorees

Empowering Women in Somaliland

Edna Adan is a visionary Somali midwife working to end preventable child and maternal death in Somaliland and who pioneered the fight to eradicate the practice of Female Genital Mutilation. The Edna Adan University Hospital she built with her life savings has achieved maternal and infant survival rates 75% higher than the national average by training and equipping over 1,000 midwives and other health professionals to provide pregnant Somaliland women with medical monitoring, treatment, and education.

The funding that the Edna Adan Hospital received through the 2019 Prize, which Edna and her colleagues described as beyond any of their “wildest dreams,” allowed them to take immediate action when the pandemic hit Somaliland by securing sanitizers and other COVID-19 supplies before local markets ran out of stock. The hospital then purchased three ventilators to treat patients in need of oxygen. These machines are the first, and only, ventilators in the country–and there are five more on the way. Next, shops outside the hospital were closed and transformed into a makeshift outpatient department and laboratory so that the old outpatient unit could be used as an isolation ward for COVID patients and other infectious cases. As a major maternity referral hospital, the separate space has been paramount in the protection of mothers and newborn babies from the spread of disease. With the hospital now properly equipped for COVID prevention and treatment, enough funding remains to meet their pre-pandemic goals of establishing a histopathology lab for pap smears and biopsies and purchasing an oxygen-making machine that the hospital estimates will save the lives of ~25,000 mothers and infants as well as treat an additional ~35,000 patients with asthma, cardiac problems, or requiring surgery.

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Making Cervical Cancer History

Maya Health Alliance (Wuqu’ Kawoq in the local Maya language), is dedicated to providing comprehensive, high-quality healthcare to the rural indigenous Maya of Guatemala. The organization partners with communities to identify their unique needs, provide free integrated care in the languages they speak, and tailor services to overcome systemic barriers to healthcare. It currently provides primary care services to ~20,000 individuals annually.

Cervical cancer, which can be prevented and effectively treated with early detection, remains a leading cancer killer among Guatemalan women. With the funds raised through the 2019 Prize, Maya Health has been able to expand its work in cervical cancer detection and prevention in Guatemala despite the pandemic. Kristof funding provided transportation and accompaniment for rural indigenous Maya women needing advanced care when public transportation was closed, in addition to securing personal protective equipment to keep community health workers safe. The Prize is also helping Maya Health increase the accuracy of cervical cancer risk detection through a new HPV-based screening machine and hiring of an experienced biochemist to lead laboratory work. Remaining funds will be used to purchase portable machines permitting precancerous cell treatment outside of hospitals, enabling the organization to expand its geographical reach and serve 5,000 women by early next year.

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Ending Tropical Diseases

The Right Career Changes Everything

The END Fund is an important philanthropic initiative solely dedicated to ending neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that affect 1.7 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including 1 billion children. Since 2012, the END Fund has made possible more than 724 million treatments for NTDs like intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis), trachoma, and river blindness.

Following World Health Organization (WHO) guidance at the onset of COVID-19, the END Fund had paused all of its NTD programs in order to comply with social distancing guidelines and mitigate the spread of the virus. Over the summer, the organization worked closely with its partners and Ministries of Health in preparing to safely resume the delivery of NTD treatments through mass drug administrations (MDAs). Before the pandemic, MDAs took place at local schools, with children gathering together to receive their medication one at a time. Now, community health workers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and go door to door in villages to distribute treatments. Kristof funds have been dispersed to the END Fund partners in countries with the highest need. Contributions are funding the training of community health workers and safe distribution of NTD treatments in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the END Fund aims to reach more than 30 million individuals by year end. With treatments costing on average 50 cents per person, the Prize will provide treatment for ~1.4 million people.

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Setting Children Up for a Better Future

In the U.S., about one-third of young children—and about half of children living in poverty—arrive at kindergarten without the skills they need to succeed. Reach Out and Read promotes the benefits of reading aloud, starting in infancy, as part of routine pediatric care. During well-child visits, clinicians model to parents their role as their children’s first teacher, using books as a catalyst for healthy development. Participating parents read more to their children, improving language scores and early literacy for millions of disadvantaged children every year.

Funds raised through the 2019 Prize helped Reach Out and Read make progress in an unprecedented year. The organization has thus far expanded its reach from 4.7 to 4.8 million children–of which more than 25,000 were served through Kristof funding–by continuing to promote the benefits of reading out loud as a part of routine pediatric care. In the photo on the left, a Boston Medical Center healthcare worker delivers curbside immunization and Reach Out and Read materials to a toddler during the height of the COVID. The first phase of Reach Out and Read’s virus response included training its provider network in telehealth program delivery, which is most likely here to stay even after the pandemic. In partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Holiday Impact Prize contributions supported the launch of an evaluation of social-emotional learning through telehealth. Critical research on its effects will help to create a model policy for integrating early literacy promotion into the new standard of pediatric healthcare.

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Focusing Philanthropy Logo

Focusing Philanthropy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that believes donations should be made with the same level of strategic intent, information, and confidence as other investments. The organization targets serious human challenges that individual donors can successfully address, chooses tactics that are demonstrably effective, identifies confidence-inspiring implementing partners, conducts ongoing monitoring, and assures substantive reporting. These services are provided free to both donors and partners in an effort to scale interventions that work. Donations are fully tax deductible, and Focusing Philanthropy covers all administrative costs and replenishes credit card transaction fees so that 100% of funds contributed go to implementing partners.