“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what other people say you cannot do.”—James Grant, UNICEF

How We Think & Work

Our Philosophy

Common Themes in Our Work

Common Themes in Our Work


Our philosophy is predicated on the following four premises:

1) The vast majority of the 5+ billion adults on the planet have both the capacity, and the desire, to be self-reliant.

2) The developed countries of the world have both an obligation to provide support for the 26 million refugees in neighboring countries AND a self-serving opportunity to create programs for refugees and asylum-seekers living in their countries to become productive members of their societies.

3) All governments have a responsibility to provide basic needs (shelter, food and health care) for those unable to be self-reliant (ie, elderly and disabled), in order to allow this population to live in safety and dignity.

4) For children, societies need to provide access to a robust education in order to create a path towards long-term self-reliance.


Common Themes in Our Work

Common Themes in Our Work

Common Themes in Our Work


1) Change the current predominant narrative around refugees/immigrants as liabilities to one of assets;

2) Identify, support, and create win-win opportunities around refugee resettlement.

3) Recognize that “Talent is universally distributed, but opportunity is not.”

It is our fundamental belief that the only way to effectively address the current global refugee crisis is to identify opportunities for refugees to benefit the communities where they have resettled. The humanitarian benefit is of course significant, but only by convincing governments and local communities that they too are coming out ahead will we be able to make a dent in the 26 million (and growing) refugees worldwide. 

Our Approach

Common Themes in Our Work

Our Approach


Our approach is simple: we find the best NGO partners in the world and we invest in them. In some cases, our involvement is largely passive/financial, allowing great organizations to sustain and often expand their work. We try to be as supportive as possible, which often means just staying out of the way and learning from them. When appropriate, we make multi-year grants to minimize their long-term funding uncertainty.

Increasingly, we have become more active partners--working closely with leadership teams and fellow philanthropists to identify gaps in support for the most vulnerable. We strategize with them in an attempt to find realistic solutions, drive collaboration with other organizations in our network, and then provide long-term funding.

We also constantly look for opportunities to leverage our finite dollars and time. When possible, we look for ways to utilize innovative financial tools to deploy recyclable capital, (such as participating in Pay-for-Success programs created by our partner Social Finance), unlock government funding (such as our Canadian BVOR Fund) and partner with like-minded philanthropists (such as ourSNHU/Dreamers scholarship fund).


Our Approach to "Solving" Problems

Broadly speaking, there are only three “durable solutions” available to refugees: 

1) voluntary repatriation

2) local integration in the country of first asylum

3) resettlement in a third country

According to UNHCR, while most refugees dream of one day returning to their homeland, this: “requires the full commitment of the country of origin to help reintegrate its own people. It also needs the continuing support of the international community through the crucial post-conflict phase to ensure that those who make the brave decision to go home can rebuild their lives in a stable environment.”

Over the past two decades, as conflicts become prolonged and complex, the number of refugees able to return (voluntarily) to their home country has diminished. That, coupled with a sharp reduction in third country resettlement, results in the vast majority of refugees living in countries of first asylum for a protracted period. This is typically 10-15 years but for some populations, it is 20-30 years (and often multi-generational).

We have chosen to focus our efforts in three areas: 1) expanding resettlement; 2) reforming refugee travel; and 3) supporting education and employment projects in those countries of first-asylum which meet the conditions we see as necessary for successful, long-term integration. Specifically, that means democratic countries with relatively stable governments, reasonably robust economies and where the refugee population represents approximately one percent or less of the host population.