Non-profit

BRAC Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative

Website:

bracultrapoorgraduation.org

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Type:

NGO

Managing Director:

Lindsay Coates

BRAC – Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative is a left-of-center nonprofit that purports to address extreme poverty globally by advocating for anti-poverty programs that promote the attainment of sustainable employment. The initiative advises and governments, nonprofits, and United Nations entities to adapt and implement its programs. [1]

In July 2020, billionaire left-of-center philanthropist MacKenzie Scott named the Initiative to her list of 116 organizations driving change and made a grant to the organization. [2]

Background

Founded in Bangladesh, BRAC now works in 11 countries around the world to provide evidence-backed solutions to poverty, describing itself as a global leader in creating opportunities for the world’s poor by working as one of the largest non-governmental development organizations. [3] BRAC USA is the North American affiliate of BRAC. [4]

BRAC’s Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative (UPGI) was set up to addresses extreme poverty globally by advocating for a “graduated” approach to help those living in extreme poverty to build the skills necessary for employment and financially sustainable living.” [5] BRAC developed the “graduation” approach in 2002. [6]

Graduation System

BRAC applies the graduation system over a period of approximately two years for participants. [7]

The graduation model has four steps and is aimed primarily at helping women in extreme poverty. The program provides microgrants for food and other survival necessities before training women to generate income through livestock assets and job training. BRAC then teaches program participants to budget, save, and invest their incomes before reintegrating them into their communities. [8]

BRAC has helped about 2 million households out of poverty through the UPGI and an additional 3.1 million households using traditional nongovernmental organizations. [9]

BRAC claims that governments spend billions on alleviating poverty but fail because they do not integrate a graduation system, instead arguing that governments and charities should adopt scale-up graduation programs in countries with the greatest need. [10]

Major Donors

MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, included the BRAC Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative among the 116 organizations to which she contributed a total of $1.7 billion in 2020. [11]

The Audacious Project, a philanthropic organization, gave $60 million to BRAC UPGI in June 2020. [12]

Leadership

Shameran Abed is senior director of microfinance and ultra-poor graduation programs at BRAC. He is also the chairman of the board of BRAC Bank’s mobile financial services subsidiary, bKash. Abed also sits on the boards of BRAC UK, IPDC Finance and the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). [13]

Lindsay Coates is the managing director of BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative. In 2018, BRAC named her to the position after 15 years of nonprofit experience. She is the former president of InterAction. [14] Coates has supported left-of-center policy in the past, writing an opinion piece praising President Joe Biden in December 2020 for committing to “protect and strengthen social safety nets.” The article further criticized right-of-center economic policy. [15]

References

  1. Press Release. “BRAC welcomes Lindsay Coates to Ultra Poor Graduation team.” April 20, 2018. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/04/prweb15430377.htm ^
  2. Scott, MacKenzie. “116 Organizations Driving Change.” Medium. July 28, 2020. Accessed January 16, 2021. https://mackenzie-scott.medium.com/116-organizations-driving-change-67354c6d733d ^
  3. Press Release. “BRAC welcomes Lindsay Coates to Ultra Poor Graduation team.” April 20, 2018. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/04/prweb15430377.htm ^
  4. Press Release. “BRAC welcomes Lindsay Coates to Ultra Poor Graduation team.” April 20, 2018. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/04/prweb15430377.htm ^
  5. Graduation. Meriam Webster Dictionary. Accessed January 16, 2021. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/graduation ^
  6. Press Release. “BRAC welcomes Lindsay Coates to Ultra Poor Graduation team.” April 20, 2018. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/04/prweb15430377.htm ^
  7. BRAC. The Audacious Project. Accessed January 16, 2021. https://audaciousproject.org/ideas/2020/brac ^
  8. Ovi, Ibrahim Hossain. “Brac to help 21m lift themselves from extreme poverty by 2026.” Dhaka Tribune. June 19, 2020. Accessed January 16, 2021.    https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2020/06/19/brac-to-help-21m-lift-themselves-from-extreme-poverty-by-2026 ^
  9. Press Release. “BRAC welcomes Lindsay Coates to Ultra Poor Graduation team.” April 20, 2018. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/04/prweb15430377.htm ^
  10. BRAC. The Audacious Project. Accessed January 16, 2021. https://audaciousproject.org/ideas/2020/brac ^
  11. Scott, MacKenzie. “116 Organizations Driving Change.” Medium. July 28, 2020. Accessed January 16, 2021. https://mackenzie-scott.medium.com/116-organizations-driving-change-67354c6d733d ^
  12. Press Release. “BRAC UPGI Receives $60 Million as 2020 Audacious Project to Lift 21 Million People From Extreme Poverty by 2026.” June 18, 2020. Accessed January 16, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/brac-upgi-receives-60-million-as-2020-audacious-project-to-lift-21-million-people-from-extreme-poverty-by-2026-301079674.html ^
  13. BRAC. The Audacious Project. Accessed January 16, 2021. https://audaciousproject.org/ideas/2020/brac ^
  14. Press Release. “BRAC welcomes Lindsay Coates to Ultra Poor Graduation team.” April 20, 2018. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/04/prweb15430377.htm ^
  15. Coates, Lindsay. “A Biden administration commitment to protect and strengthen social safety nets, at home and abroad, signals America’s commitment to human rights and combating extreme poverty.” Thompson Reuters Foundation News. December 2, 2020. Accessed January 16, 2021. https://news.trust.org/item/20201202143403-0easy/ ^
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