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D-Day Reflections

Spending the week in Normandy has me in a reflective mindset, looking back and looking ahead.  As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day at the Freedom and Solidarity Forum, we recall how brave people came together to fight for all humanity. Today, I'd suggest global citizenship is needed again. 

We live in a time of disruptive change.  It’s a time of social, economic and political upheaval.  Millions are being lifted out of poverty, but economic inequality persists at unprecedented levels.

Yet, there’s reason for optimism. Globalization offers opportunities to create positive, lasting change for all people in all communities.  But the old social contract – whereby governments provided a safety net and nongovernmental organizations filled the gaps – is no longer sufficient.

What’s needed now is a different approach, in which communities come together to create lasting solutions that lift up all segments of society. 

Innovation driving towards collective impact is happening, across sectors. In Mumbai, NGOs, academia, public health leaders and young volunteers are joining forces to tackle Hepatitis B – with college students leading the charge. United Way Mumbai has engaged more than 9,000 young people and others as health educators, who’ve in turn educated some 1.2 million people.  Students are going into Mumbai slums to test more than 10,000 people, and have vaccinated nearly 9,000 people so far.   

In San Francisco, Detroit, Boston and other urban centers, United Ways are galvanizing employers, educators, nonprofits, government and volunteers in new ways to boost financial stability.  In struggling neighborhoods, tens of thousands of people can now get financial education, job training, tax preparation assistance, foreclosure prevention and more – all in one place. Thousands of people are getting and keeping better jobs, strengthening their finances and claiming millions in tax credits for the first time as a result.  Retirees, faith communities and young people are volunteering their time and skills as well.

The lasting change we’re after requires this kind of innovative engagement, and global citizens working together in new ways.  That’s worth fighting for.