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August 19, 2023

The UPS Foundation, USA for UNHCR and UNHCR: Working Together to Deliver for Refugees

The UPS Foundation is one of USA for UNHCR’s most enduring supporters. Since its first engagement in 2010, The UPS Foundation has contributed more than $10M to UNHCR’s efforts to deliver lifesaving assistance in emergencies, safeguard fundamental human rights and help find long-term solutions for refugees and displaced persons so they can find a safe place to call home.

To talk about this partnership — and more broadly The UPS Foundation’s dedication to delivering hope to refugees — we spoke with Joe Ruiz, Vice President of Social Impact and The UPS Foundation.


USA for UNHCR: Joe, when was The UPS Foundation founded and how has its mission evolved?


Joe Ruiz: The UPS Foundation was founded in 1951. Today, our mission is to deliver pathways that empower resilient, just and safe communities. We focus on four key areas – Health & Humanitarian Relief, Equity & Economic Empowerment, Local Community Engagement and Planet Protection – to educate, inspire and drive sustainable impact.

This was a strategic shift for many reasons, but above all it more closely aligns with our core values as a business. We believe we can offer more than just financial support; we’ve seen firsthand that we can drive positive change when we harness our unparalleled transportation and logistics capabilities, the generosity of UPS employees and our collaborative partnerships across the public and private sectors.


USA for UNHCR: How does helping find solutions for refugees align with The UPS Foundation’s mission and values?


Joe Ruiz: Providing lifesaving and life-sustaining solutions for refugees strongly aligns with our mission and values, especially within our Health & Humanitarian pillar. We believe our purpose goes beyond delivering packages – it lies in delivering what matters, especially when global crises and natural disasters strike. When individuals and families are displaced, we mobilize our smart global logistics network to swiftly meet urgent and essential needs, reaching even the most remote communities. Our partnership with USA for UNHCR reflects our ongoing commitment to promoting equity and justice in underserved communities.


USA for UNHCR: What has been the most valuable aspect of working with USA for UNHCR?


Joe Ruiz: USA for UNHCR’s vast scale, access and deep knowledge in working with refugees and internally displaced populations. Through our partnership, we have gained insights into the unique challenges faced by refugees and internally displaced people, ultimately strengthening our humanitarian logistics capabilities so we can reach and support more people in humanitarian response. The shared value we have created goes beyond financial contributions and spans knowledge exchange, innovative solutions and the ability to reach and assist more people in need.


USA for UNHCR: You’ve become a critical partner in helping UNHCR move and fulfill the need for emergency relief items globally. Can you speak a bit about how this partnership works and what makes this unique from The UPS Foundation perspective?


Joe Ruiz: At The UPS Foundation, we fund a comprehensive portfolio of support for UNHCR that spans learning, training and capacity-building; including in areas such as global fleet management, emergency preparedness and supply solutions and child protection for unaccompanied and separated children.

For example, we proudly support UNHCR’s Emergency Preparedness Supply Training (EPST) program, a training hosted in Nairobi that covers all aspects of emergency response from a supply perspective, aiming to cultivate a pool of skilled and highly professional supply staff drawn from standby partners and UNHCR’s own workforce. The EPST allows UNHCR to increase its capacity to respond to the rising number of crises by providing hands-on training for first responders, including the assembly of a prefabricated warehouse and the development of a supply emergency response plan. By forging new professional relationships, participants can share knowledge and experiences, resulting in smoother and more efficient collaborations during actual emergency situations. We also collaborate with UNHCR to support our ongoing anti-human trafficking efforts.

This multifaceted partnership showcases the power of collaboration between the private and nonprofit sectors. It demonstrates that impact goes beyond cash grants, highlighting the value of leveraging expertise, resources and innovative solutions to make a meaningful difference in communities globally. UPS employees have supported UNHCR Supply Chain trainings and worked with UNHCR to share our world-class fleet maintenance best practices to enhance service delivery. Our skilled volunteers return to work with a sense of fulfillment and a deeper understanding of our company's philanthropic mission, making this partnership an inspiring example of how organizations can go above and beyond to deliver positive change.


USA for UNHCR: What advice would you have for other organizations that are considering supporting refugees, whether it’s working directly with USA for UNHCR or other partner organizations?


Joe Ruiz: Supporting refugees means making a positive impact on the lives of individuals, families and entire communities impacted by disasters or global conflict. It’s not only a humanitarian imperative but a tremendous socioeconomic opportunity. Here are some lessons we’ve learned on making a meaningful and sustainable difference in the lives of refugees:

  • Collaborate with experienced partners: Consider working with reputable organizations like USA for UNHCR. They possess extensive knowledge, expertise, and networks in addressing the needs of refugees. Collaborating with such organizations ensures that your efforts are well-coordinated, impactful and aligned with best practices in the field.


  • Adopt a holistic approach: Understand that there are both immediate life-sustaining needs of refugees and systemic challenges to overcome. Take a holistic approach by not only supporting immediate needs but long-term solutions that address multiple, intersecting needs, such as child safety and development, healthcare, hunger, education, gender equity, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship. Focus on the long-term outcomes to drive sustainable, positive impact.


  • Leverage your superpower: Assess your organization’s unique assets and capabilities and how you can leverage them to effectively support refugees. Is it through financial contributions or in-kind donations? Employee volunteerism or sharing specialized skills and knowledge? A mix of both? Whatever it may be, identify ways to align your organization's strengths with the needs of refugee populations to maximize impact.


  • Embrace the business benefits: Multiple studies show that refugees become valued employees, successful entrepreneurs, new customers, community volunteers, and so much more, fostering a stronger and more inclusive society. Not only does supporting refugee-focused initiatives drive positive social impact, but your organization can tap into diverse talent pools and open new markets as a result.


Interested in helping refugees build a better future?

Email to learn more about how your company, organization or foundation can partner with USA for UNHCR.