REACT Webinar

REACT: Building partnerships for education in emergencies

GBC-Education and INEE co-hosted this webinar to showcase how business and implementation partners could use the Rapid Education Action (REACT) digital platform to deliver much-needed resources to children caught in conflict or facing natural disaster.

Attendees learned how to register for a REACT account, request urgent resources on the website, and receive support from appropriate private sector organizations. Following the demonstration, a panel of education in emergencies experts highlighted successful public-private projects and shared useful tips on how to more effectively work across sectors to harness meaningful collaboration.

Please follow the link here to find a more in-depth overview.

About Rapid Education Action (REACT)

REACT is a matchmaking platform that channels support from businesses – in the form of financial and in-kind contributions, technical expertise, and employee volunteers – to NGOs and other organizations providing educational opportunity in emergency situations.

To learn more, please contact Jake Cho at jake@gbc-education.org.

Please see below for responses to questions asked during the webinar:

Registration and Eligibility

Q: What are the requirements to apply for support through REACT?

Any implementing organization who has successfully been screened by a UN agency under the UNDP’s Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfer (HACT) framework is eligible to apply for support from the business community through REACT.

Other NGOs, civil society organizations and implementation partners working on education in emergencies will be vetted according to best practice, including safeguarding policies, good track record in education, previous partnerships with national governments or recognized international organizations, etc.

Preference is given to organizations working through or in alignment with government-supported response plans, with a special emphasis on Education Cannot Wait’s first response and multiyear response plans.

Q: What standards to companies adhere to if they are part of REACT?

GBC-Education is an organization focused on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the right to education. In 2013, GBC-Education adopted a Framework for Business Investment in Education which was produced through a joint initiative by UNESCO, UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education. All of GBC-Education members agree to engage in education in alignment with this framework. All organizations wishing to engage in REACT must also produce anti-slavery and anti-child-labor policies to be approved as a private sector partner. Any private sector entity whose core business is the private provision of fee-based education is not eligible. Additional corporate screening criteria aligned with best practice apply.

Q: Can partners in any country request support from REACT?

Implementation partners from all regions are encouraged to join. We currently have REACT partners working on projects in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.

Preference is given to organizations working through or in alignment with government-supported response plans, with a special emphasis on Education Cannot Wait’s first response and multiyear response plans. We are also seeking possible partners to respond to the refugee crisis in the Greek Islands.

Q: Can you give examples of some of the implementing partners? Are they all NGOs? Do they include local businesses affected?

There are diverse actors who are working with support of the business community through REACT. We primarily work with NGOs, international organizations, and the education clusters. We often find that headquarter or country-level offices of larger international organizations and global education funds work with their network of on-the-ground implementation partners to develop plans and identify areas where the business community can help.

Businesses are not eligible to receive support, but we do encourage local business to apply to be members of REACT to be matched with relevant organizations in need of support. 

Q: Is REACT able to respond to requests from local actors?

Our first priority is to support coordinated response programs and actors aligned and working within those programs. At the same time, REACT is able to respond to requests from local actors and we hope to enroll more companies and local partners through the platform. Social Innovation Academy is an example of a local Uganda-based organization. They were partnered with a global company, Avanti Communications, to receive internet connectivity at no cost.

The screening process for local actors may take longer, especially if there is not a previous record of having worked with recognized international organizations or the national government.

Q: Do you work with community-based organizations?

Yes. Please apply as an implementation partner on the REACT digital platform.

Q: Does REACT reach Lebanon?

Yes. In fact, Lebanon is one of the three countries that we prioritize to support ECW’s multi-year plans. For example, Thaki is a REACT implementation partner delivering computers and educational content to schools in Lebanon.

Matching and Partnership

Q: How do you get “matched into a project”? Is it the system that matches resources and responses or an active person?

The REACT Digital Platform’s (www.now-react.org) algorithm automatically flags matches between available support and resource requests based on overlaps in key criteria, including region, type of response, and type of resources.

Based on these alerts, the REACT administrator reviews the system’s results and manually sends the details of the match to both parties. If both parties agree to proceed, REACT then facilitates the initial conversation between the partners.

In the next phase of our web development, we are incorporating a “browsing function,” whereby businesses will be able to browse through the list of currently unmet resource requests and declare interest in providing support to specific projects. This will produce the alert for the administrator who will then follow the steps for facilitating the initial conversation, as outlined above.

In addition to the matches created through the REACT Digital Platform, projects can also be initiated through off-line connections and conversations facilitated by the REACT project manager.

 Q: Is your support “in stock” or do you search for a partner when an organization sends its alarming request/appeal?

Some companies have already pledged specific offers of support according to preferred regions or types of resources. On the other hand, there are other companies who are more open to shape their contributions in accordance to the requests made by implementation partners responding to emergencies.

All contributions are channeled directly from private sector members to implementation partners.

Q: How long does it take to get matched for resources?

The time frame is dependent on the availability of partners whose contributions overlap in criteria with your resource request. If the mission, values, and needs of a requests match with that of an existing contribution, a match can be made relatively quickly. In other cases, it may take longer for a partner matching your criteria to be identified.

Q: Can an organization requests for more than one resource or support?

Organizations are not restricted from making more than one resource request. However, we ask all implementation partners to prioritize their most urgent mission-critical needs when making requests.

We recommend organizations frame their requests in terms of the “challenges they are seeking to overcome” so that it is possible for a package of solutions to be identified as a potential fit for organizations.

We can work with organizations to help frame requests to maximize the potential opportunities.

Types of Response

Q: What is the volume of support your organization can offer in term of finance?

While GBC-Education does not provide direct financial support, some private sector partners do offer financial support through REACT. All REACT partnerships receive a value based on cash and in-kind contributions, but REACT is not set up to respond to strictly cash donation requests.

Q: Zimbabwe is currently dealing with Cyclone Idai which affected parts of the country and more specifically schools. I am wondering how REACT can be part of such a live and ongoing response?

REACT can help facilitate partnerships in all areas of emergency response: preparedness, first response, and long-term recovery.

But we also recommend the development of preparedness partnerships. ARUP ID’s working with governments to develop guidelines for improving the safety and resilience of school infrastructure is a prime example of establishing partnership to better prepare for emergencies before they strike. In the case of ARUP, the company also offers post-crisis support by providing technical expertise in areas such as GIS mapping, damage and vulnerability assessments, and data management.

How does REACT support free, equitable, quality education?

Q: How does REACT ensure FREE equitable, quality education? Does REACT work through and support public education systems?

REACT is an initiative of GBC-Education. The organization’s core mission is to work with the business community to support Sustainable Development Goal 4 which includes free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education. See above for more information about the type of business engagement supported through GBC-Education and REACT and how we aim to ensure activities are in support and alignment with government-led planning and responses.

Q: Do businesses offer their ancillary services through REACT always free of charge? I am concerned about diverting essential funds.

REACT is about providing additional support to – and not diverting existing essential funds from ­– implementation partners. In fact, many members of the Global Business Coalition for Education actively campaign for more government aid for education in emergencies and the education sector as a whole.

To date, we have not had any instances of payments for services through REACT. However, we have had instances of partnerships where the private sector covers direct costs associated with a project.

Q: Is there going to be any attempt to address the concerns about PPPs and the need to have an unequivocal statement about REACT / ECW prioritizing public education?

The Global Business Coalition for Education has long had these policies in place. In 2012 it supported a UN-led initiative to develop a framework for business engagement in education. The organization formally adopted the framework in 2013. The first guideline is “Respect and support education as a human right” which refers to these issues raised.