Local Programs Initiative
The Z Zurich Foundation’s Local Programs initiative provides practical support and funding to help Zurich business units initiate long-term, strategic relationships with local community organizations. All programs must align with the Z Zurich Foundation’s strategy, engage employees through the donation of time and talent, and respect local cultures and priorities. As part of our approach, we like to identify further opportunities to add value.
This could include in kind donations of Zurich’s products, use of Zurich’s premises, facilitating introductions for supported organizations to Zurich’s wider business networks, undertaking capacity audits and seconding Zurich employees to help address identified gaps, or even encouraging our senior employees to accept positions on management committee/board of trustees of organizations we work with. Our current programs include:
Mental health and wellbeing related issues continue to rise across the world, with the World Health Organization predicting depression will be the leading cause of disability globally by 2030. In Australia, suicide is now the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44. Eight people kill themselves each day in Australia and for every one person that succeeds, thirty people make an unsuccessful attempt. These statistics are even higher in aboriginal communities.1 The Z Zurich Foundation supports two programs in Australia around this theme.
The first grant, of AUD 5.5 million over 5 years, supports the Australian Football League (AFL) Coaches’ & Players’ Associations as they deliver a five-year grassroots nationwide mental wellbeing awareness campaign called ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ for young people across Australia. The program will focus on delivering training and accreditation for community based AFL clubs covering a wide variety of topics, from bullying to depression, managing change to addiction. They will also provide tools, resources and events aimed at the general public to enable the wider population to better manage their mental fitness. This campaign is a replication of the successful ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ campaign launched in 2017 in Ireland with the support of the Z Zurich Foundation (more information in the “Ireland” section)
The second grant focuses on mentoring young people through the Raise Foundation. This grant has been renewed in 2019 to enable Raise to expand their work and reach their target – having their program available in every public high school in the country by 2024.
In addition, the Z Zurich Foundation will support a new project, in collaboration with Beyond Empathy, which aims to support Aboriginal young people empowerment and mental wellbeing through art. This project will focus on grief and loss, using audio, storytelling, multimedia and live performance to tell stories about death and dying (something very important in aboriginal culture) and how people deal with loss, longing and belonging when in crisis.
The renewal of both the Beyond Empathy and the Raise Foundation grants totals AUD 1’550’000 over five years.
We have been supporting Verein T.I.W.(translated: Association for Training, Integration, Qualification) since 2017. They work with people in and around Vienna who face limited prospects of finding employment with the motto – ‘every young person has potential’. Many of the young people T.I.W. works with need help with basic employment knowledge, including managing relationships with people, dressing appropriately, and staying healthy. Beyond building confidence, educating and supporting these individuals helps them to achieve economic independence and contribute to society. A grant package of EUR 204,000 over three years is enabling T.I.W. to increase the number of vulnerable young people they can help, and further reduce youth unemployment. Zurich employees support a variety of T.I.W.’s activities, including leading sessions of the basics of finance and budgeting and accompanying young people on cultural activities and trips aimed at helping them become more comfortable and independent in the city. T.I.W.’s employees also get the opportunity to be mentored by Zurich employees, and the charity supports Zurich Austria in ensuring their external communications (including policy terms and conditions) are produced in simple, clear language understandable by everyone.
After a three-year impactful grant to support people living with Alzheimer's and Dementia, in collaboration with Action on Alzheimer’s and Dementia (watch the video below), the Zurich Insurance Company branch in Bermuda has secured funding from the Z Zurich Foundation for a new grant to support a different range of the population: young people. Through a new three-year grant of USD 300'000, the Z Zurich Foundation will support the Family Centre's Beyond Rugby program.
Despite the perceived wealth in Bermuda, it remains a divided island, with many students going to the island's public schools from disadvantaged backgrounds. Levels of education and wellbeing-related problems remain high for these students.
The Beyond Rugby program supports and inspires youth to reach their full potential on and off the rugby field. It combines the coaching expertise of the Bermuda Rugby Foot Union (BRFU) with the therapeutic and counseling skills of the Family Centre staff to attract some of the highest-risk youth to the program. Through the grant, Zurich Bermuda employees would be involved in the development of the new curriculums, volunteering with the Beyond Rugby program, taking on some ‘challenges’ (including some painting, decorating and gardening team activities at the Family Centre’s headquarters) and the delivery of some of the life-skills sessions.
According to the Cancer National Institute, thirty two children are diagnosed with cancer each day in Brazil, and the disease continues to claim the lives of more children than any other issue. The Z Zurich Foundation currently provides funding to two separate organizations focusing on childhood cancer in and around Sao Paulo. The first is a three-year collaboration with Associação da Medula Ósseain (AMEO), a charity running the bone marrow registers in the Sao Paulo area. Our grant funds ‘Educate to Give’, a program that delivers sessions in schools improving young people’s awareness of the importance of blood, organ and stem cell donation, demonstrating that a decision on this kind of donation involves values such as citizenship, respect, collective spirit and concern for the common good. The sessions are factual and aim to help young people make informed decisions, not to lead them to a particular outcome. Sessions are delivered alongside employee volunteers to 3’500 young people over the grant term. Funding is also allocated to improve the facilities at AMEO’s support house, where children with cancer recover after medical procedures and where their families can access a wide range of support. The second grant is to GRAACC, one of Latin America’s largest and most successful pediatric cancer hospitals. A three-year grant totaling more than CHF 1m makes Zurich the founding supporter of GRAACC’s sponsor a patient initiative, enabling families from disadvantaged backgrounds to access world class treatment for the ill children.
2016 was a devastating year for Alberta; a year that included the Fort McMurray wildfire, one of Canada’s largest and possibly most costly wildfires. It was at this time that the Z Zurich Foundation committed a CAD 1m donation to support the RESOLVE campaign, whose goal it is to end homelessness in Calgary, Alberta. RESOLVE is a collaboration between nine local charities. One of these, The Mustard Seed, are the recipients of the Z Zurich Foundation’s grant, using the money to help provide 292 affordable housing units to homeless and low-income families by paying towards the mortgage on one of their supported housing facilities. The campaign promotes the ‘housing first’ model, providing vulnerable people with housing who might otherwise have to be put in other programs to address, for example, mental health issues or addiction before being able to secure long-term housing. Evidence suggests that providing people with a stable living environment helps them to overcome other problems, making it less likely that they will become homeless again. Zurich employees continue to use their business skills to support The Mustard Seed’s beneficiaries both in person and virtually through their Seed Academy, which provides tools and resources to people as they look to get back into the workforce.
A five-year agreement sees the Z Zurich Foundation provide more than USD 700'000 in funding to Fundación Tiempo de Juego, an organization that teaches life skills to children and teenagers from vulnerable communities through sports, cultural and recreational activities which help them create their own life projects and promote a movement towards peace, equality and cohabitation. The funding will relocate and expand their already successful ‘School Hotel’, a social entrepreneurship program in Santa Marta that trains children in the tourism and hospitality industry. In addition to paying a small fee to stay at the hotel, visitors also have to provide skills based training to the young people training there. In addition, the Z Zurich Foundation funds the staffing costs of the expanded hotel until such a time as it breaks even.
Hong Kong is a city of 7.3 million people, one of the most densely populated cities on earth. Over the past ten years, the general unemployment rate has gradually decreased to around 3.4%, but the youth unemployment rate has continued to climb, currently sitting at 9.1%. Research has shown this has had a knock-on effect on the morale on Hong Kong’s young people.1 A three-year grant totaling more than CHF 1m to Breakthrough looks to provide young people with opportunities to expand their horizons and boost their morale. The first element is Minecity – using the popular Minecraft platform, young people are encouraged to go out an experience different aspects of their local communities, and then recreate their experiences in their online community map. The program will encourage schools, youth clubs and other organizations to promote the benefits of interacting with their surroundings and learning more about their city. The second element, Trial & Error Labs, gives a new take on youth career services. The Z Zurich Foundation funds a co-working space, systematic training and relevant industry networking in order to help young people succeed in Hong Kong’s cultural and creative industries.
1 Census and Statistics Department of HKSAR, 2017 Centre for Suicide Research & Prevention HKU, 2016 Breakthrough research of youth vocational development, 2015
Ireland sadly has one of the highest youth suicide rates in Europe, particularly among young men.1 Over the course of seven years, the Z Zurich Foundation will invest more than EUR 3.5m into the ‘Tackle Your Feelings’ campaign, in collaboration with Rugby Players Ireland. The first three years of the campaign used the profiles of famous males and female rugby players (past and present) to change attitudes and break down the stigma around mental health issues. It successfully changed behaviors2 and created a movement of ‘champions’ in Irish communities to keep the message alive in years to come. The remainder of the campaign will target schools and corporates across Ireland, providing students and employees with the tools and resources they need to effectively manage their own mental fitness. The impact report is available here.
The Irish program inspired Zurich Financial Services Australia LTD’s to launch its own version in collaboration with the Australian Football League’s (AFL) Players’ and Coaches’ Associations. This is a first for the Z Zurich Foundation – taking a successful program it has invested in from one country and transferring it with funding to another. (More information in the “Australia” section)
Isle of Man
A grant of over GBP 90,000 over three years enables Junior Achievement to continue to invest in the future prospects of young people on the Isle of Man. The funding supports ‘Learn to Earn,’ a career education program provided in all schools across the island for students aged 13 to 14, supported by Zurich employee volunteers. The program helps young people understand their career options, and practice various employability skills, such as presentations, CV writing and interviewing. The funding also contributes toward ‘Our World’, a financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills program offered in schools for children ages 9 to 11, also with the help of Zurich volunteers. It includes a trading game that helps to introduce young people to important concepts behind modern, international business.
The level of NEETs (young people not in employment, education or training) in Italy remains startlingly high, and the third highest in the Eurozone. 1 A three year relationship with ActionAid Italia will promote the reinsertion of young or marginalized people back into the worlds of work and/or learning through the practice of sports, motivational and self-empowerment activities and training courses. Working primarily in Milan and two other locations in Italy, the program seeks motivated young people who are struggling to move forward, providing them with a structured program of team-based sports and practical classroom training (provided by Adecco) focusing on things like mock interviews, CV writing and mentoring. With this program structure, young people will develop the capabilities and skills needed to achieve their next career goal.
Our recently launched collaboration with Junior Achievement Japan sees employee volunteers support young people as they transition into adulthood through a variety of activities that help with their personal and professional development. This is in line with our other commitments to Junior Achievement, including Spain and Isle of Man. We hope to grow this program significantly over the next few years.
Malaysia has the highest rate of obesity of all nations in Asia.1The Z Zurich Foundation’s grant spanning six years funds a long-term collaboration with One Goal Malaysia (an affiliation of Football Association Malaysia, Asian Football Confederation and World Vision Malaysia) to support our ‘Eat Right To Play Right’ (ERTPR) program. The program uses football as a platform for encouraging children to eat healthy and exercise, and educating their parents about childhood obesity and malnutrition. In 2018, the program expanded to include working with Red Card, who will bring together professional football clubs, youth leagues and supermarkets in creating a national movement championing healthy living for children. In April 2017, the ERTPR program helped Zurich Malaysia to win a Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Award. But the biggest winners may be the Malaysians, who are benefiting from a program to encourage better and healthier lives..
In New Zealand, reports show that over 280,000 children in the country are from low-income families and live under the 60% income poverty line in New Zealand1. Kiwi kids are going without the basics for living, such as beds and bedding, adequate food, clothes and shoes for school. Variety – The Children’s Charity helps give disadvantaged Kiwi kids the childhood they deserves so they can have the same opportunities to reach their full potential
Variety is supported extensively by Zurich New Zealand employees and Cover-More New Zealand employees through various volunteering and fundraising activities. In 2018, Zurich New Zealand successfully applied for a local grant program from the Z Zurich Foundation, totaling NZD 758’400 over 2 years. This local grant program aims at creating an ongoing campaign to ensure the issue of deprivation for thousands of New Zealand children remains prominent in the public arena coupled with a strong call to action. In addition, through the grant, we support the rollout of the Variety Beds for Kids program nationally, and scale up a proven impactful program, Variety Kiwi Kid Sponsorship, to improve a child’s educational, health and well-being outcomes.
Read more about Variety’s work in the article ‘Variety Appeal looks to remedy too many Kiwi kids sleeping on the floor’, published on NZ Herald’s website.
The Z Zurich Foundation’s relationship with Mentor Sweden is now in its sixth year, allowing Zurich employees to continue supporting vulnerable young people. Beyond the mentoring, Zurich also regularly invites young people from schools to spend time in Zurich offices participating in job-readiness workshops, teaching them about risk in a fun way (see picture below of an egg throwing game), and continues to invite Mentor into the office to host parenting seminars that tackle key youth-related topics, including exam pressure and alcohol/substance abuse. As part of their long-term strategy, Mentor has expanded into Norway and Denmark, and Zurich employees in both countries have been contributing their professional skills to support the new Mentor offices. Both offices have also hosted inspiration and career days for local schoolchildren. David Haak, CEO Zurich Nordic, has been instrumental in the program’s success, and regularly volunteers as a mentor himself. David is a member of Mentor Sweden’s Board of Directors, having previously been part of its executive steering group.
Poland has a high rate of violence against women. According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, around four million Polish women and girls have experienced physical or sexual abuse from the age of 15 onwards. Based on reports by the Child Protective Services, the statistics may not reflect the real size of the problem. More than 75% of people experiencing violence do not ask for help.
The Z Zurich Foundation commits to support CPK (Center for Women's Rights) with a five-year grant of CHF 1,250,000, in collaboration with Zurich Business Services Center in Krakow. With this grant, Zurich in Krakow, CPK and the Z Zurich Foundation will take a stand for women in need in Krakow, and seed-fund a sustainable first-of-its-kind service to empower women (and their children) who are victims of domestic violence, through the provision of counselling, mental health services, and legal, life and career advice. In the five years of the grant, the shelter will build up operations to help up to 500 women per year, following the successful models in other cities, and build the capabilities needed to create sustainable income streams to fund itself in the future.
The Z Zurich Foundation provides financial support to Centrum Rodiny, a family center in Bratislava, which has long been supported by Zurich employees based in the city. The center provides services for all aspects of Slovakian society, and promotes diversity and inclusion initiatives aimed at closing inter-generational gaps. The Z Zurich Foundation’s funding provided a refurbishment of the center, with upgraded facilities including a computer room, a gym adapted for people with particular physical needs, and a theatre room. It also provides funding for specialist teachers and class leaders, to ensure people using the facilities can take classes and develop their skills in a structured way.
One in four Spaniards between the ages of 18 and 29 is not receiving continuing education or training, and many have no regular job. The country’s youth unemployment rate is one of the highest in the Eurozone.1 We need young people to prosper and be able to participate in the workforce. For Zurich, they could become future employees, future customers, and maybe even future shareholders. Our relationship with Junior Achievement is now in its fourth year, helping young people develop leadership competences through the mini-company and skills for success programs. We also support ‘STEP by STEM,’ an initiative aimed at increasing the number of female students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
In addition to the Junior Achievement collaboration, a further grant of more than EUR 1m is funding the development of the first of its kind vocational training program in Administration & Finances. Across two academic years, students undertake 1’353 hours of training with an external learning provider and 970 hours of on the job training. 327 of the learning hours focus on technical aspects of insurance such as regulation, underwriting, claims and accounting and are taught by Zurich. The grant also covers ‘Get Ready for Life’, a program supporting young people in schools in Madrid and Barcelona as they transition into adulthood. It focuses on topics such as effective decision making, setting goals, personal development, bullying, relationships and sexuality, drugs and managing your emotional wellbeing (including stress management, nutrition, exercise and sleep).
Good teachers are the most critical part of any education. Especially important is the education of female teachers, as they become role models for girls and are instrumental in providing equal access to high quality education. The Z Zurich Foundations donation of more than CHF 2m over six years will go to the Turkish Education Association (TED), a non-governmental, politically neutral charity dedicated to improving educational standards. The aim of this ground-breaking program, the first of its kind in Turkey dedicated to teachers, is to teach 1,000 female teachers to become social entrepreneurs, benefitting 30,000 students by the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2023. The program invests in the personal development and wellbeing of teachers across the country, focusing particularly