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2021 a pivotal year   |   Impact in 2021  |   Capitalizing skills learnings  |   Approaching the future


Scaling-up to help more people

How do we approach the next years

In 2021, we aligned our brand to our DNA. Our brand concept “a human touch” reinforces our willingness to connect to what is essential to us: people. The Foundation is all about the people we impact and those who help us create a brighter future for the most vulnerable.

The strong foundations we put in place in 2021 are setting us up well for the future. Over the years, the Foundation Management team, together with the charitable organizations we support and with the passion and commitment of Zurich employees, have responded to several challenges and humanitarian crises, sometimes rebalancing our focus while keeping sight of our end goal: creating a positive impact and transforming lives.

Combining resources is crucial to deliver scaled-up sustainable impact and create mutual value. Impact is a measure of change, and that change cannot happen if people – from volunteers and private and public sectors to governments and those in most need of help – do not engage and act. Through this journey, we continue to learn from our programs and our experts. We also develop our infrastructure and create new partnerships with like-minded organizations in order to involve others in local, regional and global projects.

New commitments 

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    Adapting to climate change
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    Improving mental wellbeing
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    Enabling social equity

Building resilience in communities positively affects the lives of millions. Expanding on expertise developed with the Alliance, the Foundation has also started work on urban resilience by committing support to three new programs: 

  1. In the United States, in collaboration with Zurich North America and Resilient Cities Network.
  2. In Ecuador, working with Zurich’s local office and Alliance member Plan International on flooding issues (on the ground in early 2022).
  3. In Colombia, together with Zurich’s local office and the Colombian Red Cross and IFRC (on the ground in early 2022). 
    While the latter two programs focus on flood resilience in an urban context, the American pilot is also integrating heatwaves and a social component. 

The ‘North America Climate Resilience Program’ is our first climate program looking at urban resilience. This multi-year program will initially work in specific neighborhoods of Houston and Boston, seeking to develop actions and implement projects that address climate risks, social inequities and resilience. A cornerstone of the program will be adapting the Zurich Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities diagnostic approach from focusing solely on floods to additionally considering heatwaves, all in an urban context.

Read the full announcement and discover more about the North America Climate Resilience Program

“This program is a unique opportunity to tackle the complex and interrelated challenges brought on by multiple, cascading climate-related concerns,” says Lauren Sorkin, Executive Director, Resilient Cities Network.

“This initiative will enable us not only to address climate change adaptation challenges, but also to engage with and impact underserved communities,” says Kristof Terryn, CEO of Zurich North America and member of Z Zurich Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “Prioritizing resilience building actions for the most vulnerable populations will contribute to a more equitable future within and across communities.”

During 2021, in addition to the launch of our global partnership with UNICEF, which will start in seven countries, we have pledged funds to support three new multi-year programs at a local level. We also co-funded a nationwide survey on the state of Swiss adolescents’ mental health.

A school ecosystem mental health development program in Brazil

In collaboration with Instituto Ânima and Zurich Minas Brasil Seguros S.A., we will shape a program together with mental health and education experts to inform and raise awareness about mental health issues among students, educators and the whole school community as well as to provide them with appropriate tools to develop self-awareness and self-care. Over the three years of the program, we aim to transform over 200.000 young students’ lives and positively impact a further 100.000 over the next three years.

Taking mental health education into New Zealand’s schools

In collaboration with Zurich Financial Services Australia Limited in New Zealand and the Sir John Kirwan Foundation, we have pledged a two-year grant to improve the mental health and wellbeing of primary and intermediate students through a school-based education approach called Mitey. Mitey is being rolled out to schools in Auckland and Southland and is set to go nationwide reaching thousands of students and positively impacting the lives of tens of thousands of people (teachers, students and their families). Over the initial two years of Mitey, our grant aims to transform over 11,000 young students’ lives and positively impact a further 31,000.

Promoting mental health and preventing risk behaviors in Portugal’s schools

We have committed funding to support Zurich in Portugal with a first local grant, run in collaboration with its long-term charitable partner Associação EPIS-Empresários pela Inclusão Social. This program will be piloted in approximately 30% of the schools in Portugal. It will seek to increase awareness and readiness in identifying risk situations and promoting mental health and will focus on empowering students and school staff in terms of emotion regulation skills, in order to promote mental health and prevent risk behaviors. We estimate that this grant will benefit close to 45’000 students, over 2’000 families, and 800 teachers.

In 2021, we approved funding for four new multi-year grants starting in 2022.

A new program in Ecuador

To facilitate high-quality education for vulnerable communities, we are teaming-up with Zurich Seguros Ecuador S.A and Unidos por la Educación. We estimate that this program will impact over 8,950 people. The program will initially run over 38 months with the ambition to gradually become self-sustainable under the management of the community itself.

A first grant in France

A three-year grant to support Télémaque to fight social determinism and promote equal opportunities in education, in collaboration with Zurich Insurance PLC in France.

This grant will aim to support more than 400 young people per year from fragile territories who have the desire to succeed but lack the keys and the means to achieve their ambitions, by facilitating social success and access to employment, through support courses, English coaching and help with professional integration; self-confidence, through an innovative personal development program "I develop my potential"; social ties and socio-cultural openness, through cultural outings, company visits and educational workshops; discovery of the professional world, through digital meetings with Zurich employees who will present their jobs. 

Renewed commitment to two Spanish local grant programs

Over the years, Z Zurich Foundation’s relationship with Zurich Insurance PLC in Spain (Zurich Spain) has become stronger. In 2021, the Z Zurich Foundation committed additional funding to support the expansion of the successful Zurich Spain’s Dual Vocational Training (DVT) program in the Andalusia, Extremadura, Galicia, and Valencia communities. Already rolled out in Catalonia and Madrid, DVT aims to tackle the high unemployment rate of young people. We have also decided to expand the other local grant, ‘Z-Shake,’ running with Junior Achievement Spain. Z-SHAKE 5.0 is also oriented to support those communities of young people with vulnerable backgrounds to foster social equity and diversity. We expect to impact more than 82,000 people with these programs in Spain. Our renewed commitments toward these two programs are strongly backed up by Zurich Spain’s leading role in the sustainability space and its work to support local communities.