Article 26 Backpack
Keith Watenpaugh (Middle East)
Keith Watenpaugh is Professor and Founding Director of Human Rights Studies at the University of California Davis. Keith lived in Aleppo, Syria for several years in the 1990s as well as in Egypt and Turkey where he conducted extensive research. Living in the region for so long improved his work but it also left him feeling indebted to the support he received. When the Syrian crisis began, Keith was compelled to help displaced youth who still had dreams for higher education, many having lost all documentation of their academic achievements. In response, he created the Article 26 Backpack, named for the Article of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that affirms education as a human right. The Article 26 Backpack is a revolutionary humanitarian tool that empowers refugee and other at-risk youth to better connect to higher education and employment opportunities. The Backpack provides them with a way to safely store and share academic credentials, create narratives of achievement, and envision a future through higher education. The digital platform/interface is currently only available in English. With the support of Blossom Hill, Keith will create an Arabic version of the platform to increase the numbers of those using the Backpack and better reach more vulnerable populations.
We fund programs, projects and products that aim to positively impact the lives of communities (children, youth, families, etc.) affected by conflict and war in the Middle East.
Refugee children live under unusual and difficult conditions with little or no access to technology that can improve their lives. With our innovative programs, we are reaching a wide range of children with groundbreaking technology that teach them literacy skills and improve their access to higher education.
Millions of refugee children are missing out on an education. Without an opportunity to learn, they risk becoming a lost generation with little chance for a better future. Through sustainable programs, our Fellows are working to ensure refugees can learn and develop the skills they need to succeed in life.
The development of the "whole child" from early childhood through adolescence is critical to long-term development and success of all children. Blossom Hill is committed to providing innovative initiatives for refugee children that will not only prepare them for learning and academic success, but empower them with life skills as they continue to live under difficult conditions.
For refugee youth whose education has been interrupted and ability to earn a livelihood undermined by war and conflict, the future is bleak. We are dedicated to empowering these youth to break from the cycle of poverty by offering innovative vocational training in computer skills, business entrepreneurship and language instruction.