Made possible by a rent-free lease and a $1.25 million grant from the Battery Park City Authority, WHAC is expected to draw about 100,000 visitors a year. Exhibits and films will explain the plight of poverty-stricken earthquake survivors in Pakistan, war refugees in Somalia, flood victims on the Gulf Coast and others. Once hooked by riveting true stories, visitors are more likely to listen when staffers explain to them how to get involved with groups and causes that fight poverty and hunger.
“Both new ventures will help fulfill our wish to become more active in the fields of youth engagement and global education,” explains Matthew De Galan, senior vice president for resource development and communications at Mercy Corps.
The mission, the money
De Galan, who has been with Mercy Corps for nine years, says he has visited with staffers at Mercy Corps centers around the world and often is asked what the organization is doing to educate Americans about their work.
“The perception in many countries is that Americans just don’t understand the world outside their borders,” he says. “The perception is not that Americans don’t care, but that they don’t quite understand the reality of the hardships that other people deal with on a daily basis.
“The hunger center will be a place where people, in a relatively short time, can learn to become active, educated and energized,” De Galan adds.
WHAC’s brick-and-mortar presence will be complemented by NetAid’s online efforts to inspire young people to get involved. NetAid will benefit from Mercy Corps’ significant fundraising experience and its many connections to global anti-poverty initiatives.
“We have staff on the ground, pictures and video, all the things that can make NetAid’s mission real to the high-school kids they work with across the country,” he says.
Although WHAC and NetAid are departures from Mercy Corps’ usual strategies, both are in sync with its mission to build productive, secure communities around the world.