September 19, 2005

Virtue Foundation Katrina Initiative: Rebuilding The Lives of Displaced Women and Children

Virtue Foundation, in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee, and in association with the Intel Corporation, the NGO Section of the United Nations, the MIT Media Lab, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF), and the law firm of Latham and Watkins, will dispatch a team of at least 12 professionals to provide critical medical, psychological, dental, legal, financial, and educational services to women and children displaced by Hurricane Katrina, targeting children who have been separated from their parents or living in single parent households. The initiative will be carried out in several phases and will serve as a model for rendering relief assistance to displaced women and children in other crisis situations worldwide.

Phase I will take place between October 1 and October 15, 2005, during which time team members and volunteer professionals and students will rotate onsite to provide an array of disaster relief services. Phase II of the initiative will roll out additional long-term programs in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; and select areas of Mississippi. These programs include an educational initiative that provides computers with specially designed software to affected children, pro bono legal services to women via workshops and computer links, and a mentoring initiative that connects hurricane survivors to support outlets and leaders in the minority community.

In connection with Intel and the MIT Media Lab, Virtue Foundation will provide children with a computer-based educational curriculum predicated on Intel’s Computer Clubhouse Network, a network of 100 clubhouses in 17 countries providing youth from low-income families the opportunity to express themselves creatively and to develop practical skills in software programming and mathematics. The curriculum will also include composer Tod Machover’s Hyperscore, a computer program that enables users to compose their own music without any prior musical training, which has been shown to build self-esteem and reduce stress in children.

In the aftermath of such a devastating natural disaster, the Foundation believes it is vital to present role models who can share a positive vision of hope and opportunity for all those impacted by this tragedy. The Foundation is therefore reaching out not only to the broader community to provide professional relief services, but especially to successful minority leaders and media personalities seeking to present a strong and uplifting vision for displaced minority families and communities struggling to rebuild their lives and their sense of hope.

Virtue Foundation is a public charitable organization with special consultative status to the United Nations. Conceived in the aftermath of 9/11, the Foundation has worked with numerous celebrities and distinguished professionals in various fields to raise awareness and discussion of prevalent humanitarian issues and to deploy medical expeditions to underdeveloped regions of the world.

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